Friday, September 15, 2006

Finally a ‘true world champion’

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

After a hiatus of almost 13 years, chess will finally have an undisputed world champion when classical world champion Vladimir Kramnick battles Fide Champion Veselin Topalov on Sept. 21 to Oct.13 in Elista, the capital of Kalmykia, Russia. The prize fund is $1 million, to be divided between the players equally, regardless of the final result.

The match is intended to “end the confusion after the unfortunate Schism which happened in 1993.” To recall, then world champion Garry Kasparov broke away from Fide after a serious disagreement with its president Florencio Campomanes and formed another organization, which held a separate championship match. Kasparov won against Nigel Short in 1993 and Vishy Anand in 1995 but lost to Kramnik in 2000. Kramnik retained his title after a draw against Peter Leko in 2004.

Meanwhile, Fide had a series of champions under the knockout format culminating in 2005, when Topalov won the championship in San Luis, Argentina after a double-round robin match against seven others.

The Kramnik-Topalov match will consist of 12 games, the winner is the first player to score 6.5 pts or more. If the score is tied after 12 games, there will be four rapid tie-break games. If the match is still tied, two blitz games will be played. If still tied, a decisive blitz game will be played, white will be given six minutes and black five minutes. Black wins in case of a draw.

Time control is two hours for the first 40 moves, one hour for the next 20 moves and then 15 minutes for the rest of the game plus an additional increment of 30 seconds after move 61. For the tie-break games, the rate of play will be 25 minutes plus 10 seconds increment for each move.

TOPALOV. He is a 31-year-old player from Bulgaria and is the highest rated player now with an Elo of 2813. He won the 2005 chess Oscar after an incredible series of successes with a win in Linares (tied with Kasparov), the M-Tel Masters in Sofia, which included Anand, Kramnik, Ponomariov (2002 Fide champion), Adams and Judit Polgar, making it the strongest tournament for the year with an average rating of 2744.

In San Luis, Argentina he demolished the field with six wins and a draw in the first cycle and drew all his remaining games in the next cycle for a performance rating of 2890, thus becoming Fide world champion.

This year he was joint first with Anand at Corus and again won the M-Tel Masters 2006. He is definitely on a roll and his morale very high.

KRAMNIK. He is also 31 years old and is from Russia and is rated No. 4 in the world with an Elo of 2743. He became cworld champion in 2000 by defeating Garry Kasparov in a 16-game match in London and retained his title with a draw in a 14-game match in Switzerland against Peter Leko of Hungary.

He is also on a roll this year after winning the gold medal in the Turin Olympiad with a performance rating of 2847 and Dortmund 2006 against top players Levon Aronian, Peter leko, Peter Svidler, Adams, Baadur Jobava and Arkadi Naiditsch.

Kramnik and Topalov have played 39 games against each other with Kramnik ahead on 10 wins, 24 draws and 5 losses.

A survey among chess players I met has Kramnik as the favorite to win, the same as mine.

Cepca news. The Cebu Executives and Professionals Chess Association will have a general assembly at the Stella Maris Seafarer Center this Sept. 17 starting at 1p.m. The purpose of the meeting is to elect the officers and members of the board of trustees for the year 2007.

After the elections, the September monthly tournament will be held. The first three rounds will be a handicapping format and the next four rounds will be a 7-minute blitz.

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