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Friday, May 18, 2012

Gary Kasparov Press Conference Video Anand Gelfand 2012 World Chess Championship (Missing video comments transcript updated)

Eugene Potemkin recorded this press conference at the Anand Gelfand 2012 World Chess Championship in Moscow on May 18 during Game 6. As always it is worth hearing what legendary chess-player-turned politician has to say. A recording is also available at the official website.

Another video by popular Indian chess journalist Vijay Kumar.

Abridged transcript of press conference comments by Gary Kasparov at Anand Gelfand 2012 World Chess Championship in Moscow via the official website: Click here
Garry Kasparov: I wouldn’t rush radical changes in chess

You have long known both players, Anand and Gelfand. You played a world championship match with Anand. What was your assessment of this match before it started and what do you think now that it has started?
It is the first time in history that an official world championship match has nothing to do with the title of the world’s best player. This is because of the problems that have piled up in the competition system. But a world championship match is always preceded by thorough preparation by its participants and we can expect some serious ideas to emerge from it. But content-wise, the match is inferior to all those played since I left professional chess.

Five games and five draws. Does it mean equal strength or is it just that one of the rivals is better prepared?
Obviously, both players are cautious. Understandably, playing against Anand, Gelfand is trying to concentrate and take care. Anand has obviously lost interest in the game, this being something for which he has always been noted. Anand is afraid to lose and Gelfand does not believe that, if he loses, he will be able to get back into the match.

Do you believe that, after a string of draws, one of them should win? Like it happened in your match with Vishy after eight draws? In addition to the players’ wishes, there is the law of big numbers: the probability that a mistake will be made and someone wins grows with each game. The fact that they are to play 12 games will tend to increase tension.

How different is the first world championship match from all the others?
When I played my first match, it was in 1984. The selection process was rigorous and it was clear that it was a game against a world champion. Today, these matches are different from those played 30, 40 or 50 years ago, even in the public’s perception. Even a match of 24 games has its opening, middlegame and endgame. Here the opening might move quickly into the endgame. It would be proper to compare this match with those played recently.

What do you expect from the younger generation of Russian chess players?
It has been clear for some time now that Russia has lost its pre-eminent position in world chess. Suffice it to look at the results of team tournaments (the Olympiad, world championships) and at those of young chess players. Russia does not have a single “extra-class” player in the over-20 category. When I say “extra class”, I mean of world champion caliber. The situation in Russia in recent years has not been conducive to development of intellectual disciplines.

How has chess changed since 1995 and how has it been influenced by computers?
Our match with Anand in 1995 was a milestone in the use of the computer in preparation for the matches. An important theoretical novelty in our famous 10th game had been prepared with the help of a computer. Since then, I have not seen any new trends except one: the computer is playing an ever more important role in the preparation of top-class players. Moreover, the computer influences the way young players analyse the position. Unless you are a top-class player like Carlsen, it is hard to resist the temptation to make the moves the machine recommends.

Does chess need some rules that would diminish the number of draws?
A lot of rules have been changed since I began taking part in world title matches. For example, the timing and duration of the match. I remember how it was suggested that 40 moves be made not in 2.5 hours but in 2 hours. It was a veritable revolution; neither Karpov nor I wanted to play that way. We then gave up adjourning games. That was a natural change, considering the appearance of computers, but it was a revolutionary one compared with the matches played, for example, by Botvinnik. The rules introduced recently, for example, in Sofia, are also part of the natural process of maintaining tension in the game. In some tournaments, one win earns three points. I think that is a bit over the top. One radical suggestion is to introduce Fisсher’s chess in order to kill the opening theory. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of these reforms were introduced. But I would not rush such radical changes because we see that, even with traditional rules, top-level competitions can attract audiences. Just recently, we watched a match between Kramnik and Aronian. They played six games and made a major contribution to the development of chess.

What would you say to playing a match against one of the competitors, Anand and Gelfand?
I think every professional understands that even a chess player of my class cannot just sit down and play at top level. It is not so much about your proficiency in opening; it is just that your head no longer works in the algorithm that is needed for battling successfully throughout a seven-hour game. I might still do relatively well at blitz, after a bit of preparation, but playing serious classical chess is out of the question. Besides, I am happy with the score I have with both participants. I never lost a single game to Gelfand and won nine in classic chess, and I remember exactly my score with Anand: 15 to 3.

Indian chess players were a bit disappointed by your statements about Mr Anand…
I think the Indian chess players should be disappointed not with my statements but with the kind of chess Anand is playing. As for the pressure on Mr Anand today, I would like to remind you that Karpov and I had played more matches in a shorter period of time, which did not prevent us from remaining numbers one and two in world chess.

After the 2000 match, Kramnik said that you should not have tried to trump his debut preparation, but simply play chess. Can the same be recommended to Anand? Because Gelfand has obviously done his homework.
In 2000, I faced a revolutionary approach to chess, notably the “Berlin Wall” system. Kramnik can be said to have opened a new chapter in chess, because the Berlin Wall is now one of the most popular variants in a high-level game. I think Gelfand’s preparation is adequate, but I do not see anything revolutionary. The fact that he uses the Grünfeld Defence and the Sveshnikov system does not mean that he is extending the horizons of chess.
If you look at the whole history, Vishy is the better player. The fact that Gelfand has not won a single classical chess game against him over almost 20 years speaks for itself. But I would not make any forecasts, because too few games remain to be played.

You said today that the situation in Russia was not conducive to development of intellectual disciplines. What did you mean? I was not planning to move into territory that is not directly related to chess, so as not to disappoint the organisers… The current regime in Russia is suspicious of any type of intellectual activity. Russia is facing the biggest wave of emigration since 1917. It does not take great intellectual ability to operate a pipeline.

What should be done to encourage patrons of chess?
Patrons of chess are, indeed, appearing. They are sponsoring this match and they sponsored the Kramnik-Aronian match, and I can cite some more examples: money is becoming available for boosting the prestige of chess. But any commercial sponsorship depends on the prestige of the game and the prestige of the global structure that represents it. In the current situation, chess cannot, by definition, have a long-term commercial contract. Even leaving aside the zany, otherworldly ideas of the FIDE president, his pictures together with Gaddafi and Assad put paid to the prospects of chess being financed by a normal international corporation.

What do you think about cooperation between chess and museums?
If one broadens it out a bit and includes education, I think this is the area where chess should seek its place in the modern world. Chess must find its place at the juncture of the educational and cultural programmes that are commanding growing attention in society.



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