Chess

CAN you imagine going to an Old Firm fixture and watching the players pass around the ball for a few minutes, shake hands and decide to share the points? Of course, this doesn't happen in football, but it does in chess.

It's a plight in the game known as the "grandmaster draw", where two players rattle off as few as a dozen moves or so, shake hands and pretend to the fans and officials they played a game - and even in one notorious case involving leading chess official Stewart Reuben and Britain's first grandmaster Tony Miles, no moves!

Two years ago, organisers of the elite M-Tel Masters tournament in Sofia, Bulgaria, opted for a radical shake-up to end this farce: they created the "Sofia rules", where players were not allowed to offer a draw. Only the chief arbiter - in consultation with a panel of experts - could call one.

The third M-Tel Masters is again underway in Sofia as six of the world's top players face off in a gladiatorial fight to the death: Veselin Topalov, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Michael Adams, Gata Kamsky, Livu-Dieter Nisipeanu and Krishnan Sasikiran.

It was an event that was especially created for local hero Topalov, who is famed for his uncompromising play and forgoing such grandmaster draws. But sometimes his strategy backfires.

V Topalov - L Nisipeanu

MTel Masters, (1)

Scandinavian Defence

1 e4 d5 2 exd5 Qxd5 3 Nc3 Qd6 4 g3 Nf6 5 Bg2 c6 6 d4 g6 7 Bf4 Qb4 8 Nge2 Bg7 9 Qc1 0-0 10 0-0 Bg4 11 a3 Qa5 12 h3 Bxe2 13 Nxe2 Nbd7 14 c4 e5 15 b4 Qc7 16 dxe5 Nxe5 17 Qc2 a5 18 Rae1 axb4 19 axb4 Rfe8 20 c5 Nd5 21 Bd2 Nd7 22 Qc4 N7f6 23 g4 h5 24 Ng3 hxg4 25 hxg4 Qd7 26 g5 Rxe1 27 Rxe1 Ne8 28 Bf3 Nec7 29 Bg4 Qd8 30 Kg2 Nb5 31 Rd1 Ra1 32 Rxa1 Bxa1 33 Bf3 Be5 34 Ne2 Ndc7 35 Be3 Ne6 36 Bg4 Nbc7 37 Qe4 Bg7 38 f4 Qd1 39 Kf2 Bc3 40 b5 Qe1+ 41 Kg2 Nd5 42 bxc6 bxc6 43 Qd3 Bd4! 44 Bxe6 Nxe3+ 45 Kh2 Qf2+ 46 Kh3 Qf3+ 47 Ng3 Qg2+ 0-1