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Whatever else may be going on in what used to be Yugoslavia, it takes more than civil war and United Nations sanctions to distract them from chess. Last year, during some of the most difficult times in Sarajevo, the regular Sunday chess tournaments continued, and Garry Kasparov, with a Russian army escort, visited the city for a fund-raising simultaneous display.

Meanwhile, back in Serbia, we have had the sanctions-busting extravaganza of the Fischer-Spassky rematch in 1992, and a regular series of top-class tournaments in Belgrade. The Investbanka tournament currently in progress has attracted an impressively strong field including most of the likely successors to Kasparov and Karpov. After four rounds, 20-year-old Latvian grandmaster Alexei Shirov leads comfortably with 31/2 points.

His win against the world's youngest grandmaster, Peter Leko, was a brilliantly violent affair, beginning with an opening variation frequently adopted in the Kasparov-Karpov matches. For the first 20 moves, they followed the path well-beaten by the two Ks, but Shirov's 23.Ne4! and 24.Nfg5!! may explain why Karpov tended to prefer 20...Nf6 to the immediate Bxd5.

After the piece sacrifice, White invested more in his attack with 26.Re6! If Black tries to hang on to all his material with 27...Ne5, there may follow 28.Qh5 Qh6 29.Bh7+ Kh8 30.Nf7+ Nxf7 31.Bxh6 Nxh6 32.Bb1 c4 33.g4 and it is doubtful whether Black can survive.

White: Alexei Shirov

Black: Peter Leko

1 e4 e5 18 d5 Nd7

2 Nf3 Nc6 19 Ra3 f5

3 Bb5 a6 20 exf5 Bxd5

4 Ba4 Nf6 21 Rxe8 Qxe8

5 0-0 Be7 22 Re3 Qf7

6 Re1 b5 23 Ne4 bxa4

7 Bb3 d6 24 Nfg5 hxg5

8 c3 0-0 25 Nxg5 Qf6

9 h3 Bb7 26 Re6 Bxe6

10 d4 Re8 27 fxe6 g6

11 Ng5 Rf8 28 exd7 Rd8

12 Nf3 Re8 29 Qg4 Be7

13 a4 h6 30 h4 d5

14 Nbd2 Bf8 31 Nf3 Kg7

15 Bc2 exd4 32 Bg5 Qxb2

16 cxd4 Nb4 33 Bh6+ 1-0

17 Bb1 c5

In the other major event going on at the moment, the European Zonal tournament in Linares, Spain, England's Tony Miles has swept into a commanding lead with 51/2 points from his first six games. In the oddest game so far, England's Matthew Sadler beat a Spanish grandmaster in only 11 moves:

Illescas-Sadler: 1 d4 d5 2 c4 dxc4 3 e4 Nc6 4 Be3 Nf6 5 Nc3 e5 6 d5 Na5 7 Nf3 Bd6 8 Qa4+ Bd7!! 9 Qxa5 a6! 10 Nb1 Nxe4 11 Kd1 c3! White resigns.

Seeing too late the threat to trap his queen with 10...b6, White went into contortions to try to extract her from Q-side exile. At the end, he must have decided that 12.b4 b6 13.Qa3 a5 was too miserable to bear.