Polgar vs Karpov: chess fever in Little Sweden

by ChessBase
9/21/2004 – The Clash of the Titans this weekend in Lindsborg, Kansas, began with a magnificent chess parade and ended with a 3:3 score between the two former world champions. The town was gripped by chess fever, and nationwide about ten million people were exposed to the event. Here's a magificently illustrated report by Paul Truong...

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Another Historic Milestone for Women’s Chess

By FM Paul Truong

Since the early to mid 1980’s, the Polgar sisters have revolutionized chess for women. After a long absent from the chess scene to have a family, Susan Polgar is now back to continue her legacy. She has accomplished many historic feats such as becoming the first woman to qualify for the men’s world championship as well as being the first woman to earn the men’s grandmaster title. In the past few years, Susan has decided to change her focus from being a world-class player to a world-class ambassador to chess. She has been working hard to find ways to help chess in America, her new homeland.

Susan Polgar with her little sisters at the beginning of the 1980's

This past weekend, Susan Polgar has just accomplished another historic milestone in chess. On September 18-19, seven time World Champion Anatoly Karpov and four time Susan Polgar engaged in the Clash of the Titans – Battle of two World Champions in Lindsborg, Kansas. These are two of the greatest World Chess Champions of modern time. This was the first ever officially sanctioned match between a male and female World Champion.

The two world champions, Karpov and Polgar, on parade in Lindsborg

On the night before their monumental match, the two World Champions were treated to a special reception at the home of Mr. Ronald Rolander, Mayor of the city of Lindsborg. On Saturday morning, September 18, 2004, the town of Lindsborg threw a magnificent King and Queen chess parade, headed by the two World Champions Anatoly Karpov and Susan Polgar, followed GM Shulman, IM Charbonneau (Canadian Champion), IM Krush (former US Women’s Champion), and IM Zatonskih (2-time Ukrainian Women’s Champion).

Thousands of Lindsborgers join the chess parade down the main street

A trail of more than 200 youngsters and their parents marched down Main Street. It seems that there were around 2,000 people participated or cheered for the champions. When the two World Champions reached their final destination, Lindsborg City Hall, they were greeted with loud and enthusiastic cheers and thunderous applaud from the fans. I have never witnessed a more incredible chess scene in my 35 years in chess. It was truly a spectacle that will forever be a part of chess history.

Lots of join the fun, most of them active chess players

Well, they told us to bring our own sets, didn't they?

Veteran in mini cars join the parade

Swedish folk dancers – part of the parade

The title says it all

Immediately after the parade, the Mayor of Lindsborg officially welcomed the two World Champions. Mikhail Korenman, Ralph Bowman (chairperson of the USCF Scholastic Council), Anatoly Karpov and Susan Polgar all greeted and thanked the city for such incredible support.

The Champions' Cup tournament on Main Street

A whole town gripped in chess fever

Then, the two World Champions took time to pose with all the participants of the Champions Cup tournament. After that, they headed across the street to the City Hall for an official press conference. Reporters asked many questions ranging from how Susan Polgar started in chess, her plans as an ambassador for the game, especially young girls, to how the first Karpov chess school in the US was opened in Lindsborg and if he has plans to open more.

A Champions Cup competitor

When asked what chess can do for young girls, Susan’s eyes immediately lit up. She enthusiastically said that it can give them the valuable self esteem and self confidence and chess can also help young players do better in school. As we all know, research after research have decisively proven that children who play chess do much better in school than the children who are not exposed to chess. It is so wonderful to see that legendary World Champions like Garry Kasparov, Anatoly Karpov and Susan Polgar have all given so much of their time to promote chess for young people.

Anatoly Karpov and Susan Polgar at the press conference

When asked about the two Fischer Random chess games in support their fellow World Champion Bobby Fischer, Karpov said that Fischer has done so much for the chess world and he is a great champion. He thinks Fischer Random chess is quite interesting. He also thinks that Fischer should be left alone and be allowed to live out his life in peace. This is also the same sentiment from Susan Polgar. They both agreed that there are two sides to Bobby Fischer and we should honor his great chess accomplishment.

After the press conference, Anatoly went back to his hotel room to rest while Susan Polgar went back outside to sign more autograph and talk to the fans. She took time to speak to as many people as possible.

The start of game one between the Titans

At 5:00 PM, their first battle began. A coin toss was made by the chief TD Ralph Bowman. As Mr. Bowman tossed the coin, Susan chose head and the coin landed in tail. Anatoly Karpov chose Black in the first game. The two players played a total of 6 games. On the first day, they played two Rapid Chess games with the time control of 25 minutes with 5 seconds increment. On the second day, they played a total of four games. At 1:00 PM, they played two Fischer Random games with the time control of 15 minute for each side. The last two games were Blitz chess. They were played at 4 PM with the time control of 5 minutes for each side.

