Canberra Times Chess Column for December 31

The year 2000 began in triumph for Garry Kasparov and ended in despair.

In the first half of the year the world number one outclassed elite fields in Holland and Bosnia and tied for first in Spain with Vladimir Kramnik.

25-year-old Kramnik then filled in for Viswanathan Anand who refused to sign what he believed to be an unconscionable contract to play Kasparov in a world title match.

Anand's withdrawal proved to be a boon for both Anand and Kramnik.

Against all odds, Kramnik defeated Kasparov 8.5-6.5 in a month-long contest in London which featured pre-game body searches for players and spectators for possible communication equipment.

A month later Anand, the winner of the inaugural World Cup in China in August, became the 'other' World Champion, exploiting his home ground advantage to the full to win the world body's knock-out contest split between New Delhi and Tehran.

2000 was also the year when the world body FIDE gave the rights to the World Championship to a private company (controlled by the FIDE President) for a 27 year term, threatened to introduce drug tests at the Istanbul Olympiad but then discovered they were too expensive, and spent much of the year unsuccessfully pleading with the International Olympic Committee to allow chess to become an Olympic sport.

In Australia, many players enjoyed a stellar year. Darryl Johansen captured the Victorian and Australian titles while narrowly missing a medal at the Istanbul Olympiad.

Alex Wohl won the Doeberl Cup and the Oceania Zonal in Auckland while 14-year-old Zhao Zong Yuan made an impressive Olympic debut following second placings in both the Zonal and the national championship.

However the Australian highlight of the year was Laura Moylan's Olympic silver medal.

The ACT 17-year-old - whose selection in the team was subject to an unsuccessful appeal - not only became the first Australian woman to win an Olympic medal, but she also scored the second best percentage of any player at the Olympiad.

Australian tournament of the year was a toss-up between the Parkroyal International on the Gold Coast in June, an event which saw the locals well and truly outclassed, and the ongoing Icon Australian Open in Canberra which features internationals from a dozen countries.

This writer was victim of one of the moves of the year. The diagrammed position comes from the game Svetushkin-Rogers, Istanbul Olympiad, and it seems that White, to move, will be mated as soon as his last checks run out.

However the Moldovan teenager had seen further and played 32.Qh8+ Ke7 33.exd6+ Kd7 Now in my original calculations I had expected only 34.c4 Qa2+ 35.Kc1 Qa1+, finishing a piece ahead. Then we saw... 34.Qe8+!! Kxe8 35.d7+ Kd8 36.Rh8+ Kc7 37.Rc8+! and Black resigned, since the checks will only run out when Black is mated. 1-0