The World Chess Federation (FIDE) has new champions.

Alexander Khalifman of Russia won the final of the $3 million FIDE men's world championship on Saturday in Las Vegas, beating Armenia's Vladimir Akopian with the score 3.5 to 2.5. Khalifman became the new FIDE champion. But this championship may be challenged by Anatoly Karpov, who feels that FIDE did not live up to the obligations to let him keep the title for two years after he won it in January 1998. The legal battleground will be in Switzerland where FIDE has its offices.

Karpov's Swiss lawyer, Alban Brodbeck, lives in Glarus, about an hour's drive from Zurich. It is where the world ends, he once told me. Not quite. You can climb your way out of it, heading up for the Klaussenpass, unless you are stopped by cows in key locations, lying on a narrow road and enjoying the opportunity to blockade traffic for hours. Karpov may have seen the cows in action and learn from them. Last year he successfully blocked the FIDE World Championship in hotel Bellagio in Las Vegas, leaving nearly 100 chess players without a shot at the $3 million prize fund. Shortly afterwords Karpov signed a letter to Steve Wynn, the owner of Bellagio, as "world chess champion until the year 2000." But this year he was unable to block the championship.

Xie Jun of China won the FIDE women's world championship last Monday, defeatingAlisa Galliamova of Russia with the score 8.5 to 6.5. Xie Jun regains a title she lost to Zsuzsa Polgar in 1996. Polgar may still contest FIDE's decision not to allow her to defend the championship.

With Polgar on the sidelines FIDE organized the 16-game women's title match inKazan,Tartarstan, and in Shenyang, China. After the first 8 games were tied at 4 to 4 in Kazan, Xie Jun clearly dominated at home. In the second game of the match, in the Sicilian Richter-Rauzer variation, Xie Jun played aggressively and created a marvelous epilogue.

Xie Jun - Galliamova

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Bg5 e6 7.Qd2 a6 8.0-0-0 Nxd4 9.Qxd4 Be7 10.f4 b5 11.Bxf6 gxf6 12.e5 (First played by Kasparov against Hracek at the 1996 Erevan olympiad.) 12...d5 (Black is well advised to keep the game closed. After 12...dxe5 13.Qe4 Bd7 14.Rxd7! Kxd7 15.Bxb5 axb5 16.Rd1+ white has the advantage.) 13.Kb1 (After the sharp 13.f5!? 0-0 seems to hold for black.) 13...Bd7 (Blocking the d-file and defending against possible sacrifices on b5. The experts believe that 13...Rg8 is the right answer.)

14.Qe3!? (Threatening to win a pawn with 15.exf6 Bxf6 16.Nxd5. Galliamova had this position with white against Iskusnykh in Novgorod this year and played the aggressive 14.f5 and won after 14...fxe5 15.Qxe5 Bf6 16.Qe3 0-0 17.Qh3 Rc8 18.Bd3 Qe7 19.Rhe1 Rxc3 20.bxc3 e5 21.Qg4+ Bg7 22.Be4 Qa3 23.Re3 Kh8 24.Rh3 Qe7 25.Rxh7+ and black resigned. Galliamova must have felt that black's position was reasonable and surely had an improvement up her sleeve.) 14...f5 15.g4! (A timely pawn sacrifice, accelerating the pressure on the black position, which could be blocked otherwise, e.g. 15.Be2 h5.) 15...fxg4 16.h3! gxh3 17.Bxh3 (Threatening to break through with 18.Nxd5 exd5 19.Rxd5.) 17...Qc7 18.f5 0-0-0 (Trying to escape with the king from the middle, where unpleasant things can happen, for example 18...exf5 19.Nxd5 Qc5 20.Nf6+ and white wins. After 18...Qc5 19.Qh6 white keeps the pressure.)

19.Rhf1 (White prepares invasion on the 7th rank.) 19...Kb8 20.fxe6 fxe6 21.Rf7 (Galliamova had seen all this and prepared a tricky defense, winning the exchange.) 21...d4!? 22.Rxd4!? (The only way. After 22.Qxd4 Be8 black wins the exchange without problems.) 22...Bc5 23.Ne2 h5?! (Black can hardly affort to waste time with a pawn move. Better was getting out of the pin along the 7th rank with 23...Qb6 or challenging the active rook with 23...Rhf8.) 24.b4! Bxd4 (Waiting a little 24...Bb6 would do no harm, for example 25.Bxe6 Rhe8 26.Bxd7 Rxe5 27.Qf3 Rxe2 28.Qxe2 Bxd4 and black should be able to hold.) 25.Nxd4 Rc8 26.Bg2 Rhg8?! (Allowing a pretty finish, but after the better 26...Rhd8 27.Nc6+ Bxc6 28.Bxc6 Rd1+ 29.Kb2 Re1 30.Qc5 Qxe5+ 31.Qxe5+ Rxe5 32.Rb7+ Ka8 33.Rxb5+ Rxc6 34.Rxe5 white has good winning chances in the rook endgame.)

27.Nc6+! Ka8 (After 27...Bxc6 28.Bxc6 white wins either after 28...Rg3 29.Qc5; or after 29...Qxc6 29.Qa7 mate.) 28.Rxd7!? (The more prozaic 28.Bh1 also won, for example 28...Rgf8 29.Rxd7 Qxd7 30.Na5+) 28...Qxd7 29.Nb8+! (An elegant finish. Now 29...Kxb8 leads to a mate after 30.Qb6+ and the desparate 29...Rxg2 30.Nxd7 Rcxc2 loses to 31.Qe4+ Ka7 32.Qd4+ Ka8 33.Nc5 Rb2+ 34.Qxb2 and the knight easily catches the h-pawn.) Black resigned.

Upcoming Event

The Virginia Closed State Championship is being held Sept. 5-6 in Charlottesville. See details at Michael Atkins web site:

Solution to today's study by Friedrich Amelung (White: Kh1,Rg2,Bd2,Nf6; Black: Kh3,Qd8,P:d6,e6): 1.Nd5! exd5 2.Be1 and black is powerless against 3.Rg3+, followed by a discovered check winning the queen, e.g. 2...Qd7 3.Rg3+ Kh4 4.Rg7+ wins.