Sun-Herald Chess Column for March 5

When Alexander Khalifman accepted his invitation to the elite Grandmaster tournament in Linares, Spain, he insisted on being treated as a World Champion, not as a poor cousin to world number one Garry Kasparov. While not demanding a fee to match Kasparov's, Khalifman requested a suite in the players' hotel and that his world title be acknowledged in the tournament programme.

With Kasparov also insisting that he be treated as the real World Champion, the organisers solved the problem by listing Kasparov as 'Campeon del Mundo' and Khalifman as 'Campeon Mundial FIDE 1999' - a clever form of words which hinted that Khalifman's FIDE title was only temporary but that Kasparov was the genuine king of the world. The true test of the worth of the two World Champions came in the second round at Linares, in the game given below which attracted enormous press attention.

As usual, Kasparov's opening preparation proved superior but Khalifman fought back from the edge of defeat and gained a well-earned draw - "a result I could only dream about at some point in the game," admitted the GM from St Petersburg.

Linares 2000
White: A.Khalifman
Black: G.Kasparov
Opening: Grunfeld Defence

#1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Qb3 dxc4 6.Qxc4 0-0 7.e4 Na6 8.Be2 c5 9.d5 e6 10.0-0 exd5 11.exd5 Bf5 12.Be3 Qb6 13.b3 Rfe8 14.Rad1 Rad8#

Kasparov's new idea, found by a World Championship aide in 1986.

#15.h3 Qa5 16.Rfe1 Nd7 17.Na4 Nb4 18.Bg5!? Nc2! 19.Bxd8 Qxd8 20.Rf1 Nd4#

20...Na3 21.Qc1 Rxe2 22.Qxa3 Qa5 was stronger.

#21.Nxd4 Bxd4 22.Rxd4!#

Sensibly returning the material before Black can build up a kingside attack.

#22...cxd4 23.Bg4 Bxg4 24.hxg4 Re4 25.f3! Ne5 26.Qb4 Nd3 27.Qc4#

27.Qxb7 Re2 would be too risky so Khalifman forces a repetition of moves.

#27...Ne5 28.Qb4 Nd3 29.Qc4 Drawn#

"Nobody could say I played only for a draw in this game," said Khalifman, "but [Kasparov] is just so damn strong in these dynamic Grunfeld positions."


Australia's first major Grand Prx tournament of the year will be the 34th Begonia Open in Ballarat, March 11-13. Details: Bas Van Riel 03-53316439.