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Beautiful Chess in Mainz

Super model Carmen Kass top guest at the Chess Classic / Duel with the Women’s World Champion Antoaneta Stefanova?

by Hartmut Metz (Translation by Mark Vogelgesang)

Beautiful chess will be guaranteed from August 4 to 8 in Mainz. Super model Carmen Kass will be the top guest in the Rheingoldhalle, at Germany’s most spectacular chess event. The 25 year old, who has many times been on the cover pages of “Vogue” and “Bazaar”, was awarded the title “Model of the Year” at the Vogue Fashion Awards 2000. But the native Brazilian is not only one of the most beautiful women in the world, she is also one of the most intelligent women on the catwalk. The front woman of Christian Dior loves the royal game and has just been elected president of the Estonian Chess Federation. A smart move, since Estonia is trying to become host of the Chess Olympics in 2008. Even though Dresden was widely viewed as the hot favourite to host this event which will feature more than 200 national teams, the Saxons now have to fear that the World Chess Federation FIDE will award the event to Estonia. At the opening press conference of the Chess Classic in Mainz (CCM) on August 4, Carmen Kass will present her country’s application. Ever since the super model chose to spearhead Estonia’s effort, the Balt’s chances of success have risen dramatically. How many delegates of FIDE will be charmed by the 25 year old, will re-consider their vote for Dresden’s application and join Estonia’s camp?

Carmen Kass will sit at the 64 squares herself. In a five minute Blitz-game (with an increment of two seconds for each move), she will challenge Viswanathan Anand. The “Tiger of Madras”, a true gentleman, will give his beautiful opponent time odds and will play with two minutes on his clock (with an increment of one second for each move). The current CCM title holder will also accept challenges from a number of sponsors and amateur players. Interested amateurs can bid for a game against the number two in the world from India on the website www.chesstigers.de. The first game was auctioned for EURO 500! In addition to this unique duel between Anand and Carmen Kass, there might be another unique encounter at the chessboard: chief organizer Hans-Walter Schmitt is currently negotiating with Antoaneta Stefanova. In May, the Bulgarian player won the title “Women’s World Champion” in Elista (Kalmykia). The 10th world champion is widely regarded as the most beautiful world champion in the history of the game. Should Stefanova decide to play in the FiNet Chess960 Open (August 5 and 6) and the Ordix Open (August 7 and 8), then the world champion and the super model will show the world just how beautiful chess can be! After this, anyone dare to say that chess is a game for male nerds with thick glasses…

But chessfans who are only interested in the 32 chess pieces will find what they are looking for at the CCM: to play chess during the day and to watch the champions play in the evening. Starting on August 5, Viswanathan Anand will face Alexei Shirov. The 34 year old Anand is the uncrowned king of the Chess Classic. The best rapid chess player in the world and holder of the most recent Chess Oscar has won this event six times. Anand, however, does not see himself as a clear favourite in this eight game match. His opponent, who is his team mate in Baden-Oos and in Cannes, has had a few ups and downs lately. What the former World-vice-champion, who lost a match for the world championship to Anand (Picture left: Thilo Gubler) four years ago is capable of was demonstrated impressively in Sarajevo. In the world-class tournament which was held there recently, Shirov demolished the competition with the incredible score of 7.5:1.5. Shirov will need to play just as strongly in Mainz, if he wants to stop Anand from winning in Mainz for the fifth consecutive time.

In the Gerling Chess960 World Championship Match, which is played at the same time, Levon Aronian challenges Peter Svidler. Svidler is currently ranked number 9 in the world, while his challenger, the former world junior champion is ranked number 32. The challenger, who now lives in Berlin, at some point also lead the German rating list. In the European Championship in Turkey, the 21 year old played for his native Armenia, winning the Bronze Medal for his team. Aronian, who will next season play for Kreuzberg in the German Chess Bundesliga, won the right to challenge the reigning World Champion in rapid Chess960 by winning last year’s FiNet Chess960 Open.

