arvind aaron

THE relationship between World No. 1 Garry Kasparov and chess journalists doesn't necessarily inspire much confidence. As is customary, the best game of the tournament prize was announced during the closing ceremony of the 20th City of Linares chess tournament. It was awarded to Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan, the baby of the tournament, for his second round win against Kasparov. As soon as the announcement was made, Kasparov darted from his front row seat (reserved for seven players) to the podium for an angry outburst.

"I believe that this one is not the best game of the tournament. It has been chosen solely because it was the only game that I lost, and I consider this as a public insult and a humiliation." He continued, "It is the greatest insult that they have done to me in my life. It is an insult towards me and chess. You consider yourself chess journalists? If you think that this was the most beautiful game in Linares, you are damaging chess with your reports and articles. Radjabov was completely lost in that game."

There were only 15 decisive games in the whole tournament for the journalists to cast their vote for deciding the best game. Leko's win over Radjabov had a scintillating finish but the prize was for the best game and not the best combination. One can't discount that the former world champion's first defeat in seven years with white pieces did have an effect in picking the best game, but Kasparov could have reserved his opinion at a press conference. By rushing to the microphone and criticising journalists, who in the past have voted him for several Chess Oscars, he has displayed how sensitive he can get at times of defeat.

Last year, Kasparov refused a press conference after having won the tournament by a huge 1.5-point margin. World over journalists consider his not winning as a `big relief' in many ways, as they get to listen to a new champion. In the past too, there have been occasions when Kasparov has blown his top after a loss. During the 1996 Chess Olympiad at Yerevan, capital of Armenia, Kasparov was disappointed that he did not win the gold medal for the best individual performance on the top board. When the dignitary tried to award him the silver medal, Kasparov swayed his head, grabbed the medal and wrapped it in his hands in an act of sheer disrespect. By challenging a routinely taken vote, Kasparov has only succeeded in further tarnishing his image.