Kasparov and Short through to the final

3/21/2004 – Youth movement, what youth movement? Two players three times older than the youngest participant in the event are playing for the title in the Reykjavik Rapid on Sunday. 38-year-old Short dispatched Dreev while 40-year-old Kasparov needed to win a sudden death blitz tiebreaker to move past Nielsen. Let the 1993 flashbacks begin. Report and games.

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It's final: Short-Kasparov to play for the title

Official site

Game download/replay

Final pairing – Sun. March 21
(Player on left has white in first game. Player in bold advances. Tie matches go to sudden death blitz.)

Nigel Short Garry Kasparov    

Semifinal results – Sat. March 20

Garry Kasparov Peter Heine Nielsen
½-½
½-½
1-0 s/d
Alexei Dreev Nigel Short
½-½
0-1

A round of applause to professor Elo. The number one and number two rating seeds are in the final of the Reykjavik Rapid tournament. Garry Kasparov and Nigel Short will face off in their 73rd and 74th games on Sunday (maybe more if a tiebreak is required). Short outplayed Dreev out of the Caro-Kann Advance line the Englishman practically patented.

Kasparov needed a sudden-death blitz playoff game to shake off Denmark's Peter Heine Nielsen. The two went in for the sharp g4 sacrifice line of the Semi-Slav in both of Kasparov's whites. In the second, the playoff, Nielsen lost the exchange and there wasn't much hope after that. (See below.)

So get out your Thea Austin and Ace of Base CDs and go rent Jurassic Park because it's time for a 1993 flashback! The rivalry between Garry Kasparov and Nigel Short started at the World Junior Championship 24 years ago in Dortmund. Kasparov came out on top. Short became the top threat from the West while Kasparov, well, we know what he went on to become.

In 1993 Short became the first non-Soviet challenger for the title since Fischer. He was demolished by Kasparov 12.5-7.5 but the real demolishing took place off the board. They broke away from FIDE to form the Professional Chess Association, creating the world title schism that still exists today. (For a Kasparov-eye view of this, read the fascinating "History of Professional Chess.")

Kasparov stayed on top, but Short's rating went into a slide that largely coincided with the rise of Mickey Adams as the new English #1. It wasn't until two years ago that Short, as he put in to us on Radio ChessBase last month, "really started working hard on chess again." You can't argue with the results. While he is still far from the world #3 position he once occupied, Short's rating is at a career high and he has had a string of tournament wins.


All laughs at the 1987 Speed Chess Challenge in London. Rapid chess was on the map!

In the personal battle, Short hasn't nicked Kasparov for a full point since a late consolation win in that same 1993 championship match. He missed a win in Sarajevo 99 and pressed Kasparov in their last meeting, the "Russia vs The World" rapid match in 2002.

Now these Jurassic representatives are showing they can still rule the earth. Can Short break over a decade of Kasparov domination or will the latest chapter in this 24-year-old story follow the same plot? Kasparov had to work hard to beat Nielsen in the semis, but will surely be motivated against his old foe.

NB: A kind e-mail from Reykjavik participant Israeli GM Emil Sutovsky points out that the automatic move transmission from the tournament site has been less than perfect. Some of the published game scores and results are incorrect, so we can't be sure if a blunder was by the player or the transmission! (The Stefansson-Karpov game analysis from our first report seems to be a likely suspect.) We'll post corrections as we get them. Our thanks to GM Sutovsky.

Kasparov - Nielsen, sudden death blitz playoff game, after 19...Nxe5

Kasparov played 20.Nxe5 and Nielsen blundered by recapturing with the bishop. There was still much to play for after taking with the queen.

20...Bxe5? (20...Qxe5) 21.f4! Bd6 22.Bc3 The skewer wins the exchange.

Round two results – Fri. March 19

Nigel Short Levon Aronian
½-½
1-0
Jan Timman Garry Kasparov
½-½
0-1
Peter Heine Nielsen Emil Sutovsky
1-0
½-½
Anatoly Karpov Alexei Dreev
0-1
½-½

Round one results – Thu. March 18

Helgi Olafsson Levon Aronian
0-1
0-1
Magnus Carlsen Garry Kasparov
½-½
0-1
Igor-Alexander Nataf Emil Sutovsky
0-1
0-1
Margeir Petursson Alexey Dreev
0-1
½-½
Hannes Stefansson Anatoly Karpov
1-0
0-1
Vladimir Epishin Peter Heine Nielsen
0-1
0-1
Johann Hjartarson Jan Timman
0-1
½-½
Nigel Short Stefan Kristjansson
½-½
1-0

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