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Origin of the Chess Tourists

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[ Just putting this up for historical purposes, since Garry Kasparov just referred to himself as a "chess tourist" in Chennai. Near the end of this 1999 article by Garry is the source of that joke, which has been routinely used by other players, often when referring to themselves as going to an event because it's fun without any real expectation of winning. It wasn't intended as an insult here either, nor did it include all eight of the remaining players as some would have it. But of course it was hardly flattering! It was actually Movsesian's over-the-top open letter reply to Garry that turned it into a controversy about elitism, etc. in light of Khalifman's upset win in Vegas.

As originally published at the Russian "Club Kasparov" website, the precursor of Kasparov Chess Online, where I was editor-in-chief and various other things. All sic. - Mig ]

Las Vegas, Round 4

by Garry Kasparov [ August 11, 1999 ]

More rounds - more surprises! Now Las-Vegas KO is ahead of Groningen-97 by number of upsets at the quarterfinal stage. May be this fact has something to do with the casino atmosphere? The tension is getting unbearable and collecting its deadly toll - big mistakes and blunders are dictating the final results more and more often.

Kiril Georgiev was doing very well in the event by gradually outplaying his opponents in the endgames. Against Vladimir Akopian the Bulgarian lost everything exactly at the part of the game! In the game Georgiev was close to win but premature Queen exchange let Akopian out of the hook while 32.Qd3! would have kept decisive advantage. Second endgame was truly amazing - normally GM's of this level do not lose Rooks' endgames of such a nature. Position after 34.Ke3 doesn't promise white any serious winning chances and 34...f6 followed by g5 would be an easiest way to a draw and tiebreak.

Alexei Fedorov managed to end up with an extra Queen nearly straight after the opening but waffled for a while and missed his chance to break stubborn defense of Sergei Movsesian. In the tiebreak ex-Armenian, who represents now Czech Republic was more accurate and persistent. Fedorov of course is very upset but one shouldn't expect much by regularly playing 1.e4 c5 2.d3.

After crushing easily his opponents in first two matches Vassily Ivanchuk is out being eliminated by young Romanian GM - Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu. In fact Nisipeanu was just attending suicidal ceremony performed by Ivanchuk. Probably two unimpressive draws made Ivanchuk so upset that in tiebreak games he made terrible unprovoked blunders or we have to find a better word for moves like 13.Ba3?? and 13...Bxf2+?????. I still want to believe that the latter move was a result of confusion in the text of the game. So, 13 is definitely not Vassily's lucky number!

Vadim Zviagintsev has introduced an amazing novelty in Nimzo-Indian against Judith Polgar - 14.g4!! Struggling with new problems Judith found even more amazing reply- 16...Nc6?!! This piece sacrifice is probably losing the game but it took Zviagintsev completely out of his track and instead of going for outright refutation with 18.Nf5! he went to the endgame, which looked safe and promising but beautiful remark - 26...e3! Left white with no illusions. Now after 27.Kf3 g6 28.h5 Black could simply play 28...Rf8 and White King can not hide behind pawn on e4. Tiebreak was one-sided. Polgar was dominating both games.

Now - to heavyweight matches. Adams and Dreev played very solid games waiting for the opponent's mistakes rather than creating something on their own. Dreev was pushing in the tiebreak but in the endgame with an extra exchange and some winning chances was first to make awful blunder - 51...Nc3??(game 3). Adams didn't return the favor and won nicely a difficult Knights' endgame with an extra pawn.

Khalifman was victorious again. Two draws in the classical chess with Boris Gelfand were results of cautious approach of both players. In speed chess Khalifman was clearly better crushing his opponent with White and drawing with Black without great difficulties.

Kramnik experienced his first problems in the tournament and without luck on his side those problems could well become last as well. Topalov looked very solid in first two games and drew both without any real troubles. Normally Vladimir plays speed chess better than Veselin but under such pressure everything may change. I bet Topalov had a sleepless night wondering how could he play 56...Rg7?? that caused him pitiful loss after brilliant defense in the difficult situation and 39.Kg1?? in the second game instead of 39.Ke1 which was winning instantly?

Undoubtedly the most attractive battle of the whole competition was first game of Shirov-Short match. It was good example of wrong idea leading to a great performance. Very ambitious 15.Rad1? was in real terms something between blunder and mistake. The best for White afterwards was 18.b4 leading to an unpleasant position - 18...Bxf2+ 19.Rxf2 Nf6 and 20...Ng4. But unlike computers humans or at least some of them do not hurry to reduce material disadvantage. Shirov is one of very few players who believe that sheer numbers in chess not necessary should prevail. I think Short made a psychological mistake by playing 21... Re8 though this move probably had to give Black a decisive advantage. Quiet 21...a5 would be far more unpleasant for Shirov who would had to struggle in this case to create further complications. After not being able to resist temptation to play with extra Queen Nigel had to find a phenomenal defense 24...Be7!! 25.Rxe7 Be6 trapping annoying White Rook. Missing this opportunity Short gave to Shirov very strong attack, which in the hands of Alexey proved to be unstoppable. 28.Rd3! reversed the roles and Nigel was not capable of handling dramatically changed situation. To his credit second game after such devastating defeat was not a simple formality. Choosing old good King's Gambit Short immediately has rushed into big complications and at one point could have his revenge. Shirov's overoptimistic - 14...Rxb2? Could cost him dearly. Instead 14...f3 led to a roughly equal endgame. 18.Nd4? missed big opportunity for the punishment. 18.Rxc6! would have left Black with tough choices - 18...f3 19.Qxf3 Bg4 20.Qf2! Bxe2 21.Rxa6 Rxg2+ 22.Qxg2 Be3+ 23.Kh1 Qxa6 24.Qxe2 Bd4 25.Qg4 or 18...Bh3 19.Nxf4 Qxf2+20.Kxf2 Bxf4 (20...Bd7? 21.Rxa6) 21.gh Kd7 22.Rxa6 Rg3 23.Ke2 Re3+ 24.Kd1 etc.

So, what do we have now? 3 tourists - Akopian, Movsesian and Nisipeanu. Due to the fact of the match between first two one tourist will travel to the semifinal. Great trip to Las Vegas and good reason to visit Disneyland!

Unpredictable and spontaneous Judith, who is always dangerous for her opponents and sometimes for herself.

Two very strong players Adams and Khalifman both capable of upsetting any favorite.

And on top to main favorites of the event Kramnik and Shirov. The possibility of new match between them looks now quite feasible though on the way to the final no victories are easy in KO championship.

It is worth mentioning that among 4 top quarterfinalists 3 participated (except Kramnik) in Groningen and all have lost to the same player - the previous winner of FIDE KO Vishy Anand!

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on November 11, 2013 5:56 PM.

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