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Let's Go, Toto

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Safely ensconced as I am in a blue state, it would take more than Swedish meatballs to get me to Kansas. But I like chess and I love a parade. Next weekend Susan Polgar and Anatoly Karpov will play an unusual three-format match in the tiny town of Linsborg, Kansas, which is becoming something of a chess Mecca these days. They'll play two games each of rapid chess, blitz, and shuffle chess (aka Fischerandom, aka Chess960, some of my thoughts on it here). The official press release (below) has enough hyperbole for six DD items. NPR has a truncated audio file of the note they did with the event's organizer, Mikhail Korenman. The Kansas City Star has a story on it, but it's a long registration page required, so they clearly don't want anyone to read it.

It's a shame there isn't any classical chess involved. After their last training session, Kasparov told me that Polgar is likely to be playing at a 2600 level come the Olympiad, where she'll lead the US women's team. It will be something if she can reach that level without playing a public game of serious chess before Calvia. That's a seven year break!

Anyone else remember an old Chess Life that had Karpov (and Polgar?) on the cover dressed up as a king and queen? Post or send me a scan if you've got it.

(NEW YORK, NY; LINDSBORG, KANSAS) The United States Chess Federation (USCF) is pleased to announce a six-game Clash of The Titans Chess Battle between 7-time World Chess Champion Anatoly Karpov and 4-time Women’s World Champion Susan Polgar on September 18-19, 2004.

The legendary World Chess Champions will compete in the most exciting triple challenge of rapid chess, blitz chess and Fischer random chess. This historic colossal battle and unique match will mark the first ever official chess match between a Men’s World Chess Champion and a Women’s World Chess Champion. Anatoly Karpov and Susan Polgar have long been true ambassadors to chess. This time, their mammoth battle is designed to help promote chess in the United States.

World Champion Susan Polgar, a three-time Olympic Champion and six-time Olympic medalist will also lead the US Women’s Olympiad team in the upcoming 2004 Chess Olympiad in Mallorca, Spain in October 2004. The US Women’s Olympiad team will attempt to bring home the first ever Women’s Olympiad medal for the United States. World Champion Anatoly Karpov will be participating in the 57th Super Russian Championship in Moscow in November 2004. The Russian Championship is the strongest and most prestigious national championship in the world.

On Saturday, September 18, 2004, the Clash of the Titans Opening Ceremony will start with a Chess Parade. It will be held in downtown Lindsborg, Kansas from 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM. The King and Queen Parade headed by World Champions Anatoly Karpov and Susan Polgar will lead a group of top chess grandmasters and scholastic chess teams. These teams will participate in the Champion’s Cup Scholastic Tournament followed by exciting strategic chess exploration. The official media press conference will be held immediately after the Parade.

The Battle of two World Champions will be held at the Bethany College Theater on September 18-19 in 6 exciting matches with 2 rapid games at the time control of 25 minutes with 5 seconds delay, 2 blitz games at the time control of 5 minutes and 2 Fischer random chess games at the time control of 15 minutes.

The players originally agreed to include 2 advanced chess games as part of their six-game match. However, due to the current situation of Bobby Fischer, both World Champions agreed to change the format to include 2 Fischer random chess games instead. This is to show support and respect to their fellow World Champion Bobby Fischer for what he has accomplished over the chess board.

The United States Chess Federation (USCF) has officially sanctioned the match. The Karpov - Polgar match is supported by the State of Kansas and the city of Lindsborg.


Here's the newspaper story.

Chess fever hits Lindsborg

Male, female champions to square off for first time in little Kansas town

By LISA GUTIERREZ The Kansas City Star

LINDSBORG, Kan. — A cafe on the main street here serves savory Swedish meatballs and Swedish pancakes soft as clouds, lingonberries on the side.

You'd expect that in a town that calls itself “Little Sweden.”

But the liquor store has started stocking Russian vodka for the Russian chess grandmasters who've begun popping into town for a game or two.

Last summer a chess school opened downtown in a building next to the barber shop, another move that recently led to Lindsborg becoming Chess City of the Year, so named by the United States Chess Federation.

The sign above the door of the school reads “World Champion Anatoly Karpov International School of Chess.”

