I'm tired of all these m***erf***ing mates on this m***erf***ing train! Those were not the words of world champion Vishy Anand when he played a fun set of blitz games against former world champ Anatoly Karpov. The games on the train in Spain went mostly down the drain, in fact. Two clean draws in the pair of blitz games. The supposed official site doesn't have anything on the event, but the trusty Leontxo Garcia was on the scene to send out photos and a press release.
Oddly, both Anand and Karpov talked about Bobby Fischer, who has been much on my mind this past week. I just wrote up Garry's long review of Frank Brady's new bio on Fischer, "Endgame," for The New York Review of Books (next issue, I think) and did a lot of research for it as well, mostly through Garry's own books My Great Predecessors Vol 4 and Revolution in the 70s. Apparently Fischer arose as a topic because Karpov was trying to come up with some good memories of previous visits to Spain. Seville 87 isn't exactly on his greatest hits playlist, but Linares 1994, one of the greatest tournament results in history, surely is. But then he gets to the Fischer stuff:
"I twice met with Fischer secretly in 1976, first in Cordoba and then in Madrid. Earlier we had seen each other in Tokyo. I was uncomfortable because I had won the world title the year before without playing the final match -- he had decided to abdicate -- and I wanted to convince him we should play a match, without the title in play. We were just about to agree to it, but then he demanded the match should be called "the Professional World Championship." I assured him that the Soviet authorities would never accept that, but he wouldn't give in."
That's the official story that's been in circulation for a good while, and Brady adds details without breaking any new ground I can remember. Apparently they were just about to sign a contract that would leave the official name of the match to be determined later, but at the last second Fischer said he couldn't do it that way, that it all had to be finalized right there. Now Leontxo with Anand:
Anand holds that Fischer is like Marilyn Monroe, who we remember
for her great rack for her great charisma and not for her faults. He visited Fischer when he was stranded in Iceland and he has fond memories of the dinner they shared together. Anand was also asked about his sporting longevity: "At the moment I'm still enjoying playing top competition. I don't see myself capable of equaling Viktor Korchnoi, whose level at 80 years old is amazing, but nor do I see myself close to retirement." Anand is also very happy with the PR campaign in his country, in which millions of Indian children are involved and which recently broke the Guinness record for simuls with 20,000 participants in Gujarat.
Anand and Karpov both added, "We've played many blindfold games while traveling on the train. Today with did it with boards." Funny, and no doubt true. We don't think of it much in the US with air travel being essential since our train system is so pathetic and the country so large. But train travel is fast and convenient through most of Europe. All the old anecdotes of the great masters on the train, shlepping to events like AVRO, seem quaint, but I guess it's similar today, only faster. The Spanish trains of the current generation hit 300 km/h (185mph). I guess this new one will bump that up around 15%. In comparison, the American Acela, the fasted one in use, can hit 150mph but most of the route is done at well under 100 and it averages under 80.
Of course with the icepocalypse going on out there I don't know if anything is moving at all. Good weather to finishing writing a book!