Sun Herald, May 27

The recent report on corruption in cricket by former British police chief Paul Condon showed clearly the devastating effect that spread betting has had on the integrity of the game of cricket and some fear that the arrival of spread betting on chess tournaments has the potential to wreak similar havoc on the chess world. 

Spread betting enables a gambler to wager money on side-shows as well as the main event and a 7 hour chess game offers almost as many variables as a 30 hour cricket test. 

The first test of chess spread betting came a few years ago when an English firm agreed to set odds for a French open torunament. 

Within a few rounds the experiment was abandoned due to an extraordinary number of results going against the odds. 

Last year an English betting firm tried again, allowing spread betting on the BGN World Championship match between Garry Kasparov and Vladimir Kramnik in London last October. 

Consulting with a British Grandmaster, odds were set on anything from the length of the game to the timing of the first exchange of pieces. 

There has been no suggestion that the K-K match was other than completely above board and betting turnover on the match was apparently low. 

However the opportunity clearly existed for well connected people to make large sums of money by betting on sure things. 

Anyone who knew of Kramnik's opening plans with Black could have bet on an early exchange of queens and won heavily. Even better odds would have been given for the crazy idea that Kasparov might agree a draw in under 15 moves with White when trailing Kramnik, as Kasparov did in the still unexplained 7th and 13th games. 

Just as the ICC ignored the problem of cricket betting until major corruption was exposed, chess' administrators appear unconcerned about the temptations to which spread betting will expose chesplayers. 

The problem is in its infancy but, with betting on internet chess games now also available, chess should already be protecting itself from repeating cricket's mistakes. 

This week's game comes from a super-tournament in Kazakhstan where Kramnik and Kasparov are currently battling for first. 

 

Click here to see the game in a Javascript viewer

 

Astana 2001 
White: V.Kramnik 
Black: G.Kasparov 
Opening: Grunfeld Defence 

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bg7 7.Nf3 c5 8.Be3 Qa5 9.Qd2 Nc6 10.Rc1 cxd4 11.cxd4 Qxd2+ 12.Kxd2 0-0 13.d5 Rd8 14.Ke1 Na5 15.Bg5 Bd7 16.Bd3 Rdc8 17.Ke2 e6 18.Rxc8+ 

Perhaps fearing preparation, Kramnik avoids 18.Be3, with which he scored a convincing win over Loek Van Wely in Wijk aan Zee earlier this year. The text move is less ambitious but Black must be careful to avoid an endgame where White's active king is an important factor. 

18...Rxc8 19.Rc1 Rxc1 20.Bxc1 exd5 21.exd5 b5 22.Bf4 Nc4! 

Improving on 22...Kf8. The isolated c pawn proves impossible to round up so long as Kasparov preserves his bishop pair. 

23.Bxc4 bxc4 24.Be5 Bf8! 25.Nd2 Bb5 26.Ne4 f5 27.Nc3 Bd7 28.Ke3 Bc5+ 29.Bd4 Bb4 30.Be5 Draw 

Astana 2001 

Leading scores after 6 of 10 rounds: 

1eq. Kramnik(Rus), Kasparov(Rus) 4.5; 
3.Gelfand(Isl) 3.5; 
4.Shirov(Spa) 2.5; 
5.Morozevich(Rus) 2; 
6.Sadvaksov(Kaz) 1.