That's Karpov, as in one of the greatest players in the history of chess. He owns and runs chess schools all over the world, but only one in the United States, here in Lindsborg. The Chess Organizer of the Year lives here, too, in this town of 3,200 that sits in the middle of Kansas, thousands of miles from L.A. and New York and Europe, the more traditional chess arenas.

And, Sept. 18 and 19, Karpov will be in Lindsborg to play against another former world chess champion, Susan Polgar of New York City.

It's man versus woman, and it's the first official match between a men's world champion and women's world champion.

The Clash of the Titans, as it's billed.

A big-deal chess match. A new chess school. Russian grandmasters strolling the town's tidy streets. National chess tournaments and summer camps that attract hundreds of students and their parents to town — the Final Four of college chess was here in April.

The chess fever spreading through town astounds not only the town's mayor and chamber of commerce director, parents and kids, but also the woman who sells the Swedish pancakes.

“In Lindsborg,” she marvels.

All the right moves

Two years ago in New York City, Anatoly Karpov sat down at a chess board across from his archrival, Garry Kasparov. He hadn't won a game against Kasparov in 12 years. The entire chess world watched the legends duke it out.

In a stunning comeback, Karpov won.

When reporters asked how he had prepared, Karpov told them he'd gone to Kansas. The story goes that the media roared with laughter. They thought the Russian champion was joking.

But the joke was on them.

For 10 days before the match, Karpov stayed in a plain, two-story white frame house across from Lindsborg's Bethany College. He holed up with his sparring partner, a grandmaster from Chile.

The two sat in the house for hours in silence, playing chess and studying moves, stopping only to eat and to sleep and to meet with the schoolchildren in town for a tournament.

Lindsborg resident Mikhail Korenman — the 2004 Chess Organizer of the Year — brought Karpov to town.

Korenman, 42, grew up in Russia where, like so many children, he learned to play chess as a boy. He likes to talk about his uncle, an expert player who once beat world champion Boris Spassky. In 1976, when Korenman was a teenager and a regional chess champ, his father took him to a sports arena in the Ukraine to see his hero, Karpov.

Even from 150 rows away, Korenman could feel Karpov's genius. He thought it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Ten years ago the Korenmans moved to Manhattan, Kan., where Korenman, a chemistry teacher, and his wife, Tamara, took graduate classes. In 1999 he brought his wife and their two daughters to Lindsborg, where he'd been hired to teach at Bethany College. In the harmonic convergence that has put Lindsborg on the chess map, he met Irwin “Wes” Fisk, a fellow chess buff.

Fisk and his wife retired to Lindsborg in 1997 from California. The former securities fraud investigator had played chess since high school and stayed on top of the sport by writing for Chess Life magazine.

“Matter of fact, I really thought when I moved here, well, that's the end of that,” he says.

It wasn't. When he moved to Lindsborg “there were a couple of kids playing chess,” says Fisk, who still writes for the chess publication. So he started a club and within a couple of years the club had grown to 60 or so members.

Then Misha, as friends call Korenman, arrived in town. “And we immediately hit it off,” says Fisk. “I was interested in just playing chess. He really wanted to go out and promote it and go big time. So that was fine.”

At a chess tournament in Wichita, Korenman saw two other Russian names on the competitors' list. One was Yuri Shulman, one of a tide of grandmasters immigrating to the United States after the breakup of the Soviet Union.

Meeting Shulman inspired Korenman to ask his fellow countryman this: Would you come to Lindsborg and help run a chess camp? Shulman came, and so did 20 children that first year.

Walking along the streets of Lindsborg, Korenman and Shulman dreamed. Let's throw a chess tournament here. It's quiet, perfect for chess. The townspeople are hospitable, accustomed to dealing with visitors.

But where to get the money?

Korenman walked up and down Main Street, that's where, collecting $20 here, $30 there from merchants. The Rotary Club donated a couple of thousand dollars, too.

For his part, Shulman brought other grandmaster friends to the town's first tournament in 2001.

“Here we had all these international chess masters, and we have people bringing casseroles to the church hall,” says Kathy Malm, executive director of Lindsborg's Chamber of Commerce. “That's one of the things Anatoly has commented on that he likes about Lindsborg, that there are people here who don't even play chess supporting what we're doing.”

