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Buy yourself the two world champions Anand and Kramnik!

Programme overview for the Chess Classic Mainz

by Hartmut Metz, May 2001, translation by Harald Fietz (Figo)

more English chess articles by Hartmut Metz


Mainz Chess Classic: Viswanathan Anand
Mainz Chess Classic: Wladimir Kramnik

Viswanathan Anand

Wladimir Kramnik


   The battle of the world champions is the centre of attraction at the Chess Classic Mainz (CCM) between 23 June and 1 July (cp. special article). Besides the ten game match between Braingames world champion Vladimir Kramnik and FIDE world champion Viswanathan Anand, the remaining programme also offers spectacular chess in the Rheingoldhalle. In particular, Fischer Random Chess at the highest level is an innovation. World rated no. 4 Michael Adams and sixth placed Peter Leko face each other in an unusual combat which demands no theoretical knowledge. Eight times the initial positions will be drawn by lots and thereafter they start without any mental pattern. The competition between the Englishman and the Hungarian is more than stimulating. On the one hand Adams is not classified as a well-known theoretician who, unlike Gary Kasparov, can pull one opening innovation after the other out of the bag. Can the grandmaster with his Elo rating of 2,750 then be considered the favourite?

   In the final analysis, Peter Leko will not accomplish any opening surprise as his innovative skills in producing new moves fail to materialise in a classic tournament game. Instead the 21 year old possesses a huge advantage due to his second: the Bundesliga player Artur Yusupov from Solingen risked this experiment previously during last year's Chess Classic. Against Fritz on Primergy the many-times world championship candidate played two games in Shuffle Chess. This has less strict rules than Fischer Random Chess but does not differ except in the rules for drawing of lots for the initial position. Despite a 0:2 loss Yusupov enjoyed the match and made a stunning diagnosis: "The game had started as early as move five or six," stated the 41 year old, who does not miss terribly long theory variations. "For some players this kind of chess might be a relief as they like to play without a pattern. They can swim in the sea of fantasies." This is not the only reason why Yusupov does not doubt that Leko has great experience in Fischer Random Chess. In his home country the world rating list no. 7 from Szeged in Hungary not only made the acquaintance of the inventor of this kind of chess: Leko played some random games with Bobby Fischer! The ingenious 1972 world champion refused to play classic chess but gave this youngest grandmaster amongst the world leaders some lessons. Predictions are therefore difficult to make: will Leko, well-trained in Fischer Random Chess, be able to snatch victory, or will Adams will be ahead due to the fact that he has a taste for unusual positions?

   The role of favourites is more clearly defined in the games of the two distinguished experts against a hand-held computer. 'Pocket Fritz' will not give them such a kick in the backup like its big brother Fritz on Primergy, which last year wrested a 5:5 against the world elite. At the time the software by Hamburg-based Chessbase company beat Anand for the first time but lost against Leko 0.5:1.5. Adams has less experience with computers; however, he should also give the programme on a less powerful handheld as good as he gets.

   Since first being staged by SC Frankfurt-West chess club in 1994, the heart of the Chess Classic is the Ordix Open. In all categories it is the number 1 in open rapid chess tournaments worldwide: in the last number of years, up to 432 players have participated, including approximately 100 title holders, and there is a substantial prize fund for the two day event (23 and 24 June). Money prizes have once again risen and now amount to 45,000 German marks. This increase also contributed to the high first prize money which has risen by one third. 10,000 German marks ought to attract more world class players. The entry list is decorated with prestigious names such as Adams, Vassili Ivanchuk (Ukraine), Evgeni Bareev, Peter Svidler, Alexei Dreev, last year's winner Sergei Rublevsky (all Russia), Yusupov and Michail Gurevich (Belgium). In addition to money prizes for the first twenty, 41 grading prizes for amateurs are at stake so that those who are not top players also get their share. The best player with an Elo or national rating of between 2201 and 2400 will win 1,500 marks (up 50 per cent), the most successful player of between 2001 and 2200 will get 1,000 marks. The Ordix Open starts with five rounds on Saturday at 1 P.M. Round six to eleven will be held on Sunday from 10 A.M. to 5 P.M.

