About a year ago, Garry Kasparov described Alexei Shirov as a "talented amateur". Now Shirov is just two games away from earning the right to challenge Kasparov for his version of the world title.

In the seventh game of the Kramnik-Shirov final eliminator, Kramnik was once again unable to breach Shirov's defences. An early exchange of queens left White with the advantage of a big pawn centre, but Shirov exploited a pin on the

d-file to manoeuvre his knight to d4, making it more difficult for White to push his pawns. When the same knight jumped back and forth to c2, Kramnik had to sacrifice the exchange to avoid an immediate draw. It made no difference. Shirov quickly returned the material to reach an endgame in which if anyone had the better position it certainly wasn't White.

The eighth game was the dullest of the match so far. Shirov was happy to preserve his one-point lead with a quick draw. Kramnik was happy to get one of his last two blacks out of the way. Today he plays White in the penultimate game and desperately needs a win to level the match.

Game 7: Kramnik-Shirov

Grunfeld Defence

1 d4 Nf6 18 Bxg7 Kxg7

2 c4 g6 19 Bf3 h5

3 g3 c6 20 Rd2 Ne5

4 Nf3 Bg7 21 Bg2 c5

5 Nc3 d5 22 d5 Nc6

6 Qb3 0-0 23 Rad1 Nd4

7 Bg2 Qb6 24 e5 exd5

8 0-0 Bf5 25 cxd5 Re8

9 Ne5 e6 26 Re1 Nc2

10 Bf4 Nbd7 27 Ree2 Nd4

11 Qxb6 axb6 28 Re1 Nc2

12 f3 Nxe5 29 Rxc2 Bxc2

13 Bxe5 g5 30 d6 Bf5

14 e4 Bg6 31 Bxb7 Rad8

15 b3 Rfd8 32 Bc6 Re6

16 Rfd1 dxe4 33 Bd5 Rdxd6

17 fxe4 Ng4 34 Bxe6 draw

Game 8: Shirov-Kramnik

Petroff's Defence

1 e4 e5 11 g4 Bd7

2 Nf3 Nf6 12 Bf3 Nc6

3 Nxe5 d6 13 Nxc6 Bxc6

4 Nf3 Nxe4 14 Bxc6+ bxc6

5 Qe2 Qe7 15 Bd2 h5

6 d3 Nf6 16 g5 Nd5

7 Nc3 Qxe2+ 17 Nxd5 cxd5

8 Bxe2 g6 18 0-0-0 Kd7

9 Nd4 a6 Draw agreed

10 h3 Bg7