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Spectactular Interview with Vladimir Kramnik

User Rating: / 128
Written by Administrator   
Monday, 08 April 2013
Article Index
Spectactular Interview with Vladimir Kramnik
Page 2

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The interview with Vladimir Kramnik starts at 14:55. We have found it extremely interesting and translated it from Russian into English.

Why did Vladimir lose the final game at the Candidates? Does Kramnik consider Carlsen to be the best player in the world? How does he evaluate Vishy Anand's chances to keep the title? What should Magnus and Vishy work on to succeed? What does he think of Kasparov's opening preparation? Will the ex-World Chess Champion be competing in the next cycles of the World Chess Championship? All this and many other revelations can be found below.

Marina Makarycheva (MM): The tournament came to an end, and there is a certain disappointment in the air, because you have shown the best performance hereand then there was the dramatic final round. What happened?

Vladimir Kramnik (VK): Of course, I am tired and disappointed. I was so close. However, I believe that both I and Carlsen have deserved to win this tournament, but there can be only one winner, so in this case we can maybe say that I was a little bit unlucky. In the final roundafter Magnus fortuitously won his game in the pre-final round (against Radjabov, I was already in a difficult situation. In the case of a tie one of the tie-break scores was in my favor, while the other favored Magnus. Unfortunately, his tie-break score was more important according to the regulations of the event, although often the situation is the opposite. Thats the way it happened, its just a matter of chance. Basically, he was half a point ahead. We had an equal amount of points, but in the reality he had half a point advantage over me going into the final round. I had Black, while he had White, so the situation was rather hard for me. I was forced to play very sharply for a win, this was my only chance. I still think I have made the right decision, because it was the only opportunity to put Magnus off balance, make him nervous and force him into playing for a win too. This could have potentially led to his loss, which has actually happened. Unfortunately, I myself have gone too far and couldnt save the game at the stage when it became clear that Magnus was losing. I have played all-in from the very beginning and couldnt do anything. Its a standard, normal situation. I have taken my chanceduring one-two moves I could have actually turned the tables. Maybe I got a little bit unlucky and didnt make the most out of it. However, overall, up to that moment I have already wasted many tournament opportunities

MM (interrupting): Maybe if you had a chance to freeze the position for a few minutes

I had to take risks.

VK: Yes, there was an interesting moment when the outcome of the event was decided within just 5 minutes. At that point I could have saved the game, but the move Ne6, which I have obviously considered and would have made under normal conditions, didnt offer me any chances to play for a win. At that point, alas, Carlsens game wasn't going downhill, his position was absolutely normal, so I tried to bluffFive minutes later it became clear that I should have played Ne6 anyway, but it was too late. There was no way back. The situation has worsened: I took a risk, went all-in, but, alas, it wasnt possible to save the game. Vassily, my opponent, played precisely in the time trouble, he didnt make any mistakes. I was bluffing and hoping for a time-trouble blunder from him, but after the time control Magnus was lost, while my position was also non-defendable. This is a normal sports situation. I am already an experienced chess player, and I have foreseen this possibility. I just didnt have any other chances. I had to take risks.

MM: It seems that this tournament has revealed that Magnus also has nerves! It was widely considered that his strongest virtue is that he doesnt make mistakes and always  keeps his temper under control. But here we could see him rushing to check your board each time, for example, when you were playing Gelfand and in the final game as well. So, he is also not invincible? Is it so?

Carlsens hegemony in the chess world is overestimated.

VK: Magnus is an outstanding, remarkable player. Nonetheless, in my opinion, his hegemony in the chess world is overestimated. I believe that both I and Aronian can match his skills. Well, he has certain qualities: young age, lots of energy, a good nervous system, incredible motivation, killer instinct, but in the chess sense I dont see why he should be a lot stronger, if at all, (than me or Levon).

MM: Is he a Player? (It goes back to the Players vs. Researchers debate in the Soviet chess

So far I am maintaining a positive score against Carlsen.

VK: Yes, he is very practical and so on and so forth. He is undoubtedly a very strong chess player and an enormous talent. I am not trying to diminish his achievements. However, I believe that his rating advantage over everyone else is non-chess based. It is due to other qualities. In the chess sense I was absolutely confident that I can compete against him. This is what I am always doing. So far I am maintaining a positive score against Carlsen. Also, I had an advantage in the mini-match at the Candidates, so he should be happy with the two draws that he earned. Everyone (including me) thought that he was pretty much invincible in terms of energy, nerves and the like. At this tournament he got into real trouble for the first time in his life. In an extremely important event everything was not going exactly as expected, something went wrong after his game with Ivanchuk. All of a sudden, it turned out that he is rather vulnerable. When I was his age, I also used to twitch at decisive moments, glance at the other boards. Such moments were definitely not his cup of tea.

