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K-K 1 at 25 in Valencia, Day 1

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Two Kasparov-Karpov rapid games today in Valencia, starting at 1900 local, 1pm Eastern. Official site has a live games link, so cross your fingers and pray to the FSM it works. Not to be a pessimist, but there's about zero chance of the blitz broadcast going smoothly even if the tech is in place. But we can dream, so dream we will. (At the blitz segment of the Botvinnik Memorial event between Kasparov and Kramnik in 2001 we had a foolproof broadcast method. GM Sergey Shipov watched the output of a video camera over the board and shouted the moves to a manual relayer. Who needs sensory boards?)

Karpov drew the white queen and will have the white pieces in rapid games 1 and 3. Kasparov will have white in the first blitz game Thursday. I know Karpov has been holed up with an impressive posse of GMs, but I still don't see him heading for a razor-sharp theoretical line he's not going to feel at home in. And Kasparov has warned that he's been keeping his database up to date despite four and a half years of retirement. His work on the Great Predecessors and Modern Chess books -- the latest of these a monumental series on all his games with Karpov -- require that. And now the work with Carlsen as well. As for Kasparov's seconds in Valencia, there aren't any. As he told me this evening, "say my seconds are [my wife] Dasha, my mother, and Nelly!" (another family member).

Today's press conference is up in a few places. Nothing earth-shattering, though Garry was impressed with the virulence of Karpov's statements about FIDE. Karpov's rambling story about how long they've known each other, their playing together at the Malta Olympiad (getting a dig in on how the Russian team has failed to win lately due to a lack of "team spirit"), always respecting each other despite difficulties and different views and events, that Kasparov would still be near the top if he dedicated himself to chess, then how FIDE wasn't present at the match, the WCh situation.. Later he mentioned the 1993 schism and Kasparov founding his own organization while he stayed with FIDE, and FIDE winning that war in the end... Then Karpov added, "unfortunately for chess!" Boom goes the dynamite! I can't remember if this is the 14th or 15th time Karpov has gone from exploiting FIDE to slamming FIDE, but I think he still holds a narrow lead over Kasparov in that department. [Funny, was that only in the Russian answer? Listening for his choice of words in the English-only ChessVibes video version I didn't hear him say that. Oh well.]

Garry went 20-0 in his simul in 2 hours, 15 minutes against very weak opposition. Karpov finished a few minutes later and Garry didn't know his score. We can probably assume another clean slate. I'll update this item later today instead of creating a new one for the results. Call'em like you see'em and post all your best coverage links. Fun to see chess back in the mainstream press again. The hyperbole, the mangled metaphors, the factual errors... just like the good old days! Both Ks emphasized they hoped this match and the expected others like it in the coming months might help spur global interest in the sport.

Both players are clearly disappointed they aren't playing in Moscow, where their first (and second) match took place. There is no doubt that it would be all but impossible for any Russian sponsor or venue to provide Kasparov with the huge amount of attention such an event would surely receive. He's been banned from the mainstream Russian airwaves for years, other than the occasional edited hit pieces saying he's a lunatic/American agent/traitor. When major hotel chains cancel our hall reservations when they find out who's meeting there it's hard to imagine even a potentially very lucrative event like this one happening in Russia. I imagined the Kremlin might allow it just so they could run the usual stories saying "see, he's abandoned politics and gone back to chess!" (And such stories are already present in the Russian news regarding Valencia.) But apparently the risk is too great to host such an event. A shame, since interest is very high. The Russian news internet is full of K-K this week.

As they did in their newspaper interviews, both players talked in the presser about the lack of "personality" and "character" at the top level today when answering questions about why their matches were so famous and why nothing like that is happening today. Of course I lay a lot of it at the feet of FIDE and Ilyumzhinov and the "WCh system du jour," but let's stick with the K-K aspect. There was an interesting study about a related topic a few years ago on big American team sports and how they rose and fell in popularity. The conclusion was that dynasties were good for the sport in terms of broadening appeal (as measured by media coverage and stadium attendance). Big rivalries like K-K (e.g. Celtics-Lakers in the 80s) were also good, but a single dominant team/player was even better. Think Tiger Woods. This reinforces how important Fischer was and, even more, how important he could have been.