After the tournament, Korenman and his family vacationed in Colorado, where he visited Alexander Onischuk, one of the grandmasters who had come to Lindsborg.

Flipping through a photo album, Korenman came across a picture of Onischuk with Anatoly Karpov. Before Korenman realized it, “Alex picks up the phone and calls Karpov in Moscow. He was preparing for the Kasparov match.”

Ask him to come to Lindsborg to prepare, Korenman suggested. “When my wife came back from shopping, I couldn't shut my mouth,” Korenman says.

That's largely how chess has grown to such importance in Lindsborg: Friends doing favors for friends.

Korenman's grandmaster friends bring their grandmaster friends to compete in tournaments here; the 2003 Lindsborg Open featured 10 international chess giants.

It's a Russian saying come true, says Korenman.

Don't have a hundred rubles. Have a hundred friends.

Check, mate

A few days ago, Korenman enrolled students for the new year at the chess school. The children who showed up were mostly boys, though Anneliese Reinert, 8, came with her mom and 5-year-old brother, Nicholas.

Returning students, brothers Aaron and Paul Masterson of Lindsborg, had to shoehorn their chess lessons into schedules already stuffed with cross country and basketball and tennis and Boy Scouts.

When Karpov came to town in December of 2002 to prepare for the Kasparov match, he mentioned at a news conference that he operated chess schools around the world. Later at lunch, Korenman made his opening move: Bring a school to Lindsborg, he suggested.

With Karpov's blessing, the school opened in May 2003 in a downtown building that had been used as a warehouse. Today it's a long, bright, white-walled space with chess boards set up on top of neatly spaced tables, always at the ready.

In the back, Korenman and his wife run the Chess Cafe, where Tamara prepares borscht and dumplings and stroganoff on the weekends to raise money for the school. Korenman runs the school, teaches classes, and also directs Bethany College's international programs.

“I'm very thankful of Michael's efforts there in Kansas,” says four-time women's world champion Susan Polgar, who spoke by phone from her studio in New York. “I think it's really fantastic that people who used to love the game in their country now promote it here.”

Polgar is quite the chess promoter, which is why she agreed to play in a match intended to be more promotional than confrontational.

Her message to girls, still outnumbered in the sport: “Don't be afraid of the boys.”

Town leaders hope the Clash of the Titans match will not only be good for the sport, but for them as well, as they have begun a campaign to get the U.S. Chess Federation to move its New York offices, and its 25 employees, to Lindsborg.

Yes, it's shooting for the moon. They know it. But even if it doesn't happen, they'll still have the school, says chamber leader Malm.

And Misha.

And Swedish pancakes.

I thought they were going to be playing two games of advanced chess (i.e. with laptops)?

By the way, is the match still being dubbed "Brains versus Beauty"? Because if so, what a rather repugnant title that is.

Yeah, Brains v. Beauty is a pretty bad title.
Karpov's looks really are no match for Susan's intelligence ;-)

Mig, I guess this means you're a Democrat, no?

They were going to play Advanced chess but switched to FR in a form of solidarity for his sushiness.

Susan Polgar is tough, I hope she wins. FREE FISCHER

december 1994
on the cover
seasons greetings: Actually, it was august. But there is a fair amount of holiday coloring in the photograph taken by Peter Walz at the opening ceremony of a turnament in Osterskars, a suburb of Stokholm. We thank Nick deFirmian for bringing "King Karpov" and "Queen Pia Cramling" to our attention. Oh, yes - Nick tied fro second placce in the Swedish event, behind Kveinys of Lithuania.

Sorry but i dont have a scanner. Will try to find one tomorrow and email you the cover

This is a perfect example of municipal marketing. A similar place that made something of itself (thanks to a shrewd city council) is Leavenworth, Washington. A stroke of genius bringing all the chess pieces together in ... Kansas! Bravo.

Lindsborg's great and all, but its location has really caused it to struggle as being a "chess mecca". Best of luck to Dr. Korenman, but it's still a very complicated trip to get there. Just a couple hours more and I could be in Europe *shrug*.

