‘My decision to break away from fide was a mistake’
Monday, September 10, 2007 15:57 IST

…How come many people in Russia, including your one-time protege Vladimir Kramnik, seem to love Putin?

A small minority of Russians profit handsomely from the actions of this regime. If you are well positioned and don’t care about what happens to the rest of the country, the 85% who are worse off and falling, it’s easy to love Putin. But don’t believe these ridiculous opinion polls. Surveys have little meaning in a country with no free press and an increasingly potent secret police. I’m sure Saddam Hussein was polling even higher than Putin!

…We hear you were once beaten by a chess board by Putin supporters?

Yes, although this was just a trivial provocation. This was in the early days after my retirement from chess in 2005. They were hoping that after a little physical treatment the chess player would return to chess. But I have a hard head! I’m lucky that Russians play chess, not cricket.

…Who do you think will win the World Championship in Mexico?

I’m in no way trying to please your readers by saying that Vishy Anand is the clear favourite.

The chess world apparently is united.

Only until the next opportunity arises for self-interest to trump the greater good. The chess federation (Fide) has already changed its own rules several times and the players have no confidence. If there is no steady system the players will continue to do as they like, only looking out for themselves.

But were you not responsible for division in the chess world?

I’ve said before that my decision in 1993 to break away from the world chess federation, Fide, with Nigel Short was the worst mistake of my career. It was a serious miscalculation on my part. I thought we could start fresh with a professional organisation, but there was little support among he players.

It led to short-term progress in commercial sponsorship for chess, but in the long run hurt the game. I tried many times to reunite the chess world, but as usual the strong personal interests on all sides prevented this. There is apparent unity now, but it is extremely superficial because Fide still puts its own petty interests ahead of those of the players and the players themselves will not sacrifice to fight for their rights against Fide.

Where do you see yourself in the history of chess? Many say you are the greatest ever.

Of course that is for others to say, and for future historians, not me. I’m proud of my record and I think it stands up well. But it is difficult to compare players across eras and there are many criteria to be used; each might favour a different player. Lasker played at a high level into his 60s, Fischer was further ahead of his peers than anyone, etc.

Chess continues to advance over time, so the players of the future will inevitably surpass me in the quality of their play, assuming the rules and regulations allow them to play serious chess. But it will likely be a long time before anyone spends 20 consecutive years as number one as I did.

Any chance of a comeback?

No, and these days I’d be too busy to play chess just with the activities I have lined up for the next year or two…

Here is the full article.

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Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
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