As Anatoly Karpov's lawsuit against the World Chess Federation drags on, it is becoming clear that he is yesterday's champion, even in Russia. Karpov was recently pulled over while driving in Moscow but when the police officer discovered that Karpov did not have the appropriate papers with him, the former World Champion was asked to come to the police station. "But don't you know who I am? - I am Karpov!" exclaimed the former celebrity and parliamentarian, now rather chubbier than in his heyday.
"Karpov? If you're Karpov, I'm the queen of Sheba!," responded the officer, who proceeded to take Karpov to the local lock-up. Only a few hours later did one of the policeman's senior officers confirm that the middle-aged gentleman in the cells was in fact a former hero of the USSR and Karpov was released.
Vladimir Kramnik has also had his brushes with the law in recent times. Apparently the world number three looks rather too like a native of the Caucasus and he regularly finds himself being stopped on the street and asked to prove he is not a Chechen, another reason for keeping his papers on him at all times.
It seems that Kasparov's boast in last week's column was correct - the world knows only one chessplayer.
News travels extraordinarily fast these days. In the following game, played the day after the elite Linares tournament, Czech GM Hracek refutes an opening idea which had twice baffled Kasparov.
German Bundesliga 2000
Opening: Petroff's Defence
#1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.d4 d5 6.Bd3 Nc6 7.0-0 Be7 8.c4 Nb4 9.Be2 0-0 10.Nc3 b6!?#
This was a sensational new move in Linares two weeks ago; now it may have to be consigned to the scrap heap.
#11.Ne5 Bb7 12.Re1! dxc4?! 13.Bxc4 Nxc3 14.bxc3 Nd5 15.Qf3 c6 16.Bb3 Bd6 17.Bc2#
White's opening idea has been a total success; he has a fine attacking position and Black's pieces have nothing to do.
#17...Qc7 18.Qh3 g6 19.Bh6 Rfe8 20.c4 Bxe5 21.dxe5 Nb4 (Diagram) 22.Bf5!! Rxe5?!#
This loses by force but the threat of 23.e6 is extremely strong. Black's only defence was probably 22...c5 23.e6 gxf5 but the following line, found by Sydney's Steve Kerr should still win for White: 24 Qxf5 Rxe6 25 Rxe6 fxe6 26 Qg5+ Kh8 27 Re1 Rd8 28 Bg7+! Qxg7 29 Qxd8+ Qg8 30 Rd1 Bd5! 31 Qxg8+ Kxg8 32 cxd5 Nxd5 39 Rc1! followed by bringing White's king to the centre and Rc4-a4-h4.
#23.Qc3! Rae8 24.f4! Rxe1+ 25.Rxe1 Rxe1+ 26.Qxe1 Qd8#
Now White forces mate but 26...Qb8 loses to 27.Qxb4 gxf5 28.Qe7!.
#27.Qe5 f6 28.Qe6+ Kh8 29.Qf7 Qd4+ 30.Kf1 Qd1+ 31.Kf2 Qd2+ 32.Kg3 Qe3+ 33.Kh4 Qf2+ 34.Kh3 1-0#