By now everyone has heard the interesting NPR piece on this match which begins on the 18th. I wonder why they are misleading the public by saying that both are "World Champions." We have enough confusion as it is. We have to be real careful about how loosely we throw this title around because the public really doesn't know. We cannot continue to make constant marketing mistakes. The link is below:


To further make my point, on the 16th Irina Krush and Almira Skripchenko will play in a match billed as a "Women's World Championship," or "French-American Women's World Championship."


What message are we sending to sponsors? I'm sure GM Antoaneta Stefanova is not too bent out of shape, but she should wonder what is going on.

In line with Daaim's comments, I recall being annoyed that Kasparov's ESPN-televised "man v. machine" computer matches were also billed as "world championships." A tiresome lack of imagination on the part of chess promoters.

September 20, 2004
Press Release #26 of 2004
US Chess Federation


(New York, NY) The Clash of the Titans - Battle of two World Champions (September 18-19, 2004 in Lindsborg, Kansas) ended in a 3-3 tie with 7-time World Champion Anatoly Karpov and 4-time Women’s World Champion Susan Polgar each winning two games and drawing the other two. After trailing in the match by the score of 2 points to 3 points, GM Polgar delivered a dramatic win in the last game to even up this historic Battle of the Gender match. This was the first ever officially sanctioned match between a male and female World Champion.

Day 1

Rapid Chess 25 + 5
Game 1: Polgar ½-½ Karpov
Game 2: Karpov 1-0 Polgar

Day 2

Fischer Random 15 + 0
Game 3: Polgar 1-0 Karpov
Game 4: Karpov 1-0 Polgar

Blitz Chess 5 + 0
Game 5: Karpov ½-½ Polgar
Game 6: Polgar 1-0 Karpov
On the morning of September 18, 2004, the city of Lindsborg threw a magnificent King and Queen chess parade headed by the two World Champions. A trail of more than 200 youngsters took part in the parade. They enthusiastically marched down Main Street with their parents, siblings and coaches. They were carrying their chess banners, wooden chess pieces, and proudly display their chess shirts. There were approximately 2,000 people who either participated or cheered loudly for Anatoly Karpov and Susan Polgar. When the World Champions reached their final destination, Lindsborg City Hall, they were warmly greeted with thunderous cheers and applaud from the fans.

During the two days, the two World Champions took time to sign countless autographs and posed for pictures with all the participants of the Champions Cup tournament. They even dined with around 100 fans at the local Chess Café on Saturday night. At the end, even though the score was 3-3, the fans were treated to many wonderful and exciting games. Two of the greatest World Champions ever gave their all to the Clash of the Titans and the fans truly appreciated their efforts. After the match, the audience gave the two World Champions a long standing ovation. Approximately 500 people came to watch the games on the first day and around 800 people for both days.

An estimated 10 million plus people have been exposed to the Clash of the Titans through either news media or live broadcast on PlayChess.com, World Chess Network, ICC, Chess Live, Russian Chess Server and many more. The entire event was a true spectacle to promote US Chess at the highest level. This is an event that has no equal in any other sport. Only in chess can a world-class Battle of the Gender exist in an equal footing.


The United States Chess Federation, founded in 1939, serves as the governing body for chess in the United States and is devoted to extending the role of chess in American society. It promotes the study and knowledge of the game of chess, for its own sake as an art and enjoyment, and as a means for the improvement of society. The USCF is a not-for-profit membership organization with more than 90,000 members. For more information, please see http://www.uschess.org.

Clash of the Titans
Another Historic Milestone for Women’s Chess

Since the early to mid 1980’s, the Polgar sisters have revolutionized chess for women. After a long absent from the chess scene to have a family, Susan Polgar is now back to continue her legacy. She has accomplished many historic feats such as becoming the first woman to qualify for the men’s world championship as well as being the first woman to earn the men’s grandmaster title. In the past few years, Susan has decided to change her focus from being a world-class player to a world-class ambassador to chess. She has been working hard to find ways to help chess in America, her new homeland.

