- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 6, 2002

Seattle Grandmaster Yasser Seirawan has come up with a radically conservative proposal to save the game of chess from itself.
Seirawan, whose combination of common sense and generosity to those who disagree with him makes him a freak among the game's leading voices, has offered a comprehensive remedy for the confusion plaguing the men's and women's world titles.
A decade-long feud between former champion Garry Kasparov and FIDE, the international chess federation dominated by its mercurial president, Kirsan Iljumzhinov, has resulted in virtual civil war in the game, with rival claimants to the crown and some fearing for the future of top-level chess played at classical time controls.
Ukrainian Ruslan Ponomariov and Chinese WGM Zhu Chen are the official FIDE champions, but their victories in Iljumzhinov's favored knockout format, played at accelerated time controls, have resulted in widespread doubts that they are worthy inheritors of the title once held by the likes of Jose Raoul Capablanca, Alexander Alekhine and Bobby Fischer.
Russian Vladimir Kramnik defeated Kasparov in a traditional 20-game title match in 2000, but there were serious questions about Kramnik's right to be challenger. Now, as "champion," Kramnik is finding it just as difficult to organize his own legitimate candidates tournament.
Kasparov and Kramnik, the world's two highest-rated players, do not even compete in the FIDE version of the world title, and now many of the top players are refusing to participate in a challengers tournament for Kramnik's crown.
Seirawan's lengthy essay, "A Fresh Start: A Solution to the World Championship Impasse," starts with a fair-minded summary of how we arrived at this mess. The heart of his essay, however, is a detailed proposal to restore the classical chess world championship as "the crown jewel in the chess world."
The U.S. GM does not reinvent the wheel, instead proposing that FIDE return to a modified version of the selection process that was used in 1990 and 1993, just before the "great schism."
Under the Seirawan plan, national and zonal championships would produce a pool of 196 players (128 men, 64 women, and four players nominated by the organizers) to play in a giant 13-round Swiss-style tournament.
The five highest male and female finishers would then join three seeded players (for this cycle, the male seeds would be Kramnik, Ponomariov and Kasparov) for 10-game quarterfinal and 14-game quarterfinal matches.
The finals would be a 20-game match played at classical time controls (40 moves in two hours, then 20/60, then 30/game, with no adjournments), with playoff rounds at accelerated time controls if the players are knotted at 10-10. The winner would have to defend his title in the next championship cycle in two years, again while being directly seeded into the quarterfinals.
Seirawan offers some sensible tweaks to his idea, including some seeding and draw-odds issues, but the heart of his proposal is a bold advance into the past, trying to get all parties involved to restore a workable system that never should have been junked in the first place.
For good measure, Seirawan also sketches out an idea to create a new commissioner for chess, patterned along the lines of the sports czars who oversee baseball, football and basketball. The commissioner would deal with issues affecting the integrity of the game; promote fairness and competition; and balance the interests of players, organizers and sponsors.
Virtually anything would be preferable to the embarrassing chaos that reigns now. Seirawan's "fresh start" should be embraced by anyone who claims to have the best interests of chess at heart.
Seirawan's essay as well as some responses from Kasparov and other top players can be found online at www.kasparovchess.com.

Speaking of world champs, Kramnik had another indifferent result at last month's annual Amber Tournament in Monaco, a unique event that features both a rapid-play and a blindfold competition.
Kramnik managed just a 50 percent score, but his 11-11 finish did include a nice victory over fellow Russian and tournament winner Alexander Morozevich in the rapid event. Morozevich never shies from an interesting fight and ensures one here with the sharp 8…e5 9. dxe5 Nxe5 10. Bf4 Nfd7 11. Bg2 g5!? 12. Nxe5 (Bxg5? Nxc4) gxf4 13. Nxd7 0-0-0!?.
On 15. Qxf4 (White blanches at the complications following 15. Qxh8!? Qd2+ 16. Kf1 Qxb2 17. Re1 Bb4) Bd6 16. Qc1 a5 17. 0-0 Be5, Black seems to have good compensation for the pawn in his dominating bishop pair, but Kramnik turns the tables with a timely sacrifice of his own.
Thus: 18. Nb5 Qe7 19. Na7+! Kb8 (20. Nxc6! would also follow 19…Kc7) 20. Nxc6+! bxc6 21. Qxc6 Ka7 22. Qb5!. White already has three pawns for his piece, and it turns out his bishop on g2 is more powerful than either of its Black counterparts.
His king in a box, Morozevich is helpless against the advance of the White queen-side pawns. Kramnik wins back his piece on 29. Qd5+ Kb8 30. b6! Bxb6 (giving up, but 30…Bd6 31. a5 was almost as grim) 31. Rb1 Qe6 32. Qxe6 Rxe6 33. a5, collecting the pinned bishop.
In the final position, 34…Kc7 35. axb6+ Rxb6 36. Rxb6 Rxb6 37. Rd1 cuts off the Black king. Morozevich resigned.

Finally, a quickie from Russia that resembles the miniatures of the Romantic era. At the Suetin Memorial tournament in Tula, GM Alexei Kornev got a gift from master Mikhail Soloviev on his way to a four-way tie for first.
In a Center Counter, Black collaborates in his own demise, first with the king-side-weakening 5…h6 and then with 10…Bc6, fatally undermining his own e6-square. A final oversight leads to swift retribution: 11. Rb1 Nbd7?? (see diagram: 11…Nd5 12. Ne5 Qf6 13. Qd2 is unpleasant but survivable for Black) 12. Rxe6+! fxe6 (Qe7 13. Rxe7+ only prolongs the agony) 13. Bg6 mate, with the two bishops nicely coordinating on the kill.
Amber Tournament, Game/30, Monaco, March 2002
1. d4d518. Nb5Qe7
2. c4c619. Na7+Kb8
3. Nf3Nf620. Nxc6+bxc6
4. Nc3dxc421. Qxc6Ka7
5. a4Bf522. Qb5Bc8
6. Ne5Nbd723. Qxa5+Ba6
7. Nxc4Qc724. Rac1Rc8
8. g3e525. b4Bc7
9. dxe5Nxe526. Qf5Rhe8
10. Bf4Nfd727. b5Bb7
11. Bg2g528. Bxb7Kxb7
12. Nxe5gxf429. Qd5+Kb8
13. Nxd70-0-030. b6Bxb6
14. Qd4Qxd731. Rb1Qe6
15. Qxf4Bd632. Qxe6Rxe6
16. Qc1a533. a5Rcc6
17. 0-0Be534. e3Black

Suetin Memorial, Tula, Russia, March 2002
1. e4d58. bxc3Bd7
2. exd5Qxd59. Re1Nf6
3. Nc3Qd810. Ba3Bc6
4. d4e611. Rb1Nbd7
5. Nf3h612. Rxe6+fxe6
6. Bd3Bb413. Bg6 mate
7. 0-0Bxc3
David R. Sands can be reached at 202/636-3178 or by e-mail at [email protected]

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