The eight immensely powerful finalists, every one stronger than all but the top two dozen national sides, were led by Agrouniversal from Zemum, in the former Yugoslavia, the line-up of which started Kramnik, Anand, Beliavsky, Gelfand...
You would have thought that a powerhouse like this would have walked the competition, or at least into the final. But in an amazing upset they went down 3.5-2.5 in the very first of the three knockout rounds to Polonia Warsaw. Meanwhile an even greater upset in rating terms occured when Beersheva beat the powerful St Petersburg team 4.5-1.5. The next day, too late, Agrouniversal redeemed themselves by crushing St Petersburg 4-2. And in the battles between the winners, Panfox, from Breda, slaughtered Bosna Sarajevo 5-1, while Polonia defeated Beersheva 4-2.
To begin with, it looked as though Panfox would win the final easily after the Polonia top board, Alexei Shirov, fell into a prepared variation in his favourite Grunfeld defence, while the Dutch team had good positions on all other boards. But after a long think Shirov found an excellent pawn sacrifice, and when his opponent blundered a rook and lost, the match appeared to have turned on its head.
Only in the time scramble did things go Panfox's way and they finally prevailed 3.5-2.5. Michael Adams's win against Rozentalis led the charge. Black appeared to be doing quite well but the excellent demolition sacrifice 34.Bxg6! proved decisive since the queen and two rooks were too powerful an attacking force. After 36.Qh5! the threat of 37.R7xg7! Rxg7 38.Qh8+ was decisive. More games from this excellent event later in the week.
White: Michael Adams
Black: Eduardas Rozentalis
Black resignsReuse content