Garry Kasparov's long-delayed title defence begins today in London, with
the world number one an unbackable favourite to beat Vladimir Kramnik.
So poorly are Kramnik's chances rated in the Braingames Network World
Championship that Kasparov was forced to defend his colleague at the
pre-match press conference on Thursday.
"Vladimir is a very dangerous opponent and this is an extremely serious
challenge," stressed Kasparov. "I'm expecting surprises from his side."
Kramnik was less confident he could overcome the player for whom he acted
as an assistant at Kasparov's last title defence in 1995. "I will do my
best and hope to win the match," Kramnik ventured.
Kramnik has already found himself losing the psychological battle. The
organisers, who have close links to Kasparov, have been trying to convince
Kramnik to agree to an alteration of the standard 2/3-1/3 split of the
$US2m prize fund.
Braingames want a proportion of the prize fund set aside for win bonuses,
as in a golf 'skins' tournament. They have refused to accept Kramnik's "no"
for an answer, saying that a final decision would only be made on the
morning of the first game.
"I want it to stay as it was originally," insisted Kramnik. "It's a bit
late to change something and start talking to lawyers."
Had he spoken to Kasparov's last opponent, Viswanathan Anand, Kramnik would
have discovered that the Indian and his aides were forced to waste a great
deal of time on off-board matters. Whether these distractions affected the
result of the 1995 match is a moot point, but Anand's determination to
avoid a repeat of the 1995 situation and fight on equal terms with Kasparov
was one of
the reasons why he refused to sign the Braingames contract for the match
which Kramnik is now contesting.
The Olympic Chess Competition attracted a massive entry, though the puzzle,
composed by Kozlov half a century ago, fooled few. Remarkably, for the
second this year an International Master was first out of the hat and won
the Fischer medal.
Solution: 1.Nd8!! Qxh3 2.f7+ Kf8 3.Ne6+ Kxf7 4.Ng5+ winning the queen.
Prizewinners: J.Wallace, Narellan; S.Webb, Hunters Hill; P.Do, Fairfield;
R.Amgeles, Pendle Hill; D.Campkin, Caves Beach; T.Chen, Cherrybrook.