   Excitement is guaranteed for the period of the repeated auction for places in simuls against the world champions. Last year bidders outbid themselves with offers in order to cross swords with Gary Kasparov. Up to four-figure sums were offered by fans in order to have a chance against the former world champion. "It was worth it," was the unanimous summing up even of those who lost against the exceptional expert. Amounts ranging between 50 and 150 marks were taken for places in the simul which SC Frankfurt-West organised with the world rating list no. 7, Vassily Ivanchuk. Anybody who wants to play against Kramnik or Anand has to invest a minimum of 100 German marks. Offers can be submitted via Internet (www.chesstigers.de) or to the tournament president Hans-Walter Schmitt (tel. and fax +49 / 6196 / 22796 from outside Germany or 06196 / 22796 in Germany). The first 20 places for each simul will be on offer each week to the highest bidder. The auctioneer's hammer will close the bidding at midnight on 31 May. However, the stimulus is not only an intellectual duel with the champion. Amongst the 40 opponents of Anand and Kramnik there will be a number of prominent figures. Many stars who like to play chess will be invited to the simuls. With a bit of luck participants will not only be grilled by the world champion but will sit flanked by sport personalities such as Felix Magath or Marco Bode.

The world champions


Mainz Chess Classic: Wladimir Kramnik

Wladimir Kramnik
Russia, born 25 June 1975
Elo 2797, No. 2 in world rating list

   Vladimir Kramnik is almost invincible. Last year the 25 year old was unbeaten in 82 tournament games before the Englishman Michael Adams stopped his phenomenal run. In July 2000 Kramnik consoled himself with the thought that he will anyway lose a few games in his forthcoming match against Gary Kasparov. However, in the world championship, which was organised by the Braingames company in conjunction with Gary Kasparov who had turned away from FIDE, the world chess association, Kramnik achieved an even more impressive result than in those 82 games: the Muscovite not only beat the probably best player of all times by 8.5:6.5. He also drove his Russian compatriot to despair as Kasparov did not succeed in drilling his way through the 'concrete chess' played by his former second. With no defeats, two wins and 13 draws, Kramnik toppled the world champion of 15 years standing from the throne. At last year's Giants tournament, which comprised the world's six best players, Kramnik finished in third place with 5:5 points behind Viswanathan Anand (7.5:2.5) and Kasparov (6:4). The world champion from the Black Sea - Vladimir Kramnik first saw the light of the day in Tuapse - had already battled in a dramatic showdown against Anand at the Chess Classic in 1998. In the final Kramnik lost against his this year's opponent with 3:4 after extra games although he had some promising positions. With respect to tournament games the score is exactly reverse as the Braingames world champion has a 4:3 lead (25 draws). The first encounter between the two champions took place in Moscow in 1989 when the 13 year old Kramnik met the 19 year old Indian. In the overall result Anand has the lead (compare his portrait).


Mainz Chess Classic: Viswanathan Anand

Viswanathan Anand
India, born 11 December 1969
Elo 2794, No. 3 in world rating list

   Viswanathan Anand is regarded as the best rapid chess player world-wide due to his successes at the Chess Classic. In 1997, 1998 and 2000, the 'fast breeder' from India won the most prestigious competition with shorter time limits. Last year the 'Tiger of Madras' outclassed the entire world elite and, with an edge of 1.5 and more points, pushed Kasparov, Kramnik & Co. to the other places in the Giants. After going through a bad patch, this impressive tournament win had the effect of a liberating strike for the 31 year old. From now on he has rushed from one success to the other in competitions of the world chess association FIDE: with a win in the world blitz championship, the world cup and the FIDE world championship, Anand completed the 'grand slam'. In the final of the knockout FIDE world championship in Teheran, the new world champion was in total command and beat Alexei Shirov (Spain) with an early 3.5:0.5 win in what was planned as a six game match. The Indian national hero is the first Asian world champion; he is also - after Bobby Fischer (1972) - only the second world champion since World War II not to originate from the Soviet Union or Russia. India is the home of an early version of the royal game, Chatarunga. In the native land of chess Anand caused a wave of enthusiasm and contributed to the fact that chess is now one the three most popular sports in a population of one billion. As regular visitor to the Chess Classic the world champion shares responsibility for the programme of the 'Chess Tigers'. This club aims to foster young talents from the Rhine-Main region to world class level in order to provoke a similar boom to that on the subcontinent. In games with reduced time limit (rapid, blindfold and blitz chess) the FIDE world champion is ahead of his rival with a plus of 8:5 wins (26 draws). A look at all disciplines of chess reveals that Anand leads by 36.5:34.5 points.


