Kasparov triumphant in Reykjavik Rapid

3/22/2004 – Had Nigel Short converted his advantage in the first game it would have gone down as one of the more spectacular of Kasparov's few losses. Instead it turned into another bitter pill for the Englishman to swallow. Kasparov turned the tables and won, then drew the second to take the match and the title. Report and games.

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The song remains the same

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Final result – Sun. March 21

Nigel Short Garry Kasparov
0-1
½-½

In keeping with our 1993 retro theme, Nigel Short and Garry Kasparov reenacted several of the scenes that occurred in many of their world championship match games in which the Englishman had the white pieces. Short would gain an impressive attack against Kasparov's Sicilian only to falter against sharp defense.

In the first game today Short got a dream attacking position but Kasparov kept battling and finally wrested the advantage through nightmarish complications. Kasparov found White's king and it ended abruptly with a queen sacrifice mate in three.

It was similar in several ways, if not in complexity and gravity, to the legendary game eight of the 93 world championship, but it was bitter enough for Short, who has been playing excellent chess.

Would the second game be more than a formality? Kasparov had the momentum and white and he needed only a draw to secure the tournament win. He quickly built up a crushing position and although he blundered it away against resourceful defense by Short the game finished in a drawn endgame.

For Kasparov it was a somewhat shaky tournament win, but anything less than victory would have been considered a surprise, the curse of high expectations. (Being the top seed by over 100 points didn't hurt.)

In the past few years it has been hard to say if Kasparov's level is slipping simply because he has played so rarely. This year there are no Ponomariov matches to be canceled so we hope he surpasses his recent annual totals of classical games played. He played 37 in 2001, 21 in 2002, and 18 in 2003 (not including 10 classical games against Junior and Fritz), for 76 total.

Kramnik and Anand, who might be the new #2 on the upcoming rating list, have both recently criticized Kasparov for his lack of activity. For the record, Anand played 37, 16, and 39 classical games in 2001, 02, and 03 (92 total). Kramnik played 37, 3, 38 (78 total). Anand has also been much more active on the rapid circuit.

As we mentioned yesterday, many of the published gamescores include incorrect moves due to being incorrectly transmitted. If and when corrected scores become available we'll post them.

Short-Kasparov, game 1, after 18...Ne5

White gives up the exchange for a pawn and a mighty knight with 19.fxe6 fxe6 20.Nxe6 Qd7 21.Nf4 Nxd3+ 22.cxd3.

The attacking whiz Junior 8 prefers to offer a full rook instead! It suggests 19.Nxe6!? with complications our poor human brains can barely imagine. The weakness of the h7 square is the key to the combination.

19...fxe6 (or 19.Qc8) 20.Bd4! creates threats of Bxe5+, fxg6, or Rh3. Taking the rook is suicide: 19...Nxd3+?? 20.cxd3 and the threats of Nxd8, Bd4+, and fxg6 can't all be met.
 

After 23...d5

Here Short played the speculative 24.Nxg6, opening up the black king. (More flashbacks to the aforementioned game eight from 1993.) Kasparov went for counterplay with 24...dxe4! and Black was fighting on equal terms after 25.Nxe7+ Rxe7 26.Bf6 exd3!

White could have continued his attack without allowing such a counterattack with the prosaic 24.Ncxd5 Rac8+ 25.Kb1 Bxd5 26.Nxd5 Rf8.
 

After 35...Bf5

Black is already well on top, but it ended quickly when Short missed the sneaky point of Kasparov's last move.

White blundered with 36.g7, walking into a mate in three starting with 36...Qe1+! 0-1

37.Rxe1 Rxe1+ 38.Nd1 Rexd1#
 

Semifinal results – Sat. March 20
(Player on left has white in first game. Player in bold advances. Tie matches go to sudden death blitz.)

Garry Kasparov Peter Heine Nielsen
½-½
½-½
1-0 s/d
Alexei Dreev Nigel Short
½-½
0-1

Round two results – Fri. March 19

Nigel Short Levon Aronian
½-½
1-0
Jan Timman Garry Kasparov
½-½
0-1
Peter Heine Nielsen Emil Sutovsky
1-0
½-½
Anatoly Karpov Alexei Dreev
0-1
½-½

Round one results – Thu. March 18

Helgi Olafsson Levon Aronian
0-1
0-1
Magnus Carlsen Garry Kasparov
½-½
0-1
Igor-Alexander Nataf Emil Sutovsky
0-1
0-1
Margeir Petursson Alexey Dreev
0-1
½-½
Hannes Stefansson Anatoly Karpov
1-0
0-1
Vladimir Epishin Peter Heine Nielsen
0-1
0-1
Johann Hjartarson Jan Timman
0-1
½-½
Nigel Short Stefan Kristjansson
½-½
1-0


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