Game over, ChessBase and Uzbekistan draw

by ChessBase
2/24/2004 – The match between GM Saidali Yuldashev and the Uzbek TV audience, heavily assisted by visitors from all over the world, has ended in a draw. Jamshid Begmatov has interviewed the GM and takes a pictorial look back at an eventful game. We are waiting for your final comments and have prizes for the best submissions.

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Uzbek TV audience vs Saidali Yuldashev

By Jamshid Begmatov

Hi again!

After another few days of absence, we are back to our game. Or are we? It’s finished! For the last couple of moves, everybody thought the position was drawn, the experts said it was most probably drawn, computers evaluated it as equal, only the grandmaster would play on and on... But finally we got it!!! Your opponent has offered you a draw, and based on your recent comments and analyses, I accepted his offer!

Uzbek TV+ChessBase Audience – Saidali Yuldashev
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0-0 8.c3 d5 9.exd5 Nxd5 10.Nxe5 Nxe5 11.Rxe5 c6 12.d4 Bd6 13.Re1 Qh4 14.g3 Qh3 15.Re4 g5 16.Qe2 f5 17.Bxd5+ cxd5 18.Re6 f4 19.Rxd6 Bg4 20.Qf1 Rae8 21.Nd2 Qxf1+ 22.Nxf1 Re1 23.b3 Bh3 24.Bb2 Rfe8 25.Rd8 Rxf1+ 26.Rxf1 Rxd8 27.Re1 f3 28.Re3 g4 29.Ba3 Kf7 30.Re7+ Kf6 ½:½

And here is my after-match short interview with Saidali:

Jamshid Begmatov: Saidali, on behalf of many hundreds of chess fans, ChessBase team and on my own behalf, I would first all like to thank you for playing this exciting game. The first question will be, frankly, did you use any computer assistance during the game?

Saidali Yuldashev: The answer is clear – no, I didn’t. I really enjoyed analyzing the game on my own and I indeed felt like playing against a very strong grandmaster.

JB: Are you happy with the result?

SY: Well, it’s not an easy task to beat even an amateur if he has a whole week for every move, so a draw is not that bad after all. Yes, I am very happy.

JB: Which White move was most unexpected for you?

SY: It is definitely 21.Nd2. For a moment there, after you told me White had made that move, I thought I might be winning. But at the end of the day it turned out to be a very strong defense.

JB: Why did you choose Marshall Attack at all, especially after 2002 Ponomariov-Anand draw? Maybe playing a sharp line in the Sicilian would have given you better chances.

SY: As I said some time ago, I had not expected that strong play from White. As often happens in Marshall, one small mistake would be enough for Black to win, but my opponents never made it, I now believe they wouldn’t make it in any line of the Sicilian or French or whatever.

JB: Are you going to offer a rematch?

SY: A rematch in the nearest future with the TV audience is definitely on my agenda, and of course I would really like ChessBase visitors to join, but I understand that depends on availability of your (Jamshid’s) time and many other circumstances, so you decide.

JB: Ok, that’s enough for the game I think. Let’s look at some questions sent to you by your opponents. The most common one is when did you start chess?

SY: At the age of 9, but earned my grandmaster title quite late – at 28.

JB: What do you think you have lost and gained by choosing to be a chess player?

SY: I don’t really think I have lost anything. What I have gained is, apart from any material benefits, thanks to chess I have been around the world, made tens of friends. Chess really made my life enjoyable and colourful, although not very rich.

JB: Mel Burt, the president of a local chess club in Glasgow is interested to know what/who pushed you to chess excellence, how chess is organized in our country... clubs, tournaments, literature.

SY: Chirchik, the town where I grew up, used to have a very strong chess school, famous throughout the Soviet Union. It produced four grandmasters. I developed my addiction to chess at that school and never gave it up. Coming to how chess is organized in Uzbekistan, each major city has its chess club, but many of them are experiencing serious financial problems and are hardly operating. There are various regular tournaments and championships organized by the Federation for different age groups. There’s also an annual tournament in the city of Kokand organized and sponsored by two brothers who are businessmen. Now they want to turn it into an international FIDE-rated tournament with a prize fund pretty big for this region. As for literature, there are very few chess books in Uzbek ever published, nor is there a special chess edition. Russian literature is widely used.

JB: And you have an invitation to Scotland from Mel, who writes: "Does Saidali have any plans to visit Scotland? Like Uzbekistan we also have an interesting history and beautiful mountains. I can't pay for him to come here but would be happy to give him hospitality of accommodation and food if he visits. I would also be honoured to take him along to our local chess club of which I am President."

SY: Oh, that’s very touching. Thanks a lot and Hudo hohlasa [that’s what we say for “I hope”, it literally translates as “If God wants” - JB]. I will one day try a genuine haggis in Scotland.

