25 October 2023

Competing World Championships in 1998

Continuing with Small Projects 'On the Cover' (October 2023), the next follow-up is small enough that I have time to handle a second project. Together the two follow-ups provide a snapshot of the World Championship in 1998.

(1) August 1973 & 1998 'On the Cover' (August 2023) • The two part match report by GM Leonid Shamkovich started in the July 1998 issue of Chess Life and ended in August 1998. Since I gave the full introduction to the first part of the report in the August 'On the Cover', I'll repeat only the first paragraph of that intro here:-

Two outstanding young grandmasters, [Kramnik and Shirov], crossed chess swords in the best of 10 World Chess Council (WCC) World Championship candidates' match. The match started May 24 and finished June 5 in the small Spanish city of Cazorla, in Andalusia. Alexei Shirov, who won the match with a score of 5.5-3.5, will meet Garry Kasparov in October for the WCC World Championship.

The rest of the report included annotations for all nine games of the match. GM Shamkovich, after commenting on the ninth game, closed the article saying,

This game turned out to be a final brilliant ending to a relatively dull duel.

An inline text box accompanying the article added,

The World Chess Council (WCC) World Championship Match between defending champion Garry Kasparov and challenger Alexei Shirov will begin October 16 in Seville, Spain. Besides the WCC title, $1.9 million will be on the line, with $1.235 million to the winner and $665,000 to the loser. We will pass along more information on the match as it becomes available.

All in all, largely because the Kasparov - Shirov match was never played, the 1998 Shirov - Kramnik match must be one of the most neglected high-level matches in chess history.

(2) July 1973 & 1998 'On the Cover' (July 2023) • The post provided some background and introduced an important historical speech by (then) FIDE World Champion Karpov.

Karpov's presence in Las Vegas [for the National Open] was explained in the story '1998 National Open, Part II: "A Really Big Shew"' by Jerry Hanken. A sidebar to the story, titled 'Karpov Speaks', started [...]

Karpov's speech covered many topics relevant to the World Championship in the last decades of the 1900s. Following are the sidebar's bullets (in bold text) and its main points. There is much more of historical value behind the '[...]s'.

  • Karpov on his trip to America to play in San Antonio: "I remember 1972, my second trip to the U.S. (The first was to Puerto Rico for the Student Team Championship in 1971.) 1972 was a serious tournament which happened in November. Fischer and Spassky had played in the summer, and when I came through New York in November it was not possible to buy a chess set or book, because all America was crazy for chess and all books and sets had been sold. [...]

  • Karpov on meetings with Fischer: "My first meeting was actually in San Antonio. He was invited by Bill Church, and was to appear at the last round. He was, as usual, late. So the organizers didn't want to start the round. He came and greeted all the people and grandmasters, and then he disappeared almost immediately." [...]

  • Karpov [on] later meetings with Fischer: "Even after '75 we met three times. At the meeting in Washington in 1977, we were very close to signing a contract and agreement to play a match. All the problems were solved. We already had pens in our hands to sign, and then Fischer said, 'OK, we play. We agree to everything but one point. The match should be called ...' [...]

  • Karpov on Kasparov: Karpov disputed Kasparov's contention that the Fischer - Spassky match of 1992 was an amateur level match. He thinks some of the games were quite good and could rank in the top ten games of 1992. [...] • Also: Kasparov's claim to be World Champion, Kasparov's claim that Karpov was not a legitimate World Champion, and a private match with Kasparov.

  • Karpov on the last [1997] FIDE Championships: Anatoly noted the criticism (which came from some American magazines) of his entering the matches at the end. [...]

  • Karpov on the future of chess: 'For [chess] to be in the Olympic Games would be very good. Chess is not a sport in every country, and you can get much better support from sponsors and official organizations [once you are part of the official Olympics]. [...]

Wouldn't it be enlightening to have the full transcript of the talk? I suppose it is lost to us forever.

18 October 2023

Qualifiers for the 1973 Interzonals

Continuing with Small Projects 'On the Cover' (October 2023), the next small project is a follow-up to September 1973 & 1998 'On the Cover' (September 2023). In those posts I noted,
The bulletin said, [...] Here are the final scores from Petropolis. [...] Bronstein replaced Leonid Stein, who died suddenly a few weeks before the tournament. • 'Bronstein replaced Stein', doesn't square with related info on my other pages. More research needed

By 'related info' I was referring to two pages. The first page was (C09) Zonals 1972-1975 (m-w.com). There I quoted a correspondent, EK:-

I am missing one player. I have Polugaevsky, Smyslov, Keres, Stein, Gligoric, Hort, Portisch and ???. That missing player was then in late-1972/early-1973 replaced by Panno. After Stein passed away in July 1973, he was replaced by 2nd reserve Bronstein. Who was that missing player that was nominated by committee but declined to participate?

