Chess

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The Independent Online
The final round at Dortmund provided great excitement as the Fide world champion, Anatoly Karpov, tried to catch the young pretender, Vladimir Kramnik. At the start of the round, Kramnik led by half a point and both men had the white pieces against opponents in the middle of the table.

Karpov had a typically Karpovian win against Joel Lautier, with the position looking close to equality for much of the game, before he turned up the pressure as they neared the time control. When his attack crashed through, all attention shifted to the game between Kramnik and Jeroen Piket.

The diagram shows the position after Piket's 26th move. White, with his strong centre and well-placed knight, clearly stands better. Black has not succeeded in organising the freeing pawn advance ...c5, though his control of the a-file is an irritating factor in White's plans.

White's next move, 27.Qd1! signalled his intentions: a direct attack on the king. Now Qf3 or d5 and Qd4 are in the air. Piket responded with 27...Na2 28.Bb2 b4, ensuring that he will be able to block the long diagonal with Nc3 if necessary.

Play continued 29.d5! Be8 30.Ng4 Nc3 31.Qf3 (31.Qd4 leads to the same thing after 31...h5) h5 32.Nf6+! Bxf6 33.Qxf6 exd5 34.Qd4.

White has given up a pawn, but the threat to unblock the long diagonal with Qxb4 is very powerful. If Black defends b4, then simply exd5 guarantees White a big advantage.

Piket tried 34...Ra2 35.Qxb4 Nb5, hoping to plug the diagonal again with d4, but Kramnik neatly extracted his bishop with 36.Bf6! leading to an exciting finish: 36...Qa7 37.Re3 d4 38.Qe7! Nd6 39.Rd3 Qa6 40.Rd1! (not 40.Rxd4? Qe2) Qe2 41.Rf1 d3 42.Bd4! d2 43.Qe5 Kf8 44.Be3! Kg8 45.Bh6 and Black had a last thrash with 45...Qxf2+(!) 46.Rxf2 d1=Q+ 47.Rf1 Rxg2+ 48.Kxg2 Qe2+ but resigned when his checks ran out after 49.Kg1.

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