Ice Chess in balmy London and Moscow

by ChessBase
1/11/2007 – With global temperatures climbing, and both Moscow and London experiencing warm spells, the "Ice Chess" match between the two cities turned into a race against time. Would the pieces, beautifully carved out of blocks of ice, melt away before the game, captained by Nigel Short in London and Anatoly Karpov in Moscow, could be completed? Here's the answer (with video!)

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"Chess is a challenging game at the best of times. But try playing it in Trafalgar Square, with huge pieces carved from ice – on a relatively balmy British day that threatened to turn pawns to puddles.," writes the Washington Post. "Organizers of London's Russian Winter Festival knew players in their ice chess match would be battling not only each other but the weather."

Fortunately the match was completed and the sculptures survived, despite a drizzly day and temperatures that reached 55 degrees [12.8°C]"

Ice chess on Trafalga Square

... and in balmy Moscow

Only some of them, really. The chess pieces were carved to look like local landmarks, e.g. the king was the Gothic tower that houses Big Ben. That was still intact at the end of the hour-long match, which began at 8 a.m., althought some of the other pieces were almost indistinguishable by the time the match finished. The pieces were supposed to survive for three hours. Russia's "king" on the London board, which was crafted in the shape of a Kremlin tower, lost its Soviet star before the game even began. The temperature in Moscow's Pushkinskaya Square was 5°C [41°F], well above average for the time of year.

The games were played on huge chessboards that had been laid out in the British and Russian capitals, with GMs Nigel Short and Anatoly Karpov captaining the teams. Players and spectators in both cities were connected by satellite link.

The British team, captained by Nigel Short (middle), with chess prodigy Darius Parvizi-Wayne, Peter Ackroyd (right), author of biographies of T.S. Eliot, Charles Dickens, Thomas More, William Blake and William Shakespeare, and Steven Moss (left), columnist and chess champion of the Guardian.

The Russian team, with Anatoly Karpov behind chess prodigy Konstantin Savenkov, Alina Kabaeva (left), one of the most decorated gymnasts in the history of rhythmic gymnastics, and writer Viktor Yerofeyev. The man next to Karpov is actor Vasily Livanov, who played Sherlock Holmes in many Russian films.

"Although Karpov and Short were supposed to be calling the shots," report the BBC, "it was their junior team-mates who were behind some fairly aggressive play from both sides. It seemed to be the eight-year-old chess prodigies making the decisions." After an hour, with the pieces dripping litres of water, the Russians offered a draw which the British accepted.

Chess helpers moving the pieces in London

Not an easy job, with the pieces melting on the board

Anatoly Karpov on the chessboard in Moscow

Nigel Short discussing a move made by the London team

Konstantin Savenkov (above), the Russian chess prodigy, is now eight years old. He started playing chess at the age of four, and was taught by his grandmother. At five he started attending the Petrosyan chess school and he also plays online. His favourite chess Master is Capablanca. His favourite subject at school is maths and he also enjoys playing football as well as chess. When he grows up, Konstantin would like to become a businessman in the oil industry.

Darius Parvizi-Wayne (above), is a UK chess prodigy, is now eight years old. He started playing chess at three and a half years of age. Darius is the UK’s top U7 player and came joint first in this year’s "British Land Chess Challenge 2006". He was inspired to play chess by his Polish nanny who was an avid player. Darius is also a keen mathematician and loves playing cricket, tennis and football. When he grows up, Darius sees himself as the future Roger Federer, doubling-up as an English Shane Warne in cricket and a Gary Kasparov in his spare time.

Nigel Short posing for the Russian Winter Festival Ice Chess event

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