Another new world body

LIKE every year, Chess Classic had its own Open tournaments, Chess960 Match, Simultaneous Exhibition Matches and an open tournament for Chess960. All of them were under the rapid chess umbrella.

ARVIND AARON

LIKE every year, Chess Classic had its own Open tournaments, Chess960 Match, Simultaneous Exhibition Matches and an open tournament for Chess960. All of them were under the rapid chess umbrella.

Russian teenager Alexander Grischuk ranked No.6 in the world, won the Ordix Open. — Pic. ARVIND AARON-

A new world body under the name, World New Chess Association (WNCA) was born on August 14 with Jens Beutel, Mayor of Mainz as the President and Hans-Walter Schmitt, Chess Classic organiser as Secretary.

It had its own politics with the German Chess Federation opposing the move and wanting the new body to be part of it and not floated as a separate world body.

Ordix Open

World No. 6 ranked Russian teenager Alexander Grischuk won the Ordix Open tournament held on August 16 and 17, with a 9.5/11 score to finish ahead of the other 495 players. "I could not afford to take draws like in other tournaments," said the 19-year-old Grischuk who won his first tournament in three years exhibiting a splendid fighting spirit.

The Open tournaments had a prize money of 33,333 Euros (about Rs.17.66 lakhs). The sad plight was that many Grandmasters left with a net loss for having participated. Except for those in the elite list, the other Grandmasters in the world top 100 find money from chess hard to come by.

Other placings: 2-6 Ivan Sokolov (Ned), Eric Lobron (Ger), Jozsef Pinter (Hun), Vladimir Epishin (Ger), Andrei Volokitin (Rus) 9 each. A total of 496 players including 50 Grandmasters took part in this two-day contest.

Chess960 Simultaneous Display

After the drawing of lots and the opening press conference, Peter Leko of Hungary and Peter Svidler of Russia played a 20-board Chess960 simultaneous display. Both players won 15 games and drew five after a tiring effort on August 13.

Levon Aronian of Armenia bagged the Chess 960 open title. — Pic. ARVIND AARON-

Chess960 was earlier called Fischerandom Chess with the rules being identical to chess but the start position of the pieces on the lower deck being shuffled in a random manner decided by the computer. Both sides will have identical positioning. The idea, a brainchild of Robert James Fischer, is to help the creative side of chess flourish and inhibit opening preparation which some say has been destructive for infrequent players.

Chess960 Open Tournament

Levon Aronian, 21, of Armenia won the Chess960 Open tournament that took place on August 14 and 15. He scored 9.5 points from 11 games to emerge a clear winner. Aronian, ranked No. 44 in the world, who won the World Juniors last year at Goa in India, suffered a penultimate round defeat but bounced back in the last round. He shocked Bulgarian Kiril Georgiev, now playing for Macedonia to win the tournament.

Grandmasters Vadim Zviaginsev of Russia and Konstantin Landa of Germany finished second-third with nine points each. A total of 179 players took part in this event of which 50 were Grandmasters. All players in a round were given identical positions.

In the opening round, top seed Grischuk was held to a draw by the Mayor of Mainz, Jens Beutel. On the face one might understand that Grischuk played easy. In reality it was the other way round. Beutel had an extra pawn and gave the draw in a winning ending. Later, Grischuk said he hated playing Chess960 and it hurt him more since it was invented by his favourite player Bobby Fischer.

A lone Indian R. R. Vasudevan of Chennai participated in this Chess960 Open. "I came late for one game and made two quick moves and at the end of it I lost a rook!," he said. In a normal chess game, rooks are tucked in the edge of the board and come into play after castling and are exchanged off or captured only in the middle game. Chess960 is an exciting diversion.

`Tendulkar' wins World title

Svidler, the chubby Russian from St. Petersburg, won the World Chess960 title wresting it from Peter Leko of Hungary by 4.5-3.5. He is an ardent cricket fan. When Anand, Polgar and Leko came to game seven, looking nervous, there was `Tendulkar' even more tensed. Will England win the Test match against South Africa was on top of his mind. Not the Chess960 match. Clearly, this helped Peter Svidler win the title after he came from behind to take the match.

Russia's Peter Svidler (right) won the World Chess960 title, defeating Peter Leko of Hungary 4.5-3.5. — Pic. ARVIND AARON-

Svidler, 27, World No. 8 in the Elo list, plays online chess under the nickname `Tendulkar'. This match started with draws and was closely fought. Both players missed and gave chances to the other. They had to alter regular chess strategies, mainly relating to the safety of the king and development of the pieces.

"This was the first world championship where the contestants did not know the rules. We did not know if we could castle in one game," said Svidler. "Peter used all his chances," Leko said about Svidler's success. "In each game, Peter had the better of the opening," said Svidler.

The players arrived early at the board and started to concentrate taking as much as one minute for their first move. They needed to get the feel of the start position, which Anand and Polgar did not require on the adjacent table. Svidler, a father of twins, was the more relaxed player.

Hans-Walter Schmitt (middle), representing the newly formed chess body, the World New Chess Association (WNCA), watches Svidler and Leko in action. — Pic. ARVIND AARON-

Organisers said that this match was fought to the expected levels. The manager of the `Baden Oos Chess Club' from Baden Baden was delighted at the results for it was a double triumph for his club. Both Anand and Svidler won and they play for his team. It was a blow to the Hungarians, as both Judit Polgar and Leko lost after taking the lead.

Next year, Svidler will be back in Mainz to defend his title against Levon Aronian. They plan to have a new world championship cycle from March 2004 for Chess960. "960" since there are as many possibilities to start each game. One of them is the regular chess start position.

Chess & Politics

Germany is the latest hot spot for chess politics. When the WNCA (World New Chess Association) was formed, the President of the German Chess Federation suggested that they (WCNA) be a part of them as other similar variants of chess like `fairy chess'. Defending their decision to be alone, Hans-Walter Schmitt said `we have professional companies sponsoring our events and we like to be a world body having our own world chess960 championships.'

Round two of the conflict of words started at the closing dinner. There, in his speech, the President of the German Chess Federation came up with the topic again. Once again, Hans-Walter Schmitt, representing WCNA, defended his decision to stay alone and invited the German Chess Federation to be a part of WCNA if it so wished. The show was organised by Chess Tigers, a chess club consisting of players from Frankfurt and Mainz area.

The formation of rival chess bodies was necessary in 1993 when FIDE world champion Garry Kasparov and his challenger Nigel Short walked out of the official body and played under a new body `Professional Chess Association'. In 1998, the World Chess Council was formed by Linares organiser Luis Rentero. All of them are presently non-existent. Vladimir Kramnik's world title is owned by Einstein Group and after the completion of the proposed reunification plan FIDE will become the absolute organiser of all future world championships. "Chess960 is not a rival to chess or FIDE, it is for people who leave chess at 25 or 30 for the sake of their careers and return when they retire from their jobs. We want them to play chess, not learn theory and memorise them," says Schmitt.

Fischer's ideas have been very futuristic. But how would he have reacted if someone else had mooted this idea in 1972 before he became world champion. He learnt the same chess theory of which Kasparov, Kramnik and Anand are masters in today's world.