Canberra Times, March 25

While Garry Kasparov's refusal to shake hands with Alexey Shirov has generated enormous comment and publicity, the deterioration in relations between Shirov and BGN World Champion Vladimir Kramnik has received relatively little attention. 

A few years ago Shirov and Kramnik were, if not good mates then certainly on excellent terms. Yet this week at the exhibition Melody Amber tournament in Monaco, the only contact between the two were the pre and post-game handshakes - the players could not even share a joke after Shirov had blundered his queen in their blindfold game and lost in only 14 moves. 

Kramnik, like Kasparov, believes that Shirov owes him an apology for suggesting that Kramnik would lose his October 2000 world title match against Kasparov without a fight. Shirov believes that Kramnik usurped his challenger's position after Shirov unexpectedly won a 1998 qualifying match against Kramnik. Shirov was not paid for that win (Kramnik received the bulk of his loser's prizemoney) and holds that Kramnik and Kasparov should have set aside a proportion of the multi-million dollar prize fund from their title match to compensate him. 

Shirov is launching legal action to recoup some of his losses but feels that Kramnik and Kasparov are morally responsible for compensating him, even though they did not sign the contract upon which his legal case relies. Given that both Shirov and Kramnik are waiting for reparations which the other does not believe are justified, the situation is unlikely to be resolved soon. As one of the commentators in Monaco noted, boxers can resolve their argument at their next fight - chessplayers hold grudges for life. 


The Hervey Bay Open held earlier this month resulted in a stunning upset with unbackable favourite Stephen Solomon beaten into second place by Gold Coast teenager Matthew Sonter. Sonter scored a perfect 7/7, a point clear of Solomon thanks to the following game.


Solomon-Sonter [0-1] Hervey Bay Open 2001 (9) 2001

 1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 e6 3. c4 b6 4. g3 Bb7 5. Bg2 c5?! 6. d5! exd5 7. Nh4 g6 8. Nc3 Bg7 9. Nb5?

   Trying for too much from Black's inaccurate fifth move. 9.Nxd5 or 9.cxd5 is simple and strong.

10. Nd6 Ba6 11. cxd5 Ne8! 12. Ne4 d6 13. O-O Nd7 14. Qc2 Ndf6 15. Nc3 b5 16. Nd1?!

   After 16.a3 Nc7 17.Rd1 White can hold Black's edge to a minimum.

17. e4 b4 18. Re1 Re8 19. Ne3 Nd7 20. f4 Nb5 21. Nf3 Nd4 22. Nxd4 cxd4! 23. Ng4 Qb6 24. Qf2?

   A major blunder, but even after 24.Nf2 Rac8 Black's active pieces will cause White all sorts of problems; his pawn centre is not going anywhere.

25. e5 hxg4 26. e6

   In time trouble Solomon tries to stir up a desperate attack but Sonter stays cool and White soon runs out of ammunition.

27. f5 Nd3 28. fxg6 Nxf2 29. gxf7+ Kf8 30. Kxf2 d3+ 31. Be3 Bd4 32. Rad1 Re7 33. h3 Rc8 34. hxg4 Rc2+    35. Kf3 Bb7 36. Rh1 Bxd5+ 37. Kf4 Be5+ 38. Kf5 Qxe3 39. Bxd5 Rf2+ 40. Kg6 Rf6+ 41. Kh7 Qg5 0-1

Hervey Bay Open Leading final scores: 1. Sonter 7/7; 2. Solomon 6; 3. Summers 5.5; 4eq. Weller, Jempson, Davison, Craven, Elkington, Macleod 5.
The Tuggeranong Club Championship begins on April 2nd at the Tuggeranong RU Club, Wanniassa. Details Michael Whitely 62311782.