For one brief, unblemished instant last week, the imminent world board games contest clash between Indian holder Viswanathan Anand and Israeli contestant Boris Gelfand was shaping up to be the second most attractive match of the year.
Viswanathan – Boris, which starts May 10 in Moscow, assure to be a fascinating fight for hard-core chess junkies, but it’s also a grouping with basically zero sporting interest for the broader presentation public, at least for those outside of the contestant’s individual hometowns.
By contrast, the official-sounding declaration that Hungary’s Judit Polgar the most female player in the record of the game had determined to take on China’s Hou Yifan the 17-year-old reigning women’s world winner and a rising superstar in an eight-game, mixed traditional and quick match in Beijing starting Sept. 26 had an exhilarating effect.
Polgar was for a decade one of the top 10 players in the world – man or woman – and even now ranks in the top 30. Hou, who protected her title last year against Indian Humpy Koneru and started 2012 with fantastic results at open events in Gibraltar and Reykjavik, has shot up the ratings charts and is prepared to emerge as the first female player able to give Polgar a tough fight. The fact that Hou defeated Polgar in their game at Gibraltar only added to the prospect.
Alas, reports of the match, which first appeared on Chinese chess blogs, appear to have outpaced reality. Polgar put out a statement last week that the Beijing match was news to her and denied even discussing conventionality to play. Still, in the interest of ginning up material to make the match a reality, we nearby here a sample of what might have been and motionless may be, with games from both players early in their careers that gave a assure of greatness.