Kramnik willing to face Topalov

by ChessBase
10/22/2005 – "I firmly believe that I am the real World Chess Champion." With that Vladimir Kramnik makes his case to participate in a unification match against new FIDE champ Veselin Topalov. In brief comments Kramnik also addresses his lineage and Topalov's recent arguments for not having such a match. Read quickly, before the next reply comes out.

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Vladimir Kramnik: I am prepared to play a reunification match against Topalov

"The reunification tournament has ended in San Luis. The winner is Bulgarian Veselin Topalov. Now there are two world champions. He is the FIDE world champion, I am the 14th classical world champion."

The following interview is from the Russian magazine 64, originally appearing in the Rodnaya Gazeta. Translated for ChessBase by Aryan Arghandewal

I was impressed with the quality of play in San Luis. Players battled and squeezed everything possible. However it looked as though Topalov was the only player truly charged for victory. Others came to play in San Luis – Topalov came to win it. This effectively determined the outcome of the double round-robin tournament.

Generally speaking, I believe that the World Champion should be determined exclusively in a match. As for a candidates' qualification scheme it is quite acceptable to have it organized as in San Luis. For example, half of the participants according to their ratings, the other half through a qualification cycle. This would be in the interests of both the sponsors and the viewing public. The knockout system proposed, actively agitated for, and imposed by FIDE has long since compromised itself.

Is the long awaited reunification of the chess world finally going to happen? My position is absolutely clear on this: in accordance with the Prague Agreement of 2002 I am prepared to play in a reunification match. I am looking forward to some clarification from Topalov and I hope everything becomes clear in the coming weeks.

I've read comments in the press that Veselin does not believe I am a worthy contender for the title, giving my relatively low rating as the basis for his argument. I believe this is just his emotions speaking. World championship and tournament performance are two entirely separate entities. In chess history the World Champion has not always scored brilliantly in tournaments. One could even go as far as to say that this is rather more an exception than a rule. Petrosian, Spassky, and Botvinnik never won too many tournaments, but nobody ever had any doubts as to the legitimacy of their titles.

I'd like to stress once more: I firmly believe that I am the real World Chess Champion. I won this title in a contest against the thirteenth World Champion Garry Kasparov and later defended my title in a match against Peter Leko. My title is legitimate and this was acknowledged even by FIDE in the Prague Accords. Should anyone, like Topalov, believe that he is stronger, let him beat me in a match.

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