Official FIDE World Championship Website - Las Vegas
Schedule and Odds
[Scottish Chess is fortunate to have two men in Las Vegas to occasionally report on the action. They are Jason Luchan & Ian Aird. To differentiate their reports, Jason will use American spelling and Ian will use British spellings, unless editor Dougie Bryson is taking his job too seriously. We would also proudly note that with two correspondents, Scottish Chess has the second largest media contingent at the match (second only to Inside Chess, due to cease hard-copy publication with the January 2000 issue.)]
And Now For Something Completely Different: The World Championship World Championship Press Conference with FIDE Champion Alexander Khalifman, Ian Aird Reports An Imperfect and Incomplete Transcript of the Final Press Conference of the 1999 FIDE World Chess Championship, Las Vegas, USA, August 28 1999 by FM Joel Salman, USA The following material is a record of as much of the press conference given by GM Alexander Khalifman, 14th World Chess Champion, as I could type while the conference was taking place. Q Are you going to quit chess for 20 years, like Fischer? K I don't want to play professionally but I will play from time to time Q In today's game GM Walter Browne said you were very sporting to allow such an exciting game today K On move 4 or 5 I thought for a minute ... but then I decided I needed to play the best moves ... in the final stages I was not looking too hard to win, when I saw drawish lines I thought "enough is enough" Q (when asked how he is feeling now) K I still cannot realize what actually happened over the last month in some hours I will be able to think about this to understand completely what has happened Q Do you really think of yourself as the world champion now? K I do not claim to be the best chess player of the world, I claim that I won the world championship, the only world championship at the moment I have the title of FIDE world champion ... looks like Mr. Kasparov has some informal but great title as the world's best chess player. Q Next year are you going to the make the same types of preparations for the tournament? K Next year will be very serious problem one of my main secrets was I did not care too much how it would go ... a lot of very good players were too nervous, could not fight their own nerves, I think it is the main reason of elimination of many favorites. I did not care too much, very serious struggle in round one ... then it happened with Kamsky. It happened step by step, I started to take things very seriously after winning game one in the final. Q Can you play next year and not care? K Yes, that's a problem. I was normal when I came here, just a Grandmaster, and next year it will be another problem, my participation will cause more attention. I will be more nervous, I will try to just play the games. When I was asked before what are my plans for the tournament, I said first match I play Indian Grandmaster Barua, I will try to win ... then I will try to win the next match. Q Would you play match with Bobby (Fischer) for 20 million? K It would have to take place in some strange place, maybe in prison. (much laughter) I read his last interview and now I think that playing such high level chess certainly causes brain damage. (question to FIDE --- what round will Khalifman start in next year? (answer by Kirsan: Round two as will Kasparov, Karpov and Fischer if they play) Q Will you play next year? K I don't know my schedule, but I will plan my schedule I will play for sure. Q On playing for the Russian team in the next Olympiad K Yes, if I am invited. Q What was your best game of the tournament? K Toughest was opponents of latter stages, with Akopian because it was the longest match. In my opinion strongest player I have beaten here was Grandmaster Boris Gelfand. I won some good games, I like my win against Kamsky in the normal time control, my win over Polgar and four games of this match. Probably my game with Kamsky, that was the moment I felt "I can play" Q Kasparov and Karpov did not play, do you feel they have to protect their image, perhaps they were afraid of getting knocked out in the second round do you think that is why they did not show up? K Better ask them (laughter) ... whatever is possible for them to answer, they will find another answer, some special logic ... Q On making himself a force to be reckoned with in the tournament K If I produced some sensation here, it is when I beat Gelfand. He is very stable, very high class Grandmaster with good results, good results in knockout tournament. Q On the generally uniform list of players in high category round robin events K Again I don't want to answer for other people. Organizers of elite tournaments, they have their own logic, to have the same guys in every city. Maybe the decision , very logical decision is more knockout tournaments -- it is very entertaining. Some organizer should make tournament with 16 players and 4 game matches from very beginning, it would be spectacular ... but once again I don't care. Q How much does your chess school cost and where is it located? K Main door of Grandmaster Chess School is on the Internet, location of page is http://www.gmchess.spb.ru How much will we charge, I don't think we will raise the price of teaching just because of this success. Right now we have vacation (laughter) that's why I am here. New year of study starts in October. We are working out at this moment the pricing system. The school is for everybody who likes chess ... one does not have to be a fan of Khalifman. We are not Club Kasparov. We are not Club Khalifman, just a chess school for those who like chess. Q You have won about one half million dollars, what are you going to do with it? K I have not really thought about it. I am not afraid that my wife will just spend it, she will not spend half million in the first week. Q What did you think of Kasparov's "tourist" comment (Kasparov's reference on Club Kasparov to the non-favorite players who did so well in Las Vegas) K I don't know what causes this great chess player to insult everybody else on a permanent basis I cannot understand it. Q You are the King now K Not exactly, this kingdom system is too old, I just won the world championship, this kingdom system ... I am just the FIDE World Champion. Q You are now automatically on the FIDE board, you get to express opinions, what are they? K (Sarcastically) Oh yeah, I have whole program of about 40 pages, we don't have time to discuss it. I know a lot of things can be improved. The rating system is interesting but can be improved. Professor Elo worked out this interesting mathematical model, but it is not adequate to the time and relative strength of players. Common opinion based on ratings makes me laugh. Q Even though you are now World Championship, you may not get invited to big tournaments K I was not invited (in the past), probably I played rather unstable in recent years. Rating system works perfectly for players who play only in round robin closed events. I think most of them are overrated. Organizers invite same people over and over because they have the same rating and their rating stays high. Morozevich, he is age 20, moved from 2610 to 2720 in one year, but being older I can not imagine being so consistent, scoring 8.5/9 in event after event. Q You will have say regarding invitations K Probably words I will say will attract more attention but my feelings on the rating system, I have said these for years ... organizers have some type of competition, Rentero has category 20 so I will have category 21. Just strange, much more interesting to have new field with new faces, interesting new players, rather than collect same number of players again or improve category by reducing the number of players invited. Q On the knock-out system K Organizing Football Soccer world championship with players just kicking penalty shots but it was not just blitz, if two games end 1 - 1 we go to 25 minute games. I don't think the level drops off. There may be some improvements, but this year was better, in Groningen someone was waiting in Lausanne. (Question to Kirsan What about four game matches?) (Kirsan answers: We tried to make one month tournament. Maybe even six game final is too much, maybe keep shorter matches but we thought luck would be a factor, so we went to 4 game semifinals and 6 game finals. But it would be hard to ask players to play without supper for two months) K Probably the improvement is to reduce the number of players, but that is not completely fair. if we had four games from start with this number of players, who would play in the final ... two dead men walking (much laughter). Q Can you tell us about the books you wrote on Tal? K I was the editor, the writing was by a team of veteran chess masters. Almost all of them did this work with high quality, those that did not work with high quality were no longer on the team. I just checked the notes and did a few games, but did not write everything ... now there is a book on Chigorin, I like the idea to have books on all great players. Q Is there a book on Khalifman's games? K Just taking into consideration that I just finished my professional career it is probably the right moment. Khalifman concludes: Whole organizing team worked very well here, thanks a lot to the arbiters but I think they didn't have much to do. (laughter) There were no serious conflicts, in situation like this it means arbiter's are working perfectly. This was very interesting tournament, I think that many great games were played and I do not mean mine. Many interesting games of the other Grandmasters, good to have an event where many Grandmasters are playing, it is very constructive ... thanks a lot. World Championship Final, Game 2, Ian Aird Reports There are fewer photographers today so it's easier to get shots of the players. Fewer spectators too; I count 24 as the game commences. In a change from yesterday, a white chair has appeared at the board. It's identical to the black chair