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Friday, September 18, 1998


The grand match is off

By Quah Seng Sun

DO YOU remember the formation of the World Chess Council (WCC) earlier this year, and especially the joint announcement by Gary Kasparov and his Spanish friend Luis Rentero? No? Then let me take you back to the start of the Linares super-grandmaster tournament in February.

On Feb 27, I mentioned that Kasparov had an important announcement to make before the start of Linares. I wrote:

Yes, he did make an announcement but I could not help laughing when I learnt what it was all about. Do you know what Kasparov did? He announced the formation of yet another chess organisation: the World Chess Council!

I suppose I should not have been surprised, but I was caught unaware. Clearly, I am amazed by this man's gall. How many so-called organisations has he created or helped to create in the last 12 years to promote his own ends, and how many chess professionals will fall for it again just like the way they fell for his past endeavours?

There was the Professional Chess Association and before it, the Grandmaster Association. All had the Kasparov touch in their formation, and all suffered the same Kasparov touch when they went into oblivion.

At the opening ceremony of the Linares tournament, he announced that the main purpose of this new body, with Rentero as president, would be to organise a match in Seville and Linares sometime not later than next month, when Kasparov would defend his unilaterally declared version of the world chess championship title.

I said in February that there was every reason to be skeptical about Kasparov's World Chess Council. Would it last or suffer the same fate as its two predecessors?

From the very beginning, the intention of the WCC was to find a suitable person to play a match with Kasparov. In Linares, Vladimir Kramnik and Viswanathan Anand -- owing to their numbers two and three positions in the world at that time -- were identified as the ones who would play an elimination match to decide the challenger to Kasparov.

But Anand refused to be a part of this arrangement, saying he would honorably stand by an agreement he had earlier signed with the World Chess Federation (FIDE) that he would not take part in any similar world championship series organised by a rival chess body.

Rentero then announced that Linares winner Alexei Shirov would fill Anand's shoes. The elimination match was played in June and an inspired Shirov confounded his critics by destroying Kramnik in a nine-game match.

Since the end of that match, nothing more was heard about the WCC in public. But things were brewing in the background. Earlier this month, Kasparov admitted to the world that his WCC match with Shirov was off. The reason? Funding for the match could not be found.

A long statement issued by Kasparov gave background details of the formation of the WCC and of how Rentero had initially promised to raise a US$2.1mil (RM8mil) prize fund, a promise which was short-circuited due to some political problems in Seville, capital of the Spanish region of Andalucia. At first, Rentero refused to acknowledge that he was having problems but later, when pressed by Kasparov, Rentero said his attempts to find alternative funding for the match had failed.

I really do not know who is the most disappointed about the way the events have unfolded: Kasparov, Rentero or Shirov. Rentero has been deathly quiet about the whole affair and Kasparov has called on him to explain his side of the story and also decide on the future of the WCC. The WCC, for all its worth, has been successful only in holding the Kramnik-Shirov match in its six months of existence.

As for Shirov, I hear that he has already completely written off the WCC from his mind. In the latest issue of New In Chess magazine, grandmaster Valery Salov claimed that Shirov has not been paid his winnings although Kramnik had received half of his loser's purse. In the meantime, the clearest indication that the WCC has failed miserably came from Shirov himself who has decided to play for the Spanish team in FIDE's Chess Olympiad which shall be starting in Elista, Russia, in eight days' time.

Let me end this item on the World Chess Council by quoting from New In Chess again. It is a joke: What does WCC stand for? Salov does not claim authorship for it, but he says it stands for World Chess Cancelled. Come to think about it, he is not wrong.

Still on world chess, FIDE announced recently that it has signed a contract with the American firm, Fishman Associates and Co, to organise the next world chess championship at the new Belaggio hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, from Nov 29 to Dec 27.

The championship will use the same knock-out system employed last year in Groningen and Lausanne. There will be six rounds with two games and a tie-break, followed by six games and a tie-break for the final. These regulations will be finalised at FIDE's general assembly meeting in Elista.

The prize fund will be US$3mil (RM11.4mil), with the eventual world champion getting US$660,000 (RM2.5mil). This championship will see 100 players taking part. The majority will be from Europe but all the continents will be represented by the winners of the various FIDE zonal championships.

(As a matter of interest, Malaysia is one of the countries in FIDE's Zone 3.2 but until today, the zonal championship has not been held to select the qualifiers to the world chess championship.

Between the end of the Elista Chess Olympiad and the start of the Las Vegas world championship, there will be only about 1 1/2 months for Zone 3.2 to get its house in order.)

The Penang Chess Association will stage the second leg of the Penang Grand Prix chess circuit at the Bukit Mertajam Country Club on Oct 4. More details next week.

Games of the week

SINCE last week, Gary Kasparov and Jan Timman have been engaged in a friendly six-game match in Prague in the Czech Republic. This was originally meant to be a training match for Kasparov in preparation for his now-defunct WCC match with Alexei Shirov.

The total prize fund for the match was US$100,000 (RM380,000) with the winner receiving US$65,000 (RM245,000) and the EuroTel trophy. The match was sponsored by EuroTel, Siemens and several other commercial organisations.

Kasparov won the match 4-2. The second and third games were won by him, while the remaining games were drawn. Here are Kasparov's winning games:

Timman vs Kasparov (Game 2)

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 dxc4 5. e3 b5 6. a4 b4 7. Nb1 Ba6 8. Qc2 b3 9. Qd1 e6 10. Be2 c5 11. O-O Nc6 12. Ne5 Rc8 13. Na3 cxd4 14. Naxc4 Qd5 15. Bf3 Ne4 16. Nxc6 Rxc6 17. Nd2 f5 18. Re1 d3 19. Nxb3 e5 20. Bd2 Rb6 21. Bxe4 fxe4 22. Nc1 Rxb2 23. Bc3 d2 24. Rf1 Bxf1 25. Bxb2 Bc4 26. Ne2 Bb3 27. Nc3 Bxd1 28. Nxd5 Bb3 29. Nc3 Bb4 30. Nd1 O-O (0-1)

Kasparov vs Timman (Game 3)

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 O-O 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. Qxc3 b6 7. Bg5 c5 8. e3 d6 9. Bd3 cxd4 10. exd4 d5 11. cxd5 Qxd5 12. Bxf6 gxf6 13. Ne2 Rd8 14. Ng3 Qxd4 15. Be4 Qxc3+ 16. bxc3 Rd5 17. Rd1 Bb7 18. Bxd5 Bxd5 19. Nh5 Nd7 20. c4 Bc6 21. Rxd7 Bxd7 22. Nxf6+ Kg7 23. Nxd7 f6 24. Ke2 Rc8 25. Rc1 Rc7 26. Nb8 (1-0)

Chess enthusiasts can contact Quah Seng Sun via e-mail ( His chess articles are archived at Malaysia On-Line which readers can visit at

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