Statistics are on Kasparov's side

An overview of six highlights of the Frankfurt Chess Classic

by Hartmut Metz

Fujitsu Siemens Giants

One highlight follows another at the Frankfurt Chess Classic (FCC), taking place from 16th to 25th of June 2000. To have a line up of the entire chess world elite is in itself unique. The world's top ten chess players are due to gather in the metropolis on the Main and in Bad Soden. The main focus of attention will turn towards the Fujitsu Siemens Giants. The top six with Garry Kasparov of Russia, Viswanathan Anand of India, Vladimir Kramnik of Russia, Alexei Shirov from Spain, Alexander Morozevich of Russia and Peter Leko of Hungary are scheduled to compete in a rapid chess tournament, comprising games of 25 minutes each on the last four days of the FCC. This time, the double round robin will be held at the Taunus Conference Centre (Treff Parkhotel, Königssteiner Strasse 88) in Bad Soden as last year's venue, the Frankfurt Ballsporthalle, failed to provide the desired ambience. Games are set to start at 7 P.M on 22 and 24 June, and at 6 P.M. on 23 and 25 June.

Vishy AnandEach of the six participants is keeping his forecasts to himself. Every one of the six grandmasters has the quality to win what is in effect the rapid chess world championship. Shirov won in 1996 in Frankfurt, and two years later Anand was the winner at the Fujitsu Siemens Giants. After a disappointing third place in 1998, Kasparov did his absolute best (7.5 - 4.5) last year and convincingly won ahead of both Anand and Kramnik (both 6 - 6) as well as Karpov (4.5 - 7.5). Leko proved his suitability for the Giants as close runner-up to Fritz on Primergy in the Masters in 1999. Morozevich is the only one who has not yet given proof of his ability to keep pace at this level. His net results of 1.5 - 5.5 are clearly negative (cp. below). However, six games cannot be taken as the last word on the subject, and the second youngest player in this field is capable of development. Due to his imaginative playing style, the 22-year old is regarded as an invigorating element. Morozevich might cause a surprise if the Russian can come to grips with his zeitnot problems which demonstrated themselves last year but which had begun to be resolved towards the end of the competition.

Anand, Kasparov and Kramnik are FCC organiser Hans-Walter Schmitt's favourites, but he also emphasises that form on the day and the will to win will be decisive. Statistics covering the 31 prestigious rapid chess tournaments since 1991 give similar hints. With 28.5 - 21.5, Kasparov is the only participant who has a clearly positive net result against his rivals. The No. 1 in the world ranking list has never produced a negative score against any challenger. However, Frankfurt's defending champion has never before faced Leko or Shirov in one of these rapid chess competitions. The latter will be particularly motivated to meet him, as the now naturalised Spaniard feels that all his hopes of a world championship match have been dashed. Shirov's 11 - 9 score against the elite players is a considerable achievement. Anand (30 - 30) and Kramnik (28.5 - 32.5) show the worst scores. However, against Kasparov, the latter's world championship opponent in October, he only trails by a narrow margin of 11.5 - 12.5. The Fujitsu Siemens Giants will obtain extra stimulus by means of five 'firsts': besides Kasparov's first matches against Leko and against Shirov, Anand and Leko - who once formed a training partnership - have never before faced each other, and Morozevich will met Kramnik and Shirov for the first time in an important rapid chess game. Whereas the Linares tournament finished with Kasparov and Kramnik as joint winners, Schmitt stresses that in Frankfurt only one players will receive the 'black jacket' as rapid chess world champion. In the event of a 'dead heat', there will be a tie break.