which Khalifman sat in yesterday. Two screens behind the stage display the computer generated image of the current game position. As in the earlier rounds, a 13 to 14 second delay is apparent from the time a player moves until the move appears on the screen. The game begins with a Qc2 Nimzo Indian. Valery Salov commentating on the game states "I'm not sure if 9...a6 was the correct move for black." He suggests the more aggressive plan of e4 and e5 for white. Salov doesn't like whites reply, 10.0-0. "I don't like this move for white. White must be more energetic to prove his advantage." He believes that after this mistake from Khalifman, black is fine. The players are moving faster today, anxious to avoid yesterdays time trouble. In the first game, only 12 moves were played in the first two hours of play. Today move 13 is reached in an hour. Even in the early stages of the game the players are leaving the stage after making their move. As one player exits stage right, the other appears stage left in almost perfect synchronisation. Over the earphones, Salov prefers 11...b6 to fianchetto black's bishop. A couple of moves later, Walter Browne suggests the plan of 13.Nd4 followed by f4 and f5. Khalifman offers a draw after his 18th move which is accepted by Akopian. Only Khalifman attends the press conference after the game. He relates a "moving nightmare" which took place the previous day. Apparently he had been staying at the Maxim Hotel, a few minutes walk from Caesars, and decided that it would be more convenient to stay at Caesars during the final. On phoning the hotel to arrange a room, he was told that they didn't have any! The information that he was playing a world chess championship at Caesars Palace apparently cut little ice with the hotel administration. Only after many hours was a room eventually arranged and his move was only completed after midnight. Further comments from Khalifman: Instead of 13.Ng5: "Nd4 probably better chances. Comfortable, better position with no risks." Commenting on plan of e4, e5: "I don't believe this idea in general." His most difficult opponent in these championships: "My most serious opponent chesswise....Gelfand. Best player I've played in this tournament." Another difficult situation: "Psychologically no fun at all, Nisipeanu after game 4." Khalifman stresses several times that he considers himself an amateur player and that he wishes to remain so even if he wins the world championship. He places great importance on his work at the Grandmaster Chess School in St. Petersburg. "Without me it would collapse." "I don't want to change my life whatever happens here." World Championship Final, Game 1, Ian Aird Reports I returned to Vegas after my side trip to the US Open to find that all the good players had gone. Well that's not quite fair but did anyone predict such a final? I think not! The bookies have done well from this competition but then this is Vegas after all. I arrive at the press centre shortly before the scheduled start to game 1. Unfortunately I've forgotten my press pass. No problem. Ray Schutt, a volunteer in the press room supplies me with a temporary pass. For one day only I'm impersonating an Englishman, Jeff Raynor. Well we all must make sacrifices sometime, and this one will save me the $10 entry fee which they are now charging spectators. I reach the tournament hall a couple of minutes before the start of the game. I whip out my camera and join the scrum of photographers around the board just as Florencio Campomanes makes the ceremonial opening move for white (Akopian) Nf3. Since I was last here, the layout of the tournament hall has under gone a transformation. 90 degrees to the left to be precise. The players sit on a stage raised some twelve inches above the floor. There are about twelve rows of seats for the spectators. The rows towards the rear are also raised on a stage. There are about 30 to 40 spectators in the hall to watch this opening game. Khalifman sits on a large back leather swivel chair much beloved of villains in James Bond films. In an attempt to display the common touch perhaps, Akopian has selected the same type of seat as the spectators. I wonder, as I take my seat in the second row, if "Q" has supplied Akopian with enough gadgets to thwart Khalifman's plans of world domination. I listen, over the headphones, to the commentary, now supplied by Valery Salov and Walter Browne. Valery believes that the two players are evenly matched and the outcome is too close to call. He believes that Khalifman's opening preparation is superior but perhaps he has a weakness in defending inferior endgames. Akopian is a very strong endgame player and also composes endgame studies. Akopian selects an unusual variation against Khalifman's Kings Indian defence, possibly trying to negate Khalifman's theoretical preparation. The commentators believe he gets a slight advantage in the early stages of the game. In the middlegame, Akopian makes what can charitably be described as a "mysterious" piece