Zhang Pengxiang -- Chinese Dark Horse who Beats Karpov

The introversive Chinese Zhang Pengxiang could not help smiling after he surprisingly eliminated former chess world champion Anatoly Yevgenyevich Karpov in the first round of the 2001 FIDE World Chess Championships in Moscow.

"I am glad," said the 21-year-old Zhang after his playoff victory, "I has prepared for nearly two months before the game in case I met him."

Emerged as the darkest horse of the championships, Zhang, ranked 113th, held the Russian to two draws in regular matches andforced him into the two tie-breaks during which he mounted tensionuntil his famed opponent ran out of time while considering his next move.

"I wanted to draw the first two games and to play the tie-breaks. My idea was to avoid the exchange of pieces to preserve mychances and to maintain tension in the game," Zhang said. "I took the upper hand in the second tie-breaker. He used up his time and had to give up."

These tactics proved to be a brilliant success against the 48-year-old Karpov, who had already conceded victory to Zhang four years ago at an exhibition game in China.

"He is my idol," Zhang revealed. "I told myself during the gamenot to play softly just because of my admiration for him." Zhang said.

Zhang has been an admirer of the Russian grand master since he was five years old.

"It is still fresh in my memory that I read a chess book of Karpov by chance in 1985 which I liked very much," Zhang said. "Itlifted me to a higher level."

"I was happy that I took on him in the first round."

Zhang, joined the national squad four years ago, finished fourth in the Asian men's chess championships this year. He was the runner-up in 1998 national men's chess championships.

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