I wish someone would put up a big online gallery of scanned photos from the first K-K match. There are a few here and there but nothing satisfying. You'd think an official site would be on this. I've seen some spectacular Russian books and magazine spreads with pics not only of the match site and the players, but also of mobs of spectators crowding around display boards, crowds following along on boards in the park while listening to the match on the radio, etc. I have a good German book on the first match that has a few less common pics as well. Need to fire up my new Canon scanner.

Some interview clips, these from Leontxo Garcia in El Pais. Here and here. Skipping or abbreviating the questions where obvious.

Garcia: Who is Anatoly Karpov to you?

Kasparov: Along with being my greatest rival during my sporting career, Karpov was my greatest teacher, the one I learned the most from both in chess and in life. What's more, I've never found another case in all of sports history in which a rivalry between two people had such an impact on history, and on the future.

Kasparov: Unlike Bobby Fischer, chess was never the only thing in my life, not even back then. Now I'm dedicated to important things and, more than anything, I do what my conscience tells me I must do; I fight against what is for me a corrupt dictatorship disguised as a democracy. This gives me peace of mind and I hope that this equilibrium helps me beat Karpov once more.

Garcia: Did you ever have nightmares about Karpov?

Kasparov: In that match no, because it was the first and for me it was basically just a sporting matter. But after that there began to exist tremendous pressure and political and social repercussions that saturated our rivalry for nearly ten years. That was exhausting and transcended the purely sporting aspects.

Garcia to Karpov: What has Kasparov meant to your life?

Karpov: He was my adversary in the greatest rivalry in sports history, which produced a golden age of chess with lasting impact. It was something unique and unrepeatable. As for our personal relationship, now it's much better than before. That's why I tried to visit him in jail when he was arrested.

Garcia: Regrets about the 1984-85 match, how you tried to score 6-0 without risking too much?

Karpov: My worst mistake was accepting to play that match in the USSR because only there could the organizers change the rules at their whim. The Sports Minister was an idiot who had no respect for me despite the fact that I was a national idol.

Garcia: One of the most exciting chapters in your matches was in Seville, in 1987. [Karpov was leading 12-11 going into the final game but lost, allowing Kasparov to retain his title. -Mig]

Karpov: I believe I played better than [Kasparov] in the last two matches, Seville 87 and New York-Lyon 1990, and I should have won both. But I drew the first and lost the second because I made mistakes in winning positions. In Seville, age was a decisive factor: I lost the last game in a drawn position because I was very tired.

Garcia: Did you ever have nightmares about Kasparov?

Karpov: No, I always had a very strong nervous system despite the tremendous pressure I was under.

Both spoke critically of top chess at the present but optimistically about the future.


I am really looking forward to seeing the games from this match! It is a great opportunity to make chess more popular + I have a lot of my personal remembrances, because I started to play chess also under influence of their first match.

Simuls scores are available (without games) at http://tournaments.chessdom.com/kasparov-karpov-simul-valencia with Karpov doing 1 draw. Against a local girl.

Interesting, the 02:15 CET update at http://reports.chessdom.com/news-2009/kasparov-karpov-valencia-2009-day-1 mentions accident with Karpov's car? Do you have any details?

Kasparov's long since admitted that Karpov was still the favourite when the first match was abandoned, but Raymond Keene can't resist repeating the old claims in another lazy article:

"Karpov still led by two points but Kasparov’s comeback, combined with Karpov’s evident physical deterioration, had already made Kasparov the hot favourite.

It was widely suspected at the time that this was a KGB-inspired manoeuvre, designed to keep the compliant Karpov firmly on his throne. This was after all a game which was symbolic of, so some believed, the brilliance and dominance of the Soviet mindset."


Sigh... Keene is a hopeless case.

No doubt copy-pasted several times over to boot. He couldn't write something original if he hit his keyboard with a brick.

Didn't see any mention of a car accident or Karpov's lateness anywhere. Just scanned the latest (horribly, constantly incorrect) articles on the match at that Spanish paper's site and didn't see it. They mistranslated just about everything at the press conference. In several cases turning a statement on its head entirely. E.g. Kasparov's final comment at the presser was about hoping Karpov could pull through to organize a match in Moscow. This was translated into Kasparov basically saying he was ready to play in Moscow if Karpov didn't chicken out. Good job, guys. As I said, nice to have the mainstream media back on chess again!

