Gata Kamsky was knocked down but not out. The only remaining American in the FIDE World Cup in Khanty-Mansyisk, Russia, is one match away from qualifying for the FIDE world championship despite losing to Alexander Grischuk of Russia in the round of 16.

According to a complicated formula, it now appears that 11 players from the World Cup can advance to the next stage of the world championship, assuming that Garry Kasparov and Vladimir Kramnik decline to participate. Kamsky is now in a group of four tied for the ninth to 12th place. If he wins one of his two remaining matches, he advances. The 15-year-old Norwegian sensation Magnus Carlsen is in the same situation.

The World Cup concludes this week. Kamsky's loss in the following Spanish game decided his match against Grischuk.


1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0-0 (Preparing the Marshall Attack 8.c3 d5.) 8.h3 Bb7 9.d3 d6 10.a3 (In his book "Fire on Board Part II: 1997-2004," Alexei Shirov gives credit for developing the strategic ideas in this Anti-Marshall variation to Zigurds Lanka. The main plan is to control the center by keeping the square c3 free for the knight and the light bishop on the a2-g8 diagonal.) 10...h6 (Kamsky is preparing to regroup with 11...Re8 and 12...Bf8. Against Shirov, Dos Hermanas 1996, he connected his rooks with 10...Qd7. The straightforward central control with 10...Na5 11.Ba2 c5 seems to be the most popular option. The retreat 10...Nb8 in the style of Gyula Breyer can be put out of commission with Vlastimil Jansa's discovery 11.c4! Nbd7 12.Nc3 c6 13.d4!, transferring into the game Geller-Spassky, Riga 1958, where black was smashed in 39 moves.)

11.Nc3 Re8 12.Nd5 (Establishing a dominant knight on d5. White's next plan is to build up a strong pawn center with c2-c3 and d3-d4.) 12...Nxd5?! 13.Bxd5 Qc8 14.c3 Nd8 15.d4 Bf6 (It looks like black has succeeded in protecting his center, but Grischuk finds an excellent knight maneuver and keeps the advantage.)

16.Nh2! exd4 17.Ng4 Bg5 (Almost forced, since after 17...dxc3 18.Nxf6+ gxf6 19.Re3! or after 17...Bh4 18.Bxh6! black can hardly survive the onslaught.) 18.cxd4 Bxd5 19.exd5 Rxe1+ 20.Qxe1 Kf8 (Black can't let the white queen go to the eighth rank, for example 20...Qf5 21.Bxg5 Qxg5 22.Qe8+ Kh7 23.Ne3 Qf4 24.Rd1 and black has problems with attaining harmony among his pieces.) 21.Bxg5 hxg5 22.Qe3 f6 (Chasing the knight with 22...f5 only creates weaknesses.) 23.Re1 Qd7 (White's double-pawn on the d-file controls the squares c6, c5, e6 and e5, limiting the black knight. After 23...Nf7 24.Qe7+ Kg8 25.Ne3, black is tied up and white threatens 26.Rc1.)

24.h4! (A flashy move, aiming to tear apart black's fortress. Black can't touch the knight, since after 24...Qxg4 25.Qe8 mates.) 24...Nf7 (After 24...gxh4 the knight sacrifice 25.Nxf6! works to perfection: 25...gxf6 26.Qh6+ Kg8 [or 26...Qg7 27.Re8+ wins] 27.Qxf6! Qf7 [27...Nf7 is met by 28.Re7] 28.Qg5+ Kf8 29.Qh6+ Kg8 30.Re4 Qg7 31.Qxh4 and black is defenseless.) 25.Qe6 Rd8? (Kamsky misses his chance to save the game. He should have exchanged the queens 25...Qxe6, since after 26.dxe6 Nh6 27.Nxh6 gxh6 28.hxg5 hxg5, white can't keep the bind either after 29.d5 c6! or after 29.Rc1 Ke7 30.d5 c5!) 26.h5! (Threatening to break black's resistance with 27.h6!) 26...f5?! (White can refute this advance with a beautiful combination. However, after 26...Qxe6 27.dxe6 Re8 28.d5, black is still in dire straits either after 28...Ne5 29.Nxe5 dxe5 30.Rc1 Rd8 31.Rxc7 Rxd5 32.Rf7+ Kg8 33.Rxg7+! Kxg7 34.h6+ and white queens; or after 28...c6 29.Ne3! Ne5 30.Nf5 cxd5 31.e7+ Kg8 32.Rc1 g6 33.hxg6 Nxg6 34.Rc7 and black can hardly move, since 34...Kf7 runs into 35.Nd6+. White simply brings his king to the center and wins.)

27.Nf6!! (The horse leaps in with incredible force.) 27...gxf6 (After 27...Qxe6 28.dxe6 gxf6 29.e7+ white wins the exchange.) 28.Qxf6 Re8 29.Re6! Qd8 (After 29...Rxe6 30.dxe6 Qe7 31.Qxf5 white wins easily.) 30.Qxf5 g4 31.Rf6! Re7 32.h6! (The last piece in the attacking puzzle.) 32...Qd7 33.Qg6 (After 33...Re1+ 34.Kh2 Qe8 35.h7 Ke7 36.Rxf7+ Qxf7 37.Qxf7+ Kxf7 38.h8Q wins.) Black resigned.

Books to Enjoy

Three extraordinary books can make nice holiday gifts for advanced players. Jonathan Rowson, one of the premier chess thinkers, shows how to find good moves in different phases of the game, especially for black, in "Chess for Zebras." One of the year's best reads.

John Nunn covers the last 10 years of his remarkable playing career in a well-organized new book, "Grandmaster Chess Move by Move." The comments to his 64 best games are excellent as usual. He also includes his studies and problems. Both books were issued by Gambit Publications.

Edward Winter's passion for correcting historical details comes through delightfully in his work "Chess Facts and Fables," published by McFarland. It can be obtained at or by calling 800-253-2187. Solution to today's two-mover by E. Wirtanen (White: Ka2,Qh1,Rb3; Black: Kc4,Bb8,P:c5,d4): 1.Qa8! Bc7 2.Qg8 mate; or 1...d3 2.Qe4 mate.

White mates in two moves.