This past weekend, Susan Polgar has just accomplished another historic milestone in chess. On September 18-19, 7-time World Champion Anatoly Karpov and 4-time Susan Polgar engaged in the Clash of the Titans – Battle of two World Champions in Lindsborg, Kansas. These are two of the greatest World Chess Champions of modern time. This was the first ever officially sanctioned match between a male and female World Champion.

On the night before their monumental match, the two World Champions were treated to a special reception at the home of Mr. Ronald Rolander, Mayor of the city of Lindsborg. On Saturday morning, September 18, 2004, the town of Lindsborg threw a magnificent King and Queen chess parade, headed by the two World Champions Anatoly Karpov and Susan Polgar, followed GM Shulman, IM Charbonneau (Canadian Champion), IM Krush (former US Women’s Champion), and IM Zatonskih (2-time Ukrainian Women’s Champion).

A trail of more than 200 youngsters and their parents marched down Main Street. It seems that there were around 2,000 people participated or cheered for the champions. When the two World Champions reached their final destination, Lindsborg City Hall, they were greeted with loud and enthusiastic cheers and thunderous applaud from the fans. I have never witnessed a more incredible chess scene in my 35 years in chess. It was truly a spectacle that will forever be a part of chess history.

Immediately after the parade, the Mayor of Lindsborg officially welcomed the two World Champions. Mikhail Korenman, Ralph Bowman (chairperson of the USCF Scholastic Council), Anatoly Karpov and Susan Polgar all greeted and thanked the city for such incredible support.

Then, the two World Champions took time to pose with all the participants of the Champions Cup tournament. After that, they headed across the street to the City Hall for an official press conference. Reporters asked many questions ranging from how Susan Polgar started in chess, her plans as an ambassador for the game, especially young girls, to how the first Karpov chess school in the US was opened in Lindsborg and if he has plans to open more.

When asked what chess can do for young girls, Susan’s eyes immediately lit up. She enthusiastically said that it can give them the valuable self esteem and self confidence and chess can also help young players do better in school. As we all know, research after research have decisively proven that children who play chess do much better in school than the children who are not exposed to chess. It is so wonderful to see that legendary World Champions like Garry Kasparov, Anatoly Karpov and Susan Polgar have all given so much of their time to promote chess for young people.

When asked about the two Fischer Random chess games in support their fellow World Champion Bobby Fischer, Karpov said that Fischer has done so much for the chess world and he is a great champion. He thinks Fischer Random chess is quite interesting. He also thinks that Fischer should be left alone and be allowed to live out his life in peace. This is also the same sentiment from Susan Polgar. They both agreed that there are two sides to Bobby Fischer and we should honor his great chess accomplishment.

After the press conference, Anatoly went back to his hotel room to rest while Susan Polgar went back outside to sign more autograph and talk to the fans. She took time to speak to as many people as possible.

At 5:00 PM, their first battle began. A coin toss was made by the chief TD Ralph Bowman. As Mr. Bowman tossed the coin, Susan chose head and the coin landed in tail. Anatoly Karpov chose Black in the first game. The two players played a total of 6 games. On the first day, they played two Rapid Chess games with the time control of 25 minutes with 5 seconds increment. On the second day, they played a total of four games. At 1:00 PM, they played two Fischer Random games with the time control of 15 minute for each side. The last two games were Blitz chess. They were played at 4 PM with the time control of 5 minutes for each side.

There were about 500 people in the audience the first day and about 800 combine for both days. Nearly 100 people had the opportunity to dine with Polgar and Karpov on Saturday evening. Susan represented the two World Champions and made a wonderful speech to the guests.

After two days of competition, the exciting and entertaining match ended in a 3-3 tie.

Day 1

(Rapid Chess 25 + 5)

Game 1: Polgar ½ - ½ Karpov
Game 2 Karpov 1 - 0 Polgar

Day 2

(Fischer Random 15 + 0)

Game 3: Polgar 1 - 0 Karpov
Game 4: Karpov 1 - 0 Polgar

(Blitz Chess 5 + 0)

Game 5: Karpov ½ - ½ Polgar
Game 6: Polgar 1 - 0 Karpov

Every game was hard fought with no easy draw. In most of the games, Susan Polgar went all out for win by sacrificing material. She fearlessly pushed and pushed to win. In some games, she over pushed and it backfired. But she kept on going, fighting hard till the last game. In the mean time, true to his incredible style, Anatoly Karpov played calmly through out the match. He deflected the attacks and tried to squeeze out small advantages.