sacrifice. He doesn't get enough compensation and Khalifman makes the best possible start; a win with black. Day 7 Report from Jason Luchan As we expected, with this round the size of the spectator section doubled; perhaps there is room for 160-180 seated spectators. There was one glitch before the round started. The Brazilian players, Milos & Leitao, read their pairings off the FIDE website and prepared accordingly. However, the FIDE website was wrong. Big surprise. The players asked the arbiter for a half hour to adjust to the altered circumstances. Their request was granted, although Shirov appeared a bit peeved by the delay. There is speculation in the press room that Shirov's excessive nervousness is attributable to a situation off the board. Shirov's pregnant wife was denied a visa to enter the United States. A further incident occurred before Gelfand-Lautier. Gelfand looked at his chessboard and noticed speckles on the light squares. He pointed this out and the board was replaced with a more normal-looking one. Kiril Georgiev set up a potential upset by defeating Peter Svidler. Svidler needs to win tomorrow to set up a playoff. Shirov-Milos was described by the bulletin as an "epic struggle." Milos is surely having a great run, eliminating Salov in the last round and putting up terrific resistance against Shirov. Alexei managed to pull this one out after Milos found the terrific resource 44...Qe4. By the way, several other web pages covering this event are unintentionally giving credit for Milos's exploits to Milov, who has already been eliminated. Day 6 Report from Jason Luchan As we have already mentioned, Day 5 ended with Gata & Rustam Kamsky in the press room composing a protest after Kamsky's loss to Khalifman. Essentially, Kamsky was disturbed by players observing his game from the playing area after their own games had finished. So this day begaan with a request from the arbiter that all players who have finished their games should leave the playing area and do any further spectating from the cheap seats. Despite coming out with a moral victory on his protest, Kamsky could not hold Khalifman in their playoff match. The first game saw Khalifman again trying a risky attack, a method that works well in action chess. Kamsky failed to find a solid defense and surrendered. In the second game, Kamsky tried his luck in a 2B vs. 2N ending, which went completely wrong. The 2 Knights seized the center along with Khalifman's King. A drawn result meant Kamsky was eliminated. Topalov showed his class in putting down Ponomariov. Give credit to the youngster for going down fighting, putting up maximum resistance when the comentators were ready to throw in the towel for him. Shirov had an easy day for a change. In the first game he easily held a draw with black against Sokolov, using the Gruenfeld instead of his desperate King's Indian of yesterday. In the second game he ground out a long ending to regain his place as a favorite in this event. We are beginning to understand why the computer system used here to display the games is so lousy. The sensory board used by the players sends out the move to the system, which then translates the move to PGN notation. The PGN is then sent to the program which displays the position. Unfortunately, this program does not understand the concept of illegal moves. An example: in Shirov-Sokolov after 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 Bc5 4 0-0 d6 5 d4 exd4 6 Nxd4, the move 6...Ne7 was played. Even a beginner would understand that the move was 6...Nge7 and not 6...Nce7, which is illegal. The display showed 6...Nce7 causing much confusion. A clear case of insufficient preparation by the organizers. Day 5 Report from Jason Luchan Today, the most likely upset did not happen. Alexei Shirov remains in the competition. Shirov gave Sokolov the chance to play the Exchange Variation of the King's Indian and Sokolov did not jump at the chance, instead choosing the Gligoric Variation. Shirov made the most of his chances in a crushing win. They go to a playoff tomorrow. Khalifman came back in his match with Kamsky using creative attacking play. The commentators queried Kamsky's 23...f5, which opens the kingside too much. Someone suggested Kamsky was defending like a computer. Another playoff here. The computer system on the site is still beset with problems. If we didn't mention it before, the spectator section currently has room for approximately 100 seated people. Behind the seats there is additional room for standees. We expect more room to open up for spectators when the field is narrowed. Admission is free. The commentators can be heard over headphones which can be rented for $5 per game. A concession stand has opened up selling T-shirts, key chains, and hats with the event's logo. Day 4 Report from Jason Luchan With the entry of the seeded players today, we are finally experiencing the excitement and anticipation of a World Championship. Even without Kasparov, Anand, Karpov, and Morozevich, there are still about 7 