Kramnik for The Mind Behind: “I’m not a sportsman by nature”

by ChessBase
6/20/2020 – Earlier this week, former world champion Vladimir Kramnik was interviewed by Tania Sachdev for Red Bull's series ‘The Mind Behind’. Among other subjects, the Russian talked about how he is coping with the lockdown, his biggest chess influence as a kid, his main strength as a competitor and his favourite world championship match to date. | Photo: Amruta Mokal

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“I was very stable psychologically”

The Austrian energy-drink company Red Bull GmbH is known for sponsoring sportsmen from a wide variety of disciplines. Currently, they are supporting Indian IM Tania Sachdev, who was the host of the latest interview from the ‘Mind Behind’ series. Vladimir Kramnik, the 14th undisputed world chess champion, was her guest.

Kramnik shocked the chess world by announcing his retirement at last year’s Tata Steel Tournament in Wijk aan Zee. Since then, he has participated in some rapid and blitz events and trained a group of young Indian super-talents. But, how is he coping with the lockdown?

Vladimir KramnikI am quite happy about it, and would enjoy another month or two if needed. There are many things to do — I spend time with my family, with my kids more than usual.

Going back some forty years, what does he consider to be his biggest influence during the early development of his chess career? 

The only book in our small bookshop was a book on the best games of Anatoly Karpov, and I studied it day and night maybe for one year, so probably it was the most influential book for me. But it was a pure accident.

His greatest achievement certainly was to beat Garry Kasparov at the 2000 Classical World Championship match in London. How did he do it? 

My main strength was I was very stable psychologically, and I never actually wanted too much to win. [...] I didn’t care about winning so much. That’s why I was not so nervous, and that’s why I was actually coming back always. I’d accepted quite soon that losing is a part of the deal. Actually I’m not a sportsman by nature, I’m not a competitive person. 

His greatest advice for young players? Sometimes less is more.

I was lucky that I never had an advisor. When you learn things by your own experience — and very often negative experience — you make some stupid mistakes and then you learn from them. It’s a much better lesson.

On a personal note, why isn’t he on social media? The main issue for him is the amount of time it takes away from other activities. And he goes even further, confessing that he does not watch TV or movies:

I have a much greater sin than this. I don’t watch serials at all, and I don’t watch TV at all. [...] I actually just watched The Matrix maybe two months ago for the first time. [...] That makes a lot of economy of time.

Watch the full 14-minute interview at Red Bull’s official website.

Master Class Vol.11: Vladimir Kramnik

This DVD allows you to learn from the example of one of the best players in the history of chess and from the explanations of the authors (Pelletier, Marin, Müller and Reeh) how to successfully organise your games strategically, consequently how to keep y


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