Long after the bitter days of rivalry between Kasparov and Karpov, another chess star war seems to be in the offing. Vladimir Kramnik, dethroned as the FIDE world chess champion by Viswanathan Anand, has passed disparaging comments against the Indian star, who has retaliated strongly.
In a recent interview to the Russian newspaper Izvestia, Kramnik said that he has "lent the title temporarily to Anand". He added that he would accept Anand as the champion only if Anand wins their rematch next year. "OK, on paper Anand may be world champion, but from my point of view, there is a difference in significance between a title won in a match and in a tournament," Kramnik said. "For me, the forthcoming match with Anand is more important. If I lose that, I will accept completely the fact that I have lost the title."
Anand during the world championship 2007 in Mexico City
Kramnik's comments re-ignite the debate over the best format for the event, apart from showing Kramnik in a poor light, for he had acknowledged Anand as the champion soon after the World Championship in Mexico in late September. Anand has suggested that Kramnik's argument was based on mere technicalities. He reacted strongly to Kramnik's comment and told HT: "He is trying to make the most of the political patronage he enjoys from the FIDE. Kramnik's position seems like a legal explanation of a situation arising from the political patronage."
"Who the best player in the world is decided on the board," Anand said over the phone from Chennai. Kramnik also claimed that his rematch with Anand – a gift guaranteed to the Russian by the FIDE even before the Mexico event – would be played in September 2008 in Germany. Kramnik told Izvestia that sponsors and organisers were already in place and contracts would be signed within a month. Anand refuted these claims and said nothing had been decided as yet.
Viswanathan Anand may soon shift base back to India. The world chess champion, who has been staying in Spain for over a decade as it facilitated his travel across Europe for tournaments, has bought a house in Chennai and will spend more time in India now on.
Anand, who could shift to India as early as next January, said he would also train with Indian players, which could prove to be a great opportunity for them. "I have bought a new house in Chennai and will be staying more in India," Anand said. "Earlier, I used to stay for about two months in India and six-eight months in Spain. But now it could be the other way round." Anand's parents have a house at Besant Nagar in Chennai and he usually spends a couple of months every year with them, towards the end of the chess season.
Anand's homecoming in Chennai last month
Though the reigning world champion and world No. 1 has no plans to move bag
and baggage to India entirely and will continue to spend time in Spain, he will
train more in India with local players, as he did before the Mexico World Championship
in September. He owns a bungalow at Collado Mediano, near Madrid. Anand said
he would put the plan into action with the Corus Chess Championship, to be held
in the Netherlands on January 11-27 next year.
The World Champion is transported in a special chariot to his home
"I will be working with Indian players in Chennai for some time before the Corus Championship. I will also have some sessions in Europe with my second, Peter Nielsen, before the event," he added. Anand had trained with Sandipan Chanda, RB Ramesh and young players like B Adhiban before the World Championship and found that those sessions not only proved profitable, they also helped the youngsters.
Anand said he was looking forward to the Corus Championship as it has a strong field, with most of the world's top players in action.