Sun-Herald 23/09/2001

After a three day contest in Batumi, Georgia, Europe has convincingly beaten Asia in the first intercontinental challenge match.

A decade ago, a Europe-Asia challenge match would have been so one-sided as to be pointless but the Batumi match, where the Asian team led by 8 points at the end of the first day, showed that European hegemony over the chess world may not be forever.

There is still a large gap between the top male players of Asia and Europe but this is compensated by Asia's strength in the women's division.

Asia's fine showing was built on the back of stunning results by Xie Jun, Zhu Chen, Xu Yuhua and Hoang Thanh Trang who, until the final day, dominated once-mighty players such as Chiburdanidze and Ioseliani.

In the absence of Anand, and with Garry Kasparov racking up 11/12, Asia's men were always going to struggle but, thanks in large part to a fine performace by Uzbek Rustam Kasimdzhanov, the margin was not as bad as many had feared.

Called up at the last minute, I found that my opponent for the first two rounds would be Kasparov, who arrived looking as if he had taken a more than healthy dose of angry pills. His mood improved after he won both games but I was kicking myself after missing chances in the second game.

Batumi 2001
White: G.Kasparov
Black: I.Rogers
Opening: Scandinavian

1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qd6!? 4.d4 Nf6 5.Bd3 Bg4 6.f3 Bh5 7.Nge2 a6 8.Bf4 Qd7 9.d5! Bg6 10.Qd2?! 10.Bxg6 hxg6 11.Qd4 keeps up the pressure. 10...Bxd3 11.Qxd3 g6 12.0-0-0 Bg7 13.Qc4 c6 14.d6 0-0 15.Kb1 Re8 16.Ng3 An admission that Black is over the worst. 16...exd6 17.Bxd6 Qe6 18.Qxe6 Rxe6 19.Nge4 Nbd7 20.Bg3 b5 21.a3 Nxe4 22.Nxe4 Nb6 23.Bf2 Nd5 24.Bd4 a5?! 25.g4! h6 26.h4 Bxd4 27.Rxd4 Kg7 28.h5 b4 29.a4 Nf6 30.Nd6 Re3 31.Rf4!? g5! The threat was 32.g5!. 32.Nf5+ Kh7 33.Nxe3 gxf4 34.Nc4 Nd5 35.Re1 Kg7 36.Re5 Kf6 37.Rf5+ Ke6 38.Re5+ Kf6 39.Re4?! Kg5! 40.Ne5 Kh4 41.Nxc6 41.Nxf7 Kg3 42.Nxh6 Kxf3 is dangerous for White. 41...Kg3 42.Nd4 Rd8! 43.Kc1Ne3? With almost a minute left, Black misses 43...Nf6! when 44.Ne2+ Kxf3 45.Rxf4+ loses to 45...Kxe2 46.Rxf6 Rd1 mate! 44.c3! bxc3 45.bxc3 Rc8 46.Kd2 Rb8 47.Ne2+ Kxf3?? Panic. After 47...Kf2 48.Nxf4 Kxf3 49.Rxe3+ Kxf4 the endgame is drawn, but with only six seconds to Kasparov's 25, time would have beaten me in any case. 48.Rxf4+ 1-0