Mig 
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Watch Swiss

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The tiny town of Brissago, Switzerland will be the center of the chess world for the next three weeks. It is already drawing the usual suspects of the chess world in like a black hole. Let's hope it doesn't suck like one. Oh yes, I forgot, I'm trying to be positive. It's going to be great. I mean, GREAT!

My partner in crime at ChessBase.com, Frederic Friedel, just arrived in Brissago and will be filing reports and photos. I'll be spectating and commenting on some of the games at Playchess.com and we can expect a host of GMs to be there too. They are really playing up the betting angle at the official match website. So we have smoking and gambling, all we need is some sex and booze and we'll really have a match!

Let's look back four years to the 2000 world championship match, where Kramnik took the title from Kasparov. Below is the transcript of the post-match press conference. Unfortunately, most of the questions were for the dethroned Kasparov, who hardly needs an invitation to talk, so we didn't hear much from the quiet new champion. It seemed odd to many of us in attendance (including Kasparov) that Kramnik didn't say anything to honor his victim's 15 years on top. But really he just didn't say much.

[Below is a transcript of the final press conference of the World Championship, held Sunday, November 5, 2000. Conditions for recording the conference, particularly the questions asked by the press, were not optimal. Several passages were lost or were sufficiently unclear that we did not want to risk misrepresenting someone and thus small sections have been stricken. Small omissions are indicated by ellipses (...). Corrections will be made if we acquire a better recording. We have limited the text to statements by the players.]

Q: There has been some speculation that you may be thinking about retiring. What can you say about that?

Kasparov: Absolutely not! (laughter) That statement has absolutely no substance. I am eager to hear from BrainGames about the next plans and Iím still very much in business. I will prove that it (the match) was a very unfortunate slip in my career. Iíll be starting from the Wijk aan Zee tournament in January next year.

Q: You said that there might be outside factors affecting your playÖcan you expand?

Kasparov: I donít have any business outside of chess to complain about. The reasons were totally related to my preparation which went the wrong way, in face of superior and admirable preparation and play by the winner of this match and very good strategical decisions and actually in a good sense robbed me from positions that I play best, and actually the match went wrong from the very beginning. I just ran out of energy because I had to work ten hours a day to change the entire course of the opening strategy. I had many chances at the end but I missed them because I was very tired. Probably most of the mistakes were made in preparation last summer and also, one thing which was unfortunate for me, which I couldnít anticipate, was the two games played on Saturday and Sunday and itís very difficult to play the second game like this with white because you need more energy to win it, especially when your opening preparation is not yet sophisticated for the moment. I basically threw away three whites, in games 5, 9, and 13. And this had an effect on the match. But these things are all chess-related and most of these reasons are the product of very wise and smart preparation by Kramnik.

Q: Emotionally how does it feel to reach the top of the chess world and what is the secret to your invincibility?

Kramnik: Of course itís been very very special for me. I knew I had good chances I knew I was well prepared, and especially at the end, I was pretty sure I was going to win or at least that the match was going my wayÖ I feel happy that I achieved this goal... I know that now I have a lot of responsibilities and I need to play well.

Q: Vladimir, do you think this is the top of your career?

Kramnik: So far yes, but maybe I will have some even better achievements. So, we will see.

Q: (something about FIDE)

Kramnik: At the moment, I just want to enjoy these days of my life and I donít want to get involved in any kind of chess politics, I just want to have a nice time and maybe in a month, two months, come back to this question, that way I can think and then maybe come up with somethingÖI donít really think itís fair to ask me questions like that right now, because, right now I donít really want to think about it at the moment.

Q: How do you think you played during the match? What was your quality of your chess, perhaps compared to other matches and other great achievements at the board in this match?

Kramnik: Itís not easy to sayÖ it also depends very much on the opponentís play and I think that the first half of the match I played very well in, but lack of experience stopped me from having an even bigger margin than I had ... The second part, my play was not so good as I would like it to be, but still I kept my defense possibilitiesÖ thatís sureÖ.this is something I should work on, but I wasnít satisfied with my play in the second half of the match.

Kasparov: I agree with that, that statement is correct, of course in the first half I think he played much better, determination and my experience helped me in games four and six so basically, otherwise by that time the margin would be much more in Vladimirís favorÖby game 8 if I had had enough strength and good ideas, I could have changed the course of the event Öand suddenly, starting from game ten I got chances in games 12 and especially 14 it wasnít up to Vladimir to save the game, but to me to win the games.

