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The Independent Online
The most original chess news of last week was the appeal from an official of the Queensland Chess Association for players the world over to boycott the French Defence as a protest against French atomic tests in the Pacific.

Such advice, if followed, could bring closer the dream of the single European chess opening which some of us have been advocating for years. If every game had to begin 1.c4 (the English Opening) 1...e6 (the opening move of the French Defence) 2.Nf3 (the second move of both the Ruy Lopez, or Spanish, and Giuoco Piano, or Italian Game.) 2...f5 (characteristic of the Dutch defence) would it not be a great step towards the harmony of nations across the chessboard?

Quite apart from promoting unity, it would eliminate, at a stroke, the problems of the Danish gambit, the Czech Benoni, the Slav Defence and even the Scotch Game. Players would need to take only one book with them to tournaments and theory would advance rapidly on a single front.

On the subject of harmony, another hint of potential trouble has emerged in the peace process between Fide (the International Chess Federation) and the PCA (the Kasparov-led Professional Chessplayers Association). Two weeks after the PCA published their rating list, the official Fide version arrived with some curious differences.

Here are the Fide top 12 with their rating numbers:

1. Kasparov (Russia) 2795

2. Karpov (Russia) 2775

3. Ivanchuk (Ukraine) 2740

4. Kamsky (US) 2735

5. Kramnik (Russia) 2730

6. Anand (India) 2725

7. Shirov (Spain) 2695

8= Gelfand (Belarus) 2685

8= Salov (Russia) 2685

10. Yusupov (Germany) 2680

11. Dreyev (Russia) 2670

12. Adams (England) 2660

Now there's a strange thing: Anatoly Karpov, the Fide world champion, who had slipped to fourth on the PCA list, is not only still second in the Fide version, but closer to Kasparov than he has been for a decade. And Kamsky, the official Fide challenger, is also much higher on this list than on the PCA version.

From an English point of view, it's good to see Michael Adams in the top 12. He wasn't even in the PCA's top 20, but where's Nigel Short? The co-founder of the PCA, now back in their top 10, is down to sharing 17th to 20th places on the Fide list.

Since both organisations use essentially the same system, it's curious to see such large discrepancies, and more curious still that the Fide- loyalists seem to do better on the Fide list and conversely. Since the rating systems are pure and honest and beyond any accusations of fiddling, the only possible explanation is that grandmasters are more highly motivated if they approve of the organisation they know is going to rate the tournament.