MM: Yes

VK: It is natural for a young player. I used to act the same way, but over the years I have become stronger in this respect. I can win or lose, but my loss in the final round was not caused by nervousness in any way. I felt calm and played quite decently.

MM: Are you saying you had everything under control and werent nervous at all?

VK: Just a little bit. Its not even about being nervous or not, its about the ability to concentrate on the game and nothing else, to forget what everyone around you is saying or what the tournament situation is. To be fully focused on the game. This comes with experience.

MM: Does Magnus have chances, or, given how widely praised Magnus is, maybe I should word it in a different way: does Vishy Anand have a chance to retain the title?

Anand issomewhat intimidated by Carlsen

 VK: I believe that he definitely has his chances. It is absolutely realistic. The only problem that I think Anand is facing is that heit is just my opinionis somewhat intimidated by Carlsen. He is playing unconfidently against himbeing scared of him, I would say.

MM: Like he used to be afraid of Kasparov back in the days

VK: Yes. He has never been seriously weaker than Kasparov, but just couldnt play against him (Kasparov vs. Anand, classical chess: +16 -5 =31 If Vishy will be in his normal chess form

MM (interrupting): But will he be able to gain that form? He is playing less well than he used to

VK: You know, age is taking its toll, so he is playing a little worse than before, but he is still good enough. He loses very rarely, and it is extremely important for matches.

MM: He also wins quite few games

In a WCC match it is enough to win one game and to draw the rest

VK: Well, one doesnt have to win many games in a match (smiles). It is enough to win one game and to draw the rest. It is clear that he is now match-oriented and not wasting energy on regular tournaments. Maybe he wont be in his top form. His match against me was probably the pinnacle of his career. He was playing brilliantly back then. Even if he gets back to his normal good form, he can still beat Carlsen, but only if he manages to solve his psychological problems. This is a must-do. He should relax and not be afraid of Magnus. One can face Carlsen and actually beat him. If Anand manages to prepare himself this way, then I think the chances will be equal. If not, then his chances will be very low.

Psychology matters a lot in WCC matches. This is probably the first plot of the match. I would say that if he manages to hold the pressure of Magnus for at least 6 games (i.e., tie at 3-3), then Anand will become a favorite in my eyes.

MM: Magnus Carlsen doesnt have a punchers opening repertoire. Will he be able to play Anand using such unpretentious openings?

Anyway, I am sure that Anand will have an advantage in the opening. The only question is: to what extent?

VK: Its hard to say. In the opening Anand is clearly superior to Magnus. He is a very difficult match opponent, because he is extremely well-prepared. It is so hard to obtain a promising position against him even with White. During our match I had to take immense risks to somehow lure him out of his armor coat, but I didnt succeed. On the other hand, Magnus has an edge in terms of having a phenomenal memory. We have been talking about what Anand needs to work on, and now we are getting to Carlsen. Here he obviously has problems. He was making statements earlier before the Candidates about hiring new coaches and preparing in a different way, but in the end he didnt show anything impressive in the opening at the Candidates. Hence, it was hard for him to play here, and everything didnt go smoothly. In a match against Anand, if you are constantly under pressure in the opening, it is very hard to play when your position is always slightly worse. He should ponder this over. In half a year he wont be able to catch up. Maybe he should try to think of something cunning, come up with a concept which would allow to mitigate the effects of opening preparation? Anyway, I am sure that Anand will have an advantage in the opening. The only question is: to what extent?

MM: Magnus Carlsen used to cooperate with Garry Kasparov, who was if not superior than everyone else in the opening (because you were also excellently prepared), then at least phenomenal. Could he have passed over his findings to Magnus?

Kasparovs opening preparation is not good anymore

VK: Chess openings are like science. It keeps evolving. Judging by the standards of the time when Garry was an active player, he indeed knew the opening extremely well. Now it is over, his preparation isnt good anymore. It is part of the past. Chess is developing very rapidly just like the Internet, gadgets. You know, no one cares about the first models of iPhones now. Without day-by-day opening studies it is not possibleyou cant just invent a bunch of ideas and then spend 10 years capitalizing on them. In the 70s or 80s this might have been possible. Now, in the computer age, you have to keep finding more and more new ideas. This is a paramount amount of work. You cant rely on the old databases. I can see that Anand and his team are constantly working on his openings and refreshing his repertoire. I mean not cosmetic changes, but entirely new approaches. This hard work builds up over the years and offers its own benefits. Hence, I think that it will be very hard for Magnus to catch up, because even if he starts working 24/7, then in just half a year he still wont be able to build up as much opening muscles as Anand has established over the past decade. He might come up with something sly though. Remember, when I played a match against Kasparov, I realized that he will be prepared better in the opening than myself, but I managed to present a new word in the opening theory and somehow level our chances in the opening.

