27.09.2004 A.Kentler. The "passion" according to the champion

You were given a tsar, but he was too quite:
You rebelled in your puddle;
Then you were given another one, but he was too hardy:
So let him reign not to make things worse for you!

I.A.Krylov «Frogs begging for a tsar».

Several answers can be given to the question “Who is the strongest chess player for today?”, and each of them will be either appreciated or not.

So, we have world champion of classical chess V.Kramnik, FIDE world champion R.Kasimdzhanov (the spelling of his surname still differs in different editions: sometimes letter “d” is added in English transcription in Armenian manner: Rustam-dzhan), the strongest by results of the last one and a half year competitions V.Anand, the first according to rating-list and to results of the last two decades, G.Kasparov. Also not defeated champion R.Fisсher who is in prison, and separated from union with Harry Kimovich R.Ponomariov who is also a not-defeated FIDE world champion, by the way he gained his victory in Moscow playing against a dozen of opponents who were stronger than those who finally decided to play in Libya. Whether we want that or not but by this point appears a well- known silhouette of A.Karpov, the epoch-making champion of the recent past. There are really many champions, but it’s better to have just one. «Champions of all versions unite!» This appeal was heard in Prague. Hardly two years have passed since that time and one of the promised competitions of chess pair figure skating stars begins. To tell the truth, neither FIDE, nor its president K.Ilyumzhinov - the initiator of unifying process, were not involved in the organization of a match Kramnik - Leko.

For some reason I associate the dream of the single champion with nostalgia on restoration of the former powerful Soviet Union from the states sovereign in something that have rendered off independency in something. Supposing all of them return again to the united bosom, it is interesting, under the aegis of whom it will take place: under the aegis of Vladimir Vladimirovich, or of Alexander Grigorevich (not Bakh at all), or of Turkmen-pasha … This is what in Odessa is called “big differences”. But agree that the most important thing is an idea around which the integration will take place, and there has never been a problem of finding a leader.

Naturally, there is no way of a civilized restoration of the USSR, unless something beyond reclaim happens.

Though in our narrow chess space both the champion in classics, and the knockout-champion, and "Oscar" winner, and other characters live in harmony with each other, certainly, it’s quite enough to have just one champion. Moreover, it would be good, if the question was only in the format but not in the particular surname. I have read Y.Vasilev's diffuse article «A Long road to Brissago» (the newspaper "Sports-express " of 21.09.04) and finally my eyes have opened: it is not enough to gain the right to play a world-championship match against G.Kasparov. in addition it is necessary, that this right should be gained by a person, for game with whom Harry Kimovich would get a financial backing. Neither Shirov, nor Anand were appropriate candidatures. The match against Ponomariov didn’t happen, as the policy got in the way of it and Kasparov knows his onions in the politics (may be the match would have happened if Harry Kimovich hadn’t known his onions so perfectly?). From all has been said a question rises: will there be anyone who will finance a match Kasparov-Kasimdzhanov? And the next question: will the winner of this match play against the winner of a match Kramnik - Leko? We shall regard these questions to be rhetorical and we will turn to the long-awaited classical world chess championship in which the world champion, who has beaten the former one, will play against the challenger who has won the elimination match. This is a positive moment: despite all difficulties which the organizers of the competition have faced, the sports principle has triumphed - both the world champion and the challenger were replaced. Thanks to the organizers from Dannemann Center. It’s not surprising that a world famous tobacco firm took a chess path. Look at the portrait decorating its emblem: the very image of Michael Chigorin!

The match began on Friday in a Swiss town Brissago. 14 games should be played. Game days: 25, 26, 28, 30 of September and 2, 3, 5,7,9,10,12,14,16,18 of October. Game time - 7 hours, time-limit: 2 hours for 40moves, an hour for the next 20 moves and half an hour until a result.

You can find all games on a web-site <http://www.worldchesschampionship.com/com/index.php>.

Arbiters of the match: M.Angst (Switzerland), A.Filipowicz (Poland) and A.Fasse (the Netherlands).

The prize fund is 1 million Swiss francs.

P.Leko plays according to drawing of lots the first game and all odd ones with the White pieces. The drawing of lots was rather original: White pieces got those of the players who had the move on «f5».

Disparity between years of the opponents is only 4 years (Kramnik was born on June, 25 1975, and Leko - on September, 8 1979). It is interesting, that both achieved the first major success in the children's world championships in 1989: Vladimir won "silver" in the 14-years old championship, and Peter - "bronze" among ten years old players.

Both straight away showed themselves to be child prodigies. Their surprising talents became known when they were under ten years old. I will never forget, what a strong impression made on me V.Kramnik's game in the elimination match for the combined team of trade unions in Baku (it seems to take place in 1986). And a game of P.Leko for the first time I watched personally in the junior championship of Europe in Slovakia in 1992. Both of them were much stronger, much more talented than their coevals.

Certainly, for today V.Kramnik's achievements are much higher. He was a champion in Linares for three times, even more times in Dortmund, he had victories in Tilburg, Dos Hermanes, Wijk-an-Zeе. And, finally his whitewash over Kasparov has put Vladimir among well-known champions.

P.Leko also has his trumps. He became a grand master at even more tender age – at 14 years old, and Kramnik – at 17. Peter distinguished himself in 2000, having beaten (4,5 : 1,5) the world FIDE champion of that time A.Khalifman. Though he was not the first in the largest tournaments, in addition to his success in eliminatory tournament, he has already had prize-winning places in Tilburg, Linares, Dortmund, Wijk-an-Zeе.

His thoroughness Leko has shown by his early marriage, when he «has killed two birds with one stone»: he took to wife a daughter of a famous Armenian Grand Master A.Petrosian he also benefited having received a fine trainer in the person of his father-in-law.

Two rarely defeated Grand Masters will encounter. Therefore a tough struggle with a small number of non-drawn games is expected.

We plan to put on our web-site two reviews of competition. The author of the first one, which will be devoted to the first half of the match, is Grand Master S.Ivanov, and International Master, Honored trainer of Russia A.Lukin will write about the second half.

Will pass three weeks will pass till we will find out whether V.Kramnik will keep a title of the world champion, or a new name will appear in the list of chess kings.

But what is even more important is that these and other outstanding players could please all chess-lovers with their new creative achievements; that there will be more competitions (matches, tournaments) of any format and with any time-limit; that the process won’t come to a standstill waiting for a mythical unification because the suggested unification is possible only when somebody will be derogated from his rights.

Any way we won’t be able to forecast the future. This is strongly exemplified in the events of the summer of 2004, when the patriarch of St.Petersburg chess M.Taimanov became the father of charming twins, while world champion R.Fischer is in a Japanese hoosegow. Who would have imagined such a script thirty three years ago when the young American had utterly beaten the middle-aged Leningrad Grand Master in the quarterfinal world championship match?

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