Garry Kasparov visited Washington last Tuesday to promote his game against the World on the Microsoft Gaming Zone web site (http://www.zone.com/Kasparov/Home.asp). In the West Hall of Union Station, the world champion simulated the first move on a large 20-by-20-foot chessboard. Kasparov did not have to wrestle with a 6-foot king. As white, he chose to move much smaller king pawn. The World responded with the Sicilian defense.
Anybody, from beginners to international grandmasters, can suggest a move each day against the world champion. Four talented juniors from different countries, including U.S. Women's Champion Irina Krush, 15, make suggestions to the general public on what to play after Kasparov's every move. They are safeguarding the quality of the game, but the public has the final say by voting. It is highly unlikely that they will ignore the suggestions of the juniors and send the game into a tailspin with a huge blunder. So far the game went peacefully (1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+ Bd7).
Although chess made a great leap on the Internet in the last two years, it is hard to see that Kasparov's current game against the world can outmatch the interest he drew when he played a match against the IBM's Deep Blue in 1997. At that time IBM boasted that it had more than 74 million hits, representing 4 million user visits from 106 countries, on its web site. Kasparov told me that Microsoft counted 2 million hits before the current game started. Since the game may last more than a month, the number of visits on the Microsoft site will grow. "I suspect that some of the people visiting the web site are just curious and do not take part in the game," Kasparov said.
It is not the first time Kasparov challenged the general public. Amazingly, during and after the world championship match against Anatoly Karpov in New York and in Lyon, France, in 1990, Kasparov played two games against Spanish television viewers. He won easily with white and played a fascinating draw with black. Kasparov would not mind creating a similar excitement on the Microsoft Zone.
Spanish TV viewers-Kasparov
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bc4 e6 7.Bb3 Nbd7 8.f4 Nc5 9.0-0 Ncxe4 10.Nxe4 Nxe4 11.f5 e5 12.Qh5 Qe7?! (A bizarre defense. More straightforward is 12...d5 13.Re1! Bc5 featured in Stanciu-Kavalek, Sinaia 1965. It was also played more than 30 years later by Nigel Short.) 13.Qf3 Nc5 (After 13...exd4 comes 14.Re1.) 14.Nc6 Qc7 15. Bd5 a5 16.Be3?! (When Kasparov ventured again into this position against Topalov in Amsterdam 1996, he was caught by surprise with 16.Bg5! and was soon overwhelmed by the white knight's beautiful leaps after 16...Ra6? 17.Nd8! f6 18.Nf7 Rg8 19.Be3 g6 20.Ng5! and white had a winning position soon. Astoundingly, after 16.Bg5 Bd7 Topalov's knight would jump to a new square: 17.Ne7! with advantage either after 17...Bxe7? 18.Bxe7 Kxe7 19.f6+ or after 17...f6 18.Qh5+ Kxe7 19.Bxf6+! gxf6 20.Qf7+ Kd8 21.Qxf6+ Kc8 22.Qxh8. Kasparov now catches the knight.) 16...Ra6 17.Nd4 exd4
18.Bxd4 (White has an unpleasant pressure for the piece and Kasparov cannot free himself easily. The tempo of the game fastened.) 18... Kd8 19.Qh5 Nd7 20.f6 g6 21.Qh4 Ne5 22.Rfc1 Bd7 23.c4 Kc8 24.Rab1 h5 25.b4 axb4 26.Rxb4 Bc6 27.Rcb1 Ra3 28.Qe4 Bxd5 29.cxd5 Bh6 30.Qe2 Nd3 31.Rxb7 Qxb7 32.Rxb7 Kxb7 33.Qe7+ Ka8 34.Qxd6 Rxa2 35. Qc6+ Kb8 36.Qb6+ Ka8 37.Qc6+ Kb8 38.Qc3 Rd2 39.Qb3+ Kc7 40.Qb6+ Kc8 41.Qc6+ Kb8 42. h4 Bf4 43.g3 Be5 44.Qb5+ Kc8 45.Bb6 Bxg3 46.Qc6+ Kb8 47.d6 Ra2 48.Qc7+ Ka8 49.Qxf7 Ra3 50.Qd5+ (The final stage leading to a draw was played for the viewers by the Spanish grandmaster Miguel Illescas.) 50...Kb8 51.Qb5 Ka8 52.Qd5+ Kb8 53.Qb5 and a draw was agreed.
It worries me that Kasparov calls his latest challenges ultimate. His game on the Microsoft Zone is the ultimate match against the world and his match against Vishy Anand in October is the ultimate world championship match. Kasparov said he has no doubts that this match is going to be played in the United States, where a $5 million sponsorship seems to be lined up.
But what comes afterwards? An ultimate simultaneous clock exhibition against Anand, Alexei Shirov, Vladimir Kramnik and Karpov, perhaps? After I suggested the idea, Kasparov first reacted instantly: "If I have white pieces I wouldn't lose." Than he paused and amended his statement: "I think I wouldn't lose."
We may have a little preview this week. Kasparov plays the tournament of Giants in active chess in Frankfurt, where Anand, Kramnik and Karpov will be his opponents. Anand won the event last year.
Two players posted a perfect winning score in Fredericksburg on June 19-20 with 93 players participating. GM Alek Wojtkiewicz of Poland won all his games in the Open section and Barry Quillon won the Amatuer section.