players here who are or have been rated over 2700. The big question today is how rusty Gata Kamsky will be after his long layoff; he has been inactive since losing his match with Karpov in 1996. This round also represents the best chance for an upset of the seeded players. Sure enough, we did see a few upsets today. Ponomariov hung tough against Topalov and eked out a win after Topalov tried to hard to win from an equal position. One of the big favorites of here, Alexei Shirov, lost with the white pieces to Ivan Sokolov. He will face a difficult comeback tomorrow as he must win with black, and Sokolov is a rock solid player. What's more, Shirov appears to be a bundle of nerves; even Ivanchuk looks more calm and composed. Another surprise was Milos's win over Salov, who has been a candidate in the past, when the official challenger was decided by matches. Gata Kamsky returned to the arena with a flourish, crushing the strong but underrated Alexander Khalifman. Among those impressed with Kamsky's play was Vladimir Kramnik. Tomorrow will be a most interesting day. Those with must-win games include, Shirov, Topalov, Sadler, Salov, Speelman, Almasi, and Khalifman. Day 3 Report from Jason Luchan We were truly tempted to skip this report with a Monty Python-like: There is NO Day 3 Report. After all, we are a bit behind, and time is flying. The Round 3 playoffs are minutes away. You may wonder what happened to ace reporter Ian. Well, at the moment, he is watching GM Nigel Short analyze his second game with Beliavsky in the press room. His analysis partner is GM Yasser Seirawan. According to Ian, Short felt his position was completely winning at the end. "Why play it out?", Short said, "the most important thing is qualifying for the next round. Besides, I'd already played for six hours." Chess seems to be catching on in the press room; playing blitz are former FIDE president Campomanes and our hardware provider, FM Joel Salman. Let's go back to the day which is the subject of this report. There were 11 playoffs and, as usual, it was very hard to follow the games from the spectator's seats. Dreev's games with Zelcic seem particularly cursed. Not only were the games impossible to follow, but incorrect results were posted after the first two games. The one match I was able to follow was Khalifman-Barua (I was just a few feet away from the board). In the final game from that match, Khalifman ground out a classic Knight versus bad Bishop ending. Definitely worth a look for endgame afficionados. After noticing a resemblance between a player and a musician from the past, we starting drawing up a list of awards: best Paul Williams look-alike - Sakaev best Peter Lorre impersonation - Salov least likely to twich during a game - Topalov best scowl - Psakhis & Khalifman most mischievous-looking - Ponomariov most in need of a visit to an all-you-can-eat buffet - Ponomariov & Leko least in need of a visit to the buffet - Psakhis & Sakaev A New York chess store emailed me with an interesting request for information. Did we know the whereabouts of a certain Cuban GM? A relative believed he had defected. A quick check with another Cuban GM here at the site shot down that theory. The GM in question was visiting Las Vegas on the way to another chess tournament. Day 2 Report from Jason Luchan I must admit I had high expectations of the conditions for journalists at this event. In the past we heard that everyone received complimentary bottles of Kirsan vodka, as well as a copy of that literary classic, the Kirsan comic book. Further, there was even a big money tournament for journalists at one of Kirsan's prior events. Was it too optimistic of me to wish for a brand new Pentium III Kirsan laptop? You may wonder why the day 1 report did not mention any of the games. The answer is simple; we had extraordinary difficulty following any of the action. The rear of the playing hall is lined with eight screens which display computer-generated diagrams of the position in each game. Six screens displayed four games; on the other two, six games were crammed into the same space. Staring at these screens for too long must surely lead to blindness or insanity, or both. Following the games live entails further difficulties. At any point in time, there are four positions relevant for each game: the position on the board, the position on the computer screen in front of the commentators, the position on the official FIDE website, and the position on the screen in the press room and in the playing hall. Usually, these positions are off by a few moves. The commentators receive a direct feed from the auto-sensory boards used by the players. This display seen by the spectators lags behind the game by at least 10-20 seconds. It is not unusual for the display to show an illegal position, or for it to stall completely. The result is that the spectators have tremendous difficulty following the commentator's analysis. Only the commentators have access to the clock times of the players. For the first few