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World Chess Championship
It should be borne in mind that there is nothing more difficult to handle, more doubtful of success, and more dangerous to carry through than initiating changes in a state's constitution. The innovator makes enemies of all those who prospered under the old order, and only lukewarm support is forthcoming from those who would prosper under the new. - Machiavelli, The Prince
Kasparov vs. Anand ... no, 'vs. Kramnik'
In March 2000, the attention of the chess world shifted to London when The Times reported that a 16 game, 2.000.000 US$ World Championship match between Garry Kasparov and Viswanathan Anand was planned for October. The venue was first reported as Bahrain, but later changed to London. The report was confirmed by the Mind Sports Organisation (MSO), a company founded by Raymond Keene, David Levy, and Tony Buzan. Kasparov was reported to have agreed to the terms.
MSO later announced that Anand had not yet signed a contract and that he had been given until 27 March to do so. When he failed to meet the deadline, the invitation passed to Vladimir Kramnik. Keene, emerging as the spokesman for the organizing group, made it known that the initial discussions failed after Anand demanded an advance of 300.000 US$. As the prize fund -- 2/3 for the winner & 1/3 for the loser -- was being held in escrow, this was considered unnecessary.
The Hindu reported that Anand had received the offer on 14 February and had been given until 21 April to decide. The deadline was later pushed forward to 21 March, to allow an announcement early in April, just after Kasparov and Anand were to finish a rapid tournament in Iceland. The newspaper also implied that Anand was somewhat suspicious because he was aware neither of the sponsor's nor of the organizer's identity. As Keene had done Kasparov's dealing in the past, reports that he was behind the offer gave the impression that the 'contract was not on equal terms'.
Mark Crowther reported in The Week in Chess that the match organizer was Braingames, which had 'signed exclusive five year deals with Garry Kasparov, the World Chess Champion and Ron King, the World Draughts Champion, and will be hosting the World Championships in every one of the Braingames'. Braingames announced a press conference for 5 April, where Kasparov would '[throw] down the gauntlet for the first time in five years, when he defends his World Title in the Braingames Network (BGN) World Chess Championship', and where it would be announced that in '2001, the Braingames Network World Chess Championship qualifier will be open to anyone on the planet'. Sir Jeremy Hanley was identified as the BGN chairman.
During the press conference, Hanley announced that the Kasparov - Kramnik match would start 9 October. BGN confirmed the other arrangements and revealed that the prize fund had been raised through Williams de Broe, London stockbrokers. The winner of the qualifier would join 24 of the world's top players in 2001 to determine the challenger in 2002. The aim was a regular cycle to determine future challengers for three title matches over the next five years. Kramnik was scheduled to join the conference by a video satellite link from Moscow, but the link failed.
Fielding some tough questions during the Q&A session, Kasparov said:-
Of all the potential challengers for my title, Kramnik is the only one with a reasonable score [against me].
The system [of ratings to determine the 24 top players] we would adopt is the one created for the PCA. [...] We will be seriously looking at approaching a multinational company with a view to sponsoring the list so that no federation or tournament has to pay for the grading.
[Retaining the title in the event of an 8-8 draw] is our tradition. It's a value that shouldn't change. The challenger must defeat the world champion if he is to prove anything.
In 1998, Shirov had the right to play me. In 2000, it's a different situation with a new organization in control.
Inevitably, a machine will challenge the for the world championship. Right now, it's a matter of proper organization and a way to determine a proper silicon challenger.
Shirov responded in an open letter with, 'I do believe that the Kasparov - Kramnik match can not have anything to do with any kind of World Championship, be it official, historical, brain or whatsoever. I am the legitimate candidate for it since 1998.'
What happened to Mind Sports? It appears that first MSO, then BGN, took responsibility for organizing the forthcoming match. Only days before the BGN press conference, Levy accused Keene of misappropriating 50.000 GBP from MSO corporate accounts. Keene and Levy were once brothers-in-law, but this looked more like fiduciary infighting than a family squabble. Whatever the legal situation, BGN had the public relations initiative after the press conference.
Let's backtrack to the beginning of the year...
In January, the KasparovChess.com site opened its virtual doors and announced that it was much more than an evolution of ClubKasparov.com. Kasparov wrote, 'This ground-breaking project is the realization of the dreams of many people. Our ambitious goal was to create a chess resource that is worthy of the greatest game in the world.'
Its first big event was the KasparovChess Cadet Grand Prix, an online knock-out tournament to be played over the Internet. Eight top under-16 players from different countries around the world participated -- among them were Bu Xiangzhi, the youngest GM of all time, and Teimour Radjabov, the winner of the 1999 European Under 18 Championship.
