The International Qualification Tournament, 1997

By Ants Soosõrv (Translated by Irene Einberg), 1997

In the WCQT '97 participated 20 players from 11 countries. Compared with the former WC, the competition this time was much stronger. The potential favourites for the 5 places who could proceed in the 5th WC, were all three Japanese players, Sinjov, Peskov, Veidemanis, Karlsson and Soosõrv. Also Armenian players Voskanyan and Pogasyan were dangerous, as well as Eibatov, Ponomarenko and Gurtskis.
Japanese started mightily. Europeans did not get even a half of a point from them in the first four rounds. Sagara and Nara made a quick draw in the fourth round - they had finally learnt something from the Europeans. After the mentioned round the leaders of the tournament were Sagara, Nara and Soosõrv with 3,5 points, followed by Kashihara and Voskanyan with 3 points. Karlsson, Veidemanis and Degtyar all had 2,5 points. Sinyov and Peskov who had started with a point from three rounds had spurted to two points after the fourth round. In the fifth round Soosõrv beat Sagara, Nara and Kashihara "halved" a point. Degtyar demonstrated an extraordinary skill of losing a good position and he lost to Voskanyan. Game Karlsson-Veidemanis had a dramatic end, after long fighting Veidemanis made a mistake and lost.
In the sixth round made a draw without struggle Voskanyan-Kashihara and Soosõrv-Nara. Sagara demolished quickly Karlsson's position and Sinjov subdued Ponomarenko, Peskov got only a half of a point from Veidemanis.
During the night before the final round, the only one who could drink champagne (that he did, of course). He had collected 5 points; 4,5 had Sagara, Nara and Voskanyan had to read coefficients. Sinyov and Kashihara with 4 points had to calculate their chances in case of a victory in the final round. There was hope also for S.Karlsson with 3,5 points and a good coefficient.
Soosõrv-Voskanyan, Peskov-Sagara, Sinyov-Nara and Kashihara-Karlsson were the opponents in the final round.
Before the game Voskanyan-Soosõrv, the latter was processed psychologically from various sides. In the name of the Japanese delegation Kazuto Hasegawa announced that A.Soosõrv should play for a win. Voskanyan in his turn tried to get a draw. Sinyov of course gave me a firm command to play for a victory. But Sinyov's wish is Soosõrv's command! Quite quickly Peskov lost to Sagara and Kashihara to Karlsson. Sinyov and Soosõrv, who both won in the final round, where among the last players who finished their games. Hayakawa thanked me after the game two times with a hand shake. I had no intention to play for a draw.

As a summary I think that the five who could continue in the 5th WC was quite justified. Perhaps Veidemanis could have had skills enough to fight for place among the seven best. In Voskanyan's case the fact that he is not training had decreased his chances. Peskov was in an obvious bad shape and Kashihara seemed to be a little weaker than the other Japanese.
I deeply hope that the QT to come are going to be as interesting as the one this year!