England's latest sudden death failure: grandmaster loses world final 'shoot-out'

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The Independent Online

After the disappointments of Lisbon and Wimbledon, British sport saw another opportunity for glory - victory in the final of the World Chess Championship in the Libyan capital, Tripoli - fall by the wayside yesterday.

After the disappointments of Lisbon and Wimbledon, British sport saw another opportunity for glory - victory in the final of the World Chess Championship in the Libyan capital, Tripoli - fall by the wayside yesterday.

Hopes that Britain would have its first world chess champion for 150 years had been high when Michael Adams, from Cornwall, the tournament favourite, began his play-off final against the unfancied Rustam Kasimdzhanov from Uzbekistan. But shortly after 2.30pm, Adams joined the England football team and Tim Henman in this summer's roll call of defeat by losing his match.

The two players, who had drawn their six-game final on Monday, played two rapid games for the £54,000 prize at the tournament, which had been bankrolled by Colonel Gaddafi's regime to the tune of £700,000 as part of Libya's continuing campaign to re-enter the political mainstream. Kasimdzhanov won the first of two 25-minute games and secured the draw he needed in the second.

Speaking from his hotel room shortly after the final, Adams, 32, a chess prodigy from Truro who was a grandmaster and the youngest British champion at the age of 17, said: "It just didn't go my way."

He added: "With these rapid games there is an element of luck. I had a strong position in the first game but it just didn't work out."

The defeat was a blow to the British chess fraternity, which had been hoping that a victory in the cerebral world of the Chigorin variation and the Ruy Lopez strategy would raise the profile of the game.

Mr Adams, who once admitted to drinking nine pints of beer, is possibly as close as the game comes to a reformed wild man. His success in reaching the final after a 25-day tournament with 128 players had earned him comparisons with Nigel Short, the British grandmaster who played Garry Kasparov, the American-based chess legend, for the world title in 1993.

John Saunders, the editor of British Chess Magazine, said: "This result leaves us hugely disappointed. We have never had a world champion in living memory. Michael played extremely well in the tournament but he came up against a very well organised and nerveless opponent."

Officials at the World Chess Federation, known by its French initials FIDE, recently introduced rules which require grandmasters, normally used to games lasting at least three hours, to play at break-neck speed in order to make tournaments more interesting for spectators. If the two 25-minute games had failed to produce a result, the players would have played games lasting just five minutes.

Kasimdzhanov, 24, who was ranked 54th in the world and was a 150/1 outsider for the tournament, is now scheduled to play Kasparov in January.

The match, which has yet to secure a venue or financial sponsor, will be the next stage in efforts to unify the chess world after more than a decade of infighting and schism.

Kasparov broke away from FIDE, in the 1990s but has now returned to the fold after securing an agreement that he would automatically play the winner of the tournament in Tripoli.

Critics of the championship pointed out that only two of the world's top 10 players attended the event after a boycott over contracts and what was seen as special treatment afforded to Kasparov. The tournament was further marred when the Israeli team was in effect barred in a row over visas.

Despite pledges that Jewish players would be welcomed at the Tripoli tournament, Mohammed Gaddafi, son of the Libyan leader, appeared to go back on the agreement by describing the Israelis as the "Zionist enemy".

Mr Gaddafi later denied making the comment.

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