Michael Adams, 23, was frustrated in his hopes of winning outright the Dos Hermanas tournament in Seville when he was beaten in the last round by Gata Kamsky. Nevertheless, his achievement in sharing first place with Kamsky and Anatoly Karpov - the two men who will be contesting the Fide world championship later this year - must rank as one of the greatest tournament results of an English player.

Final scores were: Adams, Karpov and Kamsky 51/2; Gelfand and J.Polgar 5; Lautier and Illescas 41/2; Piket 4; Salov 3 (one unfinished); Shirov 11/2 (one unfinished).

After reaching the quarter-finals of both the PCA and Fide world championships last year, Adams has had a string of mediocre results following his heavy defeats by Boris Gelfand and Viswanathan Anand. The quality of his play in Seville shows that his confidence has at last returned.

His finish against Alexei Shirov was a fine example of the Adams technique. The diagram position was reached after 40 moves with Shirov (Black) having just attacked the b-pawn with Rb4. With a black knight coming to c5 to add to the pressure, and White's e-pawn looking potentially weak, a casual observer might have sensed trouble for Adams. Now look what happened:

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Adams played 41.Nd4! planning to meet 41...c5 with 42.Ne6+ Kf7 43.Bd5. The game continued 41...Nc5 42.Bxc6 Nxb3 43.Ne6+ Kh6 (43...Kg8 44.Rf1 Rb8 45.Bd5 is most unpleasant) 44.Rd1! (a far-sighted move, providing protection for the bishop when it arrives on d7, and preventing Black's knight from travelling to d5 via c3) 44...Rb6 45.Bd7 g5 (45...Nc3 46.Rd3 leaves the knight nowhere useful to go) 46.g4 Rb4 47.Rg1 (with the threat of Rg3, Rh3+ and Be8 mate!) 47...Nc3 48.h4! Nd5+ 49.Kf2 gxh4 50.Be8! Rf4+ (there was nothing else to be done about the threat of 51.g5 mate) 51.Nxf4 (it would have been nice to ignore the rook, but 51.Ke1 Re4+ 52.Kd1? Ne3+ lets Black escape) 51...Nxf4 52.g5+ Kg7 53.Rg4 Nd3+ 54.Ke3 Nxe5 55.Rxh4.

Now, with no secure square for a black knight to defend the a-pawn, White is on course for victory. The remaining moves were: 55...Nc5 56.Rf4 Nb5 57.Re4 Ng6 58.Bxg6 Kxg6 59.Re5 Nd6 60.Kf4 (avoiding the last trap of 60.Rxa5?? Nc4+) and Black resigned. After 60...Nc4 61.Rc5 or 60...Nb7 61.Rb5 he loses the a-pawn and the game.

William Hartston