The participants could play from anywhere they preferred, while the games and live commentary could be viewed by an online audience. The considerable challenges presented by the Internet medium included time zone differences, choice of venue, installation of the prerequisite software, mouse slips, network disconnection, draw offers, and responsibility in case of disputes. The young stars managed to cope with the technical obstacles and Radjabov beat Bu Xiangzhi 1.5-0.5 in the final match.
The event was followed a few weeks later by the KasparovChess.com Inaugural Grand Prix. Fifteen grandmasters were joined by the computer program Deep Junior, which had been developed by the Israeli team of Amir Ban and Shay Bushinsky. The knockout tournament was category 17 in strength and boasted a total prize fund of 52.000 US$, with a first prize of 20.000 US$. Like the Cadet tournament, it was to be played on the Internet.
Additional complications arose when the organizers were forced to postpone the event, which had been originally scheduled for December. When the new dates were announced, two of the original invitees, Adams and Seirawan, were already scheduled to play a match against each other in Bermuda over the same period. The two players agreed to play in both events at the same time, and the Bermuda organizers had no objection. The first match saw the American DeFirmian play the Russian Svidler on 9 February.
Despite the experience gained during the Cadet Grand Prix, no rules had yet been provided by the organizers to cover the various anomalies which can arise while playing chess over the Internet. The second round match between Deep Junior, playing in Israel, and Adams, playing in Bermuda, finished with the computer program being defaulted after losing its Internet connection.
Adams went on to play Kasparov in the semifinal round, thereby averting a Kasparov - Deep Junior confrontation. Kasparov defeated Adams 1.5-0.5. Piket also reached the final, beating Svidler by the same score.
The final match was delayed after both Kasparov and Piket thought the other was on move. Kasparov's move was not transmitted to Piket's computer and a malfunction in the software led both players to believe that the other was thinking. The arbiter stepped in and postponed the games to the following day. After a draw in the first game, Piket unexpectedly won a theoretically drawn endgame of R+efgh vs. R+fgh to beat Kasparov 1.5-0.5 in the final.
March saw the start of the World School Chess Championship (WSCC). The Internet tournament boasted the participation of more than 600 scholastic teams from around the world. The winners would play a simultaneous exhibition against Kasparov.
A few weeks later in New York City, KasparovChess.com formally launched operations. To celebrate the occasion, Kasparov conducted a simultaneous exhibition against 30 children over the Internet, followed by an exhibition game with Boris Becker on CNN the following day. Two other events marked the launch.
The first event was a 'Future World Champions' match between the two finalists of the Cadet Grand Prix which had been hosted earlier in the year by KasparovChess. This time the players were together in New York for the match. Playing two games a day with one hour each for the entire game, Bu Xiangzhi beat Radjabov by 6.5-1.5.
The second event was a six game exhibition match between Women's World Champion Xie Jun, playing the first four games in Shanghai with the rest from Beijing, and Deep Junior, playing from the KasparovChess offices in Israel. The ill starred event was marred in every game by communication problems, both human and technical.
After the first game was cancelled, the score was one win each after two more games, both of which started late and had their playing times shortened. The fourth game started on time, but fell victim first to a malicious software patch which had been newly applied to Deep Junior, then to a mouse slip on the part of the computer's operator, and finally to a network disconnect. After the two sides were unable to agree on how to continue, the game was awarded to Xie Jun and the match was abandoned.
A fact sheet on the KasparovChess site informs visitors that 'KasparovChess Online, Inc. is privately held by Garry Kasparov and leading investor groups' and that the company has 60 employees worldwide. It lists executive staff as...
Garry Kasparov Chairman Eyal Gutman Chief Executive Officer Shay Bushinsky Director and Chief Technical Officer Thomas Walker V.P. and Chief Financial Officer Michael Greengard V.P. of Content and Editor-in-Chief Richard Krueger V.P. of Business Development Michael Khodarkovsky Chief Educational Content Officer
...and corporate headquarters at Broadway, New York, NY. The KasparovChess event team, which is responsible for overseeing online events sponsored by the company, is located in Israel.
A Reuters report dated 17 March, said that Kasparov hoped to go public with his new company, KasparovChess Online Inc., within one year. According to Kasparov,Going public is part of the business strategy and we have to be sure about the numbers; we have to guarantee the technical security and stability of the site. Everything else will be more or less ready by the end of summer and at that time we will be able to show investors the program.
The young company had a small problem with www.kasparov.com, which detailed a legal dispute over the domain name 'kasparov.com' and the trademark 'Kasparov'. While the kasparov.com site presented only one side of a commercial dispute, the fact remained that the 'Kasparov' Internet domain was not under Kasparov's control.
