Sun-Herald Chess Column for March 19

After the prizegiving ceremony at the elite Linares tournament, Garry Kasparov deigned to give a press conference with his co-winner Vladimir Kramnik. The world number one was given a hard time by the assembled journalists and Kasparov was forced to defend the high number of draws in the tournament, his decision to sabotage the organisers' tie-breaking plan and his claims to be the true World Champion. "Nobody should be misled by only seven victories in 30 games," explained Kasparov. "I recall the fighting spirit that dominated the tournament. To win a game in Linares you need more than a good opening idea."

Since the tournament series began in 1978, Linares has always had an outright winner but Kasparov decided that he did not like the tie-breaking method proposed - the toss of a special silver coin, and forced the organisers to accept joint champions. "[Kramnik and I] immediately agreed that toss of coin is a bad idea. We did not want the other to leave Linares with bad feelings,"

Kasparov said, trying to justify his action. He closed the debate with, "Anyway, I think we both deserved to win."

Kasparov also provided a lucid explanation of why he could claim the title of World Champion and would keep that title for the foreseeable future. "You go to CNN or sponsors, advertisers, or public relations companies they know only one name because I am still the best player. You may like me or dislike me - most chess players dislike me as do most chess journalists - but it doesn't matter. These are realities people have to respect."

**

Veteran Victorian Mirko Rujevic scored an upset victory at the first major Grand Prix tournament of this year, the Begonia Open in Ballarat last weekend. Rujevic defeated the top two seeds, Johansen and Sandler, with GM Johansen taking second thanks to the following last round win.

Ballarat 2000
White: L.Sandler
Black: D.Johansen
Opening: Pirc Defence

#1.Nf3 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.e4 d6 4.Be2 a6 5.0-0 Nf6 6.Nc3 b5 7.a3 0-0 8.h3 Bb7 9.d5?#

Now Black forces transposition into a Sicilian where Black has all the chances. 9.e5 was necessary.

#9...c6 10.dxc6 Nxc6 11.Bf4 Rc8 12.Bd3 Na5 13.Qe2 Nc4 14.Nd1 Nh5 15.Bc1 Qc7 16.c3 Nb6 17.Re1 e5! 18.g4?! Nf6 19.Bg5 d5!#

Classic Sicilian strategy. With the centre open, White's kingside weaknesses mst tell in the end.

#20.Nd2 dxe4 21.Nxe4 Nfd5 22.Ne3 f5 23.Nxd5 Nxd5 24.gxf5 gxf5 25.Ng3 e4 26.Bc2 Kh8 27.Qh5 Be5 28.Qh4 Rg8 29.Kf1 (Diagram) Rg6! 30.Nxf5 Rcg8 31.Nh6 Rxg5 32.Nxg8 Qc4+ 33.Re2 Nf4 34.Rae1 Qxg8 0-1#

Begonia Open,
Ballarat, Victoria
Leading final scores (90 players, 7 rounds):
1. Rujevic 6.5;
2eq. Johansen, Chapman 6;
4eq.  Booth, Low, Pratsch 5.5;
7eq. Baron, G.Szuveges, Lojanica, Gill, Partsi, Nemeth, Bergmanis 5.