I know it's silly to pay attention to Keene, but reading that article again it's impressive how much nonsense you can collect in such a short article:

"The 21-year-old title aspirant was an open advocate of the new theories of perestroika and glasnost which ultimately led to the reform of Russia and the break-up of the Soviet Empire".

Leaving aside the insightful economic analysis... there's the slight problem that Gorbachev only became General Secretary in 1985, mentioning glasnost that year and perestroika only in 1986. So it was a bit hard for Kasparov to advocate the non-existent "theories" (policies) in 1984...

Actually, glasnost is oddly hard to pin down to a particular date (on the internet!) - but it looks like it might have become policy as late as 1988 (it's a standard enough word which might have been used by Gorbachev previously).

Perhaps Keene meant Openess and Restructuring in terms of the chessboard :-)

Has the Official Site changed? The link to the official site opens a search portal and some ads.

"The hyperbole, the mangled metaphors, the factual errors..."

And also some truly far left field questions. The first question to the players- the very first question- was "do you think the games in this match will be tactical?" Karpov started out by describing the question as "very strange", but on the whole both he and Kasparov showed a lot of restraint. The funniest thing to me was that for much of that press conference, Gary had his head buried in his hands, rocking and shaking as if he was suffering from a massive hangover...

You must have seen A different press conference to that hosted by TWIC, from Europe-Echecs. Try this link: http://www.chesscenter.com/twic/twic.html
No head holding there.

Did Karpov just lost on time ?

Oh darn. That was ugly. Karpov flagging after 23 moves with White. Doesn't bode well for the rest of the match.

Well, Game 1 was a debacle. How do you run out of time in 24 moves?

The shortest decisive game ever between them, at any time control.

How did Karpov allow the f4 pawn push? That was so obvious. He lost it in the complications that followed. He's gone...I think he's gonna lose 4-0. Kasparov has not lost his form.

For broadcasting fun, at Chess@Iceland in 2000 (Kasparov in attendance), they basically hung me off a balcony with a laptop and I manually relayed 6 rapid games simultaneously when the DGT boards croaked. Just bring someone fast with mouse and it's doable. For one game, it should be cake, especially these two, who aren't exactly speed demons.

Could arthritis be a decisive factor in a blitz game?

To me game 1 looked like Karpov was SCARED of Kasparov!!

Game 2 is on and Karpov is thinking for long on his 6th move in a position he probably knows very well. Looks like he wants to lose this on time as well. A nice excuse.

I'm not sure that the f4 push was so obvious -- but it was very cool!

WOOOOW!!! 22.Nf6!! THE BEAST IS BACK!!!!!!!!!!

Guess I shouldn't have expected too much, but this is disappointing.

This is painful to watch. Ouch.

This is humiliating. Karpov needs to find a way to fall sick tommorow or something. He could end up losing all games...even the blitz ones.

I think Kasparov has come here with a mission. He is armed and dangerous. Very dangerous.

It's like he can take on 6 Karpovs's (2009 version) in a simultaneous. This is BAD news for Karpov. He will wish he never agreed to play in this match up.

It's a real shame. We won't get to see any sort of real chess battle -- just Karpov's head-scratching battle against the clock (which he'll lose every time). I wish there were a better venue for Kasparov's re-honed chess skills!

The old quote about history replaying itself as farce is in order here.

My prediction (not voiced here) before the match was 10-2 for GK. It seems Karpov will need a bit of luck to achieve that.

Yes, it's not just that Karpov plays so badly in itself, but we're not able to get a really good idea about the quality of Kasparov's play. It just doesn't seem that he has to do anything extraordinary. Would welcome informed and not too emotional comments on that subject.

Yow. If Kasparov's got cobwebs Karpov got caught in them today. Pretty brutal. The final position in game one looks like an easy win for Black with an extra exchange. The white e-pawn isn't going anywhere. 20..f4 was nice. As was 22.Nf6+ in the second game, though more fitting for yesterday's simul than for the main event. With my unabashed rooting interesting I'm happy about the result, but as acirce said, so far this has hardly been a test of Kasparov's capabilities. Two more like these and it will look like a bit of a joke, exhibition or not.

