German Chess Tennis Open Championship

by ChessBase
9/1/2012 – Combined chess and boxing tournaments have already gained some popularity. In Baden Baden another combined chess event was held; chess was mixed with tennis. There were 30 participants, who played a tennis and then a chess tournament, seven rounds each. Our reporter, IM Tibor Károlyi of Hungary, took part quite successfully. Here his report.

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German Chess Tennis Open Championship

By Tibor Károlyi

Some great players are known to like to play tennis. Let me share their names with you, at least the ones I am aware of: Boris Spassky, Paul Keres, Lajos Portisch, Ulf Andersson, Eugenio Torre, Istvan Csom and Iivo Nei. Even today’s world number one player Magnus Carlson spens part of his spare time playing tennis.

Tennis playing chess grandmaster: Boris Alterman, Vishy Anand

I have seen pictures the “greatest” Fischer, Karpov and Kasparov playing tennis, but as far as I know they played just occasionally. I know less about tennis players, but I know that Boris Becker likes chess. I was told that Pete Sampras participated in charity chess simuls.

When I heard about the tournament I asked various Hungarian grandmasters such as Csaba Balogh, Zoltan Varga and Attila Czebe whether they would like to join me. They love and play tennis to a reasonable level for an amateur player, but they already had scheduled chess tournaments. So I decided to try my luck on my own.

The event was held on the 14th and 15th July in the beautiful Rot-Weiss Tennis Centre in Baden Baden. The club is beautiful, with a lot of pictures of great players hanging on the walls. It was nice to play on the courts where giants of tennis like Björn Borg had previously shown their skill.

There were 30 participants. The structure of the event was to play a seven round tennis event with a champions tie break (that is the first to ten points). The winner got one point, in case of 10:10 both players earned half a point, and the loser of course got 0.

The chess event consisted seven rounds. Each player had 15 minutes for the whole game with no increment. Both events were held in the Swiss system. The four players who on aggregate had the most points qualified to the semi-final. There the competitors played one chess game and one tennis champions tiebreak. In case it ended in 1:1 a toss of coin would decide whether the final part of the clash would be decided in chess or tennis. According to the original plan the event was going to start with the tennis part, but it was raining so heavily the tennis had to be postponed. But after three rounds of chess the weather improved and it was logical to use the opportunity to play tennis.

When the chess event was stopped grandmaster Vladimir Gurevich and I had three points, FIDE master Behrang Sadeghi had 2.5 points. From then on the weather was kind throughout the day, enabling us to play continuously. I started the tennis event with chess player opponents and managed to beat them, among them was the only grandmaster Vladimir Gurevich.

In first round it was clear that there were some good tennis players. My first tennis player opponent was the son of the grandmaster. Thanks to the fact that he made more unforced errors than he normally does, my run of success did not come to and end. My fortunate run lasted till the last round. I was able to defeat players who have much better technique than me. In the last round I met Dr. Gerald Zimmer, the winner of the winner of the chess-tennis event in 2011, when the tournament was held for the first time. My friends told me before the tournament that he was a strong player who plays for a team participating in a high-standard tennis league. He obtained a nice cushion of advantage, I tried hard to catch, but he beat me. I still managed to finish the tennis event with six wins out of seven games. Gerald Zimmer scored 5.5 points in tennis. The next morning the event got on with chess. It was grandmaster Gurevich who dominated, dropping only a draw against your commentator who finished one point behind hind him on second place. The end aggregate result of the tennis-chess event was: 1st Karolyi: 11.5 points, Gurevich G.: 9.5 points, 3rd Busch C., Zimmer G., Gurevich S., Schönwolf K.: 9 points. The Bucholz favoured Busch and Zimmer. The semi-final line up was: Gurevich V.-Busch and Karolyi-Zimmer.

In the semi-final, there was a small change in the chess format. For the sake of the spectators the participants played with a garden set, and the players got an additional two minutes, as it is slower to complete the moves with such a set. In case of the standing was tied 1:1 after two rubbers, there would be a toss of coin whether the playoff would be at chess or tennis. As it started to rain the event was shifted to a beautiful indoor tennis hall. My semi-final was the first to start. Gerald Zimmer is a decent amateur at chess. I managed to beat him in chess fairly convincingly. My task at tennis was hard. Getting used to play on carpet instead of clay I think caused less problems for me than for my opponent. He possesses a rather unpleasant backhand slice, and he was manoeuvring me around the court. The rallies lasted quite long, but I managed to win enough to reach the required ten points.

Semi-finalists Gerald Zimmer and Tibor Károlyi with chess (and tennis) fans

In the other semi-final grandmaster Gurevich was able to beat Busch in chess. The tennis was close and exciting, in the end the German player won the champions tiebreak. First the toss favoured Gurevich who naturally chose chess to be the decider. But there was a second toss for the choosing colour. Busch won it and surprisingly opted to have white with 20 minute against Black’s 15 minutes, with White having to win to be victorious in the tiebreak. In a tense game the favourite grandmaster qualified for the final. In the match for the third place players agreed to share the third prize after 1:1 without playing the deciding rubber.

The final started with tennis, things went well for me and I won that rubber, My opponent had to beat me at chess to level the match. He deviated from his usual opening to create winning chances, and sacrificed a pawn. We reached the following position when it was my turn to move.

[Event "Baden Baden tennis-chess"] [Site "?"] [Date "2012.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Karolyi , T."] [Black "Gurevich, V."] [Result "0-1"] [Annotator "Karolyi,Tibor"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r7/1p3pk1/3Qbqp1/2P1p1n1/1PN1P1P1/5P2/4B1K1/7R w - - 0 0"] [PlyCount "4"] {Grandmaster Gurevich had to win. I saw the lines below, but decided why not try to go for a win myself.} 1. Rd1 $4 ({In this position I planned} 1. Qxe5 $1 Ra2 2. Qxf6+ Kxf6 3. Kf1 Rxe2 ({Black could also play the better with} 3... Ra1+ 4. Kg2 Ra2 {with a repetition.}) 4. Kxe2 Bxc4+ 5. Ke3 {when White should never lose.}) {After} 1... Ra2 $1 {I realised that I had blundered badly, and there was no way to recover. Still I played} 2. Rd2 {after which my opponent played the winning} Bxc4 $1 {which I missed in my calculations. A few moves later I resigned.} 0-1

After such a shocking loss I knew it would be hard to recover for another chess game, but to my fortune the toss of coin decided that the playoff would be at tennis. I managed win again and won the event.

Thanks to Yaroslav Srokowski the event was organised smoothly, and I hope the sponsors were as satisfied as the players were. Let me mention the name of the sponsors: Volksbank, Practice Provita, Live Magazine, Medical
Supplies Hardenberg& Kiefer. During the event I spotted brochures for a similar event in Berlin running at the same time, so possibly this combination of mental and physical sport is getting more popular.

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Copyright Károlyi/ChessBase

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