Russia is KKKKrushed by Rest of the World Team, 52-48!

The recently concluded, "Match of the New Century" featured two teams: Russia's finest versus the finest from the "Rest of the World." Going into the match, it was projected that Russia would maintain an edge as it boasted four world champions who's names all begin with "K" Kasparov, Kramnik, Karpov and Khalifman. Of course the Rest of the World is comprised of many players from the former Soviet Union, but players like India's Viswanathan Anand represent a new guard of players hoping to break the Russian chess hegemony.

Garry Kasparov troubled in Moscow.

Garry Kasparov
troubled in Moscow.

What resulted in the 5-day tournament was a complete shock as Russia never led in the match and ultimately lost 52-48, a sizable margin. Perhaps the biggest story of the match was the sub par play by Kasparov and Kramnik combining for a 354-point loss in performance rating!

Going into the 4th round, none of the four K's had scored a victory. Kasparov then beat Alexei Shirov (who he owns a huge plus score against), but that would not prevent Shirov from torching the rest of the field with a stunning 7/10 and 2865 performance!

Another story was
Teimour Radjabov, the tournament's lowest-rated player and teenage  wunderkind from Azerbaijan. He scored a solid 5/10 score including a sparkling display of power in a thorough crush of Karpov (see Radjabov-Karpov game on left).

One may note that the games were not played in classical time controls which perhaps gave the edge to players like Anand, Shirov, and Ukraine's
Ruslan Ponomariov. In addition, the 25-minute time control appealed to the younger contingent of players such as Ponomariov, Radjabov, Alexander Morozevich, and Alexander Grischuk, all scoring well.

Game start 5 back 1 back 1 forward 5 forward Game end flip board autoplay


While Russia certainly hopes to re-assert its dominance in the coming Olympiad, it is safe to say that the "Rest of the World" is slowly catching up. Of course, this is due in no small part to (1) the dispersion of Soviet GMs around the world which makes top-flight trainers available to a wider population and (2) the age of technology which has created a "Net" result of increased activity.

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Posted by The Chess Drum: 12 September 2002