An audience of 500 chess enthusiasts in a little town in Kansas

There were about 500 people in the audience the first day and about 800 combine for both days. Nearly 100 people had the opportunity to dine with Polgar and Karpov on Saturday evening. Susan represented the two World Champions and made a wonderful speech to the guests.

After two days of competition, the exciting and entertaining match ended in a 3-3 tie.

Day 1:
Rapid Chess 25 + 5
Game 1: Polgar ½-½ Karpov   
Game 2 Karpov 1-0 Polgar

Day 2
Fischer Random 15 + 0
Game 3: Polgar 1 - 0 Karpov
Game 4: Karpov 1 - 0 Polgar

Blitz Chess 5 + 0
Game 5: Karpov ½ - ½ Polgar
Game 6: Polgar 1 - 0 Karpov

Every game was hard fought with no easy draw. In most of the games, Susan Polgar went all out for win by sacrificing material. She fearlessly pushed and pushed to win. In some games, she over pushed and it backfired. But she kept on going, fighting hard till the last game. In the mean time, true to his incredible style, Anatoly Karpov played calmly through out the match. He deflected the attacks and tried to squeeze out small advantages.

IM Pascal Charbonneau in a pilot seat doing a live transmission for Playchess.com

At the end, even though the score was 3-3, the fans were treated to many wonderful and exciting games. Two of the greatest World Champions ever gave their all to the Clash of the Titans and the fans truly appreciated their efforts. They gave the two World Champions a long standing round of applaud. This is a feat that has no equal in any other sport. Only in chess can a Battle of the Gender exist in an equal footing. I cannot even fathom the idea of Serena or Venus Williams or Annika Sorenstam holding their own against their top male counterpart.

Post game analysis with GM Shulman and IMs Charbonneau, Zatonskih

This was actually quite an amazing result for Susan Polgar since she has not played a single public over the board game again world-class competition since her last game in the 1996 World Championship. She proved that she has not really lost a beat even though she has shifted her chess focus in the past 8 years. Approximately a year ago on September 20-21, 2003, Susan Polgar played two similar officially rated Battle of the Gender matches against two of the top American Grandmasters Boris Gulko and Alexander Stripunsky. They were also a quick time control matches. The final result was 4-0 in favor of Susan Polgar over the other two male Grandmasters.

Even being in her mid thirties and being a full time devoted mother to 2 young sons while working hard as a premier chess author in addition to running a full time chess center and chess school, Susan still defies all odds by competing on the top level while giving her all to promoting and revolutionizing US Chess. She is truly an inspiration to women everywhere. As she often said, there is nothing a woman can’t do if she puts her mind and effort to it. I fully agree.

The world champions sign autographs for the audience

Both World Champions conducted themselves magnificently over this past weekend. They gave so much of their time to accommodate all adoring fans. They are true ambassadors to the game and they sure have inspired many young players to follow their footsteps.

US chess ambassadrice Susan Polgar

Following this event, Susan Polgar immediately headed back to New York to continue her training for the upcoming chess Olympiad in Mallorca, Spain, her first Olympiad in ten years. She will lead the US Women’s team in an attempt to accomplish another difficult task, bringing home the first ever Olympic medal for the United States. She herself won six Olympic medals including three Gold, two silver and one bronze for her native Hungary. In the mean time, Anatoly Karpov is heading back to Moscow to prepare for the upcoming super Russian Championship in November which includes some of the strongest Russian players such as Kasparov, Kramnik, Morozevich, Grischuk, Svidler, Bareev, etc.

The match was picked up by AP news and countless other chess news sources and publications from all over the world. An estimated 10 million plus people have been exposed to the Clash of the Titans through either news media or live broadcast on www.PlayChess.com (a proud official sponsor of the Clash of the Titans), World Chess Network, ICC, Chess Live, Russian Chess Server and many more. The entire event was a true spectacle to promote US Chess at the highest level. Here are some of the stories:

As Susan put it, she was impressed by the enthusiasms and support from the wonderful people of Lindsborg, Kansas, and many neighboring states. She said chess should not exist in the big city only. Chess is something that can benefit children of all ages everywhere. A small city of 3,200 people like Lindsborg proved that for this special weekend, it was the chess capital of the world. And for the incredible effort by many people involved, 176 new USCF memberships were signed up.

On behalf of the World Champions and everyone involved, I would also like to thank the state of Kansas and the city of Lindsborg for their incredible support. In addition, many thanks to the chief TD Ralph Bowman, the team of chess expert (GM Yury Shulman, IMs Pascal Charbonneau, Irina Krush and Anna Zatonskih), all the volunteers and supporters, all the participants of the Champions Cup and their parents and coaches, all the wonderful local residence and last but not least the Korenmans who were incredible hosts to everyone.

What started out as a meeting of the minds between Mikhail Korenman and me during a special tournament in Stillwater, Oklahoma for the US Women’s Olympiad team (organized by Frank Berry) in February 2004 turned out to be an historic event for chess in the form of the Clash of the Titans. The same can be said about the meetings between Michael Khodarkovsky, Susan Polgar and I in January 2003 at the Kasparov versus computer match in NY City. That was the start of the historic US Women’s Olympiad program. This shows what can be accomplished for chess when everyone works together for the good of the game.