MM: Forum kibitzers often say that Magnus style is Karpovian, that it reminds of Anatolys youth. He also didnt have any fancy opening prep, or, we should rather say that the entire USSR was working to prepare openings for him, but not himself.

I would say that Carlsen is an improved version of Karpov

VK: Yes, he reminds Karpov a lot. He also has certain weaknesses, which everyone, even the greatest players, have. Karpovian weaknesses, yes. They are hidden and very few, yet they still exist. Their styles are very similar. I would say that Carlsen is an improved version of Karpov. I have heard people say that his style is too dry, too positional. Partly it so. However, I believe that a person of his mastery can choose any style he likes. He should ask himself only. With such a high rating and skill, you know, no one should be telling him what to do. He is indeed an outstanding player. Like we say in such cases, If you dont like it, dont watch. He can play whatever way he likes to.

MM: It is his soul playing

VK: Yes, thats the way he is. Cold-blooded, rather pragmatic, somewhat melancholic even. His chess is also swampy, laidback, choky/boa constrictor type. It doesnt matter. For me personally mastery is most important. His skills are remarkable. This is great. I think its a bonus that all the players have unique styles. I have one style, Aronian has a completely different style. Carlsen has the third variety. It is good for the game. This is interesting.

I will try the next cycle, and even if I dont succeed, maybe I will go for another one. I dont think you can write me off in terms of chess strength.

 MM: Your son is only 2 months old. When he will be 2 years 3 months old, you will regain the chess crown. Right? And he will be able to understand it already: Papa is a World Champion!.

VK: He is 3 months old now. My daughter is 4 years old. She understands already (smiles).

MM: You should do it for your kids!

VK: And for myself too. Generally speaking, this tournament has stirred a certain optimism within me. I have the energy and the power.  I can play not badly.

MM (smiling): You have everything covered in daily life

I can still improve.

VK: Yes, everything is fine. I am content with everything. I will try the next cycle, and even if I dont succeed, maybe I will go for another one. I dont think you can write me off in terms of chess strength. One can play all sorts of tournaments, but the Candidates is a pinnacle which everyone attends fully motivated and prepared. Its some kind of an ultimate test of your chess level. Obviously, everyone was using all their novelties and other trumps. I managed to share first, which means that I still have a reserve since I know that I could have done a few things better. I can still improve.  Its ok.

Comments (12)
1. Written by Ched on 17:13 08 2013 .
Thanks for translating.  
Kramnik's play was fun to watch. His commentary on Carlsen and the Candidates/WCC is very insightful.
2. Written by Seth on 19:28 08 2013 .
Awesome interview! Thank you,!
3. Written by This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it on 21:11 08 2013 .
Kramnik's got game
He's always a great interview, very interesting insights and assessments. I'd say one or two comments that can be considered "off-the-board" moves in his competition with Anand, Carlsen. Not only one of the best players ever but a keen psychologist in his own right.
4. Written by This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it on 01:19 09 2013 .
Yes! Thanks for translating. I really wish I could have the video translated ;) But I'm not greedy. Great work and very proud of you!
5. Written by Eris Asllani on 07:08 09 2013 .
As I was reading this I realized i was imagining Kramnik's voice/accent :)
6. Written by Phil on 14:52 09 2013 .
Thanks, excellent interview. Also very impressed with Kramnik.
7. Written by Firkin on 15:11 09 2013 .
Nice to hear a player actually say something interesting about his colleagues. Overall, the level of English is good, but there are a couple of moments where your renderings leave room for doubt: \'He was clearly not in his cup of tea at such moments.\' \'His chess is also swampy, laidback, choky.\'
8. Written by Peter on 15:50 09 2013 .
2 Firkin
Thanks, I have edited those two sentences a little to make the message clearer.
9. Written by This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it on 21:54 09 2013 .
Thank you!
great translation!
10. Written by javier brindis on 02:56 10 2013 .
Thank you!
muchas gracias por la traduccion

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 09 April 2013 )
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