At the end, even though the score was 3-3, the fans were treated to many wonderful and exciting games. Two of the greatest World Champions ever gave their all to the Clash of the Titans and the fans truly appreciated their efforts. They gave the two World Champions a long standing round of applaud. This is a feat that has no equal in any other sport. Only in chess can a Battle of the Gender exist in an equal footing. I cannot even fathom the idea of Serena or Venus Williams or Annika Sorenstam holding their own against their top male counterpart.

This was actually quite an amazing result for Susan Polgar since she has not played a single public over the board game again world-class competition since her last game in the 1996 World Championship. She proved that she has not really lost a beat even though she has shifted her chess focus in the past 8 years. Approximately a year ago on September 20-21, 2003, Susan Polgar played two similar officially rated Battle of the Gender matches against two of the top American Grandmasters Boris Gulko and Alexander Stripunsky. They were also a quick time control matches. The final result was 4-0 in favor of Susan Polgar over the other two male Grandmasters.

Even being in her mid thirties and being a full time devoted mother to 2 young sons while working hard as a premier chess author in addition to running a full time chess center and chess school, Susan still defies all odds by competing on the top level while giving her all to promoting and revolutionizing US Chess. She is truly an inspiration to women everywhere. As she often said, there is nothing a woman can’t do if she puts her mind and effort to it. I fully agree.

Both World Champions conducted themselves magnificently over this past weekend. They gave so much of their time to accommodate all adoring fans. They are true ambassadors to the game and they sure have inspired many young players to follow their footsteps.

Following this event, Susan Polgar immediately headed back to New York to continue her training for the upcoming chess Olympiad in Mallorca, Spain, her first Olympiad in 10 years. She will lead the US Women’s team in an attempt to accomplish another difficult task, bringing home the first ever Olympic medal for the United States. She herself won six Olympic medals including three Gold, two silver and one bronze for her native Hungary. In the mean time, Anatoly Karpov is heading back to Moscow to prepare for the upcoming super Russian Championship in November which includes some of the strongest Russian players such as Kasparov, Kramnik, Morozevich, Grischuk, Svidler, Bareev, etc.

The match was picked up by AP news and countless other chess news sources and publications from all over the world. An estimated 10 million plus people have been exposed to the Clash of the Titans through either news media or live broadcast on www.PlayChess.com (a proud official sponsor of the Clash of the Titans), World Chess Network, ICC, Chess Live, Russian Chess Server and many more. The entire event was a true spectacle to promote US Chess at the highest level.

As Susan put it, she was impressed by the enthusiasms and support from the wonderful people of Lindsborg, Kansas, and many neighboring states. She said chess should not exist in the big city only. Chess is something that can benefit children of all ages everywhere. A small city of 3,200 people like Lindsborg proved that for this special weekend, it was the chess capital of the world. And for the incredible effort by many people involved, 176 new USCF memberships were signed up.

On behalf of the World Champions and everyone involved, I would also like to thank the state of Kansas and the city of Lindsborg for their incredible support. In addition, many thanks to the chief TD Ralph Bowman, the team of chess expert (GM Yury Shulman, IMs Pascal Charbonneau, Irina Krush and Anna Zatonskih), all the volunteers and supporters, all the participants of the Champions Cup and their parents and coaches, all the wonderful local residence and last but not least the Korenmans who were incredible hosts to everyone.

What started out as a meeting of the minds between Mikhail Korenman and me during a special tournament in Stillwater, Oklahoma for the US Women’s Olympiad team (organized by Frank Berry) in February 2004 turned out to be an historic event for chess in the form of the Clash of the Titans. The same can be said about the meetings between Michael Khodarkovsky, Susan Polgar and I in January 2003 at the Kasparov versus computer match in NY City. That was the start of the historic US Women’s Olympiad program. This shows what can be accomplished for chess when everyone works together for the good of the game.

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    About this Entry

    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on September 11, 2004 9:51 AM.

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