Sun-Herald Chess Column for February 6

At the start of the elite Corus tournament in Wijk aan Zee, the Netherlands, Garry Kasparov and Viswanathan Anand were announcing plans for an upcoming private world title match in September. By the time the Corus tournament concluded, Peter Leko and his manager were being forced to deny rumours that they would use their substantial financial backing to gazump Anand and play Kasparov.

Leko's manager Carsten Hensel, was adamant that he would not allow Leko to play Kasparov for at least two or three years. "I believe Anand is very talented but he got a match a little too early - he was not ready in 1995 and the loss damaged him psychologically," said Hensel. "We do not go for quick money but for a sure victory."

Leko had sparked the rumours by a powerful undefeated performance in Wijk aan Zee. The 20-year-old Hungarian had finished second to Kasparov, equal with Anand and Vladimir Kramnik and Leko had troubled all three in their individual games.

Kasparov's views are not known, as he cancelled the post-tournament press conference, annoyed at having missed out on the 'Game of the day' prize in the final round. However having already abandoned his qualified challenger Alexey Shirov for Anand, he would probably have no compunction in dumping Anand if better sponsorship was offered for a match against Leko.

Wijk aan Zee 2000
White: G.Kasparov
Black: P.Leko
Opening: Sicilian Defence

#1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e5 6.Ndb5 d6 7.Bg5 a6 8.Na3 b5 9.Bxf6 gxf6 10.Nd5 f5 11.c3 Bg7 12.exf5 Bxf5 13.Nc2 Be6#

Safer than 13...Bg6, Leko's earlier choice.

#18.g4!? Ne7 19.Bg2 Nxd5 20.Bxd5 Qe7 21.h4 Rc8 22.g5! Rc5 23.Be4#

23..Rxd5! 24.Nxd5 Qb7 was threatened.

#23...d5! 24.Nxd5 Bxd5 25.Bxd5 e4 26.Ke2?!#

26.Qd2 was stronger.

#26...Qe5 27.Bb3 Qc7#

"When I found the plan of ...Qc7, ...Rf5, ...Bf8-c5, I was very happy," said Leko after the game. "Yes, now I have to open up your king, otherwise I can be worse," agreed Kasparov.

#28.Qg1! b4!#

Planning to meet 29.cxb4 with 29...Rc2+.

#29.g6! hxg6 30.Qxg6 Kf8! 31.Qg3! Qxg3 32.fxg3 bxc3 33.bxc3 Rxc3 34.Bd5 Rxg3 Draw Agreed#

At the jovial post-mortem, pictured, Kasparov praised Leko's "energetic play".

Wijk aan Zee
Leading final scores:
1.Kasparov(Rus) 9.5/13; 2eq.Anand(Ind), Kramnik(Rus), Leko(Hun) 8;
5.Morozevich(Rus) 7.5; 6.Adams(Eng) 7.