JB: And a question asked by many: Do you make any good living from chess?

SY: Hmm… like in any sport, that always depends on how well you perform, and my performance has always been irregular. I have beaten such players as Lajos Portisch and Eugenio Torre, but have also lost to players way below my rating. One thing I can say for sure – chess is not the main source of my family income.

JB: Thanks for your sincerity, Saidali. Is there anything you want to add?

SY: I just want to say that playing this game was real pleasure. Please forward my sincerest thanks to all my opponents and my congratulation on playing such a wonderful game. My special thanks to Mr. Frederic Friedel and you, Jamshid, for doing this wonderful job staging the game on ChessBase site

Now let’s look at some statistics of the match:

  • Throughout the match we have received letters from 750 different TV viewers of Uzbekistan and email messages from 4500 different addresses via ChessBase.

  • It is interesting that towards the end of the game submissions received from TV audience increased in number, while those from ChessBase audience declined.

  • The numbers of submissions per move averaged to 85 from TV and 700 from ChessBase audiences.

  • There have been exactly 32 TV viewers and 120 ChessBase readers who sent in submissions for every single move without exception. However, there has been none who managed to guess all the moves that were then actually played.

  • The most active country to play was by far the USA with more than 30% of submissions every time. India submitted 15% and Canada and Australia about 10% of votes each. Among other most active countries are England, Argentina, Mexico, Germany and Turkey, where chess is now on the rise.

  • The most active commentators were also Americans and Canadians. Actually, making comments was not very popular among the participants: only about 1% would include their comments and analysis.

  • Surprisingly, there has been no submission, not even a single one, from China, a country that is home to nearly 20% of world population (is in the list of sites banned in China?).

  • Every time we would receive a few messages from countries of Sub-Saharan Africa, now considered the most difficult economies in the world, but unfortunately they never included any comments but only moves, so we haven’t been able to publish any of them.

  • The number of women participating in the game was discouragingly low – not even 1%. Only two ladies from Russia – Oksana of Moscow and Ramilia of Ufa (they never included their surnames) would send submissions relatively often, again without any comments.

  • Of course, most players did not indicate their age, but I guess I know how young was the youngest and how old was the oldest participant: they are 7-year-old Arun from India and a 79-year-old man from Indonesia.

What else? I can only add that conducting this game was a terrific experience. It really made me feel like communicating with all of you, hundreds of participants. It is unfortunately over. Like old Shakespeare once wrote:

Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself.
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep (William Shakespeare: The Tempest, iv.i.148-58.)

I thank you all for playing, thank those friends who helped me prepare materials for my articles, and thanks ChessBase and especially Frederic for this fantastic opportunity.

In closing I would like to invite all participants, including those who haven't sent in any commentary before, to write to us and give us their impression of the game. Did you enjoy playing against an Uzbek grandmaster, did you find the weekly cycle interesting, how was the game, did you like the commentary, report, pictures? Send us pictures of yourself, your town, family or chess friends. You can send in comments using the link given below, or you can attach pictures using the email address tvmatch at hotmail dot com (naturally you must replace "at" and "dot" with the usual email convention).

ChessBase has agreed to provide three copies of Fritz for the nicest letters we receive. The winners will be chosen by us – Jamshid and Saidali. The programs will be autographed by your GM opponent Saidali Yuldashev.


Looking back

We cannot leave the game without taking a look back at the adventures we have had together in this game. Here are a few of the places we visited and the pictures we published.

Saidali Yuldashev was born and grew up in a little town of Chirchik. Built only in1932, the town was one of the chemical and defense industry centers of strategic importance to the former Soviet Union. The town is crossed by the river Chirchik, with unbelievably beautiful landscapes.

A woodcarver from Tashkent enjoyed the game so much he promised to make a very special chess set for the ChessBase team.

Arun, a seven-year-old handicapped boy from India, found great joy in playing a grandmaster. The pictures are from his beautiful country.

An historic picture of two British soldiers in Iraq brooding over the game against the Uzbek grandmaster

One of the participants, Khourshid, invited me to his wedding in Samarkand.

Cooking for the guests at the wedding

Very few female players in this match. Is it only pirates' wives who play chess?

An American tourist playing a dollar a game on Tamerlane Square in Tashkent

A chess revolution in Punjab – Anirudh Trehan teaching chess to youngsters

Crossing the mountains to meet chess-playing girls in Kokand

Nafisa and Hulkar are Uzbekistan Champions in their age groups

The ancient "City of Thousand Domes Khiva". In that week my life was saved by a flu which prevented me from taking an ill-fated flight to Termez.

Chess players in Laguna Beach, California, (where "bad girls go") analysing the game in Tashkent

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