The second page was (C09) Zonal Qualifiers 1972-1975 (m-w.com). There I quoted another correspondent, GMG:-

The FIDE committee selected the players who did not win a zonal spot. Leonid Stein was selected, but passed away a few weeks before, and was replaced by Oscar Panno. Bronstein, the second reservist, made a special appeal to FIDE president Euwe and was allowed to play. • Reshevsky was chosen as third reserve by the FIDE selection committee. He seems to have been been given a place to balance the numbers at Petropolis when FIDE president Euwe gave second reservist Bronstein special dispensation to play.

It turns out that neither of those correspondents got the story right. The full story starts with the following info, taken from an appendix titled 'How They Qualified' (p.282) in World Championship Interzonals : Leningrad and Petropolis 1973 by Wade, Blackstock, and Kotov.

The first point to note is 'two, as nearly equal as possible, 16-players tournaments'. In fact, both events had 18 players; see:-

Wade, Blackstock, and Kotov (WBK) say that the 32 Interzonal participants (16 * 2) qualified as follows:-

*   6 candidates from the previous cycle
*   8 selected by a FIDE commission
* 17 zonal qualifiers
*   1 World Junior Champion

WBK also say that four other participants qualified by rules added afterward:-

*   3 additional zonal qualifiers
*   1 additional World Junior Champion

What about those eight participants who were 'selected by a FIDE commission'? Like EK (above), WBK listed only seven names. (This isn't the only omission on the WBK page, but the details are not important for this discussion.) Six names are the same on both lists, but EK mentions Gligoric as the 7th, while WBK mentions Tal. The six names on both lists plus Gligoric and Tal all played in the two Interzonals.

In addition to the eight selected participants, WBK listed more players as reserves: Panno, Bronstein, Reshevsky, Ivkov, and Mecking. Other sources say a total of 14 players was nominated by FIDE (apparently 8 + 6), but this doesn't change the narrative.

Both Panno and Reshevsky qualified from zonals -- as did Ivkov and Mecking -- leaving only Bronstein as a reserve player not qualified otherwise. How did my two correspondents, who were generally accurate in their other remarks on similar topics, make their mistakes?

According to WBK, the 13/14 players selected by the FIDE commission were known 'before 31 December 1971'. The zonals were all played in 1972. It appears that most of the players on the FIDE reserve list, wanting to boost their chance of qualifying for the Interzonals, decided to participate in the appropriate Zonal. Unless a researcher was aware that some players were on two different lists of (potential) qualifiers, he had only half the story.

It's worth noting that Panno qualified from a zone that was expanded from two to three qualifiers at the 1972 FIDE Congress, Skopje. Quinteros and Panno finished tied for 2nd/3rd at the zone 8 tournament, held at Sao Paulo in May 1972. If the number of qualifiers from the zone had stayed fixed at two, Panno would have played a match against Quinteros for the second qualifying place. I couldn't find any trace of a match between the two players in 1972.

Getting back to September 1973 & 1998 'On the Cover', the simple statement 'Bronstein replaced Stein' was the truth, if not the whole truth. I hope the preceding discussion is closer to the whole truth.

11 October 2023

GM Shirov in 1998

The previous post on this blog, Small Projects 'On the Cover' (October 2023), identified a number of World Championship posts on my main blog that need a follow-up. The first post I'll tackle is the most recent on the list: October 1973 & 1998 'On the Cover' (October 2023). There are three topics worth developing, all involving Alexei Shirov. From the October 1998 cover introduction:-
  • 'The Kasparov - Shirov World Chess Council (WCC) championship match will not take place in 1998, if indeed it takes place at all.'
  • 'Beginning with next month's issue, Alexei Shirov will author a series of articles for USCF members.'
  • 'Shirov will also be in the country in time to participate in the FIDE World Championship tournament, which begins November 29 and ends December 27 [1998].'

Re the Kasparov - Shirov match, I have a page, 1998-99 World Chess Council (and more) that places the match in context. See the section titled, 'The WCC loses its sponsors'.

