The way Kasparov likes...

9/24/2003 – Throughout the millennia the Greek island of Crete has fallen to Romans, Arabs and Ottomans. Today its town of Geropotamos (tourism slogan: "The way you like...") was conquered by Garry Kasparov. The world number one demolished European champion Zurab Azmaiparashvili in a brief exhibition match of rapid and blitz games. Report and games

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Kasparov shakes off rust in Crete

Clash in Crete – September 23, 2003

Rapid games (25' +10"): Kasparov 2 – Azmaiparashvili 0
Blitz games (5' + 3"): Kasparov 3.5 – Azmaiparashvili 0.5 (1-0, 0-1, 1/2, 0-1)

Official match website
Replay the annotated games online and download PGN

The world's top-ranked player, Garry Kasparov, (now more than before according to the latest rating list) played two rapid games and four blitz games against the 2003 European Champion, Zurab Azmaiparashvili.

Kasparov dominated the match, giving up just one draw in the third blitz game. In the first rapid game Azmaiparashvili lost a drawn pawn endgame. In the second he was blown off the board with white in just 25 moves by a Kasparov piece sacrifice.

In the diagrammed position Kasparov uncorked 17...Ne4!, taking advantage of white's king in the center. Azmaiparashvili took the piece and came under a brutal heavy piece attack after 18.fxe4 Qh4+. 18.Qxc6 probably offered better fighting chances.

Kasparov started the four-game blitz match with two more wins, gave up one draw, and finished with another win. There was a lot of offbeat play in the openings, particularly by Azmaiparashvili, reaching original positions well before move 10 in every blitz game! But as has often been shown, avoiding Kasparov's legendary opening preparation is not always a recipe for success.

Garry Kasparov hadn't played a serious game of chess since Linares in February. His FIDE championship match against Ponomariov scheduled for this month was cancelled and the only chess on the horizon is his upcoming match against X3D Fritz in New York in November. (When ChessBase chieftain Frederic Friedel recently complained to Kasparov that he had a bad cold Garry mock groaned that now another match opponent was trying to cancel!)

Meanwhile, Georgian GM Zurab Azmaiparashvili has had one of the busiest years of his long career. Not only that, the 43-year-old is also playing his best chess and reached the #15 spot on the FIDE list in July with a 2702 rating. In June he won clear first place in the European Championship ahead of a very powerful field. He has practically been camping out in the Mediterranean this summer. His last four events were in Greece, Italy, and Turkey.

"Azmai" has an association with Kasparov beyond being a fellow member of the senior tour. He was a member of Kasparov's team during his 1987 and 1990 world championship matches against Anatoly Karpov, an experience which demonstrably improved the then-IM's level of play. Over the past decade Azmaiparashvili has become a powerful chess politician in Georgia and within FIDE.

This match in the inevitably picturesque town of Geropotamos was a hastily arranged affair that was tossed together when the Kasparov-Ponomariov match in Yalta was cancelled. It was put together on such short notice that Kasparov was one of the last people to learn about it! It will be followed by the mighty European Club Cup in Rethymnon, the battle royal between the top professional clubs. Kasparov was a late addition to Russia's Ladya-Kazan-1000.

Player photos from the official match website.


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