Nunn on the Candidates – decision at the end

by ChessBase
3/20/2013 – Dr John Nunn is one of England's strongest chess players and once was in the world's top ten. He is no longer active as a competition player but works mainly in writing and publishing chess books. During round four of the Candidates Tournament in London he appeared at the press-center for the first time, keeping a low profile. He predicted: the winner will be determined in the last round. Interview.

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From March 14 to April 1, 2013, FIDE and AGON – the World Chess Federation’s commercial partner – are staging the 2013 Candidates Tournament for the World Chess Championship 2013. It will be the strongest tournament of its kind in history. The venue is The IET, 2 Savoy Place, London. The Prize Fund to be shared by the players totals €510,000. The winner of the Candidates will become the Challenger to Viswanathan Anand who has reigned as World Champion since 2007. The main sponsor for the Candidates is State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic SOCAR, which has sponsored elite events chess in the past.

Nunn: the winner will be determined in the last round

John Nunn, chess grandmaster and gifted mathematician, never really cared about competitive side of chess, but was mostly interested in its creative part. He wrote a number of textbooks for beginners, published a few collections of chess problems, many books on chess theory, and a really small book with his own games...
Today he appeared at the press-center for the first time, and kept a low profile. However, missing a chance to ask his opinion would be a true crime on our part.

John, what do you think about this tournament?

I like it. I came today for the first time, but will certainly come again. After all, they are the best chess players in the world, it's hard to resist the temptation. I don't play competitively now, but enjoy watching.

What do you prefer for the candidates cycle, a round robin or matches?

Without a doubt, a double round round-robin is the best system. It determines a real challenger. You have to realize that in matches people use a completely different strategy, because they get punished harshly for every mistake. The candidates matches in Kazan showed it – there were just three decisive games in seven matches! It just makes no sense.

You think in matches everybody tries to get to rapid chess and blitz?

Almost everybody. I just don't understand why the World Champion can be determined in a blitz game! We all know that Alexander Grischuk is very good in speed chess. He had terrible pairings in Kazan – first Aronian, then Kramnik. However, he played very solidly, drew all classical games and then won the tiebreaks. I think if he had managed to draw all games in the final as well, he would have probably advanced to play against Anand.

Aren't you concerned that in a round-robin an outsider may completely lose motivation and decide the outcome of the tournament?

San Luis 2005 and Mexico 2007 demonstrated that it is not much of a problem. The eventual winner usually showed his ambition early.

There were no clear favorites in 2005 and 2007, but it's the opposite now. Does it change anything in the players' opening and mental preparation?

I don't think so. Carlsen had brilliant results recently, but I don't believe it affected other players' preparation.

John Nunn analysing during round four with Peter Svidler and Jon Speelman,
with Gawain Jones looking on (standing left)

Do you also think that Magnus is a clear favorite?

Yes, he is a favorite, and although his start showed it is not going to be easy, you know how much he can gain over the course of the tournament. He is very strong mentally, so even of he doesn't win here, it will not be a blow for him. Didn't win this time – no problem, I'll win next time... Carlsen is a true chess phenomenon, and he will stay on top for a long time.

Who are his main rivals? Kramnik and Aronian?

Peter Svidler looks very strong, too, but Vlad and Levon are still in business. I will not be surprised if the winner will be determined in the last round. The lineup in the tournament is very even.

What about Ivanchuk and Gelfand then?

First of all, it is not easy for them to fight against younger opponents. Boris made a heroic deed two years ago, winning in Kazan. And I don't think we should rule them out already. Gelfand made two unfortunate blunders and lost two drawn games. Ivanchuk is a different story, he played very speculative openings, but he is Ivanchuk, you know, he always plays like this! This is why I like him so much. I really look forward to their game today.

There are many strong chess tournaments in London – London Chess Classic, Grand Prix, now the candidates tournament. But why are there so few spectators?

This is a typical problem for every big city. Only football gathers crowds. Still there are some observers, and many people come with children, which is a very good sign. These days it is easy to follow games at home, on the Internet, drinking tea and listening to good grandmaster comments. But I think there will be more spectators, as the tournament approaches its culmination. England still loves chess no less than in the 1980s.

John Denis Martin Nunn (born 25 April 1955 in London) is one of England's strongest chess players and once was in the world's top ten. He is also a three-time world champion in chess problem solving, a chess writer and publisher, and a mathematician.

As a junior, he showed a prodigious talent for the game and in 1967, at twelve years of age, he won the British under-14 Championship. At fourteen, he was London Under-18 Champion for the 1969/70 season and less than a year later, at just fifteen years of age, he proceeded to Oriel College, Oxford, to study mathematics.

In 1975, he became the European Junior Champion. He gained the grandmaster title in 1978 and was British champion in 1979. Nunn has twice won individual gold medals at Chess Olympiads. In 1989, he finished sixth in the inaugural World Cup, a series of tournaments in which the top 25 players in the world competed. His best performance in the World Chess Championship came in 1987, when he lost a playoff match against Lajos Portisch for a place in the Candidates Tournament. He won the prestigious Hoogovens tournament (held annually in Wijk aan Zee) in 1982, 1990 and 1991. He achieved his highest Elo rating of 2630 in January 1995.

Source: Eugeny Atarov


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