This article by Quah Seng-Sun was originally published in THE STAR, a Malaysian newspaper, on 20 Mar 1998
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One of the strongest tournaments in chess history ended in Linares last week. In the final round of the tournament, all three games ended drawn and this left India's Viswanathan Anand in undisputed first place, half a point ahead of Alexei Shirov.

Anand, who had been playing solidly for most of the three-week event, catapulted himself to the front of the standings by winning two of his last three games against tail-enders Vassily Ivanchuk and Veselin Topalov who were terribly out of form in this tournament.

In his final game, Anand drew comfortably with Vladimir Kramnik, currently the world number two, and then watched Shirov easily hold off Gary Kasparov in another drawn game.

Anand said after the event that he valued his Linares triumph as much as his results in Reggio Emilia in 1992, in which he finished ahead of Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov, and the recent World Chess Federation's knock-out world championship tournament in Groningen.

Anand is obviously on a hot streak. After Groningen, he flew to Lausanne for his match with Karpov and within a few days of the end of this match, he played in the Category 17 Wijk aan Zee tournament in which he finished tied for the first place. He has now added Linares to his string of triumphs.

Immediately after winning the Linares event, Anand confirmed he would not play any match against Kramnik in Cazorla, Spain, to decide who would face Kasparov in Seville and Linares this October for a US$1.3 million (about RM5 million) showdown.

(This match was jointly announced a month ago by Linares organiser Luis Rentero who said a World Chess Council was being formed to look after the two matches. It was reported that when Anand's reluctance to play Kramnik surfaced, Rentero had tempted Shirov with: "If Anand doesn't play, you will take his place in Cazorla.")

"I have signed a contract with FIDE that prevents me from participating in world championships of other organisations. Even if it is true that the clause in question is poorly worded and maybe would not hold up in court, my signature binds me. I am a man of my word," said Anand.

Days earlier in an interview with The Hindu newspaper, Anand had said that he did not feel like breaking a document that he signed. "I feel uncomfortable with the idea. Just to sign something, then ignore it and play. I also feel that I have a legal obligation not to break it," he added.

Shirov, who finished second after leading the field for most of the way, was probably unlucky not to finish with at least a share of the first prize. The former Latvian grandmaster, who is now settled down in Spain, was well prepared and mentally determined. He produced some of the most convincing chess of his career.

The Linares tournament was probably one of the most disappointing for Kasparov. He won just one game - against Anand in the third round - but never again did he find the momentum to win any more. In fact, Kasparov also played fewer moves than the other players in the tournament.

Incidentally, before the tournament began, Kasparov had grandly announced the World Chess Council with Rentero. At the end of the tournament, Kasparov stood to be fined 500,000 pesetas (about RM12,500) by the same Renteros for playing too many short draws in Linares!

By Kramnik's own standard, his performance should be considered disappointing as he was considered a favourite for one of the top prizes. Kramnik managed to get some nice positions in his games but he was able to convert only two into a win. One of these games, a nice positional effort, was played against Svidler. His only loss was against Shirov.

For Peter Svidler, a three-time champion of Russia, his results in Linares could be considered quite satisfactory as this was his first competition among elite opponents. He recognised that none of his games would be easy and he brought along Nigel Short to prepare for this event.

Ivanchuk's certainly played below many people's expectations in Linares but he contributed greatly to the entertainment in the tournament by scoring a fine win against Shirov. As for Topalov, this was an event which he would like to forget for a long while. Nothing went right for him as he struggled through game after game.

Final standings: Anand 7 1/2 points, Shirov 7 points, Gary Kasparov and Vladimir Kramnik 6 1/2 points each, Peter Svidler 5 1/2 points, Vassily Ivanchuk 5 points, and Veselin Topalov 4 points.


The Penang Free School Chess Club will hold their annual PFS open tournament this Sunday at 8am.

This is an eight-round event and it will be played in the school hall. Entry fee is RM5 per person if you register by tomorrow, and RM7 per person on Sunday.

There are eight cash prizes, and the first prize winner will receive RM200 and a challenge trophy. Trophies will also be given to the best under-10, under-12, under-15 and under-18 players.

Time control for the tournament will be 20 minutes per player for each game in the first two rounds, and 25 minutes per player for each game in the subsequent rounds.

Registration can be made on-line to or alternatively, anyone interested can contact Lim Lih Fong (tel: 04-228-5045) or Teoh Soon Siang (tel: 04-828-2382).


The Perak International Chess Association recently initiated a nine-leg chess grand prix. The first of the grand prix tournaments was organised three weeks ago, and the second leg will be held tomorrow and on Sunday at the Dewan Serbaguna on the first floor of the Perpustakaan Tun Razak in Ipoh.

Six rounds are scheduled for this weekend's tournament, and the time control is 60 minutes per player for each game. Only players who are born, residing, working or studying in Perak will be eligible to take part.

According to PICA secretary Eddy Fong, the overall grand prix standings will be based on the best five tournament performances of each player. The top 24 players at the end of the grand prix series will qualify for the Perak state championship in September this year. The interim grand prix standings will also be used for selecting Perak players to national events like the Merdeka team championship.

Those interested in playing in the second leg must register at the playing venue by 1.15pm tomorrow. For more details, contact WK Wong (tel: 05-366-1692).

Meanwhile, Wong Ming Wai won the Taman D.R. February open tournament in Ipoh last month. The 14-year-old player from Batu Gajah scored 5 1/2 points from six games in a field of 32 players. Wong is considered one of a group of up-and-coming young players in Perak.

Final Standings: Wong Ming Wai 5 1/2 points; Eddy Fong and Mohd Hussein b Jamil 5 points each; Ahmad Mudzafar b Ramli 4 1/2 points; Mohd Johan b Jamil, Aaron Yee, Ahmad Daud, Ooi Chong Hean and Azmi b Ishak 4 points each.


The Klang High School Chess Club will organise an open team chess tournament over two consecutive Saturdays starting tomorrow. This will be a seven-round event, and it will be played in the school's library. Entry fee for each team of four players is RM28.

There are four cash prizes for the boys' category and three cash prizes for the girls' category. In addition to trophies for the five best teams in the boys' category and four best teams in the girls' category, board prizes will also be given.

For more details, contact Tor Wee Liam (tel: 03-341-2448), Yeo Kuan Lok (03-341-2635) or Lim Yee Nah (03-341-0784).

Copyright: Star Publications (M) Berhad. Thank you. Author: SSQuah

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