Games: Chess

When the last round of the "Amber" rapidplay tournament began in Monte Carlo, Vladimir Kramnik was half a point ahead of Vassily Ivanchuk and a point ahead of Alexei Shirov. In the final round, however, Kramnik faced Viswanathan Anand, while Ivanchuk and Shirov had apparently easier opposition in Matthew Sadler and Loek van Wely respectively.

First came the quickplay games. Kramnik gained no advantage with the white pieces against Anand and a relatively early draw was agreed. Then both Shirov and Ivanchuk won their games to leave Ivanchuk sharing the lead with Kramnik and Shirov half a point behind. Everything would depend on the final blindfold games.

Kramnik's was played in the first session. He had an uncomfortable position against Anand and had to defend accurately to hold a draw. Then Shirov beat van Wely easily. So Ivanchuk needed only to beat Sadler to overtake both of them; while if he drew, all three would share first.

In the blindfold games, Sadler had been scoring worst of all the contestants, so Kramnik and Shirov cannot have had much confidence as they watched the final game. But strange things happen in final rounds:

White: Vassily Ivanchuk

Black: Matthew Sadler

1 c4 b6 22 Nb3 Re7

2 d4 e6 23 Nc1 Rde8

3 Nc3 Bb7 24 Kh2 Qc6

4 e4 Bb4 25 Qf5+ Qd7

5 Qc2 Qh4 26 Qg5 Nd5

6 d5 Bxc3+ 27 f5 f6

7 bxc3 Nf6 28 Qg3 Rxe3

8 Bd3 Na6 29 Rfxe3 Rxe3

9 Nf3 Qg4 30 Rxe3 Nxe3

10 0-0 Nc5 31 Qxe3 Qxf5

11 h3 Qg6 32 Qe8+ Kc7

12 Ne5 Qh5 33 Qe7+ Qd7

13 f4 Nxd3 34 Qf8 Kb7

14 Qxd3 d6 35 a3 d5

15 Nf3 0-0-0 36 Kg3 d4

16 Be3 Rhe8 37 cxd4 cxd4

17 Rae1 Ba6 38 Qb4 Qc7+

18 Nd4 exd5 39 Kh4 Qf4+

19 exd5 Qxd5 40 g4 Qf2+

20 Qc2 Bxc4 White resigned

21 Rf3 c5

Black's opening was not a success, but his chance to snipe at the centre pawns always gave him hope. White's 18.Nd4?? was a blunder, missing 19...Qxd5! and shedding two pawns.

Final scores: Kramnik and Shirov 15, Ivanchuk 141/2; Anand 12; Karpov and Topalov 111/2; Ljubojevic 101/2; Lautier and van Wely 91/2; Piket 9; Sadler 71/2; Nikolic 61/2.