Garry Kasparov Calls MSN World Challenge “One for the History Books”

LONDON, Sept. 2, 1999 — Has Kasparov finally met his match? At a press conference in London’s Home House, world chess champion Garry Kasparov today admitted that the “Kasparov vs. The World” online chess match, hosted by the MSN TM network of Internet services, is more challenging than he expected and that he is thrilled and surprised by the World Team’s performance. The match, now in its third month and 37th move, still shows no indication of a winner. In fact, despite being in the midst of what followers are calling “a hotly contested endgame,” the match could continue for as many as 60 moves and extend into the fall. Spectators and players alike are encouraged to log on to http://www.MSN.com/ , click on “games” and join the world team in its quest to defeat the world champion.

“This experiment on MSN.com proves that collaboration over the Internet can raise the quality of play remarkably,” Kasparov said. “Throughout the match, the World Team has consistently performed at a level that far surpasses what you would expect from anyone rated less than a grandmaster.”

Microsoft and Kasparov are using the technological innovation of the Internet to bring people together from around the world in this unique, collaborative competition. Since June 21, MSN.com has received more than 15 million page views, and “Kasparov vs. The World” is now rated the largest interactive competition in history. People from more than 79 countries have logged on to MSN.com and joined the World Team, which is open to chess fans of all skill levels.

“It seems to me that the World Team has a distinct advantage here, and I don’t envy Kasparov’s position,” said Yusuf Mehdi, director, Consumer and Commerce Group at Microsoft. “Unlike playing one on one, where you might guess what your opponent is thinking, Kasparov is up against the collective brain power of tens of thousands of people, whose moves have been unpredictable and quite savvy.”

The match has garnered a loyal following among chess fans around the world, who regularly log on to MSN.com to follow the match and participate in a variety of Kasparov-related community events. Throughout the match, the World Team’s next move has been the topic of heated debates on bulletin boards on MSN. In addition, MSN.com hosts regular chats with Danny King, commentator for “Kasparov vs. The World,” in which he invites the World Team to weigh in with their opinions of the game.

At today’s press conference, King also alluded to the World Team’s astute level of play.

“I think at the beginning of the match, everyone simply assumed that Kasparov was going to win,” King said. “But this has not been an easy match for him, and even at this late stage of the game, the outcome is unclear.”

About “Kasparov vs. The World”

“Kasparov vs. The World” is an online, interactive chess tournament hosted by the MSN network of Internet services.

Kasparov, playing as white, made the first move on June 21 and has made subsequent moves every 48 hours thereafter. Once Kasparov’s move is posted to MSN, the World Team, playing as black, has 24 hours to cast its vote for a countermove. The move receiving the most votes is selected as the World Team’s move against Kasparov.

Throughout the chess match, the World Team makes its moves under the guidance of four chess experts who act as World Team “coaches,” suggesting moves and strategies to counter each of Kasparov’s moves. The World Team coaches are next-generation chess champions who have gained recognition in the international chess community:

  • Etienne Bacrot, 16, won first place at the Championnat de France 1999 in Besan
    Ç
    on last week. Two years ago Etienne became the youngest grandmaster in history at age 14.

  • Florin Felecan, 19, is the highest-rated American chess player under 21.

  • Irina Krush, 15, is the U.S. women’s chess champion and youngest member of the U.S. Olympiad team.

  • Elisabeth P
    ä
    htz, 14, won first place on August 29 in the German Women’s Individual Championships at Chemnitz in the former East Germany. This victory makes her the youngest national champion in German history. Two years ago, at age 12, Elisabeth became Champion of the German Federal States in the under-20 category.

The game will continue until one king is checkmated or the game declared a draw. “Kasparov vs. The World” is open to anyone with Internet access. To reach the site, players and spectators log on to http://www.MSN.com/ and click on “games.”

About MSN

MSN is the network of Internet services from Microsoft that helps people better organize the Web around what’s important to them. The network of MSN services, located on the Web at MSN.com ( http://MSN.com/ ), helps people easily stay in touch with friends and colleagues, make smart and secure purchasing decisions, and get more done. MSN offers award-winning e-mail functionality; personal communications services; wireless services information; customizable access to news; popular sites for travel, investing, automotive services, shopping and more; an online community; a Web search engine and directories; and top-rated Internet access.

About the MSN Gaming Zone

With more than 8 million registered users from around the world and up to 45,000 unique visitors per day, the Zone is the most popular gaming community on the Internet. The Zone offers free* membership and a wide variety of games including free* card, board and puzzle games; free* matchmaking for popular CD-ROM games; and premium games designed specifically for “massively multiplayer” gaming on the Internet. In addition, the MSN Gaming Zone has teamed with others to offer its members expanded gaming services such as industry news, product reviews, downloadable demos, online shopping and a broader range of online games.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.

*Connect-time charges may apply.

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