Election 2006: Karpov and Topalov speak out

4/17/2006 – Former world champion Anatoly has been recently quoted as saying incumbent FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov has a 100% chances of winning the election. In a recent interview Karpov modified this statement. Meanwhile FIDE world champion Veselin Topalov is quoted as saying "I hope Kirsan will win again". Election interviews.

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Summary

For those of you who may not have the time to go through large amounts of texts here is a summary of what is said in the two interviews, given in full below.

Anatoly Karpov

  • Of course you can't say that a candidate has a 100% chance of winning before the elections are over. Today we have two candidates for elections: Ilyumzhinov and Kok. It's quite clear to me that this is the first time, in the modern history of chess, since Campomanes, that there is a real election in FIDE and teams are ready to fight for the Presidency.

  • I had an idea to team up with Kok and the European countries, but decided to step down from the FIDE presidential race when I understoon that Kok wanted to campaign separately.

  • It was wrongly published that the Russian Chess Federation didn't support my candidacy. If I would have continued my campaign the board would have had to decide between the two candidates. Since I withdrew, the board decided to support and nominate Ilyumzhinov as the official Russian candidate.

  • The critical problem facing FIDE today are missing general sponsors for chess activities. A professional management team should take care of this PR and marketing job, as it can't be done by the team which runs FIDE today. Ilyumzhinov tried to find sponsors but was unsuccessful. Most of the time he spent his own money, which is generally is not good. One should search for international sponsors.

  • FIDE urgently needs material and statistics to be used as PR and marketing tools. There is a lack of interest on FIDE's part for this type of advertising. FIDE also has a problem in communication. And this problem has become even worse with Internet and email. A question that should be answered in 20 minutes is answered only after a few weeks!

  • Fortunately FIDE has realized the mistakes of the knockout system format used for the World Championships. They didn't change everything but at least they have started to do so.

Veselin Topalov

  • I am satisfied with my performance and with the result of the match against Nisipeanu. I managed to play consistently, without blunders. The audience was huge during every game. Local newspapers reported that this match was the most remarkable chess event in the history of the country.

  • I haven't seen such incredible interest to chess and chess players as I saw in Mexico. And I have never received so much attention. It can probably be compared to the popularity of a rock star.

  • I deeply respect the present head of the World Chess Federation, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. I think that his contribution to chess is enormous, and I hope that this time he will win again.

  • Vladimir Kramnik is particularly good in match battles. He has proved it by winning the match against the greatest chess player of the 20th century, Garry Kasparov. I think that our match will be extremely interesting, in the first place because it will be played by competitors, totally different in style of their play. Kramnik is very good at positioning and maneuvering, whereas I prefer sharp and tactical play. I’m sure that the audience will not be bored.

  • I really enjoy the healthy competition between me and Anand Viswanathan. I think the tournament in Sofia will make many things clear in our relationship. However I am not inclined to underestimate Peter Svidler, Ruslan Ponomariov, Gata Kamsky and Etienne Bacrot. There will be no poor players in Sofia.


Interview with former World Champion Anatoly Karpov

By Willy Iclicki

A number of interviews with former World Champion Anatoly Karpov, have been carried in 64, ChessBase and more recently Chess Fidelity, the website for the election campaign of Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, conducted by radio journalist Sergey Korsun. This interview raised many eyebrows, as Karpov was quoted as stating certain things about the forthcoming elections which he fundamentally disagreed with, moreso since for a long time he had been considering running also as a Presidential candidate.

To clarify the issue, once and forever, the Right Move has given Anatoly Karpov the floor to explain his perspective on the election campaign, developments and the requirements of FIDE for a new chess world:

Q: In the recent interview published on Chess Fidelity you were quoted as saying that Kirsan Ilyumzhinov will win 100%. This caused quite a few raised eyebrows in the chess world since a few months ago you said that anybody could do a better job than Kirsan. Has your opinion changed?

Karpov: I had this interview on radio with Mr. Korsun. Of course you can't say that a candidate has a 100% chance of winning before the elections are over. Today we have two candidates for elections: Ilyumzhinov and Kok. It's quite clear to me that this is the first time, in the modern history of chess, since Campomanes, that there is a real election in FIDE and teams are ready to fight for the Presidency.

The two candidates are working very actively and both have a good campaign. According to my knowledge at that moment Ilyumzhinov had an advantage, but now with six weeks to go before the elections I must say surely the last few days in Turin will be decisive.

