Vladimir Kramnik: “Winning the match against Anand is more important than being top of the rating list”

Interview with Yuriy Vasiliev
Chess Observer, “Sport-Express Daily” (Moscow)

This interview with the winner of the Tal Memorial, Vladimir Kramnik, took place immediately after his game with Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine. This game turned out to be the longest in this final round of draws…

Vladimir, the tournament in Moscow was dedicated to the memory of the eighth world champion, Mikhail Tal. What do you think of him? Did you ever meet him across the board?

We played two rapid games. It was in 1991, the year before he died. Of course, at that time, Mikhail Nekhemyevich was not the man he had once been, but such was his unique charm that I fell under his spell even in such a short acquaintance. Tal was an exceptionally well-rounded chessplayer. The usual picture of him, as constantly playing adventurously, always sacrificing pieces, does not do justice to the real genius of the man.

A few years ago, I looked through a collection of his best games, and realised that he played a great many games in really excellent positional style. In his youth, yes, he used to create these combinational tornados on the board, but in his later years, he simply outplayed his opponents by virtue of his deeper understanding. It is wonderful that the Russian Chess Federation is running a tournament in his honour. Tal is probably the most colourful of all the world champions.

You managed to score plus-four in this tournament in his honour, a tournament of category 20. Surely now nobody can say that you are “only a match player”…

This year I have won several tournaments. Only in Mexico did things not go right – although, even there I did not play any worse. I simply did not have enough luck. Here, fate was on my side.

In two of your games, against Leko and Shirov, everyone was astonished at the fantastic technique you showed, in converting a