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He Saved The World Championship!

Interview with FM Hartmut Metz

by GM Mikhail Golubev, October 2004

English chess texts by Hartmut Metz


Hartmut Metz

Hartmut Metz


   There are heroes, and there are people who are making these heroes. Interviews with the popular, leading chess journalists are gradually becoming a speciality of our newsletter! We are very grateful to German chess observer, our reader and regular correspondent, FM Hartmut Metz, who agreed to answer our questions via email.


For which newspapers and magazines did you cover the Brissago match?

For about ten or twelve I guess. Except my own newspaper, which has to print the articles (my colleagues are always joking that BT is the only German newspaper which has a full time chess editor) I write for several big newspapers. Some has 500.000 up to 1 million readers. The most important are Financial Times Germany, Die Tageszeitung (TAZ) and Frankfurter Rundschau, which are available in the whole of Germany, and last but not least Basler Zeitung, one of the biggest newspapers in Switzerland.


How long have you been a chess journalist?

For 16 years now. I started with an article about Capablanca's 100th birthday. Astonishingly it was very successful and several chess magazines printed it. Before that I just wrote for student magazines and the magazine of my chess club Rochade Kuppenheim and the magazine of the table tennis club Muggensturm (now I am president and a top player there). Maybe I started earlier in 1987 with my weekly chess column in Badisches Tagblatt. It is the leading newspaper in Baden-Baden and surroundings. Since finishing my studies, I worked for them as an editor. At the moment I am editor-in-chief for the weekly magazine. A brighter audience I got after my story with Clemens Allwermann, the amateur, who won the open in Böblingen, cheating with Fritz.


Please tell us about your books. Are you planning to write a book on Kramnik-Leko?

No. Some people always ask me to write books - but I have other work, and I decline. In the past I made several mistakes: exactly five. All are tournament books. Writing comments (especially stories, which I prefer) about tournaments is what I feel I am able to do, if some Grandmasters annotate the games. Together with Helmut Pfleger, who is the most popular GM in Germany because of his TV chess shows, I started with a book about the world chess championships in 1993. Then I wrote about Munich 1993 (winner Shirov), Horgen 1994 (winner Kasparov), Frankfurt Chess Classic 1999 and last but not least 2000, which is my best book, I think. In Frankfurt-2000 for the first time all top ten players competed at the same place. I like the book because of its high print standard (e.g. all 200 pictures are in colour) and Vishy Anand, Artur Jusupov and a friend of mine Harald Fietz made it exceptional, as most reviewers say. [Ed. Here is the link to the book's web page.]


Which games of the Brissago match have you attended?

Game 7 unfortunately. I drove for about 9 hours from Baden-Baden to Brissago, which is located in the south of Switzerland (very close to the Italian boarder), and back - just to see less than 3 hours chess. More entertaining was the end of the match, when I came back. The last three games especially were thrilling and helped a little bit to forget the awful number of short draws.


Schach-Weltmeisterschaft Brissago 2004: Die Spieler

World Chess Championship in Brissago


How was the match was covered in the German language media?

In my opinion it was covered very extensively (for chess)! We can not compare it with soccer, which dominates in Germany totally. But most newspapers published the results regularly (some together with the games) and printed from time to time the big articles. The sponsors announced that 156 journalists were in Brissago and 8 TV stations, for example European Broadcasting Union (EBU). And Pfleger made some shows too. So for chess it was pretty good.


Will Dannemann sponsor chess in future, what is your impression? Were the sponsors satisfied with the match?

Indeed they were. On the one hand Hans Leusen, manager of Dannemann Brazil, said that the company has to analyse the coverage first and will announce after that if they go on sponsoring. On the other hand everything I heard in Brissago makes me believe that Dannemann will sponsor chess in future too. Let me point out some reasons: Hans Leusen mentioned that every sponsoring they do continually for years. Christian Burger, owner of the company, likes chess very much and I think they can not get a better advertisement for their money. The World championship did not cost more than 2,5 million Euro, I guess. Everybody mentioned the Centro Dannemann, in which the match took place, and between the players you always can see the Dannemann sign at the wall behind. The advertisement in TV, newspapers and internet is worth more than 10 or 20 million Euro, I am sure. Perhaps it had a value of more than 50 million Euro. So why should they stop sponsoring chess?


