Kasparov vs the Rest of the World

11/17/2001 – Recently Garry Kasparov trounced the Czech national team 5.5-2.5 in two clock simul matches (see our report). A remarkable display, but not the first of its kind. In two interesting articles Bobby Ang (Manilla) retraces Kasparov's career of demolishing national teams. It started shortly after he became world champion in 1985, and ChessBase played a role in the incredible feats. The articles are here: Part I, Part II.

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Day One – October 18, 2001

The challenge between Grandmaster Garry Kasparov (rated 2838), the World’s number one ranked chess player versus the powerful Czech National Chess Team composed of GM's Sergej Movsesjan (2631), Zbynek Hrácek (2610), Vlastimil Babula (2565) and Tomáš Oral (2546) who are competing in a two day clock simultaneous match, lived up to its billing in the first day. . At a press conference prior to the event Kasparov estimated the Czech team to be dangerous, "I think they are well prepared and they are a real team, instead of four separate players."

The first day of this unique match in the Ball Game Hall of the Prague Castle had a crowd of more than 350 chess fans. They greeted Garry with a thunderous applause when he entered the arena. After shaking hands with the team players, the Russian GM got the first surprise on board two where Hracek abandoned his traditional 1.e4 for 1.d4. Garry continued first on the other boards with a couple of moves before replying. Nearly 45 minutes into the round guest grandmasters Yasser Seirawan, Jan Timman, Genna Sosonko and Lubos Kavalek already became very optimistic about the outcome for Garry. They thought Garry was better on all boards except for board 2 which looked about equal. However the Czech players weren't to be taken lightly. Tomas Oral, nearly 300 rating points less than Garry could have secured a draw after 20 moves by repeating the position three times, instead he decided to keep Garry busy and continued the game in order to help his compatriots. He would soon regret his decision as Garry built up a promising advantage. The next surprise was in the game on board one. There, Sergej Movsesjan overlooked a combination and his position went downhill fast. The Czech first board player tried to delay his resignation as long as possible but after nearly five hours of play it became inevitable. Immediately thereafter, Kasparov and Hracek agreed to share the point by repeating the position three times.

Down to his last two opponents, the Czech team was optimistic. Garry had erred badly on board four and with a flourish Oral had netted Garry's Queen for Rook and Knight! Perhaps the Czech's would manage 2-2? It wasn't to be. Babula got his Rook trapped on the a5-square and in a Bishop's of opposite colored position Garry played magnificently to score his second victory. This meant that all the pressure was on Oral to save the day. Garry held steady, doing his best to create a fortress of Rook and Knight versus Queen. Well into the sixth hour of play the experts were mixed in their view. GM Seirawan opined that Garry should win it as White but hold it as Black. "Kasparov didn't become the World's number one player by losing worse positions!" he said.

In the end, GM Seirawan was surprised. Oral earned an impressive victory to make the day a respectable 2 1/2 - 1 1/2 result.

The return match will take place on Saturday October 20. The winning team/winner will take home $40,000. The total prize fund is $60,000.

The general partner of this unique event is the leading mobile operator in Czech Republic Eurotel Praha, spol. s r.o. and its partners Ericsson, Interkoncerts and Ticketpro in cooperation with Serge Grimaux. Eurotel hosted the 1998 and 1999 matches between Garry Kasparov and Jan Timman and Alexei Shirov versus Judit Polgar.

Results of Day 1:
1. Kasparov - Movsesian 1-0
2. Hracek - Kasparov 0.5-0.5
3. Kasparov - Babula 1-0
4. Oral - Kasparov 1-0

Total Day One: Garry Kasparov - Czech National Team: 2.5-1.5

Day Two – October 20, 2001

Tomas Oral was the big hero for the Czechs after he defeated Kasparov in the first encounter between the world’s highest rated player and the Czech National Team. The board four player was clearly enjoying the attention that came with the success, despite the Czech team losing the first round by the narrowest of margins. Garry took his loss gracefully. He joined former prime minister Vaclav Klaus, Bessel Kok, Terrence Valeski CEO of Eurotel and a few other distinguished guests for a specially organized dinner in the museum of Antonin Dvorak.

After a free day the players returned to the Prague Castle on Saturday October 20, for the second encounter. Once again the participants were given a warm applause by the audience and under enormous media attention Garry energetically moved from board to board.

In such competitions, the key board where the eyes of the spectators were riveted was board one. “As goes the first board so goes the team,” is the sentiment. Movsesian’s choice of 6.g3 against Kasparov’s favorite Najdorf Sicilian scored a surprise by forcing Garry to think long and hard about his response. The ensuing middlegame strategies were very hard for the many Grandmasters to explain. The ideas were constantly shifting. Things only became clear when GM Seirawan confidently explained that Black (Kasparov) had the advantage. “When Black can post a Knight on c5 and a Bishop on e5 then things are going his way.” Movsesian nevertheless put up a tough fight, just when it looked that Garry’s pieces were surrounding the White King to deliver the final blow, Movsesian forced a draw by sacrificing both his rooks to create a perpetual check. His game was the second one to finish after more than 5 hours of play.

With Movsesian’s position souring attention turned to board two. There, Hracek had played a standard Maroczy variation and had a comfortable game. Everyone was predicting …a7-a6 with easy equality but after …Nf6-d7 and f3-f4! White’s position improved a lot. Hracek continued to defend passively awaiting his opportunity. It came through a pawn sacrifice and he managed to create active counter-chances. While the game ended in a deserved draw, Garry certainly felt that he had let his advantage slip away.

The one bright spot for the Czech team was on board three. There, Babula had met Kasparov’s …b7-b5 in a straight-forward way, winning back the pawn he had sacrificed and keeping his two Bishops. A clear advantage to Babula may have slipped when he missed Be3-d4 instead of trading Queens. The game suddenly entered some tactical twists and when Babula won the exchange he realized he had misjudged the ensuing position. Black’s active pieces more than compensated for the material deficit and in time trouble, Babula was unable to hold the position.

Yesterday’s hero, Oral, knew that his task would not be easy. No top Grandmaster likes to lose and Garry would focus his attention on this game. Losing once was bad, losing twice would be unthinkable! Garry’s choice of the English was a cagey one as Oral never settled into a comfortable position. He chose to sacrifice his b7-pawn rather than commit himself to passive defense. Garry grabbed the pawn and made his free c-pawn the main focus of Black’s problems. An elegant piece sacrifice by the World’s number one gave him a better endgame. Victory however was instantaneous when Oral blundered badly with 32…g6, which allowed 33.Nd5! winning.

Kasparov thus won the second day with a score of 3 - 1 boosting his result to a very commendable 5 1-2 - 2 1/2 result.

Time Control: Kasparov 3 hours for 50 moves. Czech Team 2.5 hours for 50 moves. After 50 moves all players get an additional 30 minutes to finish the game.

The general partner of this unique event is the leading mobile operator in Czech Republic Eurotel Praha, spol. s r.o. and its partners Ericsson, Interkoncerts and Ticketpro in cooperation with Serge Grimaux. Eurotel hosted the 1998 and 1999 matches between Garry Kasparov and Jan Timman and Alexei Shirov versus Judit Polgar.

Results of Day 2:
1. Movsesian - Kasparov 0.5-0.5
2. Kasparov - Hracek 0.5-0.5
3. Babula - Kasparov 0-1
4. Kasparov - Oral 1-0

Total Day Two: Garry Kasparov - Czech National Team: 3-1
Final Match score: Garry Kasparov - Czech National Team: 5.5 - 2.5


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