days, the commentators have been American GMs Yasser Seirawan and Larry Christiansen, the Siskel & Ebert of chess. It has not been their fault that we have no clue which position they are discussing. Other news from the Kirsan press conference: Kirsan plans to run for the Russian presidency next year. No one expects him to win. The FIDE president mentioned the amount of money he has put into chess in the last few years, a mind-boggling $22 million. Could I have heard that correctly? Someone asked the obvious question: "why?" The answer: "I'm a well-off person and I need something to invest my money in." To finish today's report, let's mention a few games that are worth a look. From Round 1 Game 1, there is Ulf Andersson's fine technical win over Mohamed. Andersson made the Queen ending look easy. From Round 1 Game 2, the game of the day was surely Ponomariov-Al Modiakhi. The youngster gave up 3 pieces to win black's queen and had to defend a difficult position. While the commentators enthused over the exciting play, the display was stuck on the position after 27 b5. [Special thanks are owed to FM Joel Salman, who lent us his laptop when the Kirsan laptop fantasy didn't pan out.] Day 1 Report from Jason Luchan After filing our first report, Ian & I believed two possible scenarios were possible. Either our editor would cancel our press credentials immediately, or an overnight letter would arrive at the press center containing two tickets to Tel-Aviv with an invitation to join the Kasparov Chess School webpage. Neither has happened so far. We intend to leave the hard reporting to other qualified journalists. As you might have gathered from our first report, we will try to give the reader a feeling for what it is like to be on the scene. Let The Games Begin Upon my arrival at the press center the first day, I was surprised by the absence of atmosphere. Normally a world championship oozes atmosphere, but here in Las Vegas it is only a sideshow. The prize fund of $3 million is only a small chunk of change compared to the money changing hands in the casino downstairs at the Caesar's Palace venue. Our neighboring conventions are curious. Down the hall is the 10th annual Fraud Convention. Downstairs is the Cement Mason's Convention. Is there a connection to FIDE president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov? We wonder. My fellow ace reporter, Ian Aird, described it all as "surreal." For me this feeling began in New York as I discovered that Gata Kamsky, his father, and GM Amador Rodriguez were also on my flight. The journey to Vegas was beset by delays. Some small talk with the Kamskys helped pass the time. I had been hoping to arrive in time to pop in on the opening ceremony. No such luck. This event does not have the hordes of reporters that are usually present at such high profile events. The press room seats 40 journalists comfortably, but most of the time the room is barely one quarter full. To put it in perspective, this is the first world championship held in over 100 years without a current or former world champion participating. Even in the 1948 tournament, former champ Max Euwe competed. It is true that Maia Chiburdanidze is a former womens' champion. It's not quite the same thing. This event's version of the 2K bug is the absence of Kasparov and Karpov. Continuing with our theme of surreality, FIDE president Kirsan Icantspellhislastname gave a press conference in the press center 30 minutes after opening the championships in the tournament hall. Contrary to one exaggerated account, there were at most 15-20 journalists present according to ace statistician Ian, who later described the affair as "a parody of a press conference." Kirsan boasted about the new relationship between FIDE and the IOC, claiming that chess would be a demonstration sport at the Sydney Summer Olympics in 2000. GM Ian Rogers notified me by email that according to SOCOG, the Olympics organizing committee, the Olympics no longer have demonstration sports. It is about time to end this report with much left unreported. I write these lines at the end of day 5. We hope to catch up before next week, when your correspondents leave for Reno to play in the US Open. [To make up for our delay, here's the latest scoop. After Gata Kamsky lost his game today to Alexander Khalifman, he and his father proceeded to the press room, where they are now composing a letter of protest with the help of GM Yasser Seirawan. Their complaint is that several players who have finished their games are speaking to Kamsky's opponent.] The Kamskys are back in Town - it's an official protest letter: August 4, 1999 To the President of FIDE, Mr.Illumjinov and the appeals committee, This letter is to make a request regarding the rules of play. During the game of Khalifman-Kamsky, certain players, Sakaev, (who resides at the same city as Mr.Khalifman) Yermolinsky and Smirin disturbed me greatly. After these players finished their games, (during the first half-hour!), they then proceeded to analyze the