Independent Pursuits: Chess

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The Independent Culture
WE ARE told that top footballers make tens of thousands of pounds a week. Chess players, even world champions, have never been regularly remunerated on this scale - let alone the ten times as much mined by the top American baseball players. But Gary Kasparov and Vladimir Kramnik will this weekend move temporarily to these stratospheric heights as they contest a 24-game blitz match for the princely sum of $1,000 per win or $500 each for a draw in each 10 minute (ie five minutes for each player) game.

The event, the first of it's kind on anything like this scale, is sponsored jointly by the Internet Chess Club (ICC) and the venue, the Kosmos Hotel, in Moscow.

There are 12 games on both Saturday and Sunday, play starting on each day at 5pm GMT. I realise that only a minority of readers will have access to the Internet at weekends. But those who do can watch the action live and see the commentary of grandmasters and other strong players by joining the ICC at ($29 for six months plus a surcharge of $16 for both days).

Although chess is generally experienced in the somewhat dessicated context of moves printed on a page, viewed live, even virtually, it is infinitely more interesting. The match should be a lot of fun, if demanding on people's phone bills, eyes and the patience of any civilians resident with them.

While I've never seen either of these great players play blitz for any extended period, I would certainly expect positional chess of a pretty high standard, albeit interspersed with the odd blunder. This game was their first blitz play-off after two Quickplay draws at the Moscow leg of the Professional Chess Players (PCA) Grand Prix - and the play over the weekend should be even better since they won't have undergone the transition from Quickplay to Blitz.

Kasparov obtained some pressure against the isolated d pawn after the opening but got into trouble after 29...g5! and 32...g4! when the threat of 33...Rh6! forced him to jettison the e pawn. Kramnik's technique then looked very smooth.

White: Gary Kasparov

Black: Vladimir Kramnik

Moscow PCA-Grand Prix 1996

Symmetrical English

1.c4 c5

2.Nf3 Nc6

3.Nc3 Nf6

4.e3 e6

5.d4 d5

6.cxd5 exd5

7.Bb5 cxd4

8.Nxd4 Bd7

9.0-0 Bd6

10.Nf3 a6

11.Be2 Be6

12.a3 0-0

13.b4 Qe7

14.Bb2 Rfe8

15.Nd4 Be5

16.Nxc6 bxc6

17.Na4 Bxb2

18.Nxb2 c5

19.bxc5 Qxc5

20.Nd3 Qd6

21.Nf4 Bf5

22.Bf3 Rad8

23.Qd4 Be4

24.Be2 Bf5

25.Bf3 Be4

26.Be2 Bf5

27.Qb4 d4

28.Qxd6 Rxd6

29.Rfd1 g5

30.Nh5 Nxh5

31.Bxh5 d3

32.Rd2 g4

33.f3 gxf3

34.Bxf3 Rxe3

35.Rc1 Re5

36.Kf2 Kg7

37.Rc4 Ra5

38.Rc3 Rb5

39.h4 h6

40.Ke3 a5

41.Kf2 Rd4

42.g3 Re5

43.Rc7 Ra4

44.Rc3 Bg6

45.Rb3 Rc4

46.g4 Rc2

47.Rb2 Rxd2+

48.Rxd2 f6

49.Kg3 Rc5

50.Kf4 Rc3

51.Rb2 Rxa3


53.Rd7 Ra4+

54.Ke3 f5

55.h5 Be8

56.Rxd3 fxg4

57.Be4 Bxh5

58.Rd6 Kg7


60.Rd6+ Kg5

61.Bc2 Ra3+

62.Kf2 g3+

63.Kg1 Bf3

White resigns