Maybe after this Rybka will play its games wondering what Kasparov would think, eh Tjallen?! I mean, it never got a chance to see him play serious games!

Man, what can you say. I've been a Kasparov fan since I picked up my first piece back in 1983. Not much to say after that except that I hope Karpov can play at least a little bit better. Kasparov cobwebs? Lost a little? Rusty? NOT!

I was concerned Garry would get into time trouble while getting back into the feel of the board. Karpov obviously outdid him on that front, but I'm still curious as to how quickly or slowly Kasparov played. The move times on the ICC are estimates dependent on the relay, but should be a decent rough guide. They show Kasparov playing 22.Nf6+ in 1:27. And Karpov taking over two minutes to play the losing 21..Nc5, which isn't a good sign.

Looks like the time in the first game was actually pretty close until the final few moves, when Karpov spent almost eight minutes on three moves before flagging. Sharp and difficult position, but still. Longest think of the game was Kasparov's 17..Qd7, preparing the plan with ..f5. In the second, Kasparov used over half his timeon four moves in the opening, 5 min. each on a3 and Rad1. Karpov was well ahead on the clock until sinking eight minutes into 16..Ba6.

Now Karpov will keep drawing before "winning game after game" as GM Keene may put it. al-Fahim will drop by and annul the match.

"Maybe after this Rybka will play its games wondering what Kasparov would think, eh Tjallen?!"

Grins - really! Point Mig!

I wonder if they should have had the blitz games first. More chances to get the rust out of the way - in this case Karpov's.

I hope Garry eases up. He's ruining the chances for additional matches in Paris, London, etc!

And Karpov is playing Anand after this! :-S

At the press conference Karpov looked like he had had a few sleepless nights behind him, but it was more one sided than I expected. Unless Kasparov collapses for the rest of the match, this 'll put that 3D match in the dustbin. :D

Now Garry is calling his shot...Karpov in the side pocket.

Re game 1: maybe the e-pawn isn't going anywhere, but 2Bs+R can tie down 2Rs+B, especially when the e6 pawn restricts Black's activity. After 24...Nxe6 25.dxe6 Qxd2 26.Rxd2 Rxd2 27.Bxb7, Rybka (d/17) evaluates at -0.59

If a R sacks for a pawn on e7, then the doubled b-pawns are strangely effective defensively in the R + opposite B ending.

>> "Has the Official Site changed? The link to the official site opens a search portal and some ads."

Last week it was ok. Yesterday it was down. Earlier today it was working again for me, now tonight it is back to the ads.

My guess is that the site is being DDoS-ed.

Interesting point Mig! If Garry continues with his "wrecking ball" treatment of Karpov, how much interest will there be in future matches?

In that case the media could twist ¨coaching¨ into ¨sparring with¨ , and use this match with Karpov as proof that even though he wont he actually could comeback if he wanted to and make everyone else but him happy.

Kasparov has been keeping current in chess theory; he's dipped his toe in the water in coaching Carlsen; and now the old shark is enjoying his first taste of chess blood in years. I predict (and fervently hope) that GK will be back in the major-league ring in the next six months--at least in rapid events, where I'm sure he'll be fighting on equal terms with today's elite.

Things to Do This Weekend:

Get a 22.Nf6+ tattoo

What's almost sad is that they recorded Karpov's last move in game one, which technically wasn't made because he flagged. White seems to be doing quite well after the cool 24.Qd3, threatening to consolidate with Qc4 next. If Black grabs the d5 pawn the white knight wins the exchange on e6. Black probably has to sac the exchange.

In the game, White definitely isn't lost after 24.Ne6, but it's tough. White has to find some difficult moves to avoid immediate disaster. It's hard to prevent Black from trading off White's rook. But it's a long slog with a bishop on c6 if the e-pawn survives. Much tougher than it looked to me at first. I missed that if Black doubles rooks on the d-file to swap rooks White has the annoying Bc7, which seems to save the e-pawn.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on September 22, 2009 12:03 AM.

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