A great triumph and a shocking loss

10/5/2003 – The European Clubs Cup 2003, which ended on Saturday, was won by the NAO Chess Club of Paris. The event was marked by some remarkable performances and a shocking fifth-round loss in 22 moves by Garry Kasparov – who still chalked up the second-highest performance of the tournament (2841). You will find the whole story, including an illustrated report by Anna Dergachova, here...

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The European Clubs Cup 2003 was held in the city of Rethymnon, Crete. The venue was the Creta Star Hotel in the city of Rethymnon – and in the Creta Marine hotel, as we learn from Anna Dergaschova in her report below.

During the tournament a number of players were soring in their performance ratings. We calculated a few in our previous record, causing some readers to doubt the formula we were using. Howard Goldowsky wrote: "If a player goes undefeated or winless, some algorithms take the highest rated opponent and add 400 points or take the lowest rated player and subtract 400 points, respectively. The whole idea behind the is that 400 points is approximately two standard deviations away from your opponent's rating, and for all practical purposes, two standard deviations away from your opponent is the best approximation of ability that can be given for a one game match. Some players on your list did not have perfect 100% scores and they still had unnaturally high performance ratings, so it might have something to do with the specific algorithm used or it might be a bug in the program."

We checked with the programmers who told us that the numbers we published were so intended. The main problem is when someone achieves a 100% score. If a player wins all his or her games it could mean that this player had a performance rating as calculated by the standard formula, but there is no guarantee that this player might be much stronger and win many more games if allowed to do so. Similarly if a player loses all games to opponents we cannot tell how weak he or she is. For this reason in both cases our formula adds or subtracts the randomly determined number of 800 points.

The performance formula used by ChessBase can be found here.

The shock of the tournament came in the penultimate round. In one of the games the following position was on the board – one which would fit very nicely in our tactics section.

Black (to play) has an overprotected pawn, attacked once and defended three times. So what is the problem of removing one of the defenders? Black played 20...Bc8 to attack the white knight on f5, forcing it back to d4 or g3 with a good game for Black. Unfortunately the move overlooks a simple tactical combination, which we are sure you will find in a few seconds.

Admit it, this kind of thing has happened to us all. Any tournament player will give you dozens of similar examples. The shocking part was that it happened not to a lowly club patzer but to Garry Kasparov, the strongest human player of all time. Kasparov at the time had scored four out of four (against very strong opposition) and was sporting a performance rating of well over 3000.

This loss brought Kasparov's performance rating crashing down. But he still had the second highest performance rating (after a final round draw against Ivanchuk) of 2841. The highest was chalked up by Armenian GM and world championship finalist Vladimir Akopian, who scored 5.0/6 with a performance of 2849. Ivanchuk had a performance of 2828 with 5.0/7. Next in the list was Joel Lautier who scored 5.0/6 for a 2826 performance, closely followed by his club mate Peter Svidler, who scored 5.5 out of 7 and performed like a 2825 player.

We should not omit to mention that the Russian GM Vasily Yemelin, rated 2550, scored a perfect 5.0/5, which according to the formula described above, translates to a performance of 3242. It also illustrates the problem of using the system indiscriminately.

The winner of the European Clubs Cup 2003 was the NAO Chess Club of Paris, named after and sponsored by the slightly mysterious Mme Nahed Ojjeh. NAO was represented by the world-class players Alexander Grischuk, Peter Svidler, Michael Adams, Joel Lautier (the first under 2700), Francisco Vallejo Pons, Laurent Fressinet and Etienne Bacrot.