Die Bilanz

Player Kasparov Anand Kramnik Shirov Morozevich Leko

Total

Kasparov

XXXXX

14-10

12.5-11.5

-----

2-0

-----

28.5-21.5

Anand

10-14

XXXX

14-11

4-4

2-1

----

30-30

Kramnik

11.5-12.5

11-14

XXXXX

5-5

----

1-1

28.5-32.5

Shirov

-----

4-4

5-5

XXXXX

----

2-0

11-9

Morozevich

0-2

1-2

-----

-----

XXXX

0.5-1.5

1.5-5.5

Leko

-----

-----

1-1

0-2

1.5-0.5

XXXX

2.5-3.5

Source: 31 most prestigious rapid chess tournaments between 1991 and 2000

The ambitious goals of Fritz on Primergy

In previous years Fritz on Primergy was responsible for providing a special flair to the FCC. The No. 1 in the computer world rating list in Sweden won the Ordix Open and the Masters. The German quality newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung has chosen Fritz as its Man of the Week. After this double distinction, the combination of ChessBase software and Fujitsu Siemens hardware is about to face the very best players - with one exception: Garry Kasparov. With a score of 4+ 3= 1- Kasparov does not need to be afraid of Fritz on Primergy. However, the Moscow resident hopes tPrimergyo have another lucrative computer match in hand within the next months. Although Matthias Wüllenweber is disappointed by the refusal of the best player, he still regards the competition as a particular challenge - even without the world champion. Except for some training sessions, which nowadays every professional player regards as standard practice against the tactically superior programme, his 'darling' has never played against Kramnik and Shirov before. Against Anand, the current score is even more negative than against Morozevich, who netted one win and one draw in last year's Masters. In seven encounters the outcome was three defeats and four draws. In two matches the Hamburg combination had its chances but each time the Indian carried off the palm. Anand is the player we are most afraid of, admits Wüllenweber. Peter Leko is also hard to beat, although the 20-year old only managed to pull off one draw in the 1999 Masters. The software guru considers Kramnik to be a little bit better than Leko, but the no. 3 in the world rating list lacks the computer experience of the grandmaster from Szeged. In a separate table, which will have Fritz on Primergy instead of Kasparov, the Hanseatic citizen is confident that he will find a good result for his product. First or second place is not entirely within the bounds of probability, but it is within reach, stresses Wüllenweber. A first priority is not to lose any of the mini-matches of two games each, which are due to be held in the Stadthalle in Frankfurt-Zeilsheim (no. 17 Bechtenwalder Strasse on 17 and 18 June, 6 - 10 P.M.) and then in the Taunus Conference Centre (22 and 24 June, starting at 1 P.M.) With this approach a plus one or two result is a likely outcome.

Wüllenweber likes to back up with concrete figures the contention that his forecast is neither daring nor pure optimism. Both sides have gained similar experiences within the last few months, the human players as well as the machine have learned from each other and improved their opening repertoires. However, the improvement was mainly beneficial for Fritz on Primergy. One can expect another rise of 40 to 50 Elo points, after Fritz had already achieved a performance of well above 2,800 Elo last year. Due to eight processors with 700 megahertz each, Fritz calculates between 1.4 to 1.5 million nodes per second, compared with 900,000 when he won the Masters. This means another extra 10 to 15 Elo. Further 30 Elo can be expected from the improved engine. Thus it is impossible to lose, states Wüllenweber, and goes on to state that this will continue every year: "In 2001 we will give Kasparov a proper talking-to."

 Svidler on the verge of a comeback?

The Frankfurt Chess Masters (22 to 25 June, starting each day at 2.30 P.M. in the Taunus Conference Centre in Bad Soden) comprises an outstanding field with the Nos. 7 to 10 in the world rating list: Vassily Ivanchuk ahead of Veselin Topalov and Michael Adams, is Schmitt's place-bet. The top ten is made up further by the No. 9 in the world rating list, Evgeny Bareev from Russia. Germany is represented by its national No. 1, Artur Yussopov, and the national rapid chess champion Robert Rabiega. Last year Loek van Wely had already proved his outstanding qualities. The Dutchman became the winner of the Ordix Open with an impressive 9.5 points out of 11 games, and therefore should not be underestimated. But he is not the only one who, according to Schmitt, has the capacity to cause a surprise. In 2000, the winner of the Ordix Open will be granted promotion to the Masters which is due to start four days later.

For this reason, Peter Svidler may well be part of the line up, as he was in 1999. The three times Russian champion, who narrowly missed a place in the top ten, has to be regarded as a prime candidate in the fight for 7,500 DM, which will be collected by the winner of the Ordix Open (the playing time is on 16 June at 6 P.M., 17 and 18 June at 10 P.M.). Distinguished experts like Michael Gurevich and junior world champion Alexander Galkin also have announced their intention to take part. Altogether it is likely that once again some 50 grandmasters will start at the Stadthalle in the Zeilsheim district of Frankfurt. Twelve months ago, a quarter of all top 40 players participated in the Ordix Open. This time the total number of titleholders should be above 100 as the prize fund has been raised from 30,000 to 43,000 German marks. Even a Master's candidate like Robert Rabiega cannot resist this temptation and will risk taking on the double burden. Amateur players also get their piece of the cake, as grading prizes offer a good 'return' of up to 1,000 marks. In 1999, 432 participants contributed to an open at the Frankfurt Chess Classic which was characterised by a successful mixture of high class and mass participation. This time it promises to provide even more chess fun as the number of rounds has risen from 11 to 15.

Garry Kasparov1,000 German marks for a 'piece' of Kasparov

Besides the Fischer Random Chess match between Artur Yusupov and Fritz on Primergy on 23th and 25th of June (at 1 P.M.), two simuls are highlights of the 2000 FCC. On 20 June (4.30 P.M.), Ivanchuk, the No. 8 in the world rating list, will give a simul at 40 boards in the Taunus Sparkasse bank in Frankfurt-Höchst (Hostatostrasse 19). This will be the debut of the Ukrainian in this section of chess. The same also applies to Garry Kasparov, who has never before faced a field of 40 players in Germany. This show performance will be held in Taunus Tagungszentrum on 19 June (4.30 P.M.). Interest in this event was particularly high. An auction via the Internet revealed how much demand there was for starting places. On FCC's homepage (www.frankfurt-west.de), 20 places for each simul were at stake. Whereas the places for the Ivanchuk event were available up to 150 German marks; bids for the Kasparov simul shot up to a peak of 1,000 German marks! One father made absolutely sure of obtaining a place for his son, a manager of a company bought places for his clients. The minimum price for Kasparov was 393 marks, whereas Ivanchuk was available for 70 marks. However, the simuls will not make any profit anyway, as Kasparov usually receives 50,000 marks for an exhibition event such as this: in which case each board would have cost 1,250 German marks.