World No.2 ranked Viswanathan Anand who left Chennai this morning for his Madrid home disagreed with the opinion of FIDE World Champion Alexander Khalifman of Russia published in a recent interview. "It is highly improbable", reacted Anand to the statement of Khalifman which looked more pessimistic of conventional tournaments and buoyant with those on the Internet.
In an interview published in the German magazine, Der Spiegel, Khalifman said, "Chess is the most typical Internet sport. In five years there will be perhaps one tournament in the old style per year, at most two. The rest will take place in the Internet." Anand sees the statement pretty much premature before the first major Internet event is to take place in February 2000.
Khalifman who had won the FIDE World Championship Knock Out at Las Vegas continues to suffer from lack of invitation and his first major event is a match he would play against Peter Leko of Hungary in the first week of January 2000 at Budapest. This perhaps points to his view. On the contrary, Khalifman is still not in the World top 25 with the victory at Las Vegas and is yet to feel the privileges of a champion and the statement may be to preempt tournament organisers to an invitation.
It is true that fewer top events were held in 1999 than in any previous year. It has caused anxious moments to professional players whose livings depend on them. Two events not held were Invesbanka, Belgrade and Fontys, Tilburg. The changes in the dates of the FIDE Championship held Las Vegas hurt some organisers and some like those in Dortmund had to conduct a short event with few players.
Today, over 70,000 games are played each day on the Internet Chess Club alone and there are many sites offering this facility. There are grandmasters like Alexander Morozevich, Alexei Shirov and Nigel Short frequently playing blitz games on the Internet. Still, there should be more normal games played in thousands of chess clubs worldwide. Khalifman's view could be a longshot and the problems of an Internet Tournament will be written about only after the first top level event is held in Garry Kasparov's website this February.
Report by Arvind Aaron, Chennai Dec 19, 1999