Alexander Khalifman wins World Chess Championship

by Sam Sloan

LAS VEGAS August 28: Alexander Khalifman is the new world chess champion, as a result of drawing the sixth game of his match against Vladimir Akopian.

Akopian as black entered the sixth game trailing by one point and therefore had to throw caution to the winds because if he failed to win this game, the match would be over.
Sam Sloan interviews Grandmaster Alexander Khalifman immediately after Khalifman won the World Chess Championship
Photo by Grandmaster Amador Rodriguez

Accordingly, Akopian played the risky Benoni Opening. Khalifman cooperated by playing sharp moves even though as he acknowledged at the press conference after the match he could have avoided complications and played simple dull moves trying to head for a draw.

Indeed, Akopian essayed a theoretical novelty by playing an unusual queen move on move 13, and shortly thereafter Khalifman offered to sacrifice a pawn.

Taking the pawn would have exposed his king to threats, so Akopian did not take it but instead brought his queen to the center, complicating the game.

Most commentators agreed that objectively this gave White the advantage but at the same time was beneficial for Black because the resulting complications gave Black good chances to win.

At the press conference after the match, Khalifman said that he had just decided to play a regular game but when he saw a variation which led to a clear draw he said "Enough is enough", and headed for the draw, which he got.

The draw left Khalifman the match victor by a score of 3.5 - 2.5.

Khalifman said at the press conference that he is an amateur and not a chess professional. He will devote his primary efforts to his grandmaster chess school in St. Petersburg, Russia, which is online at .

This Knockout tournament for the World Championship started with 100 players. Akopian and Khalifman reached the finals after all other of the 100 players were eliminated.

Here is the final game of the match.

[Event "FIDE World Chess Championship"]
[Site "Las Vegas USA"]
[Date "1999.08.28"]
[Round "6"]
[White "Khalifman,Alexander"]
[Black "Akopian,Vladimir"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[Opening "Queen's pawn game"]
[ECO "E10"]
[NIC "BI.03"]
[Time "17:29:18"]
[TimeControl "6000+30"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 e6 3. c4 c5 4. d5 exd5 5. cxd5 d6 6. Nc3 a6 7. a4 g6 8. Nd2 Nbd7 9. e4 Bg7 10. Be2 O-O 11. O-O Re8 12. Qc2 Rb8 13. Ra3 Qe7 14. h3 h6 15. a5 g5 16. Nc4 Ne5 17. Nxe5 Qxe5 18. f4 Qd4+ 19. Kh2 b5 20. axb6 Rxb6 21. e5 dxe5 22. fxg5 hxg5 23. Bxg5 e4 24. Na4 Rd6 25. Rg3 Nxd5 26. Bh5 Rf8 27. Nc3 Kh8 28. Rxf7 Rxf7 29. Bxf7 Be5 30. Nxd5 Rxd5 31. Bxd5 Qxd5 32. Qd2 Qxd2 33. Bxd2 Kh7 34. Bc3 Bf4 35. Be1 e3 36. Kg1 Bxg3 37. Bxg3 a5 38. Bf4 e2 39. Kf2 Bb7 40. Kxe2 Bxg2 {Game drawn by mutual agreement} 1/2-1/2

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