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Russia: World Plays Chess Champ Karpov -- And Loses

  • Julie Moffett



Washington, 27 August 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Russian chess champion Anatoly Karpov challenged the world to beat him in the first open Internet chess match, but the world proved to be sorry competition.

The match, nicknamed "Karpov vs the World," took place Monday and was open to anyone with access to the Internet. It was sponsored by Telecom Finland, the national telephone company of Finland.

Visitors from every corner of the earth could watch Karpov make a move. They had ten minutes to suggest proposals for countermoves. A computer tallied all of the suggestions and then executed the most popular one.

The game site generated over 500,000 "hits" -- visits from Internet users -- from all over the world. On average, about 250 players took part in voting for the "World's" each move.

But four and a half hours and 32 moves later, the "World" surrendered.

Karpov is the reigning World Chess Federation (WCF) champion, a title he retained last month by beating opponent Gata Kamsky in a championship match.

Garry Kasparov, also from Russia, holds a similar title given out by the Professional Chess Association, a splinter faction of the WCF. Kasparov is widely considered to be the world's best chess player.

He recently beat a supercomputer called "Blue" in a "machine versus human" chess match sponsored by International Business Machines (IBM). Visitors watched the game unfold on the Internet. Kasparov has agreed to a rematch scheduled for later this year.

Chess fans who missed Karpov play the "World" can watch him play "Team Finland" -- six of Finland's top chess players -- online beginning August 29 at 13:00 GMT (6 a.m. EDT).

Interested visitors can find the site at http://www.tele.fi/karpov

Telecom Finland declined to state how much it is paying Karpov for his participation in the two matches.
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