Commentary by Alexander Baburin
Kramnik is a New World Champion! The match between Kasparov and Kramnik produced a big surprise: not only Kramnik beat Kasparov, but he did it very convincingly. Kasparov became the second World Champion after Lasker who lost his title without winning even one game in the match. Kramnik missed a win in games 4 and 6, so the score could be even higher. When I asked my fellow GMs about Kramnik's chances in the match, they all said that Kasparov would win for sure. Personally I believed that Kramnik had some chances, despite his previous poor match history. However, I could not imagine that Kasparov would lose the way he did...
I went to London to see games 8 and 9 and it was an enjoyable experience. Kasparov and Kramnik played in the Riverside Studios, which is a TV studio located not too far away from the centre of London. There are about 300 places available in the studio and when I was there the hall was almost full. Another 50-60 chess fans usually gather in the canteen, where they could follow the game on TV screen. All spectators could listen to the commentary on their headphones. During those two games GMs Short, Speelman and Rowson were the commentators. I truly enjoyed listening to their conversations, which keep the spectators well informed about what was going on in the game.
I guess that a lot of people followed the match on the Internet, where some sites gave good coverage, for example Brain Games plc (www.braingames.net), Kasparov Chess (www.kasparovchess.com) and London Chess Centre (www.chesscenter.com). I heard that Internet Chess Club also covered the event well. However, there was not any TV coverage of the match in Britain, which is a big mistake of the organisers of the match, who missed a good chance to popularise chess and promote their company. I heard that Brain Games plc did not seek TV coverage because they wanted more people to turn to their Web site. To me this argument sounds strange Ų more people would have learned about Brain Games plc and their Web site if the match was on TV!
It is not very clear what impact the match and its result will have on chess. Some people hope that there will be a reunion between the World Champion and FIDE now, but this probably does not quite fit the plans of Brain Games plc. By the way, this company has ambitious ideas, but it is too early to say how realistic they are. Certainly I am not convinced by its plan that everyone will be allowed to compete in the next World Championship over the Internet. Even playing blitz on ICC some people cheat, using their computers, so how they abandon them given a chance to play in the World Championship?! Personally, I have no interest in playing against somebody‚s Fritz!
Brain Games organisation has its own rating. So, we have FIDE ratings, PCA rating and now we get yet another rating system! Curiously enough, in this rating list Anand is only No. 7. Surely it has nothing to do with his refusal to play the match against Kasparov! At the same time Shirov takes the third spot and I hope that such a high placing will strengthen his position in the legal action, which he took against Kasparov in Spain.
Immediately after game 15 Kasparov said that he wanted another match against Kramnik. I am not sure that sponsors will be easy to find though. The match, which we just saw, was less than exiting for a chess public, to put it mildly... So, perhaps the ex-champ should use the idea of one of my friends, who suggested that Kasparov should immediately play a match-revenge against... Shirov! That would solve all problems, wouldn't it?! :-) Another interesting thought is what will happen if Brain Game plc will go bust? So, let's wait and see what the next few months will bring us. Something may happen at the FIDE Congress, which is taking place in Istanbul now. Alas, FIDE seems to be going ahead with its much criticised commercialisation plans...