A NOVEL chess match between four chess legends, all former world championship candidates, and four young lady players took place from 28th November to 5th December at the Cristal Palace hotel in Marianzke Lazne.
Chess legends—Viktor Korchnoi (78 years old), Jan Timman (58), Robert Huebner (61), and Vlastimil Hort (65)—competed with young woman grandmasters—Humpy Koneru (22), Anna Muzychuk (19), Katerina Lahno (20), and Jana Jackova (27)—in a double-round Scheveningen contest dubbed as ‘Snowdrops and Old-hands’ Czech Coal Chess Match 2009.
The rate of play was 90 minutes for 40 moves with additional 30 minutes to the end of the game and 30 seconds added for each completed move starting from the first move. The tournament was organized by Prague Chess Society—a civic association.
The youngsters won the match by the narrowest of margin, 16½ to 15½. The ladies went off to a fast start in the first round, winning 3 matches and drawing one, to take a lead of 3 points at the halfway mark.
The first two matches in the second round were drawn as it appeared that the ladies were coasting along and maintained their three-point lead. The seasoned chess celebrities won the last two matches, both by slimmest of margin of one point, but were not enough to overcome the ladies early big lead.
The best performance was registered by India’s Koneru (rated 2603) with 5½ points out of 8. The only blot in her escutcheon was a last round loss to the ‘evergreen’ Korchnoi. She drew with Huebner (two draws) and Korchnoi (split wins), beat Timman (1½-½) and Hort (2-0). The shutout victory over Hort gave the amazons the marginal point for the match victory. A single draw would have resulted into a tied match.
Slovenia’s Muzychuk (2532) turned in a plus one score (4 ½); Ukraine’s Lahno (2499) registered an even score (4); while Czech’s Jackova (2388) had a minus three score (2½) but scored her lone win over Viktor, the Terrible.
The performances of the veterans were more or less even. The Netherlands’ Timman (2591) was top with a plus one score (4½), Germany’s Huebner (2603) had an even score (4), whereas Switzerland’s Korchnoi (2567) and host country Czech’s Hort (2494) both turned in a minus score (3½). Korchnoi was the lone victor (no pun intended) against Koneru.
The event was graced by another chess legend, the former world chess champion Boris Spassky (1969-1972).