Friday, August 13, 1999
World chess championship heating up
By Quah Seng Sun
THE US3mil (RM11.4mil) world chess championship that is now currently taking place at the famed Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, United States, has proven to be an exciting showcase of the world's top chess talents. The championship opened on July 30 and will run until Aug 29. The World Chess Federation's president, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, opened the event which included welcome messages from US President Bill Clinton and IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch. The IOC was represented by its vice-president, Anita de France, who welcomed FIDE into the IOC fold.
Ilyumzhinov was glad that FIDE was running an event under the IOC umbrella for the first time and at a press conference later, he said that chess could be a demonstration sport at the Sydney Olympics. He said the world championship would be held as a knockout event every year and three bids--from Sun City (South Africa), Dortmund (Germany) and Hong Kong (China)--have so far been received for next year's event. The bidding deadline is Nov 20 and a decision will be announced during FIDE's 75th anniversary celebrations in Paris.
Ilyumzhinov also took a swipe at what he called "the ambitions of some of our leading players". Both the FIDE men's and women's champions, Anatoly Karpov and Zsuzsa Polgar, had refused to play in Las Vegas and their absence have thrown their respective championship cycles into chaos. Garry Kasparov and Viswanathan Anand were also absent.
While Polgar can blame FIDE for not being able to find a sponsor for a women's title match for more than a year, Karpov has simply held the organisation to ransom. There were reports that Karpov still insisted on playing only the winner of the Las Vegas world championship.
Out of the 72 players who were scheduled to contest the first round, three players failed to show up. The Iranian IM Amir Bagheri and Syrian IM Imad Hakki fell foul of visa problems while Switzerland's Vadim Milov, who was under the impression that he did not have to arrive until Aug 3 and was still playing in a Swiss tournament, also did not show up for the first game. Milov subsequently arrived in time for the second game and on appeal, won the right to play his first game on the day set aside for playoffs.
Except for Chinese GM Peng Xiaomin and Filipino GM Rogelio Antonio Jr (Philippines) who advanced to the second round, none of the other Asian representatives cleared the first hurdle. Indian GM Dibyendu Barua fell to GM Alexander Khalifman (Russia), Indonesian GM Utut Adianto lost to IM Daniel Fridman (Latvia), Australian FM Vladimir Feldman lost to GM Jordi Magem (Spain), Chinese IM Liang Chong lost to GM Goran Dizdar (Croatia), Uzbek GM Rustam Kasimdzhanov lost to GM Christian Bauer (France) and Kazakh GM Pavel Kotsur lost to GM Sergey Dolmatov (Russia).
The surviving 36 players then joined 28 other participants who have been seeded directly into the second round by virtue of their high Fide ratings. The greatest interest was shown in American GM Gata Kamsky who was playing his first chess games since 1996. It is widely known that Kamsky had completed a four-year medical course in just two-and-a-half years.
Kamsky's comeback was short-lived as he crashed to Khalifman. However, true to form, he still managed to raise a protest to the organisers after losing the second game. His father, Rustam, excitedly explained to journalists that he had been disturbed during the game. Later, Kamsky decided to withdraw his letter as he had made no protest to the arbiter during play. With no decision to appeal and the prospect of losing a US$400 (RM1,520) submission fee to a technicality, he changed his mind.
The Asian interest in the world championship ended in this round when Antonio lost to GM Vladimir Akopian (Armenia) and Peng lost to GM Zoltan Almasi (Hungary).
By the third round, the field had been reduced to 32 players. The biggest upset was registered in Russian GM Peter Svidler's elimination at the hands of Bulgarian GM Kiril Georgiev. Swiss GM Viktor Korchnoi, the oldest participant at 68, lost valiantly to Russian GM Vladimir Kramnik. Kramnik, at 4/1, is the bookmakers' obvious choice to win the championship. Other odds offered by the bookmakers as at Sunday were 6/1 for Spanish GM Alexei Shirov, 7/1 for English GM Michael Adams, and 8/1 for both English GM Nigel Short and Ukrainian GM Vassily Ivanchuk.
The field for the fourth round consisted of only 16 players. At press time, only the pairings for this round are known. Bulgarian GM Veselin Topalov is meeting Kramnik, Adams is playing Russian GM Alexey Dreev, Czech GM Sergei Movsesian will play Bulgarian GM Alexei Fedorov, Georgiev will meet Akopian, Hungarian GM Judit Polgar will play Russian GM Vadim Zvjaginsev, Khalifman will play Israeli GM Boris Gelfand, Romanian GM Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu will play Ivanchuk, and Shirov is down to meet Short.
The elimination process will continue until this Sunday when only four players will remain from the original 100. The four will play a four-game knock-out match to determine the final two players who will then play six games beginning on Aug 21. The winner of this six-game match will be declared the new world chess champion on Aug 29.
Although readers can follow the progress of the world chess championship from the official website at www.worldfide.com, there are other chess pages on the Internet which provide comprehensive coverage. Among them are the Inside Chess Online homepage at www.insidechess.com and the Club Kasparov homepage at www.clubkasparov.ru
Free School lifts Bayview title again
For the third successive year, the Bayview Chess League challenge trophy has gone the way of the Penang Free School. In the ninth edition of this annual chess competition in Penang, the PFS "A" team came from behind to edge out a disappointed Chung Ling High School from the championship rostrum.
Going into the final round last Sunday, CLHS "A" was leading the nine-team Premier Division with 20.5 points, a mere half a point ahead of its closest rivals. But CLHS "A" faced a daunting task in the final round as it was playing International College which had FM Ooi Chern Ee on the first board. While the remaining boards were easy pushovers for the Chung Ling players, Ng Tze Han could do no more than to play Ooi to a draw.
The 3.5-0.5 setback for CLHS "A" meant that PFS "A" could catch up with them in the final round. This the Frees duly attained when Chung Ling High School "B" valiantly tried but could not prevent a 0-4 drubbing. On tie-break, the Bayview challenge trophy and the first prize were awarded to PFS "A".
The final standings in the Premier Division: PFS A and CLHS A 24 points each, Chung Ling Old Boys' Association 23.5 points, Old Frees' Association 21.5 points, PFS B 12 points, Pessca 11 points, CLHS B 10.5 points, International College 9.5 points, and St Xavier's Institution eight points.
Penang Free School C was the winner in Division One, followed by the newcomers to the Bayview Chess League, Dell Computers A. Dell A, despite thumping the MSSPP Girls 4-0, could not overtake PFS C. Chung Ling High School C's loss to PFS C meant that the Penang Chess Association Novices leap-frogged over them to clinch the third prize.
The final standings in Division One: PFS C 27 points, Dell A 25.5 points, PCA Novices 22.5 points, CLHS C 21.5 points, Penang Development Corporation 20 points, Chung Ling High School D 19.5 points, Hitachi 17 points, MSSPP Girls 13 points, Hewlett-Packard 11.5 points and Penang Free School D 2.5 points.
And in Division Two, Chung Hwa Confucian School moved into first place ahead of Chung Ling High School E with a 4-0 annihilation of Penang Free School F. CLHS E, which had a bye in the final round, took the second prize. Third was the Penang Chinese Girls High School.
The standings in Division Two: Chung Hwa 23 points, CLHS E 21.5 points, PCGHS 20 points, Penang Chess Association Ladies 19 points, MSSPP Juniors 16.5 points, Union High School 15.5 points, Penang Free School E 13.5 points, Dell B 13 points, and Penang Free School "F" two points.
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