Re the Shirov articles, I found five in a column titled 'Shirov's Inferno' which appeared irregularly. The first article was in the November 1998 issue of Chess Life (CL), the last in August 1999. In February and March 1999, Shirov wrote a two part article, 'Consolation Match', that discussed the collapse of the Kasparov match and a replacement match with GM Zybnek Hracek. [NB: The page 9899GKIX should explain the connection between the two matches.] See also World Championship Columnists (December 2022, main blog): 'Back in the mid-1990s, both Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov -- bitter rivals at the time -- wrote separate columns for the USCF's Chess Life (CL)'

Re the 1998 FIDE World Championship tournament, the October 1998 issue of CL carried the following advertisement. It echoes that issue's 'On the Cover' introduction.

The postponement of the tournament until 1999 (to be discussed in next month's November 1973 & 1998 'On the Cover') had a negative impact on a possible reset of relations between FIDE and Kasparov. From my page on the '1998-99 World Chess Council':-

In December [1998], FIDE Secretary Emmanuel Omuku verbally rejected Kok's offer to finance the match between Kasparov and a FIDE champion. The FIDE championship in Las Vegas had been cancelled, reportedly due to contract difficulties with Karpov, so the FIDE decision may have been due more to the lack of a player than to any fundamental opposition to the idea. Some observers suspected that the collapse of the Russian economy in August may have been a factor in FIDE's cancellation of the event. The cancellation meant that there was little world class chess in December, as most other events had been pushed off the calendar.

Unfortunately, the USchess.org URL mentioned in the CL ad is not available via Archive.org. To explore what is available from the USchess site around the same time, see Archive.org on 1998 USchess.org. For more about GM Shirov's U.S. activities in 1998, see Shirov's SmartChess Videos (December 2022).

04 October 2023

Small Projects 'On the Cover'

Last week's post, Small Projects Checkpoint (September 2023), was all about establishing a plan for the next few months on this blog. For example,
One topic demands attention -- documenting the qualification paths for the most recent World Cup, '2023 World Cup, Baku' (August 2023).

On my main blog, 'Chess for All Ages', the past year has seen a dozen posts on various aspects of the World Championship. It's useful to summarize these posts in order to group them chronologically using this blog's system of labels. Posts marked '(*)' need further attention to develop some interesting aspect which was only mentioned in the original post.

  • 2022-11-18: 'A Clock Without Hands' • '"We're nearing the end of this blog's 'Fischer Friday' series". I'll end the series with a post on "1975 Fischer forfeits to Karpov" (m-w.com)'; also summarizes previous posts in Fischer series
  • 2022-12-23: Wayback to Chess.net • 'What did former World Champion Karpov say exactly?'
  • 2022-12-30: World Championship Columnists • 'In the mid-1990s, both Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov -- bitter rivals at the time -- wrote separate columns for the USCF's Chess Life'
  • 2023-01-03: January 1973 & 1998 'On the Cover' • 'Interviews of Fischer, Spassky, and Gudmundur Thorarinsson, president of the Icelandic Chess Federation'
  • 2023-01-05: Chess at Trump Tower • 'Intel World Chess Championship Quarterfinal Matches'
  • 2023-02-02: February 1973 & 1998 'On the Cover' • CL: 'Anand cuts through FIDE knock-out to challenge Karpov'
  • 2023-03-09: March 1973 & 1998 'On the Cover' • 'Karpov defended his FIDE World Championship title'; 'Kasparov will finally defend his PCA World Championship title'; 'Ilyumzhinov has announced plans to make the knockout world championship an annual affair. Las Vegas is high on the list of possible sites for 1998.' (*)
  • 2023-04-18: April 1973 & 1998 'On the Cover' • 'Byrne's progress in that World Championship cycle' [needs better intro in post]; ' news of Kasparov's non-FIDE World Championship title; see also the letter from Karpov' (*)
  • 2023-07-20: July 1973 & 1998 'On the Cover' • 'FIDE World Champion Anatoly Karpov addressed more than 200 players'
  • 2023-08-15: August 1973 & 1998 'On the Cover' • IZ 1973 Leningrad; Shirov/Kasparov news (*)
  • 2023-09-12: September 1973 & 1998 'On the Cover' • IZ 1973 Petropolis, Brazil; '"Bronstein replaced Stein", doesn't square with related info on my other pages. More research needed' (*)
  • 2023-10-03: October 1973 & 1998 'On the Cover' • Vukcevich; Kasparov - Shirov (WCC); *1998* FIDE World Championship, Las Vegas (*)

I trust that the title and description of each post is sufficient to place it chronologically.