Q: What led you to withdraw from the Presidential race?

Karpov: I must say that I took seriously the initiative of the USCF to be candidate for FIDE President, and I was also supported by different countries. I wish to thanks especially two federations, the French Federation and USCF for their clear and uncompromised support. I was working on the elections since June 2005, and I made several trips in the world because I believe many things should be improved in the chess activity around the world. We also had an idea to unify teams with Kok and the European countries.

Later in January, after negotiations with Kok, I understood that he wanted to campaign separately. This proposal was against my convictions and our chances of success, so I decided to step down and continue my chess activities, which don't depend on the Federations. It was wrongly published that the Russian Chess Federation didn't support my candidacy. Let me remind you that I took the decision to withdraw without an official declaration from the race on January 29th.

In the beginning of February some rumours emerged, that had I made a decision to stop my campaign because the Russian Chess Federation decided to support Ilyumzhinov. This is untrue because the Russian Federation never discussed the FIDE elections before its scheduled meeting on February 17th, and if I would have continued my campaign, the board would have had to decide between the two candidates. Since I withdrew, the board decided to support and nominate Ilyumzhinov as the official Russian candidate

Q: Although you decided not to continue with your Presidential bid, you have undoubtedly an important role to play in promoting chess as an icon for a younger generation. What role do you see yourself playing in the future?

Karpov: My activities will involve developing children's chess with the traditional Children Olympiads for team under 16 years old (there have already been 10 competitions), developing chess education with recent agreements with governments in Brazil and Chile, developing chess in schools in Argentina with big activities in Buenos Aires and of course Russia and Germany where I opened an academy ten years ago.

I believe this is the future of chess. Unfortunately, chess has become much less popular so we must increase our activities and increase publicity to attract chess players who play privately at home. Imagine in Germany, one of the biggest chess Federations, only 10% of the country's chess players are members of the federation, that leaves us with 90% of potential players to attract.

Q: What are the critical problems FIDE is facing today and why?

Karpov: I just explained in the previous question some of the critical problems and we are also missing general sponsors for chess activities. Sponsors could be different for classical chess, rapid chess, children chess or a global one. A professional management team should take care of this PR and marketing job as it can't be done by the team which runs FIDE today.

It is clear that for the last 20 years we haven't progressed much in this area. Ilyumzhinov tried to find sponsors but was unsuccessful. Most of the time he spent his own money, which is not bad, but generally is not good, because nobody should spend his own money but search for international sponsors like 25 years ago and more.

We may mention a computer company like IBM, which unfortunately was destroyed by the strange behavior of Kasparov. Similarly a few years later with Intel. With the activities around the continent and the increase in the number of players, the chance to catch such awaited sponsors will be much better.

Q: What future lies ahead, in your opinion, for the chess world and what is required from a FIDE administration to deliver results to its members?

Karpov: Since 1980, I have been telling Campomanes and other FIDE officials that we were missing chess statistics which reflect the number of players, their performance and their history. We have many chess magazines but this is not the material to give to sponsors, FIDE urgently needs material and statistics to be used as PR and Marketing tools.

This also shows the lack of interest on FIDE's part for this type of advertising. FIDE also has a problem in communication. And this problem has become even worse with Internet and email. A question that should be answered in 20 minutes is answered only after a few weeks!

Regarding chess competitions, fortunately FIDE has realized the mistakes of the KO system format used for the World Championships. They didn't change everything but at least they have started to do so. No doubt that the best format would be to come back not to the old format but to a combination that will end in individual matches or match tournament like the one that took place in Argentina in 2005..

The chess world is missing a lot of strong world champions which the knockout system could never deliver. I am against the knockout system for World Championship because it mixes different rules and time controls. It's hard to imagine how you could play classical chess followed by rapid chess and to finish with Blitz in the same tournament. Previous champions such as Botvinnik and Spassky would never have agreed to play in such a tournament!


Veselin Topalov: "I hope Kirsan will win again"

The World Chess Champion declared his support to Kirsan right after the victory in Bucharest. Bulgarian Veselin Topalov has won the four-game match against the European Champion, Romanian Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu with the score 3:1. Immediately after the match the “The Sport-Express Daily” Chess observer Yuriy Vasiliev had a phone interview with Topalov.

About the Bucharest Match

Veselin, let me congratulate you on the victory!

Thank you!

