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Tennis, Anyone?

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There's a fluffy little piece on Anand's current chess promotion tour in India. Most mainstream chess news coverage in English comes from India or the Philippines. Spanish and Latin American papers are also good. As for other languages, a Google news search in German turns up 76 hits for "Kramnik" right now and only 24 in English. That despite there being over six times as many English sources, although many of them are small, local US newspapers. US and UK papers feel that chess needs to be ghettoized with the classified adds or the comics instead of included in the sports pages. It's one thing (and a good thing) for the Olympics to rule us out again, but being dumped in with the crossword is humiliating.

Where was I? Oh yes, tennis. Anand joked about how his mother originally put him into a tennis program.

Explaining to them what aptitude means, Anand, who is the Brand Ambassador of NIIT, said, "it is that quality through which one naturally excels in his chosen field. I guess I didn't have any aptitude for tennis as it meant that I had to get up early in the morning, go to the courts and run five rounds first," Anand said."

No doubt. I'm much more likely to be going to bed at 5am than getting up. Actually, I'm even more likely to be playing blitz online. We don't know what tennis lost by Anand's defection; certainly it was a coup for chess. Reminding me of the immortal line about Reuben Fine's retirement from the game: "a loss for chess, at best a draw for psychology".


fluffy little piece ? I AM fluffy! but Anand rules...

Since you mentioned. According to my database, Reuben Fine had a positive record against Lasker (+1-0=0), Capablanca (+1-0=6), Alekhine (+3-2=6) and Botvinnik (+1-0=2), and an even record against Euwe (+2-2=3).

Maybe Anand should take some time off of promotional tours and provide his valuable comments on the Kramnik-Leko match (he was doing that in the FIDE WC matches).

After all, he is close to both the players and knows their game well. In fact, he seems to get along well with most top players except Kasparov. Any thoughts why? Mig?



You should instead ask why Kasparov does not go well with any top players. Some might say that it's because Kasparov wins so much. But it's not only that of course.

I know not everybody has, or remembers, every source, but Kramnik, Anand, and Kasparov have all talked about "getting along" at the top. Chess is intense and individual and there is no way you are going to be best buddies with someone must consider a deadly adversary.

If you mean being sociable and friendly during an event, that includes just about everybody, barring a few nasty personal spats. If you go to the opening or closing ceremony of Linares, or Corus, you see them all smiling and joking, for the most part. But if you mean hanging out at the pool and inviting the other guy to the house for a weekend and a BBQ, that's another thing.

More specifically, both Kramnik and Anand have played world championship matches against Kasparov. If there wasn't animosity before (and Kramnik worked with Kasparov for the Anand match!), a month locked in mortal combat would certainly do it.

That said, Leko is probably the exception, with Anand a close second. The expression "too nice" is tossed around too much, but watching Leko's "aw shucks" smile after losing the first game of the biggest match of his life with white didn't impress. It's great in one way, perhaps we should celebrate that. But it seems unnatural.

Then again, Anand may be the exception to that exception. But he's a freak of nature and chess is just too easy for him. If not for his mental block with Garry (no win since 1993), Vishy could have ruled the world for a long time.


I thought Leko's behaviour after his first loss was extraordinary and impressive. Poor sportsmanship in all events almost seems to be the norm (based on newspaper coverage). When you have a strong drive and determination to reach the top, when you devote years of your life to doing so and then fail, it seems almost natural to take a tantrum...afterall, that is exactly what monkeys do when their goals are frustrated. :-) Congratulations to Leko for his display of grace and good behaviour.

Referring to Anand, "chess is just too easy for him". What does Anand think of that statement?

I know for myself that I get a bit annoyed when people tell me that something (e.g. math) comes easy to me. It most certainly did not come easy and I put an awful lot of effort into learning these things. My brain is not wired to do math well, but by tremendous effort (thanks to an obsessive-compulsive nature), and lots and lots of practice I am able to add, subtract, multiply, divide larger numbers in my head faster than most people can do it with a calculator.

Then when someone tells me "math comes easy to you" they belittle my efforts and the time it took me to learn these things.

Perhaps it is different for someone who has a true gift like Anand, and perhaps chess does come easy. But it still must take a lot of effort and discipline to develop that gift, and I wonder how Anand feels when someone tells him chess comes too easy to him.

Anyway, just random thoughts first thing in the morning.


