Games: Chess

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The Independent Online
The tournament at Linares has finally settled down into something more traditionally grandmasterly than had been suggested by the results of the early rounds. When the very best players in the world meet one another, generally around two-thirds of the games end in draws, yet the first three rounds at Linares produced seven decisive results from nine games. Normal service was resumed in rounds four and five, in both of which all the games ended in draws.

Scores after five of the 14 rounds are as follows: Shirov, Anand, Kasparov and Kramnik 21/2 out of 4; Svidler 21/2 out of 5; Ivanchuk 11/2 out of 5; Topalov 1 out of 4.

As the following game from round four shows, a draw can be just as exciting as a decisive result. Peter Svidler has often shown great skill in wriggling out of desperate-looking positions, and in this case his Houdini skills were tested to the utmost.

White's 7.Bb5+ is an unusual move, but it worked very well as the bishop, apparently offside on a4, re-entered the game via c6 and d5. Black's play relied on his ability to support the knight on c4, but after 18.a4 his position was already looking desperate.

White wisely refrained from 19.axb5, when Ne5 gives Black a good game, and after 19.Nxd4 Black had to exchange his bishop on g7, leaving his king's defences looking very weak.

The real crisis came after 24.e5! when 24...Bxc6 would lose quickly to 25.Qxg6+. Svidler defended coolly, forcing White to sacrifice a piece, but his 29...Rc8 and 30...Rc5, while the only defence to White's growing threats, looked desperate.

After 32.dxc5! Black would reach a lost endgame with 32...Qxd3 33.Rg3+, so was forced to continue as he did. This led, after 35...Kg8, to a position in which White had rook and three pawns for bishop and knight, but his 36.Re1? was a bad mistake. Instead 36.Qg6 gives White every prospect of winning, though Black is still fighting after 36...Qe7 37.Rxb5 Qxe6.

White: Veselin Topalov

Black: Peter Svidler

1 d4 Nf6 22 a5 Rb8

2 c4 g6 23 Rc6 Bb7

3 Nc3 d5 24 e5 Nf5

4 cxd5 Nxd5 25 Rxg6+ Kh8

5 e4 Nxc3 26 Bxf7 Rxf7

6 bxc3 Bg7 27 e6 Rf8

7 Bb5+ c6 28 Bg3 Kh7

8 Ba4 0-0 29 Rg4 Rc8

9 Ne2 c5 30 Be5 Rc5

10 0-0 Nc6 31 Rg7+ Kh8

11 Be3 Na5 32 dxc5 Nxg7

12 Rb1 Nc4 33 Qg6 Rf6

13 Bg5 h6 34 Bxf6 exf6

14 Bh4 b6 35 Qxh6+ Kg8

15 Bc6 Rb8 36 Re1 Nxe6

16 Bd5 Ba6 37 h4 Ng7

17 Qd3 b5 38 Qf4 Qd5

18 a4 cxd4 39 Qg3 Kf7

19 Nxd4 Bxd4 40 Qc7+ Kg6

20 cxd4 Nd6 41 Qg3+ Kf7

21 Rfc1 Rb6 42 Qc7+ draw