Final Rankings

Rk Team                              NAT  + = - MP Pts. BH. 
 1 NAO Chess Club                    FRA  6 1 0 13 30  180½ 
 2 Polonia Plus GSM Warszawa         POL  6 0 1 12 29  169 
 3 Kiseljak                          BIH  6 0 1 12 29  152 
 4 Norilsk Nikel                     RUS  5 1 1 11 26½ 173 
 5 Ladya-Kazan-1000                  RUS  4 2 1 10 28½ 162½ 
 6 St. Petersburg Lentransgaz        RUS  5 0 2 10 27½ 164 
 7 Beer-Sheva Chess Club             ISR  4 2 1 10 25½ 175½ 
 8 Tbilisi                           GEO  5 0 2 10 22  182 
 9 Chess Club Alkaloid Skopje        MKD  4 1 2  9 30½ 135 
10 Zalaegerszeg-Hydrocomp            HUN  4 1 2  9 27  137 
11 Tomsk-400-Yukos                   RUS  3 3 1  9 25  166½ 
12 Werder Bremen                     GER  4 1 2  9 25  162½ 
13 GKSz Polfa Grodzisk Mazowiecki    POL  4 1 2  9 24½ 146½ 
14 VCH Vitebsk                       BLR  4 0 3  8 26½ 108 
15 Corpora Martin                    SVK  4 0 3  8 25½ 145½ 
16 Bosna Sarajevo                    BIH  4 0 3  8 25  158 
17 Momot Chess Club                  URK  3 2 2  8 24  154 
18 Vesnianka Minsk                   BLR  4 0 3  8 23½ 162 
19 Clichy Echecs 92                  FRA  4 0 3  8 23  157 
20 Barbican Chess Club               ENG  4 0 3  8 22  139½ 
21 TZ Trinec Chess Club              CZE  3 1 3  7 24  132 
22 ASA "Shlomo Har-Zvi" Tel Aviv     ISR  3 1 3  7 23  139½ 
23 Eynatten                          BEL  3 1 3  7 22½ 163½ 
24 Klubi i shahut "Drita" Therandë   ECU  3 1 3  7 22½ 110 
25 Limhamns SK                       SWE  2 3 2  7 20½ 141½ 
26 Skolernes Skakklub Aarhus         DEN  3 1 3  7 20  141 
27 Rochade Eupen                     BEL  3 0 4  6 21½ 119½ 
28 Joensuu Chess Club                FIN  3 0 4  6 20  128½ 
29 Schachfreunde Neukölln 03         GER  3 0 4  6 18½ 160½ 
30 Kydon SC Chania Blue Star Ferries GRE  3 0 4  6 18  141 
31 Asker Schahhlubb                  NOR  3 0 4  6 18  133½ 
32 Cercle Royal des Echecs de Liege  BEL  3 0 4  6 16  166½ 
33 SK Glasinac                       BIH  3 0 4  6 16  164 
34 Jyväs-Shakki Jyväskylä            FIN  2 2 3  6 15  175 
35 Sparkasse Gleisdorf               AUT  2 1 4  5 18  150 
36 Cardiff Chess Club                WAL  2 1 4  5 16½ 111½ 
37 ESV Austria Graz                  AUT  2 1 4  5 15  139 
38 OAA Herakleion                    GRE  2 0 5  4 16½ 130 
39 Hellir Chess Club Reykjavik       ISL  2 0 5  4 16  140 
40 TED Sport Club Ankara             TUR  2 0 5  4 15  126½ 
41 C.E. "de Sprenger" Echternach     LUX  2 0 5  4 13  134½ 
42 SV United Chocolates Tschaturanga AUT  2 0 5  4 12½ 138 
43 Nidum Liberals Chess Club         WAL  1 1 5  3 11½ 135½ 
44 Phibsboro Chess Club              IRL  1 1 5  3  9  156 
45 R.V.H. Chess Club Belfast         IRL  1 0 6  2  7  160½  

