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Friday, May 29, 1998

World finals in December

By Quah Seng Sun

THE executive council of the World Chess Federation (FIDE), which met earlier this month in Bled, Slovenia, has unanimously approved the staging of the World Chess Championship finals this December. The event will be played in Las Vegas and carry a prize fund of US$3mil (about RM11.4mil).

This resolution is seen as further endorsement of the decision by FIDE president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov to change the two-year world championship cycle to an annual event.

Ilyumzhinov, who chaired the executive council meeting, said his action was motivated by the need to seize the initiative after the success of the last world championship in Groningen and Lausanne, which was held under the patronage of the International Olympic Committee.

The council lauded Ilyumzhinov's offer to increase the prize fund from US$5mil (RM19mil) to US$6mil (RM22.8mil) over two years, and noted that the rules and regulations used in last year's event provided an adequate legal framework for the change.

The regulations will be finalised by a committee which will set November as the deadline for the world championship cycle qualifiers to sign their player's contracts with FIDE.

The council re-emphasised the decision adopted at last year's general assembly in Kishinev that top players would not be granted any special privilege that could be seen as giving them an unfair sporting advantage over other participants.

At the last world championship cycle, FIDE was heavily criticised for allowing Anatoly Karpov direct entry into the final match against Viswanathan Anand. It was felt at that time that Anand, after having survived an exhausting knock-out series of games in Groningen, would be too tired to play against a fresh Karpov.

From this year's event, the world champion will be required to join the knock-out series from the second round. A number of other top players like Gary Kasparov and Vladimir Kramnik will also enter the world championship from the second round.

According to FIDE, these players will be chosen based on their best average ratings from the January and July rating lists this year.

Also approved at the executive council meeting was a proposal to increase the number of zonal qualifiers. It was hoped that this move would encourage the top players to participate in their respective national championships and zonal events.

Meanwhile, in another discussion by the FIDE executive council, Ilyumzhinov insisted that the national chess federations must get their national Olympic committees to support the move to recognise chess as a sport.

So far, FIDE has received 49 letters signed by various national Olympic committees. He wanted another 50 letters before officially asking the International Olympic Committee's secretariat to put the matter into its agenda.

Up next

Johor open: Organised by the Johor Chess Association with assistance from Pelangi Berhad, this event will be staged at the Menara Pelangi on June 7. It will be played over six Swiss rounds and divided into the open, under-16 and under-12 sections. Winners will get cash prizes.

Entry fees for the open section are RM10 for men and RM6 for women. Players have to pay RM6 to join the under-16 event, and RM5 for the under-12. For entry forms or more details, call Sumathy ( 07-332 4366), Wong ( 07-333 0931), Lim ( 07-861 5951) or Cheong ( 016-720 2272). Entries will close next Friday at 4pm.

National age-group: The Malaysian Chess Federation will hold the national age-group championship in Shah Alam from June 5 to 7. Although medals will only be given to the winners this year, the MCF will continue to select players from this event to play in the world age-group championship later in the year.

Malaysia-Singapore: The annual Malaysia-Singapore match will be played at the Putra World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur on June 27 and 28.

Royal Selangor open: The Royal Selangor silver jubilee open chess tournament is now on at the Sunway College in Subang Jaya, Selangor (final on Sunday).

Sakura Selangor girls junior: This two-day event starts tomorrow at the Sunway College.

Penang Bayview League: The eighth Penang Bayview Chess League will kick off on June 7 at The City Bayview Hotel. The games will be played every Sunday until mid-August. Entry fees are RM150 per team and there will be cash prizes for the top teams in each of the three divisions.

Closing date for entries is tomorrow, and a managers' meeting will take place at the hotel next Wednesday at 8pm. For more details, call Goh Yoon Wah ( 04-644 5687), Ooi Kiem Boo ( 04-826 3764) or Eoh Hook Kim ( 04-826 0196) in the evenings.

Penang AGM: The Penang Chess Association will hold its annual general meeting on Sunday at the Bayan Baru Residents Association clubhouse. The meeting at 6pm will be preceded by a blitz tournament one hour earlier. Members of the association who wish to play in the blitz event are required to be at the clubhouse by 4pm. There will be dinner for the members after the meeting.

Game of the week

REMEMBER the World Chess Council which was formed by Gary Kasparov and Luis Rentero last March to look into staging a match between Kasparov and the winner of another match between Vladimir Kramnik and Viswanathan Anand?

When Anand refused to be associated with this World Chess Council, Rentero decided that Alexei Shirov would take Anand's place in the match. Two months down the road, the match between Kramnik and Shirov finally began last Sunday in Cazorla, Spain.

The first game of the match was drawn after 25 moves. For most of the game, the players followed chess opening theory. The match will be played over 10 games. Here is the first game:

Kramnik vs Shirov

1. d4 Nf6, 2. c4 g6, 3. Nc3 d5, 4. cxd5 Nxd5, 5. e4 Nxc3, 6. bxc3 Bg7, 7. Bc4 0-0, 8. Ne2 c5, 9. 0-0 Nc6, 10. Be3 Bg4, 11. f3 Na5, 12. Bd3 cxd4, 13. cxd4 Be6, 14. Rc1 Bxa2, 15. Qa4 Bb3 16. Qb4 b6, 17. Bg5 f6, 18. Bf4 e5, 19. Be3 exd4, 20. Nxd4 Bf7, 21. Ba6 Re8, 22. Rfd1 Qe7, 23. Qxe7 Rxe7, 24. Nc6 Nxc6, 25. Rxc6 (1/2-1/2)

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