Did you manage to interview the players, and other persons, involved in the match?


Of course as a journalist you have to speak with an awful lot of people, who are involved. Most interesting for CT readers seems to be the opinions of Artur Jusupov, and Evgeny Bareev, one of Kramnik's seconds. Both understand well that Leko wanted to stop pressure after a great defence in game 12. Instead of agreeing a draw, he should play on and try to win it. A 7:5 lead would be decisive without any doubt. Jusupov thought that Leko lost the match because of the short draws. So Kramnik had more time to recover, which was not necessary for a sportsman like the challenger. Leko failed to put instant pressure on Kramnik, who had problems with flu too. Joel Lautier has announced that ACP will forbid draw offers before move 40 in their tournaments! Very good - but the rule came too late for Leko.


Is the press capable of making chess attractive for a wide audience?


It is. Most chess writers have always made the same mistake: they write too much about the moves. The wider audience (in the West, at least) do not understand much about chess except how to move the pieces. So it is pointless to mention variations, openings or much about the game except the result and some explanations how the game went in general. It is necessary to write entertaining and funny stories around it. E.g. when we invited the president of the Estonian Chess Federation Carmen Kass to Mainz it was a tremendous success. A lot of publications just wrote about the supermodel and all the TV and radio stations wanted to speak with her. They took pictures when Kass played blitz vs. Anand and Stefanova. Without that only the chess magazines would be interested in the match Anand - Shirov, even if they are both great players! Unfortunately in all the countries only such sports where you have national heroes are at the top. Germany has Michael Schumacher in Formula-1 and, therefore, Formula-1 gets big TV coverage. But even as a small sport you can achieve some goals with the press. As Markus Angst, editor-in-chief of the chess magazine in Switzerland, will publish in his next editorial, I somehow saved the world championship with my articles. Two years ago I wrote stories about Sergey Karjakin as the youngest GM ever and about Alexandra Kosteniuk, whom I called 'the Anna Kornikova of chess'. Christian Burger, the owner of Dannemann, read these articles in Financial Times Germany and decided to organise a match between Karjakin and Kosteniuk! He told me that he did it because of my articles. Of course it is pleasant to hear that you achieve something with your writing, but I forgot it until Carsten Hensel called me once. The manager of Kramnik and Leko asked me if I knew more about Dannemann. I proposed to call Mr. Burger, to ask him about his further goals. Then Kramnik played in Centro Dannemann vs. the German team in February 2004. The rest of the story you know. So you see it is not hopeless for chess! A lot of companies like advertise with our sport, because you need logic and strategy - the companies want to show both to their clients. If they will realise the advantages of our sport, it would be possible to attract more sponsors.


Please, tell us about your opinion on the organisation of the Chess Olympiad 2008.


It would be great if FIDE gives the event to Dresden. But to be honest: I have mixed feelings. I am not sure if they can raise the budget of more than 6 million Euro as they announced and I have the feeling that several people, who are involved, like to earn a lot of money with this Olympiad. Above all I did not like to hear in Brissago from a well informed German chess-player some stories about the Olympiad and about Alfred Schlya, who is the president of the German Chess Federation and the most incompetent guy in chess among those whom I know (even if we include Kirsan Ilyumzhinov in this rating!). Allegedly Schlya told several people at an event that Dresden will get the Olympiad for sure, because they bribed e.g. the Indian federation. And, believe it or not - the Indian federation signed a contract with several arrangements with the German federation these days.


That sounds ridiculous.


It is. But life is full of surprises. Let me tell you a last funny story. Before the World Championship I made an interview with Leko. My first question was about his vegetarian food. The lack of vitamin B12 causes sometimes problems with the nerves and some other stuff. Leko answered, that he has good news for his supporters. He has stopped being a total vegetarian and now eats fish sometimes. After the match I realised that the opening ECO code of the last game was: B12!



