Super Final R1: Kasparov, Svidler and Grischuk victorious

by ChessBase
11/15/2004 – The first round of the 57th Russian Championship Super Final started with victories by Garry Kasparov, Peter Svidler and Alexander Grischuk, the latter two winning their games with the black pieces. The field now consists of 11 players. We bring you results and games, and a beautifully illustrated report by Dagobert Kohlmeyer.

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57th Russian Championship
Super Final

November 14th – December 1st 2004

The Super Final of the 57th Russian is being held in the Festive Hall of the Hotel Rossija (“Rociya”), directly adjacent to the Red Square. The prize sum is US $125,000, to be paid out in rouble equivalent. The winner takes $50,000. The participants of this round robin tournament are Garry Kasparov, Alexander Morozevich, Alexander Grischuk, Peter Svidler, Evgeny Bareev, Alexey Dreev, Vitaly Tseshkovsky, Alexander Motylev, Vladimir Epishin, Artem Timofeev and Alexey Korotylev. Original Vladimir Kramnik and Anatoly Karpov were included, but both withdrew at the last moment.

Round one – Monday, November 15, 2004

The first round started with victories by Garry Kasparov in 48 against a Caro Kann Defence by Evgeny Bareev; by Peter Svidler and Alexander Grischuk in the Sicilian Najdorf against Vitaly Tseshkovsky and Alexander Motylev respectively. The other two games were drawn, Epishin and Morozevich were the last to finish, having battled it out for 70 moves.

Results of round one
Dreev, Alexey
Timofeev, Artyom
Epishin, Vladimir
Morozevich, Alexander
Kasparov, Garry
Bareev, Evgeny
Motylev, Alexander
Grischuk, Alexander
Tseshkovsky, Vitaly
Svidler, Peter
Korotylev, Alexey free

Standings after round one

The start of the Super Final

Picture report by Dagobert Kohlmeyer

The Russian Super Final is being held in the Rossia hotel, just off the Red Square, where in the evening the Kremlin and the St Basil's Cathedral provide a beautiful backdrop (picture above).

It was a supposed to be a championship of superlatives, the culmination of a two-stage Russian Championship, with all the strongest players in the country included. But the withdrawal of two key participants dampened the enthusiasm.

Vladimir Kramnik was the first to go, at the beginning of last week, when he sent in a doctor's certificate to show that he was too ill to play. On Sunday, just one day before the start of the Super Final, Anatoly Karpov withdrew, causing the organisers a great deal of embarrassment. Just a day earlier the 12th world champion had sat down at a press conference together with his successor Garry Kasparov and stressed the importance of this event. "The last time a national championship of this strength was organised was in 1988," he said with pride and conviction. "At that time no player withdrew," said Kasparov, aiming this barb at Kramnik. He could not have imagined that a few hours later his partner on the stage would follow Kramnik's example.

Pulled out 24 hours before the start of the event: Anatoly Karpov

So the last great national championship lies 16 years in the past. Those were Soviet times, and grandmasters could not afford to simply drop out of tournaments. They would have got into serious trouble with the heads of chess federation. And so they played, and enjoyed it as well. As a longtime observer of the international chess scene one has the feeling that many players have become quite irresponsible and act only in their own private interest.

It is not the first time that Anatoly Karpov has surprised his fans and the chess public in Moscow with a sudden change of plans. In December 2001, when the FIDE knockout world championship was being held in the Kremlin, a three-way match between Karpov, Kasparov and Kramnik was also planned. But just before the start Karpov cancelled his participation and switched to the FIDE event. At the time rumour had it that he did so after receiving a considerable sum of money from FIDE president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. Kasparov and Kramnik played the $500,000 match all by themselves.

There appears to be no code of honor amongst the grandmasters any more. "The players are very egotistical and break contracts without any hesitation", said one chess dignitary at the opening dinner. "They are putting off sponsors and organisers alike." The Super Final is being sponsored by two large Russian banks and a steel company. They certainly will not be pleased to learn about the withdrawal of Karpov and Kramnik.

But let us look on the fairer side. Here are some photo impressions of the opening ceremony.

Guests of honour: ex world champion Vassily Smyslov and his wife Nadjeshda

Doesn't he look eerily familiar? Wartan Petrosian, son of world champion Tigran, chats with Garry Kasparov. The 50-year-old businessman does not play chess, but he follows the game his father excelled in with keen interest.

The Kasparov clan, with Garry, wife Julia, son Vadim and mother Klara

Father and son at the opening ceremony

Mother and son, part of the social prominence in Moscow

Members of the Russian women's team that won Bronze at the Chess Olympiad in Calvià: the sisters Nadezhda and Tatiana Kosintseva, Ekaterina Kovalevskaya

The whole Russian Bronze Medal Winner Team of Calvia: Tatiana Kosintseva, Nadezhda Kosintseva, Alexandra Kosteniuk, Ekatrina Kovalevskaya, with Alexander Zhukov, Vice-Premier of Russia and also President of the Russian Chess Federation

At the opening ceremony the president of the Russian Chess Federation, Alexander Zhukov, mentioned the absence of Karpov and Kramnik in one short sentence. The Super Final still remains one of the strongest tournaments in the world.

The president of the Russian Chess Federation, Alexander Zhukov

I must return to the last-minute withdrawals of Karpov and Kramnik. The former apparently did not think his chances were too good in this very strong field. In addition there may have been financial considerations, but why Karpov pulled out at five minutes to twelve was incomprehensible to all. I happened to meet Karpov's wife at the Central Chess Club on Monday. She confirmed that her husband was in Moscow, but she wouldn't give any reason for his withdrawal.

With regard to Vladimir Kramnik, I must remind you that the Super Final in Moscow was moved from September to November because of his match against Peter Leko in Brissago. Two weeks ago the classical chess world champion had said in an interview with the newspaper Sport Express that he would definitely be playing in the Super Championship, especially because of the involvement of the president of the Chess Federation. Alexander Zhukov is the third highest-ranking politician in Russia, after President Putin and Prime Minister Fradkov. If even such an important politician cannot get a chess genius to play in a tournament, then the outlook for our sport is pretty bleak.

Report and pictures by Dagobert Kohlmeyer

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