Q: About Kramnik playing a computer next year.

Kramnik: It depends on many things, I mean generally, I wouldnít mind, but itís an idea with many details to be discussed and important details so, I need to wait and discuss them.

Kasparov: I donít plan to change my plans. Iíve already made certain commitments for charity events which, Iím not in the mood now, but I have to stand by word and so I have two events in New York to fulfill this month, charity events, and I want to continue my quest for bringing chess to the educational system. I hope that Vladimir will be able to help, it would be nice to have some support that I have not had from the chess world so farÖI think itís crucial to make chess popular in the classroom.

Q: If you have a rematch with Kramnik, what would you do differently this time?

Kasparov: Iíve always been willing to learn. Playing this match I understood I was a bit behind or different than his generation in approaching certain problems so I have to change my preparations and one of the problems before the match was that I won nearly every event I played in for the last few years and after winning so many events itís very difficult to start making changes, you start to believe you are invincible so you just have to strengthen what you already have in your hands. So, I have already drawn certain conclusions and no matter when the next match is and what the next event is, I will incorporate these changes. Itís quite important, but since I believe our rivalry is just in the beginning, let me say more words in a few yearsí time.

Q: After this win you are still behind Kasparov on the elo list. Is this a case of Ďprimus inter paresĒ?

Kramnik: The only thing I can say is that Iíll just like to be first on the ratings also to prove that it wasnít accidental because Iím completely sure it was not accidental.Ö.Iíll just try to prove it and not just to prove Iím the best but to be a better player.

Q: ..it would be very hard for you to come back at this age, do you share that?

Kasparov: No. I can outcalculate anyone of the younger generation easily in any straight position. I had probably the best experience of my life working with chess this summer. I checked myself in certain positions and tests, and my vision of the board, my calculating ability, my energy level was very good. But, I recognize that I was behind in the development of chess. Maybe some people donít like these new developments, maybe itís a bit negative, itís a new thing, itís something that I have to learn, so if I could learn it, if I could make certain changes in my style. I had the best results of my life in the past two years and Iím very happy to hear that Vladimir is intending to became first on the rating lists and Iíll do my best to make sure that wonít happen for at least five years.

Q: John Levitt: Now that youíve had a few days to come to terms with this, how do you feel about yourself and your motivation for chess? Has the pressure come off or has it increased?

Kasparov: Some pressure is off because it was very painful for me to play at the end of the match, missing one opportunity after another. The worst night, in fact, wasnít after game fifteen, but after game fourteen. I mean, this position wasnít for Kramnik to save, but for me to winÖafter this game, I wouldnít say I was ruined, but I was not pleased. It was the most unpleasant night. I missed this rook maneuver and again I missed my chance, quite a good chance. And game twelve I could have played Rc8 and had good chances but I saw some things for white and made a bad decision. ÖI just made a bad moveÖso now ÖIím looking towards the future so something happened, I made a mistake, I made many mistakes maybe, but I still have a future ahead of me. Iím thinking about Wijk aan Zee, Iím thinking about my preparation. Iím thinking about the next world championship cycle, how it will be organized. I want to hear from BrainGames what their plans are because I fell that I have a lot of energy and fresh ideas to challenge and take back the title and my goal will be to make his reign as short as possible.

Q: There was a lot of speculation about you shaking your head people were assuming thatís because you were disturbed or upset, it seemed to me it was more an attempt to shake into focusÖcan you comment on that?

Kasparov: When everybodyís thinking deep you may incorporate different pauses because I was thinking and I donít care about the impression I make on the whole, so I could shake my head, I could look desperate, but still, my mind was working, so except for game 10, I was probably, in most cases, I was in control of what was happening on the board.

Q: Your preparation included a lot of things, including a lot of physical preparation, which you havenít done much of before, could you comment on why you did it and what affect it had on your play and your stamina?

Kramnik: Itís clear I had some negative experiences about it. Iíve played in many tournaments where I did very well in the beginning and then at the end, in some critical games, but it was clear I needed just some physical training. For this strategy I used in this match you need to be able to sit there for six or seven hours at a time and in any position you feel cramped and I think I did well. I think I defended very well. I cannot agree with Garry game fourteen. I donít think I was losing that game. The result was not accidental. The other thing, of course in the future my opponent will make some preparations and he is still a brilliant player, itís clear.

Kasparov: Yes, Iíd like to call on him to share with us his analysis of the final position [of game 14]. The only position that was not lost was the final position!

