Chess tournaments are a little like long distance races: you have to hit the front at the right moment. In the Donner Memorial in Amsterdam, Gata Kamsky tucked himself in neatly at the back of the field after a first-round loss, then steadily worked his way back into contention. In the eighth round he took the lead, but it now seems that he went too soon. Here is what happened in round nine:

White: J Granda Zuniga

Black: Gata Kamsky

1 d4 Nf6 16 b4 c3

2 c4 e6 17 Bxc3 Nxa4

3 Nf3 b6 18 Ba1 Bxb4

4 g3 Ba6 19 Rxc8 Bxc8

5 b3 Bb4+ 20 Qxa4 Bxd2

6 Bd2 Be7 21 Nc6 Qe8

7 Bg2 c6 22 Rd1 Ba5

8 Bc3 d5 23 Qh4 e5

9 Nbd2 Nbd7 24 Bxe5 Bd7

10 Rc1 0-0 25 Bxf6 gxf6

11 Rc2 Rc8 26 Be4 h6

12 0-0 c5 27 Rxd7 Qxd7

13 a4 cxd4 28 Qxh6 f5

14 Nxd4 Nc5 29 Bxf5 1-0

15 Ba1 dxc4

The opening moves were played once or twice in the recent Karpov-Kamsky world title match, but Granda Zuniga's 11.Rc2 and 13.a4 looks like a new idea. The point comes with 16.b4! introducing the idea of trapping the black bishop with b5.

That was obvious enough, but the double pawn sacrifice that followed was most deceptive. After 20...Bxd2, Kamsky must have been expecting 21.Rd1 when 21...Bd7 is an adequate reply. White's 21.Nc6! was far stronger remaining two pawns behind but keeping the attack.

Rightly disdaining 23.Rd8 which gives black a good game after 23...Qxd8 24.Nxd8 Rxd8, White went for the king with 23.Qh4! planning to meet 23...Nd7 with 24.Ne7+ Kh8 25.Rxd7! Bxd7 26.Bxg7+ Kxg7 27.Qg5+ Kh8 28.Qf6 mate. (23...Nd5 24.Bxd5 exd5 25.Ne7+ leads to a similar finish.) At the end 29...Qxf5 30.Ne7+ costs Black his queen.

In the 11th round, Kamsky lost again - to Ivan Sokolov - to forfeit all chances of first place.

Meanwhile, Vassily Ivan-chuk has crept into the lead and is now being chased to the line by Granda Zuniga, who continued his closing sprint with another fine victory - also, by an odd coincidence - in 29 moves. His 12...Nf6! is great fun: 13.exf6 loses to Rhe8+.

White: Nick de Firmian

Black: J Granda Zuniga

1 e4 d5 16 Kxf2 Ng4+

2 exd5 Qxd5 17 Kg3 h5

3 d4 e5 18 h4 gxh4+

4 dxe5 Qxd1 19 Nxh4 Bh7

5 Kxd1 Nc6 20 Nf3 Rhg8

6 f4 Bf5 21 Rxh5 Nf6+

7 c3 0-0-0+ 22 Rg5 Ne4+

8 Ke1 f6 23 Kh4 Nxg5

9 Bb5 fxe5 24 Nxg5 Rd1

10 Bxc6 bxc6 25 e6 Rg1

11 fxe5 Bc5 26 Nd2 Rxa1

12 Nf3 Nf6! 27 Ndf3 Be4

13 Bg5 h6 28 Nd4 c5

14 Bh4 g5 29 Nb3 Rg1

15 Bf2 Bxf2+ White resigns