The Credit Suisse Blitz – in pictures

by ChessBase
8/27/2006 – Last Tuesday the Swiss metropol of Zurich saw a remarkable encounter of chess legends: Viktor Korchnoi, Anatoly Karpov, Garry Kasparov and Judit Polgar gathered together for a blitz tournament. Simultaneous displays and a gala dinner followed. Today we bring you the first part of our big pictorial report.

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The Zurich Credit Suisse Blitz Tournament was dominated by Kasparov and Karpov, who drew their hard-fought games against each other, while punishing the other two players. Judit Polgar lost both her games to Kasparov and got one draw against Karpov. Viktor Kortschnoi, who came to Zurich directly from a tournament in Spain, lost all his games except for one draw against Kasparov.

A pictorial report on the Credit Suisse Blitz

By Frederic Friedel

The chess event in the Credit Suisse building in Zurich was staged in two parts, both on the same day. First the four legendary players took part in a double round robin blitz tournament, after which each played a simultaneous exhibition on twenty boards. This report deals with only the first part, but includes the arrival of the participants and the preparation for the event. A second part will follow, and in it we will provide pictures of the simultaneous displays and the gala dinner, with a speech by Kasparov.

Before we start here is a little tidbit: Swiss TV had a substantial report on the Credit Suisse tournament and published a video of it on the Internet. You can see it here. Of course it is in very low resolution and in German, but it does capture the spirit of the event. A full quality video report will appear in ChessBase Magazine.

Zurich is located on the river Limmat, which flows out of Lake Zurich

Zürich or Zurich (the inhabitants call it Züri) is the largest city in Switzerland, with a metropolitan population of around 1.3 million. It is the main commercial and cultural centre, and offers the highest quality of life of almost any city in the world. It is also considered to be one of the world's great global cities.

The spectacular Savoy Baur en Ville hotel – one of the finest we have stayed in

The hotel room, which greets you with flowers, fruit, champagne and cake –
and a LAN cable for high-speed plug-and-surf connection to the Internet

The Credit Suisse building (left), just a hundred paces from the Savoy (right)

The Credit Suisse event took place on Tuesday, but everyone arrived on Monday, especially the technical staff, who had to turn the beautiful Lichthof (which translates to "court of light") into a cutting edge chess tournament venue.

The technicians arrive at the back entrance of the Lichthof

The playing venue in the Lichthof under construction

Tons of equipment, miles of cables...

...and megatrons of computer technology

The center of the multimedia nervous system

One of the players drops by to see and touch chess pieces again

Enter – the chess legends!

Viktor Korchnoi and Garry Kasparov meet before the drawing of lots

Anatoly Karpov, 12th world champion, arrived on the day of the event

Kasparov with Judit Polgar, by far the strongest female the game has ever known

Korchnoi and the two organisers of the event, Dr. Christian Issler and Dr. William Wirth

William Wirth is a former director of the Swiss financial services company, the Credit Suisse Group, which was founded in 1856. William is personally responsible for many events that Credit Suisse has sponsored over the past decades and is a close, deeply respected friend of most of the world's top players.

The spectators arrive in great numbers and pack the Credit Suisse Lichthof

People could watch the action over close-circuit monitor outside the building

IM Werner Hug, and GM Vlastimil Hort doing live commentary for the spectators

IM Werner Hug is a former junior world champion from Switzerland, a charming and very entertaining personality, in his game commentary but also in regular conversation. The hat is to protect an eye that was recently operated from bright overhead lights. We feel he should keep it even after the eye is normal, as a becoming trademark. Vlastimil Hort, originally from Czechoslovakia, is a legendary GM who has played in Candidates in 1977 but was eliminated by Boris Spassky.

The setup in the Lichthof, with the spectators in close proximity to the players

Seated in the middle of the above picture is GM Lothar Schmid, the arbiter at this event. Lothar is famous for having arbitered the Fischer-Spassky match of the century in Reykjavik in 1972, as well as many of the Karpov-Korchnoi and Karpov-Kasparov matches.

Judit Polgar drew her first game against Anatoly Karpov

The main sponsors and guests of Credit Suisse had seats in the ring of spectators

Viktor Korchnoi playing against his arch rival Anatoly Karpov

Anyone over 40 should vividly remember the Karpov-Korchnoi battles, starting with the finals of the Candidates in 1974, which turned out to be a world championship title match when Fischer did not turn up to play the winner (Karpov) and was defaulted. After that "Viktor the Terrible" played two more world championship matches against Karpov, once in 1978 in Baguio, Philippines, where he lost narrowly, and once in 1981 in Merano, Italy, where he was soundly beaten.

Another perennial: Anatoly Karpov vs Garry Kasparov

The two played five world championship matches against each other. The first was in 1984-1985. It was halted by the President of FIDE after 48 games and abandoned without result. The second came in 1985 and was won by Kasparov with a score of 13-11, who became the 13th world champion at the age of 22. Karpov had an automatic right for a rematch, which took place in 1986 in London and Leningrad. Kasparov kept his title with a 12.5-11.5 score. The fourth match was held in Seville, Spain, in 1987. The final score of 12-12 meant that Kasparov retained his title. The fifth and final match was held in Lyon and New York in 1990, with Kasparov winning by 12.5-11.5. That was a total of 144 world championship games between these two players, without a single scheduled game being left unplayed.

Viktor Korchnoi vs Garry Kasparov in the second half of the Zurich blitz

During the 1983-84 Candidates cycle Kasparov was scheduled to play the semi-final match against Korchnoi in Pasadena. But the Soviet authorities refused to allow him to travel to the US to play an opponent who had recently defected and was verbally attacking the Soviet regime. Korchnoi won the match by default, but later that year met Kasparov in Niksic and agreed to play the match in London. There Korchnoi won the first game, but after four draws Kasparov finshed his opponent off with four wins and two draws. The two have been good friends ever since those days.

Kasparov laughing after Korchnoi has made his only draw in this blitz tournament

Judit Polgar facing the awesome power of Garry Kasparov

Judit, who had to tend to her six-week old daughter Hanna during the event (pictures to follow), lost both her games against Kasparov and one against Karpov. She won both encounters with Korchnoi, who was not in the best fighting shape.

A dejected Korchnoi contemplating his bad result in this event

Viktor Kortchnoi, who turned 75 in March, arrived in Zurich directly from a tournament is Spain, to which he returned immediately after the Credit Suisse tournament was over. He had expected to play rapid chess and was peeved to hear that the "young players" had opted for blitz. He got a couple of winning position, but in the end it was just a single draw for him on the scoreboard.

Our gracious host William Wirth of Credit Suisse

Photos by Ben Bartels and Frederic Friedel


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