positions in the hallway. After their discussions, they would visit my table, making gestures and pulling faces. I felt that their actions were clearly helpful to my opponent, Mr.Khalifman. In the Olympiad there is a very clear rule that after the players finish their games they are not allowed back into the playing area. This rule is to prevent collusion amongst the players. I believe that this sensible rule should be applied in the World Championship as well. In short, when the players finish their games, they should act as spectators and remain in the spectator area, not in the area of play. In particular, I request that the above-mentioned players be given notice, to stay out of the playing area, after they have finished their games. After all, this is a World Chess Championship and not just a St.Petersburg championship. Sincerely, (Signed) GM Gata Kamsky cc: Appeals Committee. Organizing Committee, FIDE President. Opinions about the games of the second round published in bulletin: Joel Lautier: "I did not have anything after the opening". Konstantin Sakaev: "Very simple game, with no problem". Judit Polgar: "I am happy that I won. Black move 24...c6 was probably a mistake". Lev Psakhis: "Very interesting game, but it should be a draw after perpetual check". Sergei Movsesian: "My opponent was in time pressure, he missed 29.Qb3 which gave him a lost position". Matthias Wahls: "I was surprised by the opening line played by Ivanchuk. I tried to improvise, but it turned out that he had full control and slowly he crushed me". Vladimir Kramnik: "I was slightly better but not enough to win the game. He defended the position very well and I could not see any winning chance". Peter Leko: "I could not equalize and was always under slight pressure. The best for me was to offer a draw, to get rid of this game and start fresh tomorrow". Nigel Short: "My opponent lost too much time in the opening and played inaccurately. I played quite well and had a very good position despite an interesting queen sacrifice by my opponent". Zurab Azmaiparashvili: "I had an interesting advantage, but then I played very bad. I came out with a losing position before I sacrificed an exchange which gave me some chance to survive". Vladislav Tkachiev: "He had 2 minutes to finish the game and I had 20 minutes with completely winning position. I just could not make it". Anthony Miles: "Very messy". Peng: "We had a big fight. The middle game was very complicated then Almasi went into time trouble and lost his way. The key move was 17 Qd5, which was very strong and Almasi 26.Ra5 was a terrible mistake". Rafael Leitao: "I won a nice game despite that I was out of preparation after move 13 Ndf6. The decisive move was 29.c5 when I sacrificed a pawn to open the position". Alexander Khalifman: "Kamsky played very well, but I missed the opening. I could not find the right plan and after he played f5, his attack was just too strong". Ruslan Ponomariov: "Very bad game. Both players played very bad". Day 0 Report from Ian Aird The opening ceremony of the 1999 FIDE World Championships took place in the Circus Maximus Showroom at Caesar's Palace on Friday evening. The tables near the stage were reserved for players and their seconds while the remaining tables were open to the public. Each person was served a piece of chocolate cake with a large white chocolate button on it displaying the championship logo. It would have made a nice souvenir but unfortunately I hadn't eaten since lunch. I was almost alone in partaking of the cake and there must have been many left over at the end of the ceremony. Rumours that FIDE officials have put on 20lbs since the opening ceremony are as yet unconfirmed. I can however testify that the champagne flowed freely and was also much enjoyed by your correspondent. The hospitality in the press room is somewhat less lavish. We survive here on a diet of bread and water. The bread hasn't yet made an appearance, but is promised before the championships end. I found the ceremony an interesting if trifle bizarre experience. I've never seen so many grandmasters with such bemused faces. It really was a treat to behold the faces of the world's chess elite looking like their opponents had opened 1.h4 or 1.g4. After the various predictable speeches (thankfully short), the vice president of FIDE, Emmanuel Omuku, rushed excitedly onto the stage to interupt the MC mid-sentence. He was delighted to read a message from "His Excelency" William Jefferson Clinton. Bill is apparently an avid player. Attempts to track down some Clinton-Lewinsky games have so far been unsuccessful. The ceremony concluded with a fashion show. Several models strutted down the stage wearing expensive black and white fur coats. The faces of the GM's at the front was a picture. A Russian gentleman was introduced as the 4th greatest tenor in the world, not the most flattering introduction. He proceeded to sing in Russian to a piano accompaniment. This was too much excitment for one evening and I left during the encore.