Last weekend's online charity simul at the ICC by world #1 Viswanathan Anand of India brought in $10,000 dollars for Vidya Sagar. Congratulations and thanks to all who participated. There were nineteen games and Anand gave up a loss and a draw. The win was by Marc Lacross of Belgium, aka "Bluesette," who came into the Ninja message boards to defend his good name. One, from the inevitable accusations of cheating. Two, from a case of mistaken identity since there is a Belgian FM of the same name! As he says in this message board post, "Regarding comments on FM Marc Lacrosse and myself : we are simply two unrelated persons with the same name playing chess in the same country. He is from the city of Ghent in the Flemish-speaking part of Belgium while I am from the southern French-speaking part of Belgium." To me it was just a very accurate game that became technical early and betrayed no indicators of inhuman play. That he played the technical phase much better than Anand is obviously remarkable, but that's what simul play is all about. Kudos! The draw, also very well played, was by Dr. Alain Authier from Quebec, Canada, aka "knightgold." You can download those games and six other selected ones in PGN here.
Macauley Peterson and I were providing live Chess.FM commentary during the simul but things ran long and I had to bail out before the post-event interview. The entire thing is online at Chess.FM. I tossed our bag of questions to Mac P and didn't hear the interview until later. ICC members can listen to it in Vishy's own voice of course. Here is a rough transcript of his most relevant answers, questions understood for the most part.
Game with Bluesette. I didn’t see his draw offer. We don’t know when he offered. By obviously by the time he plays ..Rd1+ I’ve messed up. When I saw he’d offer a draw I was incredibly surprised because my position at the time was quite bad. I thought I was accepting his draw offer not offering one of my own. But then it became clear he’d offered the draw many moves earlier.
I want to thank all the players who played against me. Just by bidding and playing they helped the kids in Vidya Sagar a lot. Also to thank everyone who watched and the ICC. I wish everyone an enjoyable next few months in the chess world.
Most interesting game. It’s difficult to pick one moment, but I’d have to say the Dragon where Black castled queenside. [Against ‘ThreeEagles’, see diagram] It’s very rare to mate someone with Nd5-Nb6 and Ba7 and I thought that was cute. And when VinodShanbhag played ..Nf4, that was probably the strongest move I had to face today. My position was collapsing. There were a couple of others that were very tricky. But since he won, the best game we have to say came from Bluesette.
Upcoming events. Playing Dortmund, Leon, Mainz before Mexico, but basically yes, my thoughts are with Mexico and the world championship. I do some preparation now, but until the candidates matches are finished you can’t complete your preparation without knowing half the field. After Linares and Monaco I was quite exhausted. I don’t reflect a lot. Basically until from 2002 until 2005 there were no championships to play in at all. I was pretty excited about San Luis. I had a good result, obviously not the one I wanted. So I’m looking forward to Mexico.
Defining success since becoming #1. Since 2005 I was quite close on several occasions to reaching #1. Topalov managed to hang on each time. This time it came when I least expected it because there was quite a big gap between us after Wijk. But obviously it’s great when these things happen, it’s very nice to be #1 in your sport, to see your name on the list like that. It’s a great feeling. But okay, it’s time to move on. I don’t want to sit and enjoy it for too long. I don’t want to dwell on it, I’ll start working for Mexico. I’ve also not reached the point where I want to reflect on my entire career and my life. As long as I enjoy chess, and that’s a goal in itself, I’m fine. I’ll play Mexico and we’ll take it from there. I don’t know where it fits in with earlier things but I’m just happy to have a world championship to play in.
Karpov saying training with computers limiting creativity [In a recent interview Karpov specifically said this about Anand, but Mac P declined to ruffle feathers by pointing this out and made it a more general comment]. – I find it hard to believe that all chessplayers spending hours and hours with the computer to be harmful. I mean, at some point if we’re weakening or making obvious mistakes or our creativity is being hurt, we’d notice something. Sometimes I also switch off the computer and look at the board on my own and all these things, but if you spend the whole day working on your own and you never switch on the computer, your productivity drops. There’s so much work you can do with the machine.
I think also it’s about technology in general, you have to keep up with it. The kids who grow up playing so much blitz on the ICC, does that hurt them? I don’t know. They are just growing up differently from our time. When I grew up we didn’t have the ICC. They become very strong, they gain a lot of experience very fast. It’s very difficult to compare because of historical trends. Okay, I don’t want to argue, as it were, with Karpov, but perhaps he wouldn’t really have worked with computers enough to be the best man to compare.
It’s clear it’s a game, a sport, we’re trying to outfox an opponent not trying to prove some truth. So you have to go with what works. I think most chessplayers, at least before a game, switch off the computer, try to figure out if they can remember everything, look at the key ideas. But to develop a lot of concepts and to do all the ‘cleaning’ by yourself, all the tactical cleaning, by yourself, is extreme. I think you have to find a way to mix both.
Confident for Mexico. In general what you want is to feel good before an event. You want to look forward to playing chess and to look forward to the struggle. There’s a lot of tension and if you can get that, it’s good. As for people saying they feel there’s in form, it’s like a gambler saying they feel lucky. Who really knows?
Events before Mexico are important because you want to arrive with that good feeling. But these things… it’s not like you want to play below your level before an event so you can peak. You can’t predict these things. It’s difficult to tell when you’ll peak. Sometimes you can have both in the same tournament. I’ll try to do well in all these events. Mainz, I’m quite fond of and have enjoyed for many years so I’ll do my best there.
I don’t know whose really the favorite in Mexico. We’re all strong Grandmasters and it will be decided at the board there and not by reputation. The players have to be slightly paranoid.
Anti-short-draw rules. I think in general if organizers invite the players they believe are the most exciting and take it from there it would be fine. It’s an extreme viewpoint to ban all short draws. It makes you play all sorts of pointless games until the end. That’s not really what you want to see either. I think most of the top players have a sense of responsibility. If you see tournaments like Wijk aan Zee, okay, there are some days you’ll have some short draws, but then it will flare up the next day. Essentially I believe it’s up to the organizer. And you don’t want to have a single rule for all tournaments. Clearly the rules for opens and top events should be different. It’s not only about short draws. Each organizer should specify what he expects from the player. Does he want the player to come to the press room afterwards, say something about the sponsor, whatever it is. These rules are best left to the tournament organizers rather than trying to have a rule that applies to everyone.
Grand Slam. It’s still early days. We don’t know when the final tournament will be and otherwise it’s still the same four tournaments. So I’m basically taking a wait-and-see attitude. [They are planning to announce details during MTel in a few weeks.]
The MTel Masters site recently published a public call to tender a bid to join the Grand Slam. Category 19 minimum!