Women

Rk Team                        NAT  + = - MP Pts. BH. 
 1 Internet CG Podgorica       SCG  5 1 1 11 19½ 102 
2 NTN Tbilisi GEO 5 1 1 11 18 102
3 Ladya Kazan RUS 3 4 0 10 17 102
4 BAS Beograd SCG 4 1 2 9 17 107½
5 Cannes Chess Club FRA 3 2 2 8 17 95½
6 ULIM Sport Club MLD 3 2 2 8 15½ 98½
7 St. Petersburg Lentransgaz RUS 4 0 3 8 15 99½
8 South Urals Cheliabinsk RUS 4 0 3 8 14½ 95
9 Tomsk-400-Yukos RUS 3 1 3 7 13½ 109½
10 Kristallen SK SWE 3 0 4 6 10 99
11 Maccabi Afek ISR 3 0 4 6 10 91
12 Kydon SC Chania Filmnet GRE 1 1 5 3 8 96
13 Hellir Chess Club Reykjavik ISL 1 1 5 3 7 95½

The official web site provides beautiful tables, results and standings. Click on the rounds in the schedule above to get all the details. [The site currently appears to have problems with the traffic].

Before we forget: the reason 20...Bc8?? was a terrible blunder in the position shown above (taken from the round five game Huzman-Kasparov) is that White can play 21.Rxd5! Black cannot recapture with the knight because of 22.Qxg7 mate, nor can he take with the queen because of the fork 22.Ne7+. White wins two pawns for nothing after 21...Qe8 22.Bxc4. Kasparov resigned. We hope to be able to get some information on how this could happen during a book signing at the London Chess Center later this month.


On the Search for a Chess Tournament

Von Anna Dergachova-Daus

Crete is beautiful, even in October. It is a place where it probably never rains. The sea is warm and the sun is pleasant. There are hardly any tourists, with lots of space on the 16 km of sandy beach.

I did not know exactly where the tournament was being held, just that it was in Rethymnon. So I flew to Chania and took a taxi. The driver wanted €55 for the trip, but I was able to decipher the sign that said it was just €40 (the Russian and Greek alphabet have have a lot in common). When I drew his attention to this he quickly relented, became very friendly and even bought me a beer at a filling station stop on the road. More importantly he gave me, in broken English, advice on where to stay.


The harbor in Rethymnon

The town had six hotels which could host the event. But mine was not one of them, and nobody knew which one it might be. So after I had settled down I simply got into another taxi and told the driver to take me to the chess tournament. "Chess?" He didn't know the word. "You know, Schach, Echecs, Schachmaty – a game.“ His face lit up: "You want to go to a casio!" No, wrong. So I did a little chess pantomime for him. "Ah, Shaki!" he said, and remembered that there was a tournament in one of two hotels. Turned out in both of them, the men's tournament in the Creta Star and the women's in the Creta Marine. Both were five miles apart, causing serious problems for journalists, especially since the bus transport was very sporadic.

In the playing hall it was astonishing to see so many super-stars (Kasparov, Grischuk, Adams, Ivanchuk, Dreev, Bareev, Morosevich, Bologan, Shirov, Lautier, Gelfand, Rublevski, Khalifman, Bacrot, Korchnoj, etc.) playing in such cramped facilities, without air conditioning and any real space to move around.


GM Mikhail Gurevich has his own way of coping with the heat in the playing hall

There were two playing halls, the lower one was better and cooler, but reserved for the weaker teams. Which caused the stonger players to protest.


Garry Kasparov wants to play downstairs


Heartthrob Vladiskav Tkachiev coping nicely


Elisabeth Pähtz, playing for Greek a men's team

I discovered that the German U18 women's world champion Elisabeth Pähtz was playing for a men's team. Why on earth, I asked her. "I couldn't find a German men't team to play in." She, Kateryna Lahno and Iweta Radziewicz are three cross-gender players in Crete.

The women's teams were playing in the far superior Creta Marine Hotel, with bigger halls, a beautiful hotel park, and the Mediterranean Sea right next to it.


Marie Sebag of France


Moldova's Almira Skripchenko, who lives in France


Antoaneta Stefanova of Bulgaria


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