Topalov: Kramnik will never admit that he cheated...

by ChessBase
12/19/2006 – "... or the Kremlin that they killed the Russian spy." In a startling interview with a Spanish daily Veselin Topalov (not Silvio Danailov, Topalov!) has launched a fresh wave of attacks against the winner of the Elista world championship Vladimir Kramnik, claiming that it was orchestrated by the KGB, which also threatened him and his team physically. Read and be amazed.

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The interview begins with a brief description of his life and career in Spain. Then it turns to the scandal at the World Championship match in Elista. Topalov says there were "clear indications of cheating" in the way Kramnik went to the bathroom, came out and played instantly. Cables were found in the ceiling of the bathroom, but the Topalov team kept quiet "for many reasons." Topalov specifies that "there were threats", that the airport was closed and his team was worried how they could get out of Russia.

Topalov believes that Kramnik's team did not know what was going on. He was getting help not from them but from Russian who were not part of the chess world – from non-professional chess players or from the KGB. But "the Kremlin will never admit they poisoned that Russian spy, which seems obvious, or Kramnik that he cheated." Topalov says he felt he was in physical danger and will not go back to Kalmykia again. President Ilyumzhinov was not personally responsible for what transpired, he was acting on orders.

The method of cheating, says Topalov, was improved during the latter part of the match, and in fact played a decisive role in the tiebreak games. There "they had a foolproof system", and in the fourth game Kramnik "made a move that would only occur to a computer." Topalov guesses that his opponent was using an electronic device hidden on his body. "With the technology the Russians have, Kramnik will be invincible in a match." Topalov believes that Kramnik wants to keep the title without defending it over the board, and predicts that he will not play in Mexico.

In the interview there is repeated mention of "cables". These were allegedly found in Kramnik's bathroom early during the match. We will follow up on this story. For today the interview, which was carefully translated by Mig Greengard in Chess Ninja. We have included the original Spanish for some of the key passages. The interview was conducted for the Spanish daily newspaper ABC by Federico Marin Bellon in Bilbao, after the end of the blindfold match Topalov-Judit Polgar. A link to the original interview is given at the bottom of this page.

"The Kremlin won't admit they killed that Russian spy or that Kramnik cheated."

["Topalov: «El Kremlin nunca reconocerá que mató al espía ruso, ni Kramnik que hizo trampas»"]

Interview by Federico Marin Bellon

Federico Marin: How were your beginnings in Spain?

Veselin Topalov: It was a very romantic period. Silvio Danailov and I came here because there were more tournaments.

Marin: Were you already thinking about becoming champion?

Topalov: When you win the under-14 world championship you know you've got talent, but I didn't have such aspirations.

You could say you were a champion who came out of the streets.

Topalov: Yes, I have a street-fighting style. I spent a year playing in opens and we walked all over Spain.

We first met in 1994, in Alcobendas, and success hasn't changed you.

Topalov: That's the benefit of starting at the bottom.

How was the encounter with Kramnik?

Topalov: Very tense, although objectively speaking I dominated the majority of it.

What happened before the fifth game?

Topalov: We got the videos of what Kramnik was doing between every move. He was going to the bathroom many times and his behavior was very suspicious.

They accuse you of trying to disturb him because he was winning.

Topalov: We never wanted to stop the match. There were clear indications of cheating ["Había claros indicios de trampa"]. You look at that tape and it puts the fear into you. It's not just how many times he went to the bathroom, but how he went. Many times he came out, came to the board and moved instantly.

He alleges health problems.

Topalov: That's a lie ("Mentira"). I drank more than he did and didn't go to the bathroom so often. We protested, but the committee, which had sided with us, was fired.

They say it's inconceivable that the rival team had access to private video.

Topalov: They also saw my video. They followed my every step and everyone who was with me. And if he's not doing anything wrong, what's the problem?

Illescas said you exaggerated, and lied, about the number of times Kramnik went to the bathroom.

Topalov: I don't know how many times he went. My team only saw the tapes once and then they disappeared.

Maybe they were based on approximations.

Topalov: When they inspected the bathrooms they found a network cable hidden in the stucco ceiling.

That never came out.

Topalov: We kept it quiet for many reasons.

Was it a mistake to keep it quiet?

Topalov: We couldn't say anything. It was a very tense situation. If we announced it the match would have been cancelled and I wanted to play and to win the money. What's more, there were threats ["Además, había amenazas"].

Made by whom?

Topalov: Anonymous at the start, but they closed the airport. It's easy to talk here, but when you're in Russia you think about how you're going to get out. Walking? And forget about the money of course. So we shut up and continued the match.

Did you notice anything at the board?

Topalov: There you're focused. The problem for Illescas is that he didn't know what was going on either because Kramnik didn't say anything to anyone on his team.

So he got outside help?

Topalov: Yes. They were Russians, but not from the chess world.

So his team is innocent.

Topalov: I think so. They aren't involved; that's why they doubt and deny everything.

Did he get help from the KGB?

Topalov: The trick is that no professional player was implicated, and those who told him the moves were fans or from the KGB. If you gave Illescas that job they'd crush me.

Have you spoken with Kramnik?

Topalov: The Kremlin will never admit they killed the Russian spy, which seems obvious, as Kramnik won't admit he cheated. ["El Kremlin nunca reconocerá que envenenó al espía ruso, lo que parece obvio, ni Kramnik que hizo trampas"]

Did you feel in physical danger?

Topalov: Yes, and I don't think I'll ever go back there.

Let's move on to the rematch. You yourself think it's unlikely to be played.

Topalov: The problem is that Kramnik wants to keep the title without defending it over the board. He always wants some privilege. I don't even think he will play in Mexico.

In Kalmykia there was anti-doping control, yes?

Topalov: They gave us one test, but the laboratory was in Moscow.

What do you think of President Ilyumzhinov?

Topalov: He's a businessman and he simply needed to have a Russian champion. It's nothing personal. He got the order.

Do you believe that Kramnik continued cheating after the scandal was unleashed? ["¿Cree que Kramnik siguió haciendo trampas después de destaparse el escándalo?]

Topalov: Personally I think yes, and that the new method was better. [Personalmente, creo que sí y que el nuevo método fue mejor.]

Also in the tiebreak games?

Topalov: There they had a foolproof system. In the fourth game, when he already had me beat, Kramnik made a move that would only occur to a computer. He also had the right to a rest day, but even though he was sick he didn't take it. If you're going to have moves passed to you, best to play as soon as possible. But they did it better than the shoddy job with the cables.

If that's all true, what is going to happen in the future when computers are even stronger?

Topalov: If things continue this way, with the technology the Russians have, Kramnik will be invincible in a match.

There's no way to stop it?

Topalov: Before the tiebreak, when a member of my team checked him..

... for electronics?

Topalov: Yes, with a scanner. The guy was visibly shaking. I think he had something on his body and he was worried it would be discovered. I know that's my personal opinion, which is just a guess. The definitive proof for me is the cable.

But in the second game you wiped him off the board, although later you failed to finish him off.

Topalov: It was precisely because he played like a computer. He kept capturing pieces very quickly, with total calm, when my attack was very dangerous. I couldn't believe it. If you look at the position with a computer it loves black, although it's lost, until it's too late. How could he be so confident?

Before the match did you suspect anything like this?

Topalov: We had it in mind and we thought, well, in the worst case we'll get the money. The problem was that we found out. If you don't discover it you just play chess. But if you find out it wrecks you. You can't sleep and you spin yourself in circles.

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