Q: Chess City: Do you feel optimistic that the World Championship is back on track?

Kasparov: Iíve always had a very strong sense of principle in my life, that since I dropped FIDE, the official organization that stamped your title, itís been based on my tournament results, my handÖsince 1997 Iíve been looking for an opportunity to play another match. In 1997, you know, we had a general agreement with Anatoly Karpov, the money was not there. In 1998, Alexei Shirov qualified through this two-phase cycle, short cycle by beating Vladimir - the money was not there to play Shirov. There was one offer but Shirov refused to play. In 1999, there was an agreement with Anand, the money was not there. So, for me, the lack of money indicated that the public had no interest in a sporting eventÖalways Shirovís accusations about me, you know,Ödonít deserve any comment because BrainGames from day one wanted Vladimir and not Anand because they wanted the best challenger. And, I stood up by this decision because I believe my obligation as the World Champion is to play against the strongest and most dangerous opponent. Thatís the only way to keep the succession, and now itís in Vladimirís hands. I believe whatever happens with the future plans of BrainGames, I hope he will stand by the same moral standards and whatever offer is going to be made it will be up to the honor of the World Champion will accept, because if not then we will lose the credibility and I hope that Vladimir will play under the same rules.

Kramnik: Well, actually, you know Iím a man of my word and I will always fulfill all my obligations and you can have confidence in my words. Well letís just say weíll see what BrainGames wants to do, if they want to do something new, then weíll consider the possibility, and weíll see. If they want to seek to do what they were planning to do before Iím ready to fulfill my obligationsÖonce I promise to do something, then I do it.

Q: Is it possible that there could be rematch between the two of you?

Kramnik: Iím sorry Iím not very good at predictions. (laughter)

Kasparov: You know, if I knew that would happen I could have easily install a rematch clause in the contracts six months agoÖI was always against the idea of the guaranteed right of the World Champion to play a rematch because itís not for him to decide, but the public and whether itís of interest. Now, my predictions are not as good, because very little depends on me, the future depends on BrainGames, on their decision on how to proceed, on their ability to raise money, on public interest, how the public would like to see a development of the World Championship cycle, and World Championship matches and the interest of sponsors, which really depends on the public interest, and, at the end of the day it is for the World Champion to decide if he wants to satisfy this interest. For me it was always a matter of honor, but this is for Vladimir to decide now.

Q: Who do you personally admire, both players? Who do you admire for their brain capacity?

Kasparov: Well, I donít think this is really a question I should be answering. (laughter)

Kramnik: Itís a difficult question, I donít think I can answer this right now.

Q: What exactly do you mean by the new style? Youíve never dominated Vladimir the way you have almost every other player. Why have you never done it?

Kasparov: You could see it in the games, if youíre a chess player. Obviously, itís very pragmatic itís very professional, Öitís a very good choice of openings, excluding extraordinary risks, we were on different paths for the past three years. Vladimir was building this repertoire, which prevented him from losing games, I was aiming for plus six, plus seven in other tournaments and you have to take more risks when you want good these results. So it worked in the tournaments, it didnít work in the match. Theyíre two separate approaches, his proved to be superior today. It means that I have to learnÖ Iím only 37 and I believe there is always room for learning. I wouldnít say Iím very happy to play this kind of chess, but when I had to beat Karpov, I had to go through this kind of academy by trying to play Karpovís kind of chess in order to strengthen my own ability because eventually, when the battle came to my territory I was well prepared. So the same has happened now, ÖI still think I have years ahead of me to prove that my concept is at least as good.

Q: So there are two different kinds of chess, one for matches and one for tournaments?

Kasparov: Obviously itís a big big difference between a match and a tournament because in the match you have a single opponent with the same strength, even in a very strong tournament you still have some drops in the playerís strengths. In order to win tournaments like Wijk aan Zee you have to take risks thatís why I employed a strategy that was perfect in tournament chess, but at the same time, I missed that a strategy thatís successful in tournaments, which did bring great great results, would be successful in a match.

2 Comments

Vladimir's so familiar with Garry that he probably felt superlatives would have been superfluous.

I think Kramnik is the best match player in the world. He may not reach the #1 spot in the rating list but I don't think there is anyone who could beat him in match play. But if ever, I think it's Anand who could give him the best challenge!

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on September 24, 2004 11:24 PM.

    Kasparov A's for Q's was the previous entry in this blog.

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