Elisabeth Paethz is looking for a new hair dress

'Duel of the graces' at the Chess Classic Mainz / World Champion Ponomariov challenges his predecessor Anand

By Hartmut Metz

From the sportsman point of view there is no doubt about the main attraction: FIDE world champion Ruslan Ponomariov is challenging his predecessor - and not vice versa. Nevertheless, the Indian is clear favourite at his beloved tournament, the Chess Classic Mainz (CCM). Whereas the man from Ukraine has not achieved anything special in rapid chess so far, the 'Tiger of Madras' has recently won a super tournament in Prague. The whole world elite in chess came together in the Czech capital - except Ponomariov. This is why the eight game match promises to be an interesting combat in the Rheingoldhalle from 16th to 18th August (daily at 6.30 P.M.). The 18 year old champion from Kramatorsk will do his best to demonstrate his skills against the unofficial rapid chess world champion, in order to gain the 'Black Jacket' that is handed to the winner every year.

Ponomariov and Anand, no. 3 in the world rating list, will also face other competitors during their stay in the Congress Centre Mainz. The FIDE world champion will play a simul at 40 boards on 14th August at 4 P.M. One hour later, Alexandra Kosteniuk will start her 25 board simul. A certain number of places are being put up for auction on the official web site of the Chess Classic Mainz (www.chesstigers.de). The following day at 6.30 P.M., the Mayor of Mainz, Jens Beutel, will embark upon an unusual competition, a handicap match against the computer expert from the Indian subcontinent. Beutel, who was once an active player in Germany's third league, will have support from a powerful computer programme, whereas 32?year old Anand will have a less efficient programme. A similar line up will take place between the no. 16 in the world rating list, Peter Svidler, and a prominent figure, whose name is still under wraps. On the other hand, it is well known that both software products will be provided by the Hamburg based ChessBase company which has been a partner in the Chess Classic concept for some years. During this period the world famous 'Fritz' has already had some triumphant moments against top players. Last year 'Pocket Fritz' played against Peter Leko and Michael Adams.

These top events will take place in the evening hours which allows every chess fan to play his or her own game during the day. From 15th to 18th August hundreds of chess aficionados will have an opportunity to show their best in the Chess 960 open (the new name for a tournament played according to the rules of Fischer Random Chess) and the traditional Ordix Open. The latter event will be one of the strongest rapid chess open competitions, and a total of 30,000 euros in prize money will be at stake.

A special delicacy will be provided in the shape of the 'Duel of the World Champions': Hans-Walter Schmitt has succeeded in bringing Alexandra Kosteniuk to Mainz. These days she is regarded as the most popular woman player beside Judit Polgar. The match will also offer a unique test for Germany's up-and-coming Elisabeth Paethz. The 17 year old from Erfurt reached the last six during the previous world championship. In the 'Duel of the Graces' she will face 18 year old vice world champion Alexandra Kostenjuk. The young Russian hit the headlines as the 'Anna Kurnikova of chess'. With some daring photos on the chess world association FIDE's web page, this 'Lolita' attracted a lot of attention even before she played her successful world championship last December. As Elisabeth Paethz is also regarded as a smart person she reacted in a cool and pointed manner: "With a lot of make up any woman can be pretty." Nevertheless she likes to be on the safe side and she will therefore go to the hairdresser's before she sits down to play the eight game match. The Kerstleben resident hopes to have a good chance if she gets back into form after her unlucky performance in May in the European Women's Championship in Bulgaria. "We met for the first time when we were ten years old. We became arch rivals and currently I'm in the lead with 3.5:2.5!"