Rustam Kasimdzhanov is the new FIDE world champion. Last Tuesday, the grandmaster from Uzbekistan defeated England's Michael Adams 41/2 to 31/2 in the final of the FIDE world championship in Tripoli, Libya. Kasimdzhanov will face the world's top-rated player, Garry Kasparov, in a match that could lead to the unified world title. The winner will play the winner of the match between the classical world champion, Vladimir Kramnik of Russia, and the Hungarian Peter Leko.

Comedy of Errors

The sixth game between Kasimdzhanov and Adams, the last one with a regular time limit, was a seesaw fight in which both players missed wins and the world title that would go with it. With the score tied 3-3, the match moved to the two-game rapid mode, roughly 30 minutes per game, that seemed to be Kasimdzhanov's forte. In the first game Adams began strongly, building a winning position with an exchange up, but allowed Kasimdzhanov back into the game. In time trouble, the Uzbek outplayed him in the endgame and won. Adams, favored to win the match, did not have a chance to win the second game with the black pieces.

Kasparov was looking forward to playing Adams. That match could have attracted various British sponsors like his world championship match against Nigel Short in London in 1993. Kasparov might not be unhappy, though, seeing many gaping holes in Kasimdzhanov's opening preparation. It was clearly visible in the fifth game between Adams and Kasimdzhanov, an excellent positional pushover in the Spanish opening by the English grandmaster.


1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 0-0 9.h3 Na5 10.Bc2 c5 11.d4 Qc7 (The classical Chigorin variation that Kasimdzhanov should avoid against Kasparov.) 12.d5 (Grabbing the space and at the same time keeping the knight on a5 out of play. Kasimdzhanov does a poor job in improving this horse's life. Kasparov always liked this move.) 12...Nc4 (The knight does a little dancing, but ends on the wrong square. In a somewhat forgotten game, Cuschieri-Vukcevich, Leipzig Olympiad 1960, black freed the square c5 with 12...c4!? and soon found a good play on the queenside after: 13.b4 cxb3 14.axb3 Nb7 15.b4 Nd7 16.Be3 Nb6 17.Nfd2 Bd7 and went on to win in 42 moves. Another way is 12...Ne8 13.b3 g6 followed by 14...Ng7 to play for f7-f5.) 13.a4 Bd7 14.b3 Nb6 15.a5 Nc8 (The future of this knight is not bright.)

16.c4!? (Kasparov prefers 16.b4, but Veselin Topalov's new idea, connects the pawn chain and gives white more space in his camp for maneuvering.) 16...b4 (In the game Topalov-Shirov, Linares 2004, black tried 16...g6, but after 17.Nc3 Nh5 18.Ne2 Re8 19.Ra2 Bf8 20.g4 Ng7 21.Ng3 was pushed back and white won in 45 moves.) 17.Nbd2 g6 18.Nf1 Nh5 19.Bh6 Re8 (Black's counterplay on the kingside lies in the advance of the f-pawn. But after 19...Ng7 20.g4 f6 21.Ng3 Rf7, with the idea 21...Bf8 and 22...Ne7, white simple plays 22.Nh2 followed by 23.f4 and black is too late.) 20.Qd2 Bf8 21.g4 Ng7 (Alexander Baburin's suggested pawn sacrifice, 21...Nf4 22.Bxf4 exf4 23.Qxf4 Bg7, gets black some play on the dark squares, but after 24.Ra2 white is a healthy pawn up.) 22.N3h2 Qd8 (Pegging his pieces on the last rank.)

23.f4! (Adams comes first with the f-pawn break and the game becomes one-sided.) 23...exf4 (After 23...Qh4? 24.Bg5 Qxh3 25.Re3, white traps the black queen.) 24.Qxf4 Qe7 (Unfortunately, black can't get the bishop on the long diagonal. After 24...Be7 25.Ne3 Bf6 26.Rf1 Bxa1 27.Qxf7+ Kh8 28.Bg5! Ne7 29.Rxa1, white threatens to win with 30.Bf6.) 25.Nf3 (Threatening to win the queen with 26.Bg5 f6 27.Bxf6 Qf7 28.Ng5.) 25...f6 26.Ng3 Rd8 (Black pieces are in the way of each other.) 27.Rf1 Ne8 28.Bxf8 Qxf8 (Black managed to exchange bishops, but almost all his pieces are on the back rank. Adams finds an original breakthrough.)

29.e5! (Designed to weaken black's pawn structure, especially the pawn on c5.) 29...dxe5 (After 29...fxe5 30.Qxf8+ Kxf8 31.Nxe5+ Kg8 [ 31...Ke7 32.Rf7 mates.] 32.Nf7 the black rook is jammed by his own pieces and white wins the exchange.) 30.Nxe5 Ncd6 31.Rae1 Qg7 32.Nd3 Rac8 33.Qf2!? (Finding the target on c5. Black loses a pawn.) 33...f5?! (A desperate effort to muddy the game.) 34.Ne5 (A positional approach, but there was nothing wrong with 34.Nxc5 fxg4 35.Nxa6 gxh3 36.Nxb4 when white cleans black's queenside, ready to advance his pawns.) 34...Nf6 (Black surrenders a pawn, but after 34...fxg4 35.hxg4 white keeps the grip on the suffocated black pieces.) 35.Nxd7 Rxd7 36.gxf5 g5 (Desperately trying to blockade the position at the cost of a pawn. But after 36...gxf5 37.Kh2 the g-file opens to white's favor.) 37.Re6 Kh8 38.Bd1 g4 39.hxg4 Rg8 (After 39...Nxg4 40.f6! Qg5 41.Bxg4 Qxg4 42.Qf4 black is paralyzed.) 40.Qf4! Nxg4 41.Bxg4 Qxg4 42.Qxg4 Rxg4 43.Kh2 h5 44.Kh3 Rd4 45.f6 (Threatening 46.Rxd6! Rxd6 47.f7 promoting the pawn.) 45...Nf7 46.Rf5 Black resigns.

Solution to today's study by V. Smyslov (White: Kf1,Rb1,P:b5,g2,g3; Kd8,Ra8,P:a3,g5): 1.b6! a2 2.Ra1 Kc8 3.g4! Kb7 4.g3 Kxb6 5.Kg2 Kb5 6.Kh3 Kb4 7.Rxa2! Rxa2 stalemate.

White draws.