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Kramnik, Kasparov Win on the Riviera


March 30, 2001

Position No. 5631: Black to play and win. From the game Lein - Yin Hao, National Open, Las Vegas 2001.

Solution to Position No. 5630: Black wins with 1 . . . Nf4+ 2 exf4 exf4 3 Rxd2 Qxg3+ 4 Kf1 Qf3+ 5 Ke1 Qxh1+ 6 Ke2 f3+ 7 Kd3 f2 8 Rxf2 Bxf2. White fares no better with 3 Rh3 f3+ or 3 Nd4 Qxg3+ 4 Kf1 Qxc3.


World champion Vladimir Kramnik of Russia and Bulgarian grandmaster Veselin Topalov tied for first place with scores of 15-7 in the 10th Amber tournament, which ended Thursday in Monte Carlo. The tournament is the only elite event requiring blindfold play, in which players are told their opponent's moves but cannot see the pieces. The hefty $137,000 prize fund persuades top stars to try the format and commit an occasional blunder.

Topalov scored 8-3 to win the blindfold competition, a half-point ahead of Kramnik. In the rapid (ordinary 25-minute games) competition, Kramnik and Boris Gelfand (Israel) tied for first place at 7 1/2-3 1/2, and Topalov finished third at 7-4.

The tournament was the second for Kramnik since he dethroned Garry Kasparov of Russia in the Braingames Network world championship in November. Kramnik tied for third place, behind Kasparov and Viswanathan Anand of India, in the Corus tournament in the Netherlands in January.

Other scores: Anand, 13 1/2-8 1/2 overall (7-4 blindfold); Alexey Shirov (Spain), 11 1/2-10 1/2 (7-4 blindfold); Gelfand, 11-11 (3 1/2-7 1/2 blindfold); Peter Leko (Hungary), 11-11 (5 1/2-5 1/2 blindfold); Jeroen Piket (Netherlands), 10 1/2-11 1/2 (5 1/2-5 1/2 blindfold); Ljubomir Ljubojevich (Spain), 9 1/2-10 1/2 (6-5 blindfold); Zoltan Almasi (Hungary), 9 1/2-12 1/2 (5 1/2-5 1/2 blindfold); Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine), 9-13 (4-7 blindfold); former world champion Anatoly Karpov (Russia), 9-13 (3 1/2-7 1/2 blindfold); and Loek Van Wely (Netherlands), 7 1/2-14 1/2 (3-8 blindfold).

Dutch philanthropist Joop van Oosterom of the Max Euwe Assn. sponsored the tournament. Amber is his daughter's name.

The World Chess Federation (FIDE) ran a new event, the World Cup of Rapid Chess, last weekend in Cannes. The scheduling (in conflict with the long-established Amber tournament) and FIDE's controversial presence tarnished an entertaining tournament featuring Kasparov and 15 other grandmasters. U.S. co-champion Yasser Seirawan withdrew weeks ago when he learned that FIDE was behind the event. Kasparov, usually harshly critical of FIDE, insisted that he was invited by the French organizers and not by FIDE.

The tournament began with two eight-player round robins. Although Kasparov has occasionally stumbled in fast games (25 minutes for the first 50 moves, then 10 seconds per move), he had only one anxious moment en route to an undefeated 5 1/2-1 1/2 in his preliminary section. He lost a Rook for a Bishop against former Russian champion Peter Svidler but drew anyway.

The top four scorers from each preliminary advanced to three rounds of two-game matches. In succession, Kasparov defeated Vladislav Tkachiev (France), Alexander Grischuk (Russia) and Evgeny Bareyev (Russia) to take first prize. Grischuk, the 17-year old sensation, put up the most resistance. He drew two games against Kasparov before losing both five-minute tiebreakers.

FIDE's offshoot, FIDE Commerce, failed in its first attempt to persuade organizers of the most prestigious European tournaments to incorporate their events into the Grand Prix, FIDE Commerce's projected series of elite tournaments. In an interview posted at FIDE's Web site,, Artiom Tarasov, the president of FIDE Commerce, bluntly revealed his organization's latest tactic. Tarasov said, "In certain cases, for the progressive good of chess, we will organize new tournaments. . . . The new Grand Prix events will be likely to take place at the same time as those events rejecting our proposal."


The winner of February's U.S. Amateur Team West regional, "AAA Kings," earned the title of 2001 U.S. Amateur Team champions in a telephone playoff last Saturday. The team of IM Andranik Matikozian, IM Varuzhan Akobian, Minas Nordanyan and Harut Keshishian scored a 3-1 victory over the East champions, "Zen and the Art of Bisguier." The South and MidWest champions did not participate in the playoff.

The Wilshire Chess Society held its monthly tournament last Sunday at the Westside Pavilion in Los Angeles. Sid Rubin and Gregory Yakubovich won their sections, and another section ended in a tie among Ped Bashi, Dwayne Copeland and Jonathan Hanish. For information about the club, call Michael Jeffreys at (310) 473-6291.

Leland Farrar won last Sunday's tournament at Chess Academy in Hollywood. Bill Faulk and Steve Herceg tied for second place. Faulk and Steve Labollita drew against GM Eduard Gufeld in a simultaneous exhibition.

The club will conduct another tournament and simul on Sunday. For details, call (323) 883-0164 or (323) 512-4564.

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