Kasim and Playchess in Uzbekistan

by ChessBase
7/28/2004 – Where is Rustam Kasimdzhanov? Normally he lives in Germany, but we could not reach him there. So we contacted our friends in Uzbekistan, who confirmed: Kasim is paying the country of his birth a visit. And receiving a hero's welcome. Jamshid Begmatov tells us about this and about his Playchess adventure on Uzbek TV...

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Rustam in Uzbekistan

In the above picture we see the new FIDE champion Rustam Kasimdzhanov and a mullah (a Muslim priest) doing a traditional goodwill ceremony on his arrival in the airport. Rustam is wearing a chapan (the coat) and sallah (the hat). It is a sign of respect to present these traditional garments on special occasions. Just behind them is the president of Uzbek Chess Federation Azam Gadoyboev. On the left in the background you can see Rustam's wife and their two-year-old son Azar.

Words of greeting from Uzbek President Islam Karimov to FIDE world champion Rustam Kasimdzhanov

In his message, which reached Rustam's hands exactly 30 minutes after the match was over, Karimov congratulated him whole-heartedly with a great achievement. Short extract:

"This great victory gives a great joy and pride to all chess admirers, sportsmen and all people of our country. We all clearly understand how significant this victory is, how difficult it is to become Number one among the strongest chess players of the world".

A special decree issued by President Karimov awarded Rustam with Amir Timur Order, which is usually awarded to people for considerable achievements in international arena.

Tripoli and Playchess in Uzbek TV

By Jamshid Begmatov

What an exciting turn of events! Writing articles on the game with GM Saidali Yuldashev a few months ago, I couldn’t imagine I would be writing an article on a world championship match and, even better, a championship won by my countryman. And not only an article. I did live coverage of the last three days of the match on SporTV and Channel 1 of Uzbekistan television.

First of all I’d like to thank ChessBase and personally Frederic Friedel for helping me set up the live relay from the Playchess server to the Uzbek TV audience, and also for helping me solicit comments from famous grandmasters throughout the games.

That's me at the notebook on the left, together with my partner Akram Tashkhojaev, preparing for the live coverage in Uzbek TV of the last day of the FIDE world championship in Tripoli

The games of the FIDE world championship final in Tripoli were supposed to be transmitted on SporTV only, but Uzbekistan’s Prime Minister happened to be watching play on the second day, when Rustam looked like he was winning game 6. The Prime Minister called the TV studio and requested that it also be shown on Channel 1, which is the central state television channel. This has a much wider coverage area, includes parts of our neighboring countries – Kazakhstan, Kirghizstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan. For your information: ‘stan’ is something like ‘land’ as in England, Ireland, Finland or Holland. We also call India ‘Hindistan’, Greece ‘Yunanistan’, and Arabia ‘Arabistan’.

The TV signal is transmitted through this beautiful tower, shown in the picture on the right. It was built in the 1960s. On the lower level there are TV facilities, while on the top level there is a revolving restaurant that takes exactly one turn per hour.

Just to clarify: the final round of the regular games or the FIDE final, and the tiebreak games the next day, where shown live on Uzbek TV, using the Playchess server as a relay for the moves from Tripoli.

Although I have previously done many TV programs, this was my first time on live broadcast, and I had almost no time to prepare. The director of SporTV rang me on Sunday at lunchtime and asked to do live coverage that very afternoon. It was a difficult decision, because you never know how the game is going to go. What if the guy makes a bad mistake and something like, “what the hell?” just flies out of your mouth without you even realizing it? But in the end it was okay, and I even managed to control my speech after 41.Qg8 in the Tragedy of Errors Game 6.

Position before 41.Qg8?? in game six of the final

In the above position Rustam Kasimdzhanov is in command and has winning chances, in spite of the opposite colored bishops. 41.Bb3 or most queen moves would have kept White ahead. But the exhausted Uzbek GM chooses the loser: 41.Qg8?? Hundreds of hearts stopped on Playchess.com, with hundreds of chess engines screaming for blood. 41...Qc6+. Adams had seen it, he was the new world champion! 42.Kg3.

I was already preparing the audience for a loss, saying that after 42…Qe4 the position would be very difficult for White. But even if Rustam loses, I said, we should be grateful to him for reaching the final of a world chess championship. After all, he had given us much excitement by beating so many of the strongest grandmasters in the championship. I didn’t have the faintest hope that Adams would play anything other than Qe4. But as the Russian proverb says: Надежда умирает последней (in translation: Hope dies last).

Rustam Kasimdzhanov with his world championship trophy

Sometimes, during a live TV show, and especially on chess, you tend to run out of words. It doesn’t look very appealing when the TV screen just shows the board silently. Here, too, Frederic was very helpful. “Please, Fred, tell me something, I'm running out of material!” I typed these words several times in the chat. And he always came up with something interesting, such as providing Kasparov’s or Anand’s comments. Several other grandmasters also provided commentary that immediately went on air in Uzbek. Rustam’s teammate, Kendo (GM Wegerle), was always there with something nice to say.

Watching the games of the FIDE final on Playchess.com

Grandmasters discussing the game in the live chat on Playchess

My colleague Akram wrapping up the broadcast

TV people are generally interesting, well educated and intelligent, polite and easy to talk to. But when you see so many of them in front of you during a live broadcast, so nervous and tired, you only wish they would disappear. When you see them talk to each other and gesture madly, you think you are doing something wrong and this adds to your nervousness.

But during breaks you have a lot of nice girls redoing your makeup, wiping the sweat off your forehead, or just teasing. Perhaps they are specially trained to calm broadcasters’ nerves? One even invented a new word for me – TV-genic!

Oops! I found myself being interviewed for a massive audience, a most unsettling experience, but at the same time exhilarating. My commentary was heard from one end of the country to the other, from Andijan to Karakalpak, and even by my two small sons in my family home.

The Begmatov kids celebrating the victory of Rustam Kasimdzhanov

According to conservative estimates, at least 500,000 people watched the live broadcast of the tie-breaks, and 4 million watched the repeat shows later on in the afternoon. Of course only a fraction are chess players, but these days the entire country is living with chess.

In the middle of Tashkent there is a park called Amir Timur, or, as he is known in the West, Tamerlane. It is a meeting place of chess players of different levels, mostly just patzers, who will show you a ‘sure’ win for any side from any position. These days the entire discussion here is, of course, about the WCH final.

This man is analyzing the position after 42.Qe4 missed by Rustam


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