Kramnik on Sofia, blunders, world championships

5/29/2005 – After his disastrous result (and multiple blunders) at the Mtel Super GM in Sofia Vladimir Kramnik was suprisingly relaxed and cheerful, at least when he spoke to the chess journalist of the Russian news magazine Sport Express. In a long interview he answers a number of questions that chess fans all over the world were asking. Here are excerpts.

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Sport Express chess journalist Yuri Vasiliev says he was surprised how relaxed and cheerful Vladimir Kramnik was after his fairly disastrous result (and multiple blunders) at the Mtel tournament in Sofia. In the May 26, 2005, issue of Sport Express he interviews the classical chess world champion. Here some highlights:

  • I have not yet completely recovered from the match against Leko. In all three tournaments, which I played after Brissago, I made so many blunders, like never before. Such oversights are not in my nature, so the reason for them is evidently not in chess. I should have taken a longer time out. I overestimated my capabilities.

  • I have already proved to myself long ago all that needed to be proved. The tournament in Sofia was strong, interesting; it was a pleasure to play in it, but I did not plan to prove anything to anyone. This does not mean I played in Sofia casually. Some games I played had great pressure, and I played with courage.

  • Soviet scientists had shown that the excessive stress on human mind and the loss of energy which chess produces are comparable to the hardest physical work. In football, where the players take care of their physical condition, as a rule, one match is played in a week. Two is already hard. And what happens here? We play ten games in eleven days – each of them going on for between five and seven hours.Chess professionals play under enormous tension!

  • The last round at Sofia was a war of attrition! Topalov blunders a piece, I don’t take it, and after a couple of moves I blunder myself...frankly speaking, I don’t remember when two players made such basic blunders one after the other. This is not chess. This is a competition to determine whose head gets turned off last.

  • If I were to decide to play in Argentina, why did I play the match against Leko in Brissago? I would be giving a handicap to the other players – they did not face any of that strain, like I had in Brissago. Fairness and justice require that I play a match with the winner of the Argentinean tournament. I think that the probability of such a match taking place is fairly high. I don’t see a single person who will feel disturbed over my match against the winner of the tournament in Argentina. Such match will be interesting for the entire chess world, because it will be a true unification match.

  • For me it is clear Kasparov’s decision to leave the professional sport is not one hundred percent. Even if you were to judge by his interviews, the possibility of his return is not excluded. A "loophole" for returning is kept.

  • I am glad the legendary chess player Bobby Fischer has got a stable place and is free to do what he wants.

In general on his plans Kramnik confirmed that he would be playing in the Russian Championship, at the Olympiad in Turin, Wijk aan Zee, Linares and Sofia in 2006. "I am a professional chess player. I aim to play at all important professional events." The next time we see him in action will be at this year's Sparkassen Chess Meeting in Dortmund, which will be held from July 8 to 17, 2005.


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