Dannemann: No-risk draw in game 11

by ChessBase
10/12/2004 – What can you say: Peter Leko played his home preparation until move 16, when Vladimir Kramnik uncorked a novelty. One move later the two agreed to a draw. So instead of deep analysis we talk to the manager of both players, Carsten Hensel, the man who pulled this championship off.

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Games 11: No-risk draw in 17 moves

Same old same old – we quote the official press release: "The players took no risk today: Game 11 at the Classical World Chess Championship at CENTRO DANNEMANN ended in a quick draw. Titleholder Vladimir Kramnik (Russia), who is still one point down, and his challenger Peter Leko (Hungary) finished the game after 17 moves. Kramnik with Black improved on one of his games and played a strong novelty Nh5. Leko missed this move in his home preparation and was forced to go for a repetition of the moves. So the 25 year old Hungarian is still in the lead. 'I have still all chances and two games with White', said titleholder Kramnik after the game. Leko as challenger needs 7½ points to win the title."

The start of game 11, Peter Leko vs Vladimir Kramnik

Leko,P (2741) - Kramnik,V (2770) [E15]
WCh Brissago SUI (11), 12.10.2004
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.g3 Ba6 5.Qa4 Bb7 6.Bg2 c5 7.dxc5 Bxc5 8.0-0 0-0 9.Nc3 Be7 10.Bf4 a6 11.Rfd1 d6 12.Qc2 Qc7 13.Rac1 Rd8 14.Qd2 Nh5 15.Bg5 Nf6 16.Bf4 Nh5 17.Bg5 Nf6 ½-½

The end of game 11, Peter Leko vs Vladimir Kramnik

The press conference, which was carried live on Playchess.com

Current standing
Vladimir Kramnik
Peter Leko

An Interview with Carsten Hensel

46 years old, married, two children (18 and 14), living in Dortmund, where the strongest tournament in Germany is staged. Carsten Hensel replies with "interesting conversations" when asked about his hobbies. When pressed he admits to music, literature and expressionist paintings, and adds a few kinds of sports: table tennis (where he is master class), soccer, chess. Food? He loves Italian, Thai and the potato salad his wife Birgit makes. We spoke to Carsten about his role in this world championship match.

Question: How did your cooperation with Vladimir and Peter begin?

Carsten Hensel: I started personally managing Peter in 1998 and Vladimir in December 2001, but I have known both players for more than twelve years.

Could you also tell us why you chose chess?

It’s a long story. As a journalist and press officer I was involved in the organisation of several top events, but also world championships such as table tennis, ice-hockey, ice-skating or boxing. In 1991 I received a request to develop the Dortmund Chess Days – a little flower at time. This project became very successful during the course of the 90s. Step by step I became more involved in the world of chess.

Wasn’t it a bit risky for you?

Being involved in sports management is always a somewhat risky business, especially in chess because we are talking about a fairly small market. Only a few players are able to attract the mass media and sponsors. Fortunately Kramnik and Leko are two of them. But you are always dependent on the performances and the image of your clients.

What are the main abilities of a successful manager in chess?

As every personal manager you should never over-estimate the importance of your own person. Your clients take centre stage, not the manager. Without them you are nothing. Therefore you better stay in the background as much as possible. Okay, you need to be creative and a reasonable communicator and connecter. A general understanding of the media and commerce mechanisms is required, as well as a basic understanding of legal matters. There are many jobs in one and sometimes you need to be tough. But most important is discipline and the ability to work hard with a clear strategy and concept behind.

Carsten Hensel with his two clients, Vladimir Kramnik and Peter Leko

Could you compare Vladimir and Peter -- as players and as personalities?

Please understand that I do not like to talk about their personalities or private matters here. But it is not a secret that Vladimir is probably the player with the deepest understanding of the game in the world. His general potential is incredibly high. Peter is also very talented of course, and in addition he benefits from his perfect physical fitness.

Could you name their strong and weak points?

Well, I will not abuse my trustful relationship with Vladimir and Peter to work this out publicly. But one thing I can tell you: both players have character and principles in life as well as in a chess game. Being very strong personalities they are ready to take responsibility for their decisions. Neither of them is easy to break, even if a game is lost.

The Classical Chess World Champion and his manager

Who is more difficult to work with? And is it difficult for you personally to share your time between them?

I never have had real difficulties in my work, either with Vladimir or with Peter. You know, sometimes there is a lot of pressure, but we are professionals trying to work on the best solutions possible. Of course the entire circumstances of the World Chess Champion are always more complex and require more time and energy. But this is very normal and I do not think that Peter was missing something. I made an important decision almost three years ago: to free myself from all other projects, and to work for Kramnik and Leko exclusively. This step gave me the necessary space to fully concentrate on them in order to work as successfully as possible.

What are the relations between them are like?

Of course it is a competitive situation. Leko wants to take something from Kramnik. This title is in accordance with the classical bloodline starting in 1886 with the 1st World Chess Champion Wilhelm Steinitz. There will be a lot of value and social recognition at stake in the Centro Dannemann, not only for the players but also for their nations. Therefore it might be too much to say that they are friends, but they have high respect of each other as chess players and as human beings as well. The match will be decided over the board only and not by using dirty tricks…

Did it help in negotiations around this match that both grandmasters worked with one manager?

I am sure it did in this special case. Especially after the original rights-holders of the Classical World Chess Championship could not fulfill their obligations. After agreements were terminated we were able to look out for a sponsorship ourselves, starting from September 2003. At the same time we were under a lot of pressure from the media and the chess community world-wide. Fortunately the terms and conditions, including the regulations for the match, were agreed between the players. It was increasingly important for me in this process to speak on behalf of the players with one voice. If the two qualified participants for the Classical World Chess Championship would have been fighting against each other it would have been practically impossible to get the match organised. I can tell you that this process showed me that I was doing the right thing by accepting the manager jobs. I am very happy to work for such fascinating personalities.

From the family album: Peter Leko and Carsten Hensel with wives Sophia and Birgit

What were the differences in preparations for the match between the players?

I am just a hobby chess-player and I never got involved in the details. Moreover I have requested from the beginning not to be too much informed in this area. Of course I know something in general about the teams and the camps, but I do not like to talk about it.

Do you think chess can be a profitable business?

Chess is already a profitable business, but unfortunately for a few elite players only. There will be never a real problem for top players and great personalities such as Kramnik, Leko, Anand or Kasparov. But I can tell you that there are many other interesting players outside the top ten. For them the commercial situation is very difficult. It is a pity to see that sometimes a top 20 player has serious problems to earn a living.

What must happen to change the situation?

Chess has much more potential but unfortunately we are facing a major problem: in the commercial field, chess is 20, 30 years behind other sports such as tennis, golf, light-athletics, table-tennis etc. Unless the organisations are now ready to develop real professional promotion and marketing structures together with the players by keeping the traditional and historical values of chess, these conditions simply cannot change that much. Nowadays we still have too many amateurs in the business trying to make a quick profit or to have their egos satisfied without any concept behind it. But the situation is not hopeless. The world of chess is beginning to see the real obstacles, and there are already some developments which are hopefully leading to the necessary changes.

Contacts and further information

Rolf Behovits
Press Officer World Chess Championship
Via Ruggero Leoncavallo
CH-6614 Brissago


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