Kasparov beats Short in London fund-raiser

9/13/2010 – "The guest list included over 100 millionaires and three billionaires," says our awestricken reporter Steve Giddins about the Gala fund-raiser in London. It was in benefit of Anatoly Karpov's campaign for the FIDE presidency and included a consultation game between Garry Kasparov and Nigel Short, which Steve managed to broadcast to Playchess directly from Simpson's-in-the-Strand. Here's his report.

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Simpsons-in-the-Strand has had a long and legendary association with British chess, ever since the heyday of the Cigar Divan in the mid-19th century, when it was the meeting place for the cream of British and international chess. Playing-wise, it will be hard to top the Anderssen-Kieseritzky "Immortal Game", which was played there, but even to this day, Simpsons remains a Mecca for top chess events in London.

The official invitation to the all-day chess extravaganza At Simpson's in London

On Wednesday September 8th, it played host to its latest star event, the 2010 Staunton Memorial dinner. Originally the brainchild of ECF President, C.J. de Mooi, the event was intended primarily as a fundraiser for Anatoly Karpov's 2010 FIDE Presidential campaign. It quickly mushroomed into an all-day chess extravaganza. Your correspondent was present in my new role as editor of the world's oldest chess magazine, the BCM – we are not quite as old as Simpsons, but we started in 1881, so we can give even that august institution a run for its money!

The fun began at 11.00 in the morning, with a press conference, featuring Karpov, Kasparov and Nigel Short. Several dozen press correspondents were present, including representatives from Reuters and several UK national newspapers. For over an hour and a half the trio answered questions about the campaign to unseat our beloved alien abductee President, Kirsan Illumzhinov.


FIDE President candidate Anatoly Karpov at Simpson's in the Strand

Coincidentally, at the very moment we were holding the London press conference, Ilyumzhinov was addressing a similar press conference in Moscow, to announce that he is standing down as President of Kalmykia in October this year. Garry Kasparov was quick to argue that this "resignation" is in fact nothing less than a Kremlin dismissal, and a clear sign that Kirsan's base of political support in Russia is eroding faster than the ozone layer. The 13th World Champion was in typically combative mood at the press conference, as your correspondent soon found out – my question brought forth the reply that I was "wrong on every single point!"


Seventeen years on! Carol Vorderman and Garry Kasparov meet again in London

With the press conference over, a hasty afternoon overhaul of the room prepared it for the main event. Starting at five p.m., almost 200 guests filed into Simpsons, for a series of chess-related events. The guests included composer Sir Tim Rice, whose musical "Chess" recently started a new nationwide run, and TV personality Carol Vorderman, who presented the British TV coverage of the Short-Kasparov world championship match in 1993.


A large drawing (above) from the Kasparov-Short 1993 World Championship,
created by Barry Martin in the Savoy Theatre where the match was held

After an art show by Barry Martin, there were then two blitz simuls by Kasparov and Short, who took on pairs of opponents in simultaneous five-minute games. This was followed by two consultation games, played at a time-limit of one hour per side.


The first featured Garry Kasparov and leading chess collector Jon Crumiller, against
Nigel Short, partnered by chess-boxing promoter Rajko Vujatovic.


What to play? Garry Kasparov and Jon Crumiller during the game


Things not going so well? Rajko Vujatovic and Nigel Short

In each case, moves were made by the players alternately, with the amateur players playing the odd-numbered moves. Thanks to (perhaps "despite" would be more accurate…) your correspondent's legendary IT skills, the consultation game was broadcast live on Playchess, and proved to be a thoroughly interesting encounter.

Short + Vujatovic - Kasparov + Crumiller
Consultation game, 08.09.2010

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.Bd3 Bc5 6.Nb3 Be7 7.Qg4 g6 8.Qe2 d6 9.0–0 Nd7 10.a4 b6 11.Na3 Qc7 12.Nc4 Bb7 13.a5! b5 14.Nb6 Nxb6 15.axb6 Qxb6 16.Na5 Bc8 17.Be3 Qc7 18.c4 b4

19.e5! Just as at move 13, Vujatovic finds the strongest and most aggressive move. I was watching the game with Jon Speelman, who was full of praise for Rajko's play. The famous Kasparov scowl was very much in evidence around this point! 19…Rb8 20.Bd4 f6 21.exf6?! Rajko's first minor lapse. 21.exd6 would have left Black's position hanging by a thread.

21…Nxf6 22.c5 0–0 23.cxd6. 23.Nc4 would win the exchange pretty much by force, although Black would have some compensation. 23...Bxd6 24.Rfc1 Bxh2+ 25.Kh1 Qf4 26.Rxc8! Qxd4 27.Rc4 Qd6 28.Rd1.

Crumiller: "I wasn’t sure what Garry would play after Rd1, but I knew it would be good. As it turns out, what Garry played wasn’t just good, it was simply fantastic." 28. …Kh8!! "This has to be the star move of the game. The battle rages, but Black takes time out for a cup of tea and a little nap!" 29.g3? Crumiller: "Now comes my turn, with two main choices. I analyzed Bxg3, which looks great, but then it would be Nigel’s move, and Nigel has been hammering us at every opportunity. I couldn’t give him free rein of the board – what if I’ve missed something in this highly complicated position? – and the move to prevent that is Qd5+! (the exclam is for the non-chess reasons), which forces Nigel down to a single move."

29...Qd5+ 30.Kxh2 Qxa5. Garry snapped off the knight and again it is Rajko’s move, clock ticking, time running short, and a critical position.

31.Qxe6?? A tragic blunder, to end a well-contested game. 31...Qh5+ 32.Rh4 Qxd1 33.Bxg6 Ng4+! 0-1. [Click to replay]


In another room, Luke McShane and Terry Chapman took on Mickey Adams and Allan Beardsworth

After this excitement, the guests settled down to a traditional Simpsons roast beef dinner, which was followed by an auction of chess memorabilia. With a guest list that included over 100 millionaires and three billionaires, your correspondent felt a trifle outgunned on his BCM editor's salary, and missed out on all the goodies. These included a chessboard provided by event sponsors Darwin Strategic, a specialist investment company run by GM David Norwood and IM Ali Mortazavi. Signed by all the GMs present, the board went for £3,600, whilst an advance copy of the next volume of GK's series on his matches with Karpov, signed by the pair of them, fetched an amazing £1,250.

With ticket sales, auction proceeds and donations on the night, the event raised close to £30,000. The majority of this goes to Karpov's election campaign fund, with the 2011 British Championship receiving some £7,500 and several charities also benefitting. Even more importantly, a number of the guests present expressed interest in sponsoring British chess events in the future, and event organiser C.J. hopes to be able to make some concrete announcements about this very soon.

Overall, it was a fabulous gala night, which will live long in the memory. Darwin Strategic deserve thanks for their sponsorship, as does Ray Keene, whose help was crucial in securing the venue and bringing off the whole event. But by far the greatest thanks are due to the remarkable C.J. de Mooi, who will be familiar to many UK readers as one of the stars of the TV quiz series, Eggheads. In his twelve months as ECF President, C.J. has worked tirelessly to promote chess in the UK, and has invested a large sum of money personally in doing so. September 8 was undoubtedly his greatest achievement, and the chess world owes him an enormous debt of gratitude. It is only fitting that we should leave him the final word: "I have never had such a hard-working, stressful and sweaty night in my life, but I'll never have another as useful, lucrative and exciting."

Photos © Barry Martin

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