Fischer Random Chess

Mainz Chess Classic: Michael Adams

Michael Adams
England, born 17 November 1971
Elo 2750, No. 4 in world rating list

   At last year's Chess Classic Michael Adams won the masters and thereby moved to no. 1 in the rapid chess world rating list! After the Englishman's disappointing debut in 1999 with seven losses and the bottom place he had a brilliant success in 2000 with seven wins. With 10.5:3.5 points he maintained a gap between himself and world class players such as Vassily Ivanchuk (9.5) and Evgeny Bareev (8). The style of the Lübeck Bundesliga player looks unspectacular but is highly dangerous. In particular Vladimir Kramnik suffered from this when his run of 82 games without loss came to an end against Adams in Dortmund. The 29 year old plays less brilliantly than some of the top grandmasters, but 'tricky Mickey' experiences less ups and downs than other competitors. He is always in the upper half of a tournament and in close contact to the top. By this approach the boxing fan fought his way though the world rating list and has in the meantime reached position no. 4. Adams has less experience in Fischer Random Chess but drawing of lots to set up the initial position, together with the unimportance of opening theory might be an advantage for a player who was the youngest British champion at the age of seventeen. The pragmatic player often copes better with unusual positions than his rivals.


Mainz Chess Classic: Peter Leko

Peter Leko
Hungary, born 8 September 1979
Elo 2730, No. 7 in world rating list

   Peter Leko is the youngest grandmaster among the elite club of players with an Elo world list rating of above 2700. That the 21 year old is able to compete with the very best was demonstrated by the Hungarian in the Giants in 2000. He admittedly shared last place with Alexander Morozevich (both 3.5:6.5) in the field of six players, but on the third day he first beat Vladimir Kramnik and then went on to beat Gary Kasparov! A virus infection which he caught during the knockout world championship in New Delhi stopped Leko's further promotion in the world rating list. In the long term, experts assess that the former youngest grandmaster aged only fourteen has the potential to seize the chess crown. Leko not only gained valuable experience as second to Viswanathan Anand. In collaboration with several times world championship candidate Artur Yususov as coach, his breakthrough to the top is on the cards. The Fischer Random Chess match might help the Hungarian to give free reign to his imagination on the 64 squares. The taint of numerous draws, which is Leko takes despite his often long games, should be removed in the duel with Adams. In favour of Leko is his greater experience in Fischer Random Chess. In his home country the no. 7 in the world rating list, a native of Szeged, not only got to know the inventor of this kind of chess but also played some Random games with Bobby Fischer! The ingenious world champion of 1972 refused to play classic chess but gave the youngest grandmaster in the world's leaders some lessons.



Pocket Fritz

   Computer matches have a tradition at the Chess Classic. After his win in the Ordix Open in 1998, Fritz on Primergy also won the Masters in 1999. At the time the combination of software developed by Hamburg-based Chessbase company and the high powered hardware made by Fujitsu Siemens scored 9.5:4.5 points. Last year the 'big brother' of Pocket Fritz obtained 5:5 against players in the world rating list positions 2 to 6. On a handheld the programme will of course perform less strongly and therefore Michael Adams and especially computer expert Peter Leko have to be regarded as favourites. Due to the fast tempo of technical progress Pocket Fritz is designed to achieve a comparable development to that of his 'big brother'. In addition, the match is being eagerly awaited because Pocket Fritz has a very special programmer: Stefan Meyer-Kahlen, from Düsseldorf, is the reigning computer chess world champion for the fourth time. His programme called Shredder is characterised by broad chess knowledge, which could even push the question of hardware well into the background.

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