This interview appeared in Chess Today, the daily chess news magazine by e-mail. Here are some games by Hartmut Metz:


Martin,A (2425) - Metz,H (2275) [A11]
Hastings Challengers 9394 ENG, 1993

1.Nf3 c6 2.g3 d5 3.Bg2 Nf6 4.c4 Bf5 5.0-0 e6 6.d3 dxc4 7.dxc4 Qxd1 8.Rxd1 Nbd7 9.Nc3 Ne4 10.Nxe4 Bxe4 11.Rxd7 Bxf3 12.Rc7 Bxe2 13.Bf4 Bc5 14.Re1 Bxc4 15.Rc1 Bb6 16.Rxb7 Bd5 17.Bd6 0-0-0 18.Rb8+ Kd7 19.Rxd8+ Rxd8 20.Bf4 Bd4 21.b4 e5 22.Bd2 Kd6 23.a4 Bxg2 24.Kxg2 Rb8 25.Rc2 Kd5 26.Kf3 a5 27.bxa5 Rb3+ 28.Ke2 Ra3 29.f4 e4 30.Be1 Rxa4 31.h4 f5 32.h5 c5 33.Rc1 Ra2+ 0-1



Lukacs,P (2490) - Metz,H (2315) [D36]
Budapest FS06 GM HUN (5), 1995

1.d4 c6 2.c4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nf3 e6 5.cxd5 exd5 6.Qc2 Nbd7 7.Bg5 Be7 8.e3 0-0 9.Bd3 Re8 10.0-0 Nf8 11.h3 Ng6 12.Bxf6 Bxf6 13.b4 a6 14.a4 Qd6 15.Rab1 Bd7 16.Bf5 Bxf5 17.Qxf5 Re6 18.b5 axb5 19.axb5 Rae8 20.bxc6 bxc6 21.Rb7 Ne7 22.Qb1 g6 23.Na4 Nf5 24.Nc5 R6e7 25.Rb6 Nxe3 26.fxe3 Rxe3 27.Qd1 Qg3 28.Nd7 Rxf3 29.Rxf3 Re1+ 30.Rf1 Qe3+ 31.Kh1 Rxd1 32.Nxf6+ Kg7 33.Rxd1 Kxf6 34.Rxc6+ Kg5 35.Rc5 Qe4 36.Rc3 f5 37.Kg1 f4 38.Kf2 Kf5 39.Kf1 g5 40.Rf3 h5 41.Rf2 Qe3 42.Re2 Qb3 43.Re5+ Kf6 44.Rd2 Qc3 45.Ke2 Kg6 46.Ke1 g4 47.hxg4 hxg4 48.Rxd5 Qe3+ 49.Re2 Qc1+ 50.Kf2 g3+ 51.Kf3 Qf1+ 52.Kg4 Qxe2+ 53.Kxf4 Qf2+ 0-1



Metz,H (2315) - Enders,P (2480) [B95]
Budapest FS06 GM HUN (11), 1995

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.Qd2 b5 8.f3 Be7 9.h4 0-0 10.0-0-0 b4 11.Nce2 a5 12.g4 Ba6 13.Kb1 Qc7 14.Bxf6 Bxf6 15.g5 Bxd4 16.Nxd4 Nd7 17.h5 Bxf1 18.Rhxf1 Rab8 19.g6! "Usually such a move is a sign that White is succeeding in his attack. In positions with castling on opposite sides, it's particularly important to begin your own attack first and make the opponent defend, so that his counterattack won't be so dangerous." (A.Baburin, CBM 49) 19...Nc5 20.gxh7+ Kxh7 21.Rf2 Rg8 22.Rg2 Na4 23.Rdg1 Nc3+ 24.Ka1 a4 25.bxc3 bxc3 26.Qd3 Qb6 27.Qxc3 Rgc8 28.Rxg7+ Kh8 29.Rg8+ [ 29.Rg8+ Rxg8 30.Nxe6+ Kh7 31.Rg7+ Kh6 32.Qf6+ Kxh5 33.Rh7# ] 1-0


