Kasparov answers questions in Norway (1/2)

by ChessBase
6/5/2014 – During the first round of the Norway Chess tournament, Garry Kasparov appeared in the commentary box hosted by Dirk Jan Ten Geuzendam, editor-in-chief of New in Chess, and Nigel Short. While analyzing the games in progress, he also answered questions regarding players such as Caruana and Karjakin, and clarified a number of points on the campaign. He didn't mince words.

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Dirk Jan Ten Geuzendam - How do you feel that Caruana's developing?

Garry Kasparov - Is he?

Well, that's also an answer. (Laughs)

He's a very good player but I just don't see much of the fundamental progress. Again, when I say fundamental progress, you shouldn't get me wrong. We're talking about someone who's progress can be measured by their claim on the title. We're talking about a player whose ultimate progress is to challenge Magnus for the title. So anything below that is considered to be a stalemate. So far I don't see him getting there yet, though he's a young guy. Also, the fact that we are talking about progress as measured by the highest standards is an indication that he definitely has the potential.

When told that Caruana was 8 to 1 to win the tournament, Garry questioned this pessimism

Talking of the progress or non-progress of Karjakin. He won the tournament last year. Would you say something similar about him as you said about Caruana? That you can only find out if he really is going to make progress when he plays  for the highest title, or do you see some developments anyway?

Again, there probably is development but when you talk about players of that calibre, players that are in the 2750+ category, that live there and that are not just dropping by. This is the 2770-2780 stratosphere. Definitely their dream is to have the (world) championship  title. His performance before Khanty-Mansiysk was... mediocre. (...) You could think I'm too demanding but if you are trying to challenge the world champion and if you have the dream, it's not about having decent results, it's whether you had a shot at winning the tournament. He didn't. Yes, he has time...

Nigel Short - Any player in the Top 10 ought to be thinking about becoming world champion.

Exactly. At least Caruana didn't have a chance to play there, that's the way it was, but Karjakin played there and we didn't see him. And the very fact that Anand, who is double his age, was so dominant tells not only about Anand's capabilities, but also about the young generation's inability to use that energy to challenge the old lion.

So Garry, you are running for FIDE president. How is the campaign going?

Look, it's very challenging because I literally live in a plane. I have to say that when we started, I didn't think it would be so demanding, but then I just recognized that there are no substitutes for personal visits. And it's not just to, you know, show up in Uganda, in Gabon, and El Salvador to shake hands. It's about learning, because if I want to not only win the election but be a good president of FIDE and to offer my plans, how to reform the organization, how to make improvements, I need the information first hand. It's not like reading books of what is happening here and there. All these travels help me establish a better vision of what needs to be done in the world of chess.

Garry Kasparov explains his understanding of the campaign so far

(...) When you go to these developing countries, you see almost no input from FIDE, a hundred chess sets, some dozens of chess clocks, and that's it.

Nigel Short - Not even any visits until this campaign.

There are many countries in Africa that have never seen a  FIDE official, much less the FIDE president. For decades no FIDE official ever set foot in south of the Sahara. There is also a question of ethics. They have been using FIDE resources to run the campaign and they are disguising it as working trips. (...) I mean, come on, every trip is about soliciting votes, and they are not even hiding it.

It wasn't all serious as they kept it friendly

(...) When you look at the seminars list. FIDE had more seminars in five months this year than in the four previous years. It is seminar after seminar, and all these seminars are taking place in Pacific islands or in territories that have not been popular with FIDE officials for many years. They are all connected to the campaign. I'm quite happy to see FIDE doing something for the small federations, but it's typical hypocrisy when they pretend they are promoting the game of chess. They even use FIDE money to pay for events that openly have campaign purposes.

For instance in Tunisia there was a tournament and Ilyumzhinov visited the tournament and it was the decision of the presidential board to invest $50 thousand. These are FIDE funds. If you're going to run a campaign, run your own campaign.

These are all things that affect your campaign or your chances. When FIDE announces that the elections are going to take place, and they present both candidates, and they say that this number of countries are supporting Ilyumzhinov, you can look at this number and think maybe this is not entirely true, but what can you say about this?

Let's be honest. It's a trick, because nominations, for many countries, do not mean support. So nominating the existing president to run, for many countries, it just means showing respect. I won't give exact numbers, but you will see soon that many of these alleged supporting federations will not be on Ilyumzhinov's list, they will appear on our list. (...) I think by mid-June the numbers will be significantly different.

Is it going to be a close race?

(...) The fact that the incumbent has been visiting countries that he never would have thought of before, demonstrates that they also recognize that despite their claims that the election is over, we have a sizeable lead, they recognize it is a fight for every vote. That's why it will continue and I think the elections will be decided in Tromsø.

Continued in part two where Garry addresses the question of player quality from the 80s, and the 1.d4 or 1.e4 debate...

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