Indian Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand has been dumped as Garry Kasparov's world title challenger after a month of acrimonious negotiations. Anand was due to play Kasparov last year but the match fell through for lack of sponsorship.
Six weeks ago English GM Ray Keene claimed to have raised $US2m for the contest and soon had Kasparov's signature on the match contract. Anand was given until late April to hammer out a final agreement but suddenly that date was changed to March, ostensibly because Keene wanted an early April match launch in London.
Last week Keene visited Monaco, where Anand was playing, to present Anand with an ultimatum - accept by March 27 or be substituted. Anand and his legal representatives were by now becoming extremely frustrated; the world number two still did not know the identity of the sponsors or organisers and the contract presented by Keene, the go-between for a "British consortium", appeared to Anand to be controlled by Kasparov.
Anand tried asking for an advance on prizemoney of $US300,000 but Keene insisted that
the funds were secure and any advance was unnecessary. Convinced that he was being treated
without any respect, the Indian decided to let the ultimatum pass, whereupon Keene
immediately offered the title challenge to Vladimir Kramnik. Kramnik had been tipped by
Kasparov as his successor many years ago but has proved to be a hopeless match player,
winning only one of the four
head-to-head matches he has contested.
Even more significantly, Kramnik lost a challenge match in 1998 to Alexey Shirov for the right to become Kasparov's challenger but, like Anand, Shirov was soon abandoned by Kasparov when he proved insufficiently deferential. Shirov, now required to wait in line behind Kramnik, has been showing rare form this week, convincingly winning the novelty rapid and blindfold tournament in Monaco ahead of both Kramnik and Anand.
Melody Amber Rapid 2000
Black: L.Van Wely
Opening: Sicilian Defence
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be3 e6 7.g4!?
The ambitious Perenyi system, which more or less commits White to the
following piece sacrifice, which by 2000 had been analysed supposedly
almost to death.
7... e5 8.Nf5 g6 9.g5 gxf5 10.exf5 d5 11.gxf6 d4 12.Bc4 Qc7 13.Qd3! dxe3
14.0-0-0 exf2 15.Bxf7+ Kxf7 16.Qd5+ Kxf6 17.Ne4+ Ke7 18.Nd6 Bh6+ 19.Kb1 Kf6
All very exciting, but in fact this is a well-known position, supposedly
equal after 20.Ne4+ Ke7 21.Nd6. Shirov's next move completeky overturns
20.Rhf1! Rf8 21.Rxf2 Nc6 22.Qc4! Bf4 23.Rxf4! exf4 24.Qc3+ Kg5 25.Rg1+ Kh4
Melody Amber Rapid and Blindfold Tournament
1. Shirov(Spa) 15/22;
2eq. Ivanchuk(Ukr), Kramnik(Rus), Topalov(Bul) 13.5;
7eq.Piket(Ned), Van Wely(Ned) 10.5;
Australian Squad for 2000 Istanbul Chess Olympics
B.Dekic(N), I.Feldman(N), V.Feldman(N), M.Gluzman(V), D.Johansen(V),
V.Klimenko(N) N.Koshnitsky(SA), N.Mills(V), L.Moylan(ACT), I.Rogers(N),
E.Rozycki(WA), L.Sandler(V), S.Sarai(V), D.Smerdon(Q), S.Solomon(Q),
J-P.Wallace(N), G.West(V), A.Wohl(N).