57th Russian Championship
The Super Final of the 57th Russian is being held in the Festive Hall of the Hotel Rossija (“Rociya”), directly adjacent to the Red Square. The prize sum is US $125,000, to be paid out in rouble equivalent. The winner takes $50,000. The participants of this round robin tournament are Garry Kasparov, Alexander Morozevich, Alexander Grischuk, Peter Svidler, Evgeny Bareev, Alexey Dreev, Vitaly Tseshkovsky, Alexander Motylev, Vladimir Epishin, Artem Timofeev and Alexey Korotylev. Originally Vladimir Kramnik and Anatoly Karpov were included, but both withdrew at the last moment.
Round three – Wednesday, November 17, 2004
The shock losses were by Peter Svidler, who went down with white in the endgame against 19-year-old Artyom Timofeev's Sicilian Sveshnikov; and Alexander Morozevich's second loss in a row, this time on the black side of a Scotch, to 60-year-old Vitaly Tseshkovsky. In the following interview, conducted long before this round, Anatoly Karpov had predicted that his old friend Tseshkovsky may not have a chance to win, but he would sell his scalp dearly in this tournament. The third decided game was the black win by Alexey Korotylev against Alexander Motylev in a Sicilian Rauzer. The other games were drawn, Garry Kasparov had a free day.
|Round three – 17.11.2004|
"I can understand that I have disappointed my fans"
An interview with Anatoli Karpov
By Dagobert Kohlmeyer
One of the biggest surprises in the second round of the Super Final in Moscow, next to Alexey Dreev’s win with the black pieces over Alexander Morozevich, was the appearance of Anatoly Karpov in the playing hall. Just a day before the 12th world champion had caused mayhem by withdrawing from the tournament, a decision that earned him sharp criticism from all sides. But in spite of this Karpov, accompanied by his wife Natalia, appeared to be in good spirits, speaking cheerfully with chess fans and journalists in the hall. Dagobert Kohlmeyer used the opportunity to interview the absentee and to ask him to explain his actions.
Dagobert Kohlmeyer: Anatoli, why did you withdraw from the Super Final, just one day before it began?
Anatoly Karpov: At the very last minute I understood that I cannot play chess right now. I am not in good form, and I do not have the time. There are more important things waiting for me.
What more important things?
Many different things, business and social commitments that have to be attended to at the end of a long and arduous year. Under such circumstances it is impossible to play games at the very highest level, you just don’t have the necessary concentration.
Can you specify the nature of the commitments? Are they connected with your entry into the car business?
Yes. For some time I have been supporting a company that is building a Russian compact car, which is being manufactured in a factory in Tula. At the moment we have a lot to do.
Okay, but is it not possible to take this into consideration when you plan your chess events on a long-term basis?
The starting date of the tournament was not good for me. The year is almost over and there is not much time to complete the most necessary tasks. In Russia people start celebrating the new year practically from the middle of December and well into January. For this reason I cannot abandon my commercial commitments at this time. It would have been better to stage the tournament in the middle of the year, in summer.
But still, it was your decision to withdraw just one day before the match that caused the scandal. Why did you risk that?
That’s what you journalists call it. It was just that I realised that everything would come to a halt if I spent 14 days just playing chess. It may be a scandal for the press, but for me in my current situation it was simply a logical decision.
Anatoly Karpov with his wife Natalia
What about the chess public, your fans?
Naturally I understand their reaction. The number of my fans in Russia and elsewhere is still very large. There is no question: I am sorry that I disappointed them. But I couldn’t act differently.
You were not the only one to get into the headlines by pulling out of the tournament. Vladimir Kramnik also threw in the towel. Now Garry Kasparov is the only world champion playing in the event.
There are sometimes objective reasons for withdrawing. In the case of Vladimir Kramnik I can understand them well. In fact I would have been very surprised if he had actually played in Moscow.
What do you mean?
Well, Boris Spassky always said that a world championship match uses up as much energy as a whole year of normal life. After the difficult match against Peter Leko in Brissago Vladimir was unable to restore his strength in just three weeks. He wanted to be part of the national championship, but there sometimes simply are reasons which make it impossible for you to play. I was sure all along that Kramnik would not play.
But still it is would not be too bad if top players would put themselves in the place of the spectators and fans. And they should think about the sponsors, who are providing a lot of money for these tournaments.
That is right. In this point I cannot contradict you.
How great is your motivation to continue playing chess at all?
I must admit that in recent times it has become more and more difficult for me to get myself motivated to play in a tournament. When you have won, like I have done, a total of 158 tournaments – individually or in a team – then it is a unique record. In the long run I would only prepare for a world championship match. But at the moment the chess world is in chaos and it is probably a waste of time.
Veteran GM Vitali Tseshkovsky
Let us return to the Russian Championship. You have known Vitali Tseshkovsky for a long time. What do you think about him playing in this event at the age of 60?
Great for him! He played very well in the qualifier, because he acted very pragmatically. Here, in this top field of players, he will have a tough time and will probably lose some hair. But Vitaly is an interesting player and he will try to sell his scalp as dearly as possibly.
Who will win the Russian Championship 2004?
There are some whom we must consider hot candidates. But after just two rounds you cannot say who is in form and who isn’t. We have already seen some fighting games. Kasparov will certainly produce a good result, as will Svidler, who has often won the national championship. But we mustn’t forget Morozevich and Grischuk. If they get in the mood and remain stable they can take home a lot of points. The next rounds will tell us more.