Does the score 3:1 reflect the balance of forces between you and the European Champion?

When the same question was asked during the press conference, Nisipeanu's answer was affirmative. I can say that I am satisfied with my performance and with the result of the match. I managed to play consistently, without blunders. Some positions could have been played in a better way, but I believe that in general I have demonstrated a good level of play.

In the first game there was a “Berlin variant" of the Spanish game; the Romanian GM nearly disappointed you with it, didn’t he…

I’d like to point out that I play the “Berlin” pretty often and I was preparing it for the World Championship. However this complicated endspiel has many little details, so every half move rather than move is of great importance. There was some little inaccuracy on my part and the competitor could have thrown me into serious problems. However he missed his chance and I found the forced draw.

In the second game you caught him with a variant, right?

On the contrary, I did not catch him. It turned out that he had foreseen it during the preparation, the new move, which I made. But in the further keen struggle I managed to outplay him and win the game.

During the third game I had a feeling that you missed the win. Is that so?

No, it was a deceptive feeling. I had a comfortable position but he always came up with some counter play to balance.

What happened in the final game when the black pieces somewhat rapidly lost a pawn?

That’s when I really caught the rival with a variant and won the pawn without any adequate compensation. I used some old analysis, which I didn’t even hope to ever use in a game of such high level. Thus the victory in the last game was unexpectedly bloodless.

About the Chess popularity

Did the match in Bucharest draw much interest?

The match was dedicated to the admission of Bulgaria and Romania to European Union in 2007, and the first move in the match was made by the President of Romania. The audience was huge during every game. Local newspapers reported that this match was the most remarkable chess event in the history of the country. Never before had a World Chess Champion played with a European Chess Champion representing Romania.

The last time we met was after the Tournament in Linares, which you managed to rescue after the failure start in Morelia. What is your opinion about the shaped trend to explore new territories for chess: Mexico, Argentina, North of Russia, Ural...?

I think it’s a positive and very important trend! For long time haven’t I seen such incredible interest to chess and chess players as I saw in Mexico. And I have never received so much attention. It can probably be compared to the popularity of a rock star… It was strange, unusual, but damn pleasant! It means that chess stirs ordinary people even in the most distant regions of the world and we must take advantage of this interest.

About the FIDE Elections

The elections of President of FIDE will take place in the upcoming Olympiad in Turin. Whose candidacy do you support?

I deeply respect the present head of the World Chess Federation, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. I think that his contribution to chess is enormous, and I hope that this time he will win again.

About the Elista Match with Kramnik

During our conversation in Linares you said you believed that the match between you and Vladimir Kramnik, which Ilyumzhinov intended to arrange in Elista, the capital of the governed by him republic of Kalmykia, would indeed take place. Do you still hold on to your belief and your intention to play with Kramnik?

Yes and my intention and belief have even grown stronger. The match will be played and the world public will soon be officially notified of it.

Have the controversial points, which were pronounced in Linares by your manager and the trainer Silvio Danailov, been settled?

I only know that the negotiations are carried on successfully. But what is more important is that Kramnik and I want to play this match, and Kirsan Ilyumzhinov wants to arrange it. It means that the match will be held.

What do you think about your prospective rival?

Vladimir Kramnik is particularly good in match battles. He has proved it by winning the match against the greatest chess player of the 20th century, Garry Kasparov. I think that our match will be extremely interesting, in the first place because it will be played by competitors, totally different in style of their play. Kramnik is very good at positioning and maneuvering, whereas I prefer sharp and tactical play. I’m sure that the audience will not be bored.

About Anand

You are officially FIDE World Top Chess Player. However the Indian Anand Viswanathan is only one point behind. Do you think he will be able to draw ahead of you in the Sofia tournament which will be opened in the beginning of May?

I really enjoy the healthy competition between me and Anand Viswanathan. I think the tournament in Sofia will make many things clear in our relationship...

What is the current score between you and Anand?

If I’m not mistaken 8:8 in the resulting games, but there have been a great number of draws. By the way I have extended the gap between me and Anand in the top list by about four points due to the 3:1 win in the match against Nisipeanu.

Do you think Anand Viswanathan will be your major competitor in the tournament in Sofia?

He is certainly the most troublesome rival, as usually. However I am not inclined to underestimate Peter Svidler, Ruslan Ponomariov, Gata Kamsky and Etienne Bacrot. There will be no poor players in Sofia.



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