The interview begins with a brief description of his life and career in Spain.
Then it turns to the scandal at the World
Championship match in Elista. Topalov says there were "clear indications
of cheating" in the way Kramnik went to the bathroom, came out and played
instantly. Cables were found in the ceiling of the bathroom, but the Topalov
team kept quiet "for many reasons." Topalov specifies that "there
were threats", that the airport was closed and his team was worried how
they could get out of Russia.
Topalov believes that Kramnik's team did not know what was going on. He was
getting help not from them but from Russian who were not part of the chess world
– from non-professional chess players or from the KGB. But "the Kremlin
will never admit they poisoned that Russian spy, which seems obvious, or Kramnik that he cheated." Topalov says he felt he was in physical danger and will
not go back to Kalmykia again. President Ilyumzhinov was not personally responsible
for what transpired, he was acting on orders.
The method of cheating, says Topalov, was improved during the latter part of
the match, and in fact played a decisive role in the tiebreak games. There "they
had a foolproof system", and in the fourth game Kramnik "made a move
that would only occur to a computer." Topalov guesses that his opponent
was using an electronic device hidden on his body. "With the technology
the Russians have, Kramnik will be invincible in a match." Topalov believes
that Kramnik wants to keep the title without defending it over the board, and
predicts that he will not play in Mexico.
In the interview there is repeated mention of "cables". These were
allegedly found in Kramnik's bathroom early during the match. We will follow
up on this story. For today the interview, which was carefully translated by
Mig Greengard in Chess
Ninja. We have included the original Spanish for some of the key passages.
The interview was conducted for the Spanish daily
newspaper ABC by Federico Marin Bellon in Bilbao, after the end
of the blindfold match Topalov-Judit Polgar. A link to the original interview
is given at the bottom of this page.
"The Kremlin won't admit they killed that Russian spy or that Kramnik
["Topalov: «El Kremlin nunca reconocerá que mató
al espía ruso, ni Kramnik que hizo trampas»"]
Interview by Federico Marin Bellon
Federico Marin: How were your beginnings in Spain?
Veselin Topalov: It was a very romantic period. Silvio Danailov
and I came here because there were more tournaments.
Marin: Were you already thinking about becoming champion?
Topalov: When you win the under-14 world championship you
know you've got talent, but I didn't have such aspirations.
You could say you were a champion who came out of the streets.
Topalov: Yes, I have a street-fighting style. I spent a year
playing in opens and we walked all over Spain.
We first met in 1994, in Alcobendas, and success hasn't changed you.
Topalov: That's the benefit of starting at the bottom.
How was the encounter with Kramnik?
Topalov: Very tense, although objectively speaking I dominated
the majority of it.
What happened before the fifth game?
Topalov: We got the videos of what Kramnik was doing between
every move. He was going to the bathroom many times and his behavior was very
They accuse you of trying to disturb him because he was winning.
Topalov: We never wanted to stop the match. There were clear
indications of cheating ["Había claros indicios de trampa"].
You look at that tape and it puts the fear into you. It's not just how many
times he went to the bathroom, but how he went. Many times he came out, came
to the board and moved instantly.
He alleges health problems.
Topalov: That's a lie ("Mentira"). I drank more
than he did and didn't go to the bathroom so often. We protested, but the committee,
which had sided with us, was fired.
They say it's inconceivable that the rival team had access to private video.
Topalov: They also saw my video. They followed my every step
and everyone who was with me. And if he's not doing anything wrong, what's the
Illescas said you exaggerated, and lied, about the number of times Kramnik
went to the bathroom.
Topalov: I don't know how many times he went. My team only
saw the tapes once and then they disappeared.
Maybe they were based on approximations.
Topalov: When they inspected the bathrooms they found a network
cable hidden in the stucco ceiling.
That never came out.
Topalov: We kept it quiet for many reasons.
Was it a mistake to keep it quiet?
Topalov: We couldn't say anything. It was a very tense situation.
If we announced it the match would have been cancelled and I wanted to play
and to win the money. What's more, there were threats ["Además,
Made by whom?
Topalov: Anonymous at the start, but they closed the airport.
It's easy to talk here, but when you're in Russia you think about how you're
going to get out. Walking? And forget about the money of course. So we shut
up and continued the match.
Did you notice anything at the board?
Topalov: There you're focused. The problem for Illescas is
that he didn't know what was going on either because Kramnik didn't say anything
to anyone on his team.
So he got outside help?
Topalov: Yes. They were Russians, but not from the chess world.
So his team is innocent.
Topalov: I think so. They aren't involved; that's why they
doubt and deny everything.
Did he get help from the KGB?
Topalov: The trick is that no professional player was implicated,
and those who told him the moves were fans or from the KGB. If you gave Illescas
that job they'd crush me.
Have you spoken with Kramnik?
Topalov: The Kremlin will never admit they killed the Russian
spy, which seems obvious, as Kramnik won't admit he cheated. ["El Kremlin
nunca reconocerá que envenenó al espía ruso, lo que parece
obvio, ni Kramnik que hizo trampas"]
Did you feel in physical danger?
Topalov: Yes, and I don't think I'll ever go back there.
Let's move on to the rematch. You yourself think it's unlikely to be played.
Topalov: The problem is that Kramnik wants to keep the title
without defending it over the board. He always wants some privilege. I don't
even think he will play in Mexico.
In Kalmykia there was anti-doping control, yes?
Topalov: They gave us one test, but the laboratory was in
What do you think of President Ilyumzhinov?
Topalov: He's a businessman and he simply needed to have a
Russian champion. It's nothing personal. He got the order.
Do you believe that Kramnik continued cheating after the scandal was unleashed?
["¿Cree que Kramnik siguió haciendo trampas después
de destaparse el escándalo?]
Topalov: Personally I think yes, and that the new method was
better. [Personalmente, creo que sí y que el nuevo método fue
Also in the tiebreak games?
Topalov: There they had a foolproof system. In the fourth
game, when he already had me beat, Kramnik made a move that would only occur
to a computer. He also had the right to a rest day, but even though he was sick
he didn't take it. If you're going to have moves passed to you, best to play
as soon as possible. But they did it better than the shoddy job with the cables.
If that's all true, what is going to happen in the future when computers
are even stronger?
Topalov: If things continue this way, with the technology
the Russians have, Kramnik will be invincible in a match.
There's no way to stop it?
Topalov: Before the tiebreak, when a member of my team checked
... for electronics?
Topalov: Yes, with a scanner. The guy was visibly shaking.
I think he had something on his body and he was worried it would be discovered.
I know that's my personal opinion, which is just a guess. The definitive proof
for me is the cable.
But in the second game you wiped him off the board, although later you
failed to finish him off.
Topalov: It was precisely because he played like a computer.
He kept capturing pieces very quickly, with total calm, when my attack was very
dangerous. I couldn't believe it. If you look at the position with a computer
it loves black, although it's lost, until it's too late. How could he be so
Before the match did you suspect anything like this?
Topalov: We had it in mind and we thought, well, in the worst
case we'll get the money. The problem was that we found out. If you don't discover
it you just play chess. But if you find out it wrecks you. You can't sleep and
you spin yourself in circles.