Chess

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The Independent Online
The Kasparov-Anand match for the PCA world championship begins today at the World Trade Centre in New York. Play will continue at the rate of four games a week every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, with a maximum of 20 games.

There will be no time-outs, no adjournments (after 60 moves each in the first three hours, the players have an extra half-an-hour for their remaining moves) and may the best man win the $1m purse provided by the sponsors Intel.

The chess tipsters of the world have already been making their worthless predictions - they seem to average out at around a two-point win for Kasparov - but I have turned instead to a neat little computer program called Chess Assistant to help with a forecast.

Essentially a sophisticated chess game storage and retrieval device, Chess Assistant also has the capacity to select games from a large database, then give a quick statistical analysis of their results.

From the 350,117 international tournament games on its CD-rom (also available on a pack of discs if you don't have a CD-rom drive), it took 30 seconds to identify the 1,050 in which Kasparov played, and another half-minute for the 741 Anand games.

The statistical tree then told me that of his 553 games with White, Kasparov played 1.d4 more than twice as often as any other move, scoring 60 per cent wins, 36 per cent draws and only 4 per cent losses.

By comparison, Anand's 1.e4 (played in 347 of his 377 games with White) netted him 51 per cent wins, 38 per cent draws and 11 per cent losses.

As Black, Kasparov has a better record too: +41, =44, -15, compared with Anand's +31, =50, -19. But do not be fooled. As the younger man, Anand has more of his early career in these figures.

The greatest interest comes in looking at the likely openings. With Kasparov White, the likely moves are 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6, when the move that has brought Kasparov greatest success in the past, 4.a3, is also the one against which Anand has scored best.

When Anand plays White, a still more intriguing struggle looks likely. Both men, on past form, will race through the moves 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6, when Anand's favourites, 6.f4 and 6.Be3 are precisely the moves that have given Kasparov most trouble in the past.

Anand could prove to be a more unpleasant opponent for Kasparov than many expect.

The full Chess Assistant package costs around pounds 235. Further information from Monica Vann (01628-486676) or e-mail monica@marlow.demon.co.uk.

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