Sun-Herald Chess Column for February 20

Chess seems to have taken to the internet like no other sport and the chess world is now blessed with hundreds of fine web pages. However for an insight into the mind of world number one, Garry Kasparov, it is hard to go past KasparovChess.com.

The recently relaunched KasparovChess site has many strong points, including coverage of tournaments worldwide which rivals the traditional internet oracle, Mark Crowther's *The Week in Chess*. However it is the analyses by and interviews with Kasparov which make KasparovChess special.

During the recent Wijk aan Zee tournament, Kasparov's explanatory comments on his games were published on KasparovChess the morning after the game was
played and next week's elite tournament in Linares will enjoy similar treatment. Certain facts are taken as given in the world of KasparovChess; Garry Kasparov is always on the side of truth and justice and there must be no reference to Alexander Khalifman as World Champion - that title appears to belong to Kasparov in perpetuity. For Kasparov, the lack of financial backing for his planned title matches are not due to his stormy relations with past sponsors such as Intel and IBM but rather caused by the inevitability of a Kasparov victory in any contest.

A recent interview in KC provided an extensive forum for Kasparov to reveal how his egocentricity distorts his world view. For example, referring to his last round game against Judit Polgar, Kasparov explains, "The outcome of her other games did not really matter for her." Similarly, Kasparov suggests that Nigel Short's main 'task' for the tournament was to play hard against him.

Kasparov's self-importance extended to the Wijk aan Zee organisers who were allegedly "so sorry when I won a game or drew a difficult game that they could not cope with their feelings." Yet Kasparov also relates how he had blackmailed the organisers into changing the starting time of the last round from 10.30 to 12.30 - "If the time of the last round was not changed, I would not participate." Kasparov rationalises his action by saying, "At least at 12.30 I was sure I would be sufficiently awake to draw."

Yet Kasparov can also be insightful, as with his observation that the real difference between the chess elite (defined by Kasparov as himself, Anand, Kramnik and Leko) and the rest lie in the elite's almost inpenetrable last line of defence; to beat one of the top four requires surmounting a series of obstacles - "playing at the peak of [one's] abilities until the very last move."

KasparovChess provides a terrific window on the world number one and his activities and, although it suffers from the usual internet deficiency of being too 'instant' to bother with fact-checking, as entertainment for a chess fan it is hard to beat.