Russian 'Super-Final' with top players

12/30/2003 – With a new and determined man at the helm of the Chess Federation, chess in Russia is enjoying something of a renaissance. On Christmas day Alexander Zhukov announced that there is to be a “super-final” for the Russian Championships in 2004. It will be a 12-player round-robin, with the probable participation of both Kasparov and Kramnik.

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On a day when many of our readers were waking up to find what Santa had left them under the Christmas tree, festivities of a different kind were taking place at the Central Chess Club in Moscow. On December 25th, belated gifts were given to a whole host of Russian chess stars, including one that was due to its recipient in 2002, and an exciting announcement was made regarding the national championships of this chess-rich country.

Chess in Russia is enjoying something of a renaissance, thanks in part to the determined leadership of the new head of the Russian Chess Federation (RCF), Alexander Zhukov. Though it cannot be said that the country ever stopped producing world-class players, the chess pool had started to stagnate, with a lack of inward investment and lengthy quarrels breaking out. Nowhere was this more evident than in the national championships, once the pride of the Russian chess calendar, where dwindling sponsorship and commitment was failing to attract the cream of Russia’s talent.

It was fitting, therefore, that with this newfound vitality under Zhukov, that the 2003 Russian Championships signal the federation’s turnaround. The event was an overwhelming success, staged in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, won by Peter Svidler under immense pressure from such Russian superstars as Alexander Morozevich and Alexander Grischuk. Here's the original ChessBase report on Krasnoyarsk 2003.

Following this, Russia won the European Team Championships in October. This and other successes were finally rewarded in a special ceremony held on December 25th at the Central Chess Club, Moscow; where not only was 2003 reviewed, but also a special event for 2004 was announced. Our Russia correspondent has translated a report about this by our colleagues at World Chess Rating, which we have the pleasure of presenting to you now.

Russian Championship “Super-Final” in September 2004

On 25th December at the Central Chess Club of Moscow, several significant developments occurred. Garry Kasparov was finally awarded his 2002 Chess Oscar. Alexander Mordashov, head of the steel producers Severstal and general sponsor of events, awarded prizes to the men who won the European Team Championships in Plovdiv 2003: Yevgeny Bareev. Alexander Grischuk, A Morozevich, Peter Svidler (Alexander Khalifman was unable to attend).

At the meeting of the presidium of the Russian Chess Federation the calendar of events for 2004 was confirmed. The most important news is that there is to be a “super-final” for the Russian Championships. It will be a round-robin event, consisting of twelve players, with the participation of the country’s strongest grandmasters.

On 25th December at the Central Chess Club of Moscow, several significant developments occurred. The Russian Federation summed up the events of last year and then set out the new calendar for 2004. Over two intermissions presentations took place: Firstly Garry Kasparov received his Chess Oscar for 2002 and gave a small press conference. Secondly Alexei Mordashov, head of the steel producers Severstal and the confirmed sponsor of the Russian men’s team, awarded special prizes to the players who triumphed in the European Team Championships.

The most important event in the RCF was, of course, the change in management at the April Congress in Dagomys. With the election of President Alexander Zhukov, chess in the country finally began to be revitalised. Almost all the debts of the Russian Chess Federation were liquidated and the conflicts surrounding the members of the national assembly were resolved. The first evidence of this ‘new course’ for the Federation was the organisation of the Russian Championships in Krasnoyarsk, which for the first time in years saw the participation of many of the country’s strongest grandmasters. Following this it was logical that the Russian team won the European Championships. These and other successes allowed the Executive Committee and the Presidium of the Russian Chess Federation to reflect positively on 2003. Life in the Federation, judging from the debate of participants in the meeting, is energetic, and this shows the new optimism, noted Zhukov, the desire to work out the problems that still remain. The most important event of 2004, understandably, is the championship of Russia. There will be three stages: elimination tournaments in federal regions, a high-level Swiss tournament, and then a round-robin super-final (12 participants). It is likely that both Garry Kasparov and Vladimir Kramnik will play, taking place in September. The location is yet to be determined.

The presentation of the 2002 Chess Oscar to Garry Kasparov had been postponed for so long due to the events surrounding his ill-fated match with Ruslan Ponomariov. Finally, just before the curtain falls on the year, the ceremony was able to take place. Unofficially the prize given to the best chess player of the year; it is voted for by journalists and organised by Alexander Roshal and his ’64 Chess Review’. Having solemnly entrusted the bronze statue to Kasparov, Roshal invited his colleagues to make their opinions known for 2003: voting has already begun!

Answering questions from the journalists, Kasparov noted that the chess world is plunged in chaos, but he hopes that next year, ‘The fog will lift.’ Kasparov refrained from commenting on the establishment of a system for the World Championship, the activities of the newly founded Association of Chess Professionals and the prospects of a revenge match for “Russia vs. the Rest of the World”. ‘My business is playing chess,’ he stated, ‘Let them tell me where and who I must play, preferably in advance so that I can be prepared. Anything else doesn’t concern me.” Kasparov cited the super-final and it’s organiser, Alexander Zhukov as a positive example. Evaluating the state of Russian chess, Kasparov professed anxiety towards the question of possible successors. If taking an age range from “Grischuk to Kasparov” then Russia is practically the world leader. However, the strongest chess players under the age of twenty live, by and large, beyond Russia’s borders. Consequently, in the future there will be sharp competition with Ukraine, Azerbaijan, India, and possibly others. Another computer match will probably take place at the end of 2004. ‘Man vs. Machine’ matches, in the opinion of Kasparov, give good opportunities to chess and chess players to attract new investors. Unfortunately, so far these could not be exploited due to the absence of a normal calendar of chess events.

The original Russian language report at World Chess Rating
Translated by Joanne Pittaway 29/12/2003


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