There are currently four truly great players in the world. Garry Kasparov, whose play still bristles with energy and menace, is still the best, but Anatoly Karpov, Viswanathan Anand and Vladimir Kramnik are not far behind. I was particularly impressed by this win by Kramnik in the Linares tournament. The opening left Black with a typical Queen's Gambit position that most players would find unappealing. Neither of Black's bishops had much scope, and he had no useful pawn breaks to open lines for them. It seems that all Black can do is defend solidly and wait for White to open the game with e4. From moves 15 to 28, Black seemed only to be reacting to White's attempts to develop his initiative. First Black had to prevent e4 by developing pressure against d4; then he had to retreat his knight to g7 just to keep White's knight out of f5.

With 28...Bd6, however, Black began to dictate events a little. The threat of ...Bxg3 tempted White into playing Nf5, after which it became even more imperative that Black prevent f3 and e4. Finally, however, by developing a threat against f5, he forced White to play e4 just when he was perfectly placed to counter it. With 41.Rxe5 met by Bxd4, White had to concede Black bishop and two powerful passed pawns for a rook. At the end, 49.Qxc4 loses to Qb2+, while 49.Qf2 Bxf3+ 50.Qxf3 Qd4 leaves White helpless against the massive pawns.

White: Veselin Topalov

Black: Vladimir Kramnik

1 d4 Nf6 26 Ng3 Ng7

2 c4 e6 27 a4 Bb4

3 Nf3 d5 28 Bh3 Bb7

4 Nc3 Be7 29 Qc2 Bd6

5 Bg5 h6 30 Nf5 Nxf5

6 Bh4 0-0 31 gxf5 Bb4

7 e3 b6 32 Kg2 Qd6

8 Be2 Bb7 33 f3 Re7

9 Bxf6 Bxf6 34 Re2 Rde8

10 cxd5 exd5 35 Rce1 Qf6

11 b4 c6 36 Bg4 Bd6

12 0-0 a5 37 Qd1 Bb4

13 b5 c5 38 Qc2 Rd8

14 Re1 Re8 39 Rd1 Bc8

15 Rc1 Nd7 40 e4 Bxc3

16 g3 Nf8 41 e5 Rxe5

17 Na4 c4 42 dxe5 Bxe5

18 Bf1 Qd6 43 Rde1 Bc7

19 Bg2 Rad8 44 Re8+ Kg7

20 h4 Ne6 45 Rxd8 Bxd8

21 Nc3 g6 46 Rd1 Bb7

22 Nd2 Ba8 47 f4 d4+

23 h5 g5 48 Bf3 d3

24 Nf1 Be7 White resigned

25 g4 Qd7

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