Both last year and this, the Intel tournaments have seen a remarkably close contest between four grandmasters. Every tournament has been won by either Kasparov, Kramnik, Anand or Ivanchuk, with none of them managing to edge significantly ahead of the others. In a knock- out tournament at 25 minutes a game, one expects occasional upsets, but the semi-finals have been dominated by the big four.
Last year, the London event was most significant for the first-round defeat of Kasparov by the Chess Genius computer program. It was fortunate that the machine was defeated in the semi-final, or we would have been faced with the embarrassment of Ivanchuk refusing to play it in the final.
The Ukrainian grandmaster has strong feelings about computers. Since they do not share the emotional intensity and anguish that he feels in every game, he believes they ought to be banned from tournaments.
After Kasparov's loss, the PCA world champion seems to have decided that Ivanchuk was right. There has been no machine in a Grand Prix event since then.
With no "Genius" in the competition, the latest Grand Prix event, which was held in New York in June, culminated in a final between Kasparov and Ivanchuk. After a semi-final in which Kasparov had come within a whisker of being eliminated by Vladimir Kramnik - he eventually went through by virtue of having had the black pieces in a drawn play-off game after their two-game match was tied 1-1 - the final was rather anticlimactic. Kasparov won a good first game, and Ivanchuk's desperate attempts to complicate in the second only hastened his downfall.
Playing for a win with the black pieces against the world's strongest grandmaster is never an easy task.
1 d4 d5 15 Bxh7+ Kh8
2 c4 Nc6 16 Bd3 Na5
3 cxd5 Qxd5 17 e4 Nac4
4 e3 e5 18 f4 f6
5 Nc3 Bb4 19 f5 Bf7
6 Bd2 Bxc3 20 Rf3 Kg8
7 bxc3 Qd6 21 Rh3 exd4
8 Bd3 Nf6 22 cxd4 c5
9 f3 0-0 23 d5 Ne5
10 Ne2 Be6 24 Bc2 Nbc4
11 0-0 Rad8 25 Nf4 b5
12 Qc1 Nd7 26 Qb3 Ng4
13 Be1 Qe7 27 Qg3 Nce5
14 Qb1 Nb6 28 Bd1 resigns
The Intel Grand Prix takes place at the Conference Forum, Colchester Street, London E1, from 31 August to 3 September (bookings: 0171-388 2404); seats pounds 10 a session, pounds 15 a day.