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Dueling Rapids

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For the second year in a row we see two powerful rapid tournaments scheduled for the same week, this week. This will be the 13th Melody Amber tournament in Monaco and as usual it includes most of the world's top players. Anand and Kramnik top the list. The Spaniard Vallejo gets his first invite to this pleasure cruise of chess tournaments. Fantastic conditions with every need catered to, a $200,000 prize fund, short work days, and no rating points in play so you are free to take risks and bomb out.

Each day you play a match consisting of one rapid game and one blindfold chess game against the same opponent. The blindfold game allows us to chuckle when the world's best players make foolish mistakes and occasionally marvel when they play a grand conception without sight of the board. But I've never seen the point of watching 2700s play like 2400s with a 1400-style blunder tossed in every once in a while. "Ooh, you could barely tell this game was blindfold!" isn't a big deal when we have plenty of such games. At the end of the day it's just a dancing bear show. But with such conditions the players certainly aren't going to complain.

The other rapid event is in Reykjavik, Iceland, and it boasts Garry Kasparov's participation. Kasparov has never played the Melody Amber (named for the daughter of the tournament's patron: the rich, amiable, and charmingly eccentric correspondence chess GM J.J. van Oosterom). Kasparov considers blindfold chess a sideshow not for serious competition. Karpov and Short are also playing in Reykjavik, making it a sort of 80s-early 90s reunion. I don't think they have played against each other in the same event since Linares 1992. Showing that talent ages well, they are the top seeds in Reykjavik.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on March 15, 2004 8:53 AM.

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