With one round left in the Dos Hermanas tournament, Vladimir Kramnik holds a half-point lead over Viswanathan Anand. Half a point behind Anand, with only a theoretical chance of even sharing the top prize, come Topalov, Polgar and Karpov. In the final round, Kramnik will face Topalov while Anand meets Judit Polgar.

The tournament has thus so far confirmed the picture of earlier events this year: Kasparov is the best player in the world, with Kramnik and Anand the most likely to challenge him. Karpov has finally slipped from the number two spot, which he has held ever since losing to Kasparov in 1985, but still remains a formidable force as he showed against Nigel Short in the eighth round. This defeat pushed Short back to ninth place in the table.

The opening, a Caro-Kann advance variation, was a Short speciality that had helped him to a memorable victory over Karpov in their Candidates' match of 1992. This time too it looked at first as though Karpov had failed to solve the problems of the variation. After 12.Bxf5 and 13.Nxd4, White seemed to have a comfortable advantage. He had chances of pushing e6, and the black d-pawn was vulnerable. Karpov, however, subtly showed the faults in such an assessment. He defended d5 effortlessly, while building up pressure against e5.

Karpov's 22...f4! was a far-sighted move, already planning 26...Nd6! and 27...Nf5 and almost certainly also having the idea of 28...h5! when 29.Qxf4? Bh6 traps the white queen. After that, White was strangely helpless, as his moves showed all too clearly.

White: Nigel Short

Black: Anatoly Karpov

1 e4 c6 21 Bd4 Qb8

2 d4 d5 22 Rd3 f4

3 e5 Bf5 23 Qd1 Rc6

4 Nf3 e6 24 Ne1 Rce6

5 a3 Ne7 25 Nc2 Qb7

6 Nbd2 Nd7 26 f3 Nd6

7 Nh4 c5 27 b3 Nf5

8 c3 a6 28 Qd2 h5

9 Nxf5 Nxf5 29 Re1 a5

10 Nf3 Rc8 30 Kf1 Qc7

11 Bd3 cxd4 31 Kg1 Kh7

12 Bxf5 exf5 32 b4 a4

13 Nxd4 g6 33 Kf1 Qc4

14 0-0 Nc5 34 Kg1 Bxe5

15 Be3 Bg7 35 Bxe5 Rxe5

16 Nf3 0-0 36 Rxe5 Rxe5

17 Re1 Re8 37 Nd4 Re3

18 Re2 Ne4 38 Rxe3 fxe3

19 Qb3 b5 39 Qd1 Qxc3

20 Rd1 Rc4 White resigns