Pictures and articles provided by FM Paul Truong

The games

Rapid chess

Susan Polgar – Anatoly Karpov [D37]
Clash of the Titans – Game 1, 19.09.2004 (Rapid G/25 +5)
1.Nf3 Nf6 2.d4 e6 3.c4 d5 4.Nc3 Be7 5.Bf4 0–0 6.e3 Nbd7 7.cxd5 exd5 8.Bd3 c5 9.dxc5 Nxc5 10.0–0 a6 11.h3 Be6 12.Nd4 Qb6 13.Rb1 Rfd8 14.b4 Nxd3 15.Qxd3 Rac8 16.Na4 Qa7

17.Nc5 Bxc5 18.bxc5 Ne4 19.Nxe6 fxe6 20.Be5 Nxc5 21.Qd4 b6 22.Rfc1 Rc6 23.Rc3 Qf7 24.Rbc1 a5 25.Qg4 Rf8 26.Rf1 Rcc8 27.Bd4 Nd7 28.Rb3 Rc2 29.f4 Rxa2 30.f5 e5 31.Bxb6 d4 32.Rbb1 Nxb6 33.Rxb6 dxe3 34.Re1 Qxf5 35.Qxf5 Rxf5 36.Rxe3 Rg5 37.g3 and after many more moves ½–½.

Anatoly Karpov – Susan Polgar
Clash of the Titans – Game 2, 18.09.2004 (Rapid G/25 +5)
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.h3 0–0 6.Be3 c5 7.dxc5 dxc5 8.Qxd8 Rxd8 9.Bxc5 Nc6 10.Nf3 b6 11.Be3 Nd7 12.0–0–0 Bxc3 13.bxc3 Ba6

14.c5 Bxf1 15.Rhxf1 Nxc5 16.Bxc5 bxc5 17.Kc2 e6 18.Rxd8+ Rxd8 19.Rb1 c4 20.Rb7 Rc8 21.g3 a5 22.a4 h6 23.Rb5 f5 24.Nd2 fxe4 25.Nxe4 Kg7 26.Rc5 Ne7 27.Rxa5 Nd5 28.Ra7+ Kg8 29.Ra6 Re8 30.a5 g5 31.Rc6 Ra8 32.a6 Kf7 33.Nc5 Ne7 34.Rxe6 Rc8 35.a7 Ra8 36.Ra6 Nc8 37.Rc6 Nxa7 38.Ra6 Ke7 39.Na4 Kf8 40.Nb2 Ke7 41.Nxc4 1–0.

Fischer Random

The starting position:
rnknqbbr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNKNQBBR w - - 0 1

Susan Polgar – Anatoly Karpov
Clash of the Titans – Game 3, 19.09.2004 Fischer Random (15 0)
1.e4 e5 2.f3 f6 3.Nbc3 Bf7 4.Ne3 Ne6 5.Bc4 Bc5 6.Bxe6 Bxe6 7.Ned5 Bxg1 8.Qxg1 d6 9.d4 c6

10.dxe5 fxe5 11.Ne3 Qf7 12.0–0–0 Rd8 13.Qf2 Na6 14.Kb1 Nc7 15.Qg3 h6 16.a3 b5 17.Rd2 Rd7 18.Rhd1 0–0–0 19.Ne2 g5 20.h4 Qf6 21.hxg5 hxg5 22.Nc1 Kb7 23.Nd3 a5 24.Ng4 Bxg4 25.Qxg4 Ne6 26.Qf5 Qe7 27.c3 Kc7 28.Rh1 Rf8 29.Qg4 Nf4 30.Nxf4 gxf4 31.Rh6 Rf6 32.Rh8 Rf8 33.Rh5 etc. Black lost on time 1–0.


Anatoly Karpov – Susan Polgar [D27]
Clash of the Titans – Game 5, 19.09.2004 (Blitz G/5)
1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.c4 dxc4 4.e3 e6 5.Bxc4 c5 6.0–0 a6 7.dxc5 Bxc5 8.Qxd8+ Kxd8 9.Nbd2 Ke7 10.Be2 b6 11.b3 Bb7 12.Bb2 Nbd7 13.Rfd1 Rhd8 14.Ne1 Rac8 15.Nd3 Bd6 16.Nc4 Bc7 17.Ba3+ Ke8 18.Rac1 b5 19.Nd6+ Bxd6 20.Bxd6 Rxc1 21.Rxc1 Rc8 22.Rxc8+ Bxc8 23.Bf3 Kd8 24.Nb4 Nb6 25.Nc6+ Kd7 26.Bc5 Nbd5 27.Ne5+ Ke8 28.h3 Bb7

and Karpov offered a draw ½–½


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