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The Independent Online
Garry Kasparov has a comfortable lead in the Tal Memorial Tournament in Riga, but he still cannot beat Nigel Short with the black pieces. After nine rounds of the event, Kasparov and Ivanchuk have each scored 6 points, but the latter has played one more game. Anand is in third place with 5 points, followed by Kramnik, Short and Gulko on 41/2.

Nigel Short's play has seen a welcome return to form after 18 months of patchy results. After an early loss to Ivanchuk, a good attacking game against Vaganyan and accurate defence against Ehlvest brought Short two wins to lift his score above 50 per cent which, in a field of this class, is as much as anyone can expect.

In the ninth round, he drew a combative game against Kasparov, resuscitating an opening variation that had let him down in the 1993 PCA world title match.

After the opening moves of the Najdorf Variation of the Sicilian Defence - apparently mandatory when Kasparov plays Black against this opponent - Short returned to 6.Bg5 instead of the Bc4 which had given him so many fine positions in the match.

The first deviation from their earlier games came on the 12th move when Kasparov developed his knight to d7 instead of c6. The critical moment came five moves later with Short's 17.f5. Since 17...e5 18.Bc4 leaves Black disastrously weak on the white squares, 17...exf5 has much the same effect and 17...Ne5 loses the b-pawn, Black seems in trouble against the threat of fxe6 followed by Bc4 or Bg4.

Kasparov's solution was remarkable, with 17...Rc8, 19...Qb2 and 20...f5 inviting huge complications after 21.exf5 Ne5! (note that 20...Ne5 would have been met by 21.Bxe6!) Short's 21.Rb1 forced Black to give up his queen, but the compensation - rook, knight and pawn - was adequate for a draw.

In the final position, 30...Bxe4 (30...Rf4+ first may be slightly more accurate) 31.Nxe4 Rxe4 32.Qc8+ Bd8 33.Qxa6 leaves White unable to break Black's defensive fortress.

White: N. Short

Black: G. Kasparov

1 e4 c5 16 Qe3 Bb7

2 Nf3 d6 17 f5 Rc8

3 d4 cxd4 18 fxe6 fxe6

4 Nxd4 Nf6 19 Bg4 Qb2

5 Nc3 a6 20 Rd3 f5

6 Bg5 e6 21 Rb1 Qxb1+

7 f4 Qb6 22 Nxb1 fxg4

8 Qd2 Qxb2 23 hxg4 h3

9 Nb3 Qa3 24 Rc3 hxg2+

10 Bxf6 gxf6 25 Kxg2 Rg8

11 Be2 h5 26 Rxc8+ Bxc8

12 0-0 Nd7 27 Kf1 Rxg4

13 Kh1 h4 28 N1d2 e5

14 h3 Be7 29 Qc3 Bb7

15 Rad1 b6 30 Qc7 draw

William Hartston