|Corus Draw Sets up Showdown|
|By Macauley Peterson|
|January 27, 2007|
by Macauley Peterson
Saturday, Jan. 27 Wijk aan Zee, The Netherlands
At the Corus opening ceremony, fifteen days ago, the drawing of lots was facilitated by a group of school children lined up on stage in numbered football jerseys. Each child was selected by a grandmaster in the “A” group, some of whom thought the jersey numbers would become pairing numbers in the draw. But in a sudden reversal, the children removed their top tee shirts to reveal a second jersey underneath with a completely different number. The result of this random process resounded throughout the chess world today. Two champions fought to a draw, and 19-year-old Teimour Radjabov has his first shot at the Corus “A” title, Sunday.
As reported on CLO on Thursday, today’s match-up between Veselin Topalov and Vladimir Kramnik is to be the only tournament meeting between these players in 2007, according to both players’ present schedules.Topalov, the first to arrive at the playing hall, took his seat at the board surrounded by a media frenzy more commonly seen at a boxing match. The number of photographers and public spectators today easily dwarfed any of the prior eleven rounds. When Kramnik arrived, with coffee and water in hand, he scarcely glanced at his Bulgarian opponent, and neither player offered his hand in magnanimous tribute to the spirit of the game. In the wake of their now infamous World Championship match in Elista, significant animosity remains between the pair's respective camps.
Indeed, the penultimate round in Wijk aan Zee began amid yet more allegations of cheating – this time in a major German daily newspaper, Süddeutsche Zeitung. While Kramnik’s behavior in his Elista bathroom was the subject of much scrutiny and accusation last October, lead primarily by Topalov’s manager, Silvio Danailov, today Danailov himself was the subject of scrutiny by the German reporter who filed the story.The alleged collusion between Mr. Danailov and Mr. Topalov, reported in Süddeutsche (available in translation), is utterly unsubstantiated, and has been dismissed by both veteran Corus journalists and, more importantly, by the tournament director and arbiters. It contains several examples of questionable innuendo, such as the claim that Topalov, in a typical thinking pose during a game, apparently studying the board, “could also be peeking through his fingers at Danailov, who sometimes executed some strange movements,” like putting on his glasses and tapping them.
The reporter attempts to give credence to his theory by noting that the chief arbiter, Thomas Van Beekum, agreed to look into the claim, and then did, but, inexcusably, the article does not continue to explain the arbiter found no evidence to support the accusations. Tournament director, Jeroen van den Berg, interviewed for this story, confirmed that the allegations had been considered, and rejected by the organizing committee.
The alleged cheating is said to have been observed primarily during Topalov’s second round match with six-time Dutch champion Loek Van Wely. Given that this game was played back on Sunday, January 14th, it strikes this reporter as odd that the Süddeutsche story is only emerging now, the day of Topalov’s match with Kramnik.
More illuminating still, is the
statement by Loek Van Wely
himself, at a press conference following his win over Peter Svidler
this afternoon (video). When
asked about the report, he said, “I heard about some people were suggesting
this [sic], but I must say from the play of Topalov,
I cannot say that he was getting – let’s say helpful – signals, because my
opinion was that after the opening my position was almost lost, let’s say, and
somehow I still got back into the game, so I don’t know what kind of signals he
got, but maybe it was not 'chess signals' [laughs]…I would expect him to crush
me really badly if he was getting some signals – otherwise, why get signals?"
Thanks to Edwin "forest" Woudt (ChessVibes.com) for assistance with this story. Macauley Peterson has been reporting live from Corus all this week on the Internet Chess Club's Chess.fm webcast. He can be reached at www.MacauleyPeterson.com.