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When Gata Kamsky begins his challenge to Anatoly Karpov for the Fide world title tomorrow, he will start as the underdog despite the power he showed in the victories over Kramnik, Anand, Short and Salov that took him to this world title match.

Two of Kamsky's most recent games - both played within the last week in the Dos Hermanas tournament - throw some intriguing light on what might happen in the match. In the first, he is soundly beaten by Boris Gelfand in a highly fashionable line of the Grunfeld.

White: Boris Gelfand

Black: Gata Kamsky

1 d4 Nf6 25 Kf1 Rdd8

2 c4 g6 26 Rxf7 Bf8

3 Nc3 d5 27 Kxe2 Rdb8

4 cxd5 Nxd5 28 Rxb8 Rxb8

5 e4 Nxc3 29 Rf6 Re8

6 bxc3 Bg7 30 Rxg6+ Kh7

7 Nf3 c5 31 Rf6 a5

8 Rb1 0-0 32 f5 exf5

9 Be2 cxd4 33 f4 Ra8

10 cxd4 Qa5+ 34 Rxf5 a4

11 Bd2 Qxa2 35 Rf7+ Kg8

12 0-0 Bg4 36 Ra7 Rxa7

13 Bg5 h6 37 Bxa7 Ba3

14 Be3 Nc6 38 Bd4 Bc1

15 d5 Ne5 39 f5 Kf7

16 Rxb7 e6 40 Kd3 a3

17 d6 Rfd8 41 Kc2 Bf4

18 Re1 Bxf3 42 h3 h5

19 gxf3 Qa3 43 Kb3 Bc1

20 f4 Rxd6 44 Bc5 Bb2

21 Qc1 Qxc1 45 e6+ Kf6

22 Rxc1 Nc6 46 Bxa3 Be5

23 e5 Nd4 Black resigns

24 Rcc7 Nxe2+

Kamsky's 15...Ne5 was designed as an improvement on the 15...Na5 with which Anand lost to Kramnik earlier in the tournament. Black returns the pawn and hopes for an endgame in which his a-pawn will be a powerful asset. Some neat tactics by both players between moves 20 and 25, however, left White in charge. At the end, 47.Bb2 wins at once.

Now isn't that just the sort of game Anatoly Karpov wins as White? On this evidence, Kamsky will surely lose all his games with Black. Now here's his last-round game, playing against Karpov's favourite defence to 1.e4:

White: Gata Kamsky

Black: Viswanathan Anand

1 e4 c6 19 Rae1 Kg8

2 d4 d5 20 Qg4 Nf6

3 Nc3 dxe4 21 Qg3 cxd4

4 Nxe4 Nd7 22 cxd4 Nd5

5 Ng5 Ngf6 23 Bd2 a6

6 Bd3 e6 24 Bd3 f5

7 N1f3 Bd6 25 Qg6 Re8

8 Qe2 h6 26 g4 Nf6

9 Ne4 Nxe4 27 gxf5 Bxe5

10 Bxe4 Nf6 28 fxe5 Qc6

11 Bd3 Qc7 29 Re3 Qh1+

12 Bd2 b6 30 Kf2 Qxh2+

13 Ne5 c5 31 Ke1 Ne4

14 Bb5+ Ke7 32 Bxe4 Qh4+

15 c3 Bb7 33 Kd1 Bxe4

16 0-0 Rhd8 34 Be1 Qh2

17 f4 Ne4 35 Rxe4 Qh3

18 Be3 Kf8 36 Ke2 1-0

So it's Kamsky 1 Karpov (by proxy) 1. The match could be a good deal closer than many expect.