The new-style Fide world championship begins in Groningen, The Netherlands, today with 96 players competing for $5m in prize money. In the first-round, 66 players will contest two-game matches with rapid play- offs if the score is 1-1. The 33 winners will be joined by 29 players whose ratings have earned them a bye into round two. These include Britain's three top players, Nigel Short, Michael Adams and Matthew Sadler.

The second-round matches will produce 31 winners who then join Boris Gelfand in the third round. Play then continues with two-game knock-out matches eventually reducing the number to two, who will contest a four- game match for a place in the six-game final against Anatoly Karpov, which will begin on 1 January. And then, when Fide has found its new (or renewed its old) champion, all the usual squabbling will begin again as Kasparov - who has refused to compete in this event - re-enters the equation.

Comments