Onlineworldchess.com was launched in Amsterdam on Wednesday. The website is the brainchild of chess entrepreneur Bessel Kok. Internet players will qualify to play in an event in the Netherlands, April 20 - May 5, 2002 with prize-money of 1.4m. There is an entry fee of 32.50 and according to the press release they expect an entry of 100,000 players worldwide.
This looks rather ambitious. FIDE, the world chess federation, could only muster 240 players for the Internet Qualifiers for the forthcoming World Chess Championships in Moscow. The top eight internet players will join 120 of the world elite in the knock-out championships in November. It was a reasonable idea by FIDE to give any player in the world the chance to play in the championship but they naively assumed that chessplayers had high moral integrity.
Not so. The qualifiers descended into farce with weak players cheating from the privacy of their homes by using computers to enhance their play. Mark Crowther of The Week in Chess website has received a flood of emails from exasperated GMs - typical comments: "At least 90% of the participants are cheating, using computers, or teams of GMs."
Weak qualifiers will not progress beyond the first round in Moscow but will still be paid 6,000. This may be sufficiently attractive financial lure to justify the scam but it hardly seems worth the effort.
Nor is cheating restricted to online chess. FIDE have just removed the GM title from the Romanian player Alexandru Crisan. The 38-year-old had been a 2200 rated player in the late 1980s but reappeared on the chess scene a few years ago with a 2635 rating (world top 50) gained from privately organised events. No games were published and "real" Romanian GMs protested that the country’s number one player was a fraud. FIDE reacted by saying Crisan should confirm his rating by playing in tournaments.
At the Vidmar Memorial in Portoroz, Slovenia in July GM Crisan found the going tough, scoring a miserable 0.5/9. In the diagram position the Romanian looked as if he was going to gain a draw as Black after GM Mohr (2484) offered a rook exchange with 57 Rxe3 . However Black found 57...Ra5?? , a very poor decision when the king and pawn ending is such an easy draw. The rook ending is still a theoretical draw but Crisan found a way to lose and finished with a tournament performance of 2130. Chess magazine report that Crisan followed the Portoroz debacle by "winning" a tournament in Yugoslavia. Here is one of two wins against his best customer - 59-year-old GM Dusan Rajkovic of Yugoslavia. Is this a pre-arranged game?
Kladovo, Yugoslavia, White: D Rajkovic (2497), Black: A Crisan (2635), Opening: Nimzo-Indian.
1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Bg5 c5 5 d5 h6 6 Bh4 d6 7 f3 Bxc3+ 8 bxc3 e5 9 e4 Nbd7 10 Bd3 Nf8 11 Ne2 g5 12 Bf2 Ng6 13 g3 Bh3 14 Rg1 Nh5 15 Nc1 Qf6 16 f4 exf4 17 Qxh5 Qxc3+ 18 Kd1 Ne5 19 Qxh3 Nxd3 20 Nxd3 Qxd3+ 21 Kc1 Qc3+ 22 Kb1 Qd3+ 23 Kc1 Qxc4+ 24 Kd2 Qb4+ 25 Kd3 Qb2 26 Rgf1 b5 27 e5 c4+ 28 Ke4 Qxe5+ White resigns.
The 40th Glasgow Congress takes place November 2-4 at Glasgow Caledonian University. View an entry form at www.scottischess.com, collect one from Chess Scotland office, 15 Hope Street, Glasgow. Contact Ken Stewart 01236 431394 for more details.