It's just an expression. Vishy works very hard these days. Of course when he was coming up and demolishing GMs while using 20 minutes on his clock it wasn't quite the same. But his gift allows him to excel at chess without it obsessing him. You probably have to go back to Euwe to find someone else as strong and successful while still giving the impression that he could leave the game.

I didn't want a tantrum from Leko, and of course he was terribly frustrated. But the smiling and joking is eerie. I suppose it's just the way he expresses nervousness and frustration. Others rage (Kasparov) or go stony (Kramnik). Personally, I favor ice-cream and/or tequila.

tequila and ice-cream float....yuuummmmmmmm. :-)

I admire people who can just walk away from something that they've spent a long time working on even if they don't walk away. Shows some healthy balanced thinking.

I agree with both of you guys in a sense. Leko's professionalism and civility Post Game 1 was a little bit surprising to me, but it made me like the guy a bit more.

At the same time, Leko's face said "Kramnik owns me, and I know it". This match is already over. Leko doesn't believe he can win, and I doubt he wins a game unless it's in "garbage time".

I get the impression from Kramnik's remarks/mannerisms after Game 1 that he almost isn't playing against Leko. He's playing against chess itself. Wins or losses or the current match standing don't seem to matter to him as much as how accurate is his play... were there any better moves, etc,

For "kramnik leko -chessbase" it's even worse. Take a look:


Currently 5 english hits versus 80 german hits!

Regards, Mike Scheidl

My understanding (based on interviews, reports etc.) is that a lot of top players do hang out together beyond matches and barely say a word against one another - at least in print. Contrast that with what Kramnik, Shirov, and others have said against Kasparov and vice versa. I don't think Krmanik and Anand said anything against the other during the controversy about having two champions.

Maybe there is something in the stature, playing strength, age and personality of Kasparov that seems to intimidate others. He seems to prefer the company of journalists, ex-players, chess officials and tournament organizers.

Any thoughts?


A great step towards excellence in any sport (or game) is to know how to acknowledge defeat. I think Leko know that along the way he will lose and win games, that's chess! Then his job is to do his best to have more wins than losses, and be able to acknowledge that failures are part of success. Maybe that's simply his philosophy, and he might not be so affected by his first game loss.

Chessisfun is right on the money.
Funny that we have to worry about Leko's mental state after just one loss. Were it Gata or Hikaru in his place it wouldn't have even been an issue. Maybe it's not an issue with Leko either.
Peter should worry less how he looks during the interviews and concentrate more on the chess matters. He has 10 games to go and he can win. Should he lose another game he can smile, joke, throw tantrums, glare, stare, whatever. Just go back and prepare for the next game.

I'm one of those people, like Chessisfun and Yermo, who actually see Leko's reaction after his difficult loss in game 1 as a healthy one. I don't think the games so far support the theory that Leko knows he his "owned" by Kramnik, and that his reaction is some sort of subconscious form of submission. You simply don't get to where Leko is today by lacking in self-confidence or having a fragile ego.

I'm not sure why Leko is capable of shrugging off a difficult loss (or at least, appearing to do so) when other players cannot. But Leko seems to approach chess and life in a relatively healthy manner, and I suspect he knows that he is still relatively young, he is already one of the top 4 or 5 players in the world, his results are steadily improving, and if he doesn't win this match for the World Championship he will very likely get another chance later. Which doesn't mean that he doesn't want to beat Kramnik, or let this opportunity slip without giving it his best effort.

My personal guess is that Leko is spending a lot of energy and effort right now away from the board trying to find a promising line as White against Kramnik's Petroff. He has the benefit of knowing, from Kasparov's loss to Kramnik, that you probably do not win (or come back in) a match against Kramnik when you are playing with the Black pieces. Whether he can come up with something as White in the relatively short period remaining before the end of the match is another question. Obviously, a short match favors the player who is ahead, particularly when he has draw odds and is as solid as Kramnik. But I do think Leko is going to make a serious effort, and we will be able to see this in the coming games, especially where he has White. I am looking forward to the remainder of the match.


I don't see anything wrong with the way he reacted . Every true athlete knows the he has to react to defeat in a manner that will enable him to make most of it, and leko's way, most likely, is to look at his errors, better him self by them and move on. And some, like kasparov and Fischer, need to sort of hate their opponents to motivate themselves to do their best.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on September 29, 2004 8:28 PM.

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