Searching for Vladimir Kramnik

9/21/2002 – We were put into a car, with wads of cotton wool taped over our eyes. We were driven for hours through the forest countryside of an unnamed country and arrived at an undisclosed place. But in the end we got to see the reclusive world champion. He was not in a cave but in a nice hotel, posing for photographers, would you believe. Here's the full story.

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Okay, maybe we got carried away with some of the details above. Our trip to the secret place where Vladimir is spending two weeks was long and tedious, but not quite as dramatic as described above. The location is remote, the hotel he has chosen is quite beautiful and has all the facilities required by a modern GM preparing for a difficult match. Swimming pool, tennis court, eight-processor computer. Kramnik is working with the original machine he will be facing in his upcoming match against Deep Fritz in Bahrain. He also has the final version of the program and a team of GM experts to help him dissect the playing style of his computer opponent.


The road to Kramnik leads through idyllic countryside

Photographing the world champion

Vladimir had reserved a day to receive a few important journalists personally, and talk to dozens on the phone. In the picture above he is talking to Dr Erich Follath of the prestigious German news magazine Der Spiegel.


Talking with Dr Follath of Der Spiegel


...and playing a quick blitz game against him.

Dr Follath is a fairly strong chess player. In the end the champ of course won, but not without a few bouts of concentrated thought.

Mark Crowther did one of the phone-in interviews for TWIC. Here are some excerpts:

  • Who is going to win? – "You only have to wait one month to find out. The match is going to be hard. I understand its going to be difficult but I can win."

  • Who is on his team? – German GM Christopher Lutz, who will help him with technical matters, and a physical trainer.

  • On the instability of the Arab region – "I try not to worry about things that are beyond my control."

  • On his preparations for the Deep Fritz match – He spent the second half of August preparing. You have to think differently when you're playing against and computer than you do against human opponents and that it isn't that easy to switch from one to another.

  • On his poor performance in Russia vs. The World Match – "I only had a few days to get used to playing humans again and it is not easy. I played with a temperature throughout the match. I didn't even play to half my strength."

  • On his general preparations – "Work is going on. It will be more intensive as the Leko match comes closer. Work on my chess is permanent."

  • On Peter Leko – "Leko is already very strong. He is young and motivated and will play an even better level than now."

  • About his role in chess history – "I don't think about that, it's not a good way to think. I want to play chess well, win and play good games."

  • About the new generation of chess players – "We're having a small revolution. The youngsters are eager to beat you and they provide an additional challenge. But I'm pretty sure I will stay at the top. There are many things I can still teach them!"

 


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