The battle of the world champions is the centre of attraction at the Chess Classic Mainz (CCM) between 23 June and 1 July (cp. special article). Besides the ten game match between Braingames world champion Vladimir Kramnik and FIDE world champion Viswanathan Anand, the remaining programme also offers spectacular chess in the Rheingoldhalle. In particular, Fischer Random Chess at the highest level is an innovation. World rated no. 4 Michael Adams and sixth placed Peter Leko face each other in an unusual combat (sponsored by Sparkasse Mainz) which demands no theoretical knowledge. Eight times the initial positions will be drawn by lots and thereafter they start without any mental pattern. The competition between the Englishman and the Hungarian is more than stimulating. On the one hand Adams is not classified as a well-known theoretician who, unlike Gary Kasparov, can pull one opening innovation after the other out of the bag. Can the grandmaster with his Elo rating of 2,750 then be considered the favourite?
In the final analysis, Peter Leko will not accomplish any opening surprise as his innovative skills in producing new moves fail to materialise in a classic tournament game. Instead the 21 year old possesses a huge advantage due to his second: the Bundesliga player Artur Yusupov from Solingen risked this experiment previously during last year's Chess Classic. Against Fritz on Primergy the many-times world championship candidate played two games in Shuffle Chess. This has less strict rules than Fischer Random Chess but does not differ except in the rules for drawing of lots for the initial position. Despite a 0:2 loss Yusupov enjoyed the match and made a stunning diagnosis: "The game had started as early as move five or six," stated the 41 year old, who does not miss terribly long theory variations. "For some players this kind of chess might be a relief as they like to play without a pattern. They can swim in the sea of fantasies." This is not the only reason why Yusupov does not doubt that Leko has great experience in Fischer Random Chess. In his home country the world rating list no. 7 from Szeged in Hungary not only made the acquaintance of the inventor of this kind of chess: Leko played some random games with Bobby Fischer! The ingenious 1972 world champion refused to play classic chess but gave this youngest grandmaster amongst the world leaders some lessons. Predictions are therefore difficult to make: will Leko, well-trained in Fischer Random Chess, be able to snatch victory, or will Adams will be ahead due to the fact that he has a taste for unusual positions?
The role of favourites is more clearly defined in the games of the two distinguished experts against a hand-held computer. 'Pocket Fritz' will not give them such a kick in the backup like its big brother Fritz on Primergy, which last year wrested a 5:5 against the world elite. At the time the software by Hamburg-based Chessbase company beat Anand for the first time but lost against Leko 0.5:1.5. Adams has less experience with computers; however, he should also give the programme on a less powerful handheld as good as he gets.
Since first being staged by SC Frankfurt-West chess club in 1994, the heart of the Chess Classic is the Ordix Open. In all categories it is the number 1 in open rapid chess tournaments worldwide: in the last number of years, up to 432 players have participated, including approximately 100 title holders, and there is a substantial prize fund for the two day event (23 and 24 June). Money prizes have once again risen and now amount to 45,000 German marks. This increase also contributed to the high first prize money which has risen by one third. 10,000 German marks ought to attract more world class players. The entry list is decorated with prestigious names such as Adams, Vassili Ivanchuk (Ukraine), Evgeni Bareev, Peter Svidler, Alexei Dreev, last year's winner Sergei Rublevsky (all Russia), Yusupov and Michail Gurevich (Belgium). In addition to money prizes for the first twenty, 41 grading prizes for amateurs are at stake so that those who are not top players also get their share. The best player with an Elo or national rating of between 2201 and 2400 will win 1,500 marks (up 50 per cent), the most successful player of between 2001 and 2200 will get 1,000 marks. The Ordix Open starts with five rounds on Saturday at 1 P.M. Round six to eleven will be held on Sunday from 10 A.M. to 5 P.M.
Excitement is guaranteed for the period of the repeated auction for places in simuls against the world champions. Last year bidders outbid themselves with offers in order to cross swords with Gary Kasparov. Up to four-figure sums were offered by fans in order to have a chance against the former world champion. "It was worth it," was the unanimous summing up even of those who lost against the exceptional expert. Amounts ranging between 50 and 150 marks were taken for places in the simul which SC Frankfurt-West organised with the world rating list no. 7, Vassily Ivanchuk. Anybody who wants to play against Kramnik or Anand has to invest a minimum of 100 German marks. Offers can be submitted via Internet (www.chesstigers.de) or to the tournament president Hans-Walter Schmitt (tel. and fax +49 / 6196 / 22796 from outside Germany or 06196 / 22796 in Germany). The first 20 places for each simul will be on offer each week to the highest bidder. The auctioneer's hammer will close the bidding at midnight on 31 May. However, the stimulus is not only an intellectual duel with the champion. Amongst the 40 opponents of Anand and Kramnik there will be a number of prominent figures. Many stars who like to play chess will be invited to the simuls. With a bit of luck participants will not only be grilled by the world champion but will sit flanked by sport personalities such as Felix Magath or Marco Bode.