Someone who would like to follow in his footsteps is nobody less than a former World Champion. Ruslan Ponomariov (20), recently dethroned without a fight as the World Champion of FIDE, will play in this year’s FiNet Chess960 Open on August 5 and 6. At the age of 14 years and 17 days this former world champion became the youngest Grandmaster ever. Today, his fellow Ukrainian and table tennis fan Sergey Karjakin holds this record. Both will now play in the Chess960 Open, whose winner will have the right to challenge the Chess960 World Champion in 2005. In light of the fact that 52 grandmasters have already decided to play the 11 rounds of the Open, world class Chess960 is virtually guaranteed. From the first 58 seeded players of both tournaments, only five have decided not to play in the FiNet Chess960 Open: Vladislav Tkachiev (France, seeded no. 16 in both tournaments), Evgeny Alekseev (Russia, seeded no. 18), Igor Khenkin (Germany, seeded no. 21), Ulf Andersson (Sweden, no. 27) and Milos Pavlovic (Serbia & Montenegro, seeded no. 44).

The Ordix-Open, which will be played according to the rules of “traditional” chess, will pay out the remainder of the total price fund of EURO 35,000. While Ponomariov has decided to focus solely on Chess960, the now 14 year old Karjakin will try to secure the lion share of the price fund for himself. But that will not be easy, as more than 100 titled players will come to the city of Jens Beutel, the mayor of Mainz and himself a chess enthusiast. Chief organiser Hans-Walter Schmitt expects more than 500 players in the largest rapid chess tournament in the world. Prior registration is therefore advisable.

Joining the impressive list of participants – in addition to the commentators of the evening games Artur Jussupow and Eric Lobron – are two true legends of chess in Germany: Wolfgang Uhlmann, the strongest player of all times from former East-Germany, who crossed swords with the legendary Bobby Fischer many times and was even able to win. In addition, Wolfgang Unzicker will play. Unzicker’s former team mate from the German national team, Lothar Schmid, will not play, but does not want to miss the CCM and will follow the event as a spectator. The younger generation is represented in Mainz by Jan Gustafsson, this year’s rising German star from Hamburg, and Elisabeth Pähtz, the former U18 world champion and participant of the round of the last eight of the world championships. Germany is also represented by Alexander Graf (Picture right) , the current number one in Germany, who due to his uncompromising style is always a potential winner in open tournaments. His colleagues from the German national chess team, Rustem Dautov and Igor Khenkin will also play.

The favourites, however, to win the Ordix Open come from Russia. Sergei Rublevsky, winner of the Aeroflot Open held in February in Moscow against a very strong competition, who is currently ranked no. 19 in the world, will play for the second time in the Chess Classic. Four years ago, Rublevsky who is a fan of Michael Schumacher performed convincingly in the B tournament, when for the first time in chess history, all top ten players appeared in the same event. One of the other participants back then was Alexander Morozevich. The former number 4 in the world, who has surpassed his weak form and is back to his number 4 spot, will also play the FiNet Chess960 Open and the Ordix Open.

The toughest opponent of Morozevich, who is in top form currently, will probably be Alexander Grischuk. Currently rated no. 16 in the world, Grischuk was able to win last year’s Ordix Open, but had difficulties with the randomly chosen starting positions of Chess960. Other well-known favourites to win the event are Vadim Milov, the number one in Switzerland, Viorel Bologan from Moldavia and winner of last year’s tournament in Dortmund, Vadim Zvjaginsev (Russia), Luke McShane (England), Rafael Vaganian (Armenia), and the young Ukrainian Andrei Volokitin, who played very well in last year’s event. The number one from Denmark, Peter Heine Nielsen, and Vladimir Epishin (Russia) will play as well. As a result of this powerful line-up, the average ELO of the fifty strongest participants is well above 2600! Kaido Kulaots, the number one in Estonia, will come with Carmen Kass, the president of his national chess organisation. This grandmaster has among his achievements an overall victory in the open tournament at Cappelle la Grande and this against very strong competition. Among the strongest female players in the event are Elisabeth Pähtz, Natalia Zhukova from Russia, Inna Gaponenko from Letland, Natalia Kiseleva (Ukraine), Elvira Berend (Luxemburg) and especially Viktorija Cmilyte (Picture). Cmilyite, who is married to Alexei Shirov, will celebrate her 21st birthday on August 6, during the Chess Classic Mainz.

The opening day of the event two days earlier is not only about admiring beauties and chess-superstars. Some of the chess-superstars are ready to play against amateurs. A number of spots for the Simul on 40 boards by Shirov and the Chess960 Simul on 20 boards by Svidler can be bought through the internet. Another highlight of the event will start two hours earlier, at 16:30: Levon Aronian will play two games of Chess960 against The Baron, one of the strongest Chess960 programs in the world right now.

 

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