Kallai,G (2490) - Metz,H (2320) [D17]
Verbandsliga Süd Baden 9596 Germany (7.1), 03.03.1996

1.d4 c6 2.c4 d5 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.a4 Bf5 6.Nh4 Bg4 7.f3 Bh5 8.g4 Bg6 9.e4 e6 10.Nxg6 hxg6 11.Bxc4 Qc7 12.Qe2 Bb4 13.Kf1 Nbd7 14.Bg5 Qa5 15.Qe3 e5 16.d5 Nb6 17.Be2 Bc5 18.Qc1 Qb4 19.Kg2 cxd5 20.a5 dxe4 21.axb6 Qd4 22.Qe1 exf3+ 23.Bxf3 Bxb6 24.Ra4 Qc5 25.Bxf6 gxf6 26.Nd5 Qc2+ 27.Qe2 Qxa4 28.Nxf6+ Kf8 29.Qxe5 Qc2+ 30.Be2 Qc6+ 31.Nd5 Rh4 32.Bf3 Qc2+ 33.Kg3 Rh7 34.Qd6+ Kg7 35.Qf6+ Kg8 36.Qd6 Qf2+ 37.Kf4 Qd2+ 38.Kg3 Bf2+ 39.Kg2 Bc5+ 0-1



Metz,H (2275) - Prusikhin,M (2440) [B41]
Staufer op 12th Schwaebisch Gmünd GER (5), 2000

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.c4 Nf6 6.Nc3 Qc7 7.Be3 Bb4 8.Qd3 0-0 9.Be2 b5 10.cxb5 Nxe4 11.b6 Qb7 12.0-0 Nc5 13.Qc4 a5 14.Bf3 d5 15.Nxd5 exd5 16.Bxd5 Qa6 17.a3 Qxc4 18.Bxc4 Ba6 19.Bd5 Bxf1 20.axb4 1-0



Metz,H (2325) - Ast,B (1937) [C30]
MB Pokalfinale GER (5), 2003
[Hartmut Metz (www.chesstoday.net)]

1.e4 e5 2.f4 Qf6 3.Nf3 Qxf4 4.Nc3 Bb4 5.d3 Qf6 6.Be2 h6 7.Be3 Qe7 8.0-0 Bxc3 9.bxc3 d6 10.Qe1 Nd7 11.Qg3 g5 [ 11...Ngf6 ] 12.h4 [ 12.Nh4! ] 12...f6?! [ 12...g4!? 13.Qxg4 Ngf6 14.Qg3 Rg8 15.Qe1 Ng4 ] 13.Nh2 Nf8?! [ 13...Qf7!? ] 14.Bh5+ Kd8 15.d4 c6?! 16.c4 Ne6?! 17.c5!+- Nf4 18.cxd6 Qxd6 19.dxe5 Nxh5 20.Qf3 Qxe5 21.Qxh5 g4?? 22.Rad1+ Kc7 23.Bf4 1-0



Metz,H - Nadj,C [B07]
OL0304 Kuppenheim-Slavija Karlsruhe GER (6.4), 15.02.2004

1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 c6 4.f4 Qa5 5.Bd3 e5 6.Nf3 Bg4 7.Be3 exf4 8.Bd2 Qb6 9.Na4 Qc7 10.0-0 Be7 11.c4 g5 12.Qc2 h6 13.e5 dxe5 14.Nxe5 Bh5 15.Rae1 0-0 16.Bf5 Bd6 17.Qb3 Na6 18.c5 Bxe5 19.dxe5 Bg4 20.Bxg4 Nxg4 21.Qh3 Qd7 22.Bc3 Qe6 23.Qh5 Rad8 24.h3 Ne3 25.Rxe3 fxe3 26.Rf6 Qc4 27.e6 Rd4 28.Rxh6 1-0

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