Fight, Test , Suffering, Pain, Patience

I would like to congratulate both Michael Adams and Rustam Kasimdzhanov for a great and exciting KO match.  As I watched this match on ICC, it reminded me of the George Foreman vs. Ron Lyle heavy weight-boxing match in 1976. That was a 4 Knockdown affair, with Foreman being the last man standing in the 5th round. In the Adams vs. Kasimdzhanov match, there would be 5 knockdowns and it would be Kasimdzhanov who would be the last man standing. In an interview back in 2001, Rustam Kasimdzhanov was asked to describe chess quickly and in just five words. Rustam replied “fight, test, pain, suffering and patience.”  Those five words describe Rustam drive to the KO title. 

Rustam was tested early by new Costa Rican star Alejandro Ramirez, the 10th youngest player in history to earn the GM title. This first round battle went in to the rapid phase of the match, before Rustam was able to KO Alejandro. Rustam was in fighting spirit when he ousted both Ehasan Ghaem Maghami and Zoltan Almasi in the classical phase of the KO. Rustam used his patience to get past Ivanchuk, the 4th seed and 2002 FIDE KO finalist. Rustam drew all classical games, and broke thru in the rapid phase of the match. Rustam would experience his first pain in round 5 of the KO. Rustam jumped out in front by  winning the first game of the classical match against Alexander Grischuk. Grischuk, the 3rd seed, would bounce back in the 2nd game and give Rustam his first loss of the KO. However Rustam would pass this difficult test by winning both games of his rapid match to knockout Grischuk. Rustam would use his patience to eliminate Topalov, the number 1 seed. Rustam drew the classical games of the match, then Kayoed Topalov in both rapid games. 

    This led to the final showdown against Michael Adams, the 2nd seed and 1997 FIDE KO finalist. I think all five of these words: fight, test, pain, suffering, and patience, could describe the final KO bout between Rustam Kasimdzhanov and Michael Adams, which took 8 games to be decided.

     Nigel Short, who slugged it out with Garry Kasparov in the 1993 World Championship, said it best  “Both players will be aware that a better opportunity to become world champion is unlikely to present itself. Nerves are thus sure to play an immense role in what promise to be a gripping and tightly contested final.”

   No doubt Adams gave Rustam his toughest test in the KO. Rustam needed patience to draw games 1 and 8. Rustam felt the pain of defeat in games 3 and 5. Rustam certainly was suffering in game 6, when Adams was one move away from winning the match. Rustam was at his fighting best when he won games 2, 4, and 7.  I thought the critical game of the chess match was game 4. The score going into this game was 1.5 – 1.5 both players had a win apiece. Rustam had drawn game 1 and won game two. Adams bounced back to win game 3 to tie the match. 

    I was thinking at the time about the Lakers vs. the Pistons NBA finals, where game 3 was the critical game. If you recall the Pistons had dominated and won game 1. The Pistons were dominating game two and allowed the Lakers to rebound to take game two. At that point I felt the Lakers, who had an NBA All-star Team, had establish their dominance and were going to take the series with no difficulties. However that was not the case. The Pistons were not fazed by the loss in game 3. They showed their championship character and went on to win the 2003-2004 NBA title. 

     Going into game 4 of the KO finals at Libya, I felt the same way as I did after game 3 of the NBA finals. I thought Adams would dominate; after all he was the 2nd seed facing the 27th seed. I thought the strain of playing all the top seeds would affect Rustam. Well he proved me wrong. Rustam was not fazed by his loss in game 3 and fought back to win game 4 and regain the lead. Adams tied it back up again in game 5 and was a move from being champ in game 6. However as Nigel correctly said, nerves would play a part. Adams missed the win in game 6, when he missed the winning move 42 ... qe4+, and drew the game. Adams showed his nerves again in game 7 of the rapid match and quickly fell apart.

       Rustam, the 27th seed was able to defeat the first 4 seeds of this KO, an extraordinary accomplishment. Rustam was able for the most part hold the top players off with his classical game and break thru in the rapid phases of each match. Rustam has won the right to play Garry Kasparov in a semifinal match for reunification.  Rustam is planning on being a busy champion. He will play in as many tournaments as he can. When asked how he would prepare for the forthcoming match with Garry Kasparov?  Rustam replied “I will drink a cup of coffee with my friends and we will discuss the plans. I have played Kasparov a few times with disastrous results. I hope this will change of course.” This shows Rustam is staying grounded. He knows there is more work to do. 

    The question for Kasparov is, how good is Rustam at 25?  Does his results at the FIDE KO represent a significant jump in strength?  Rustam was the 27th seed at the KO and is rated number 52 in the world. However back in July of 2001, he was rated 2712 and a top 12 player. Rustam attributes this high rating to playing in the Bundesliga league. Becoming a champion, even a KO Champion, can be a big boost to your confidence and play. Rustam says he is at his most dangerous now. He is an indeed a very dangerous player. He proved that against the top four seeds at Libya. The Kasparov vs. Kasimdzhanov match will occur sometime in 2005

    Kasparov has been preoccupied with other issues, such as Russian Politics, his chess book series on his great predecessors. Kasparov has showed his rust in Linares in 2004. He missed several winning chances. Kasparov's match record since 1997 has not been that good. He lost to Deep Blue in 1997 and also to Kramnik in 2000. Kasparov has drawn both computer matches in 2003 against Deep Junior and X3D Fritz. Kasparov should not take Kasimdzhanov lightly, because he is a dangerous confident KO Champion.

The games of the final match from .
 More about the FIDE KO is at .

How Kasimdzhanov won the 2004 Libya KO