The Chelsea Football Club in London was the unusual venue for last week's
press conference by the World Chess Federation, FIDE.
FIDE President Kirsan Iljumzhinov used the gathering to promote the upcoming FIDE World Championship tournament in Moscow and to launch a grab-bag of future events, including a 2002 Grand Prix and a Man v Machine match after next year's Bled Olympiad. Iljumzhinov also announced that London would be the venue for the 2003 FIDE World Championships.
The press conference featured trimmings such as Viswanathan Anand and Michael Adams playing against various English juniors but was lacking in important details such as the names of any sponsors.
As threatened last year, the Grand Prix has been scheduled so as to disrupt top tournaments such as Linares which wished to stay independent of FIDE.
The list of 2002 Grand Prix events announced by FIDE looks impressive but with the abortive 2001 Grand Prix still fresh in their minds, top players are likely to remain sceptical until the first GP tournament takes place.
The Man v Machine match appears to be designed as a fund raiser for FIDE rather than a test of strength. Rather than play the strongest chess computer, the 2002 FIDE World Champion will instead take on the computer program whose owner donates the most money to the world body.
The following game was one of the best from the recent World Age Championships in Spain.
J.Werle - A.Naiditsch
World U/16 Ch./Oropesa 2001
An exchange of knights would leave Black with few problems.
Following a plan used by Werle's countryman Jan Timman to beat Anatoly Karpov in a famous game; the bishop on b2 causes Black all sorts of long term problems.
Now White invades along the d file. After 23...Ne5 24.Nf5 Qc7 White has pressure but nothing clear.
Hoping to manoeuvre his knight to the d3 square, but he is in for a disappointment.
27...Re8? 28.Bd6 would be a tragi-comic finish.
This loses quickly but there was no way to ease the pressure since 28...Ne8 29.Rd8 leaves Black fatally tied up.
After both 29...Kh8 30.Rd8! and 29...gxh6 30.Bxf6 and 31.Rd8, Black loses his queen. A convincing victory by the new Dutch star.
European Teams Championship Leon, Spain Open Division Round 4 England def France 2.5 - 1.5; Netherlands def Germany 2.5 - 1.5; Spain def Greece 2.5 - 1.5; Switzerland def Israel 3-1. Leading scores: 1.France 11.5; =2. England, Netherlands 11; =4.Spain, Switzerland 10.5; =6.Czech Republic, Sweden, Azerbaijan, Slovenia, Germany 10. Women's Division Round 4 Poland def Germany 1.5 - 0.5; Netherlands drew with Moldova 1-1; England def France 1.5 - 0.5; Hungary drew with Bulgaria 1-1. Leading scores: 1.Poland 6.5; 2.England 6; 3eq.Netherlands, Moldova 5.5.
The pairings for the FIDE Knock-out World Championships in Moscow have
finally been announced, only three weeks before the start of the
For the first time, the top 16 players have not been seeded into the second
round, but in compensation have been paired against the 16 weakest.
Thus Australia's two representatives will meet superstars in the first round: Mikhail Gluzman taking on world number 8 Evgeny Bareev and Ngan Koshnitsky only slightly more fortunate to be playing one of the top dozen women in the world, Almira Skripchenko, in the women's event.
The reason for the delay in announcing the pairings lay in FIDE's ill-fated decision to have 8 internet qualifiers for the main World Championship tournament.
Despite rules explicitly barring help from humans or computers, many of the weaker entrants to the qualifying tournament decided that the only way to qualify for Moscow - with its generous prizemoney even for first round losers - was to cheat.
In Europe, players were known to invite Grandmaster friends over to help with their games, while in the rest of the world assistance from computer programs was extremely common.
Despite suspicion falling on almost half the field in the final, only four players were disqualified, all for computer use, since human assistance is almost impossible to prove.
Three of the four disqualified players, including Australia's Jose Escribano, decided to appeal their disqualification but all three failed. Escribano, a Sydney amateur who had beggared credulity by his results in the final, received strong words from the appeals panel.
"The control checkup of this player's games during the WICC Final confirmed practically the exact match of moves played by Jose Escribano (Talisman) to the moves suggested by chess computer software," wrote the panel.
Yet Escribano has some right to feel hard done by when so many other offenders went unpunished, some of whom will take their place in the upcoming World Championship.
While the Australian juniors did not take the top places at the recent World Age Championships in Spain, the ACT's Dusan Stojic had the satisfaction of pulling off one of the tournament's most spectacular finishes.
D.Stojic - Y.Borsuk
World U/12 Championship/Oropesa 2001
An underestimated method of avoiding the Marshall Gambit - 8.c3 d5!?.
13...d5 14.cxd5 c4 was a better try.
Gutsy play, but 19.Rad1 was the safe way to keep an edge.
Missing the knock-out blow which Stojic had carefully prepared. Capturing either bishop or queen was fatal but after 22...Nf6 23.Bxd7 Nxh5 24.Bc6, White has an endgame edge but nothing more.
For those of you wondering why White didn't play the queen sacrifice last move, the answer lies in the variation 22.Qxh7+ Kxh7 23.Rh3+ Qxh3!! when it is Black who wins.