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The Year 2002 in Review
International Events

The year had the usual lineup of international SuperGM events.

A promising newcomer was the FIDE World Chess Grand Prix, announced in February. Scores from five events -- Abu Dhabi, Moscow, Bangalore (or Bombay), Dubrovnik, and Rio de Janeiro -- would be combined to produce an overall Grand Prix winner.

The first FIDE Grand Prix was held in Dubai in April. Although 32 players started the event, the format reduced the field to 16 players after the first round of knockout matches. In subsequent rounds, the event continued as a knockout to determine 1st prize, but each round's losers continued to play to determine other places; round 2 losers, for example, played for places 9 through 16. Leko won the event by beating Alexander Grischuk in the last round.

The Dubai event was marred by reports that the announced prize fund of 480.000 US$ had been reduced without warning to 120.000 US$. FIDE President Ilyumzhinov blamed Octagon, the sports marketing firm hired to promote the events, and raised the prize fund to 240.000 US$. Octagon in turn blamed FIDE Commerce, the shadowy commercial arm of FIDE, for the debacle.

The second Grand Prix event was held in Moscow in June. Kasparov finished 1st by winning the final in his first games with 15-year old Teimour Radjabov. Both players were born in Baku and attended the same chess school.

The other Grand Prix events were not held. Perhaps they were quietly cancelled at the same time that problems with FIDE Commerce disrupted the FIDE web site mid-year.

Traditional tournaments had more success. In January, Bareev won the Corus tournament (cat. XVIII, 14 player round robin) in Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands, with a score of +6-1=6. Alexander Grischuk finished second.

In February, Ponomariov faced his first severe test in Linares, Spain, site of the world's strongest annual tournament (cat. XX, 7 player double round robin). It was his first tournament as FIDE World Champion and the first time in his life that he would face Kasparov over the board. Kasparov finished 1st with +4-0=8. Ponomariov, the only other player to finish with a plus score, finished 2nd with +3-2=7, losing with the Black pieces to Kasparov.

Also in February, Topalov and Gelfand won the NAO Masters (cat. XVIII, 10 player round robin), in Cannes, France, They finished with identical +3-0=6 scores, the only players in the plus column.

One of the most unusual annual events in any year is the Amber Tournament, Monaco, held in March. The 12 player round robin is a combined rapidplay and blindfold event. Gelfand won the rapidplay tournament, while Morozevich won the blindfold tournament as well as the combined event.

End-April saw the Eurotel Knockout in Prague. Playing at a rate 25 minutes per game plus 5 seconds per move, 32 of the world's best players competed for a prize fund of 500.000 newly minted Euros. The event was won by Anand, who beat ex-World Champion Anatoly Karpov in the final.

Sergei Movsesian of the Czech Republic won the Sarajevo International (cat. XVI, 10 player round robin), held in Bosnia in May. His +4-1=4 score placed him 1/2 point ahead of Ivan Sokolov.

The U.S. vs. China Summit Chess Match was held in Shanghai in July. The U.S. led until the last round when a 6-4 win for the Chinese gave them a narrow 20.5 - 19.5 overall win.

Summer is the time of year for chess festivals. The 35th Biel (Switzerland) International Chess Festival in July, consisted of ten different tournaments, including a GM tournament (cat. XVI, 6 player double round robin). Ilya Smirin of Israel scored +2-0=8 to win.

In August, the main event of the Chess Classic Mainz (Germany) was an 8 game match between Anand and Ponomariov, played at 25 minutes plus 10 seconds per move. Anand, who has always been one of the fastest players in the world, won +2-1=5.

September saw a new Match of the Century in Moscow, featuring 10 players from Russia and 10 from the Rest of the World. The result was a 52-48 victory for the Rest of the World.

The FIDE World Cup was held in Hyderabad, India, in October. Anand successfully defended his 2000 World Cup title won in Shenyang, China, by beating Rustam Kasimdzhanov in the final. Xu Yuhua also defended her 2000 title in the final round, but lost to Antoaneta Stefanova.

The biggest event of the year was its last major international tournament -- the 35th Chess Olympiad, Bled, Slovenia, held October & November. The Men's medal winners were Russia (gold, 38.5 points), Hungary, (silver, 37.5), and Armenia (bronze, 35.0). The Women's winners were China (29.5) points, Russia (29.0), and Poland (28.0). The event coincided with the 73rd FIDE Congress.

Next : National Championships 2002

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