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Games: Chess

Of all the great players in Linares, Alexei Shirov offers the best value in entertainment. His astonishing imagination and willingness to take risks give an unpredictability to his games that always promises - and usually delivers - excitement. Since losing to Anand in the first round of the current tournament, he has scored two hair-raising victories (over Ivanchuk and Topalov) and now shares first place.

In his third-round win against Topalov, Shirov began with a speculative pawn sacrifice, then, just as he had regained the material with interest and things seemed to be settling down again, he launched a wonderful tactical sequence which seemed to leave most of his pieces attacked for a long series of moves. As usual, however, Shirov had calculated it accurately to the end.

The fun begins with 28.Bxe5! when 28...Rxe5 29.Qxe5 fxe5 30.Rf8 is mate, while 28...fxe5 is met by 29.Qxe5! After 28...Nf5 29.Qg4, Black can reach a poor position with 29...fxe5 30.Rxf5 Bxf5 31.Qxf5, but was tempted by 29...Ne3 which left every one of White's pieces under attack. The response was beautiful, culminating in 32.Nd6! threatening both Qxa8 and mate on f7. At the end, 34...Nxb2 loses to 35.Qc6!

White: Alexei Shirov

Black: Veselin Topalov

1 e4 c5 18 Bc7 Qa7

2 Nf3 e6 19 Na4 f6

3 d4 cxd4 20 Bb6 Qb8

4 Nxd4 a6 21 Bc7 Qa7

5 Bd3 Qb6 22 Nb6 e5

6 Nb3 Qc7 23 Nxa8 Qxa8

7 Qe2 Nf6 24 Rd1 Re8

8 Nc3 d6 25 Bd6 Bd8

9 f4 Be7 26 Nc5 b6

10 e5 dxe5 27 Ne4 Nd4

11 fxe5 Nfd7 28 Bxe5 Nf5

12 Bf4 Nc6 29 Qg4 Ne3

13 0-0 Ndxe5 30 Qh5 Rg8

14 Rae1 Qb6+ 31 Qf3 Nxd1

15 Kh1 Nxd3 32 Nd6 Qa7

16 Qxd3 0-0 33 Nxc8 Qd7

17 Qg3 Kh8 34 Nd6 resigns

In the main game of the third round at Linares, Garry Kasparov defeated Viswanathan Anand. That game will appear here tomorrow.