Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Former world champions

THE world championship has just concluded in Bonn, Germany. The prize pot was 1.5 million Euros to be divided equally between the players and the format was best of 12 games under classical time controls.

Vishwanathan Anand of India retained his title against challenger Vladimir Kramnik of Russia by drawing Game 11 for a final score of 6.5-4.5. It was over after 24 moves of a Sicilian Najdorf.

Here is the review of the 10 games thus far; Game 1, draw, 32 moves, Exchanged Slav; Game 2, draw 32 moves, Nimzo Indian Saemisch; Game 3, Anand wins with black, 41 moves, Queen’s Gambit Meran; Game 4, draw, 29 moves Queen’s Gambit Declined; Game 5, Anand wins again with black, 35 moves Queen’s Gambit Meran; Game 6, Anand wins with white, 47 moves, Nimzo Indian 4.Qc2; Game 7, draw,36 moves, Slav Defense; Game 8,draw,39 moves, Queen’s Gambit

Declined; Game 9,draw, 45 moves Anti-Meran Gambit ;Game 10, Kramnik wins with white, 29 moves, Nimzo-Indian.

A few days ago we had a get-together with some Cepca members and since the topic of my three previous articles has been this world championship , there was a suggestion to feature past champions as they are not common knowledge even among chess players. Here they are.

Wilhem Steinitz was an Austrian and was the first modern champion from 1886 to 94. He defeated then leading players Adolf Andersen, Henry Bird and Zukertort. He is called the “Father of modern chess.”

Emmanuel Lasker of Germany had the longest reign from 1894 to 1921.He is still generally regarded as one of the strongest players ever. His Ph.D thesis is regarded as one of the foundations of modern algebra.

Jose Capablanca from Cuba, was world champion from 1921 to 1927. He is also considered one of the greatest chess player of all time.

Alexander Alekhine (USSR/France) in 1927 became champion by defeating Capablanca and lost to Max Euwe (Holland) in 1935, but regained his crown in a 1937 rematch.

The 1948 World Championship was played to determine a new world champion following the death of Alexander Alekhine in 1946. The tournament was now managed by Fide. Mikhail Botvinnik won the five-player championship tournament (Smyslov, Keres, Reshevsky and Euwe), thus beginning the era of Soviet domination for more than 20 years. Botvinnik reigned up to 1957.

Vasily Smyslov (1957-58), Mikhael Tal (1960-62), Tigran Petrosian (1963-69) and Boris Spassky (1969-72) all Soviet players, were champions respectively until American prodigy Bobby Fischer crushed Spassky in the famous “Battle of the Century” in Reyjavik, Iceland.

Fischer lost his title via forfeit to Anatoly Karpov in Manila who subsequently held on to his crown for 10 years. (1975-1985). Garry Kasparov finally became champion from 1985-1993. Karpov reigned again (1993-99) after Kasparov left Fide to form the Professional Chess Association.

The next champions were Alexander Khalifman, (Russia ,1999-2000); Anand (2000-2002); Ruslan Ponomariov, (Ukraine 2002-2004); Rustam Kasimdzhanov, (Uzbekistan ,2004-2005); Veselin Topalov, (Bulgaria 2006); Vladimir Kramnik (2006-2007); Anand (2007-present).

The women also has a long history of world championship and the first was Vera Menchik, of the United Kingdom, who was No.1 from 1927-44.

Other past champions were Ludmilla Rodenko (USSR, 1950-53); Elizabeth Bikova, (USSR, 1953-56), Olga Rubzowa, (USSR 1956-58);Elizabeth Bikova (USSR,1958-62); Nona Gaprendashvili (Georgia 1962-78); Maya Chiburdanitze(Georgia 1978-91); Xie Jun (China ,1991-96); Susan Polgar (Hungary 1996-99); Xie Jun (1999-2001); Zhu Chen (China, 2001-2004); Antoanette Stepanova (Bulgaria, 2004-06); Xu Hua (China, 2006-2008); Alexandra Kosteniuk (Russia -present).

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