Monday 13 September 1999
Giant exhibition games, especially those involving live pieces, are often prearranged so as both to be spectacular and to afford all the human pieces an opportunity to move. Though I know of a live game in Cambridge some years ago in which a particularly bumptious politician was deliberately (though not, in a chess context, of necessity) sacrificed before the splendid denouement, in order to remove him from proceedings.
There have also been games involving animals. I remember one between Karpov and Timman in the Grand Place in Brussels during the 1986 Swift World Cup tournament in which the four horses were generally - though not entirely - well-behaved; and the confrontation between white and black knights on g7 and g8 led to particular difficulties.
But many exhibition games are genuine, and indeed that great warrior Viktor Korchnoi once played a ferocious match with live pieces against Mikhail Tal - won by Korchnoi 2.5-1.5, if I'm not mistaken.
In previous years Timman has played Karpov and Yusupov with living pieces but this time Kasparov and Timman played their game, in the ECT Delta terminal, on a normal board and set, employed surrogate pieces made by decorating giant containers, as used in the port, which were hefted around by fork-lift truck.
The battle took four hours and though Kasparov had the edge for most of it, he then got his rook stranded on the queenside and succumbed to Timman's counterpunch on the kingside. At the end, the d pawn will walk home.
White: Garry Kasparov
Black: Jan Timman
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