Along with the Internet events, traditional chess events also took place. The January 2000 FIDE rating list had Kasparov (2851) 1st; his rating was unchanged as he had not played since the previous list was published. He was followed by Anand (2769), Kramnik (2758), Shirov (2751), and Morozevich (2748). Karpov (2696) dropped to 12th on the list. FIDE World Champion Khalifman (2656) was 32nd.
In January, Kasparov won the 14 player, category 18 Corus tournament at Wijk aan Zee, with 9.5. Kramnik, Leko, and Anand tied for 2nd-4th with 8.0. The top four players drew all of their individual encounters.
In February and March, Kasparov and Kramnik tied for 1st-2nd with 6.0 in the six player, category 21 double round robin at Linares. The remaining players -- Leko, Kalifman, Anand, and Shirov -- all tied for 3rd-6th with 4.5.
March saw the 9th Melody Amber tournament in Monte Carlo. The event was a triumph for Alexei Shirov who won the overall combined standings and the rapidplay event. His fourth place finish behind Kramnik, Anand, and Topalov in the blindfold event gave him a 1.5 point margin of victory over Ivanchuk, Kramnik, and Topalov. Anand finished fifth.
In April, Kasparov won the Chess@Iceland weekend rapidplay tournament. The twelve player event was based on two game matches played at 25 minutes per player, followed by 5 minute blitz games to settle ties. The first day saw two 6 player round-robins, while the second day saw the top two from each group play in the semi-finals and final. Kasparov beat Anand in the final by winning both blitz tiebreaks.
After the tournament, Kasparov joined Braingames in London to announce the match with Kramnik.
In May, Kasparov was awarded the Chess Oscar by the Russian publication, '64'. He was followed by Kramnik in 2nd place and Khalifman in 3rd. The same month Judit Polgar won the Japfa Classic in Bali. She finished with 6.5 in the ten player, category 16 event, a half point ahead of Karpov and Khalifman. A few weeks later Kasparov won a 12 player, category 19 event in Sarajevo. His six wins with no losses placed him a half point ahead of Adams and Shirov.
In June, Anand won the six player, category 21, double round robin Frankfurt Chess Classic with 7.5. Kasparov was second with 6.0 and Kramnik third with 5.0. Anand's victory followed a win in the four player Advanced Chess tournament at Leon.
Although the July 2000 FIDE rating list saw Kasparov lose a couple of points, he remained 1st at 2849. Kramnik (2770) and Anand (2762) switched 2nd & 3rd places. They were followed by Morozevich (2756) and Adams (2755). Shirov (2746) dropped to 6th, Karpov (2699) remained at 12th, and Khalifman (2667) climbed to 25th.
Also in July, Kramnik and Anand tied for 1st place with 6.0 in the ten player, category 16 Dortmund event. The following month, the 4th Mind Sports Olympiad in London included the 5th Olympiad for computers as well as the 17th World Microcomputer Championship, which was won by Shredder. The same month saw Kramnik win with White against Leko in the traditional WDR TV Match in Cologne, Germany, which allowed him to return the following year.
In September, Anand won the FIDE World Cup in Shenyang, China, beating Bareev in the final match. He finished ahead of 24 players, eight of whom qualified from 6 player prelimary round robins into a series of knockout matches. A few weeks later Anand played two rapidplay draws with Shirov for a FIDE Olympic Exhibition in Sydney.
A few weeks before the Kasparov - Kramnik match was scheduled to start, Malcolm Pein resigned as Technical Director of the Braingames team. He issued a brief press release saying only that he had 'serious professional differences with the management of Braingames'.
The match finished after 15 of the 16 games had been played, with Kramnik winning by the score of +2-0=13. It was the first title match since the 1921 Capablanca - Lasker match where the defeated player failed to win a single game.
As the Kasparov - Kramnik match was drawing to a close, the 34th Chess Olympiad took place in Istanbul, Turkey. Russia finished first, with Khalifman scoring 50% on board one. The Russian team was aided by powerful performances from Morozevich as board two and Grischuk as second reserve. Germany won the silver medal and Ukraine the bronze.
A few weeks after the Olympiad finished, the FIDE knockout matches started in New Delhi to determine the FIDE world champion. Anand beat Shirov +3-0=1 in the final round to claim the FIDE title. In an interview a few weeks after winning the title, Anand was asked, 'Did the FIDE World Championship win exorcise the demons of that 1998 mess with Karpov?' He answered, 'There weren't really any demons to exorcise. It wasn't a fair struggle. Karpov had the whole month to prepare for me, while I had obviously just had to work hard to get there. I'm quite sure that Karpov would not have made it to the final if he had also started in the second round. For me the tournament had finished in Groningen, and Lausanne was no more than a contractual obligation.'
After three months of title jousting, the world had two new chess champions. More traditional chess events returned to center stage, with Kramnik drawing first blood. In January 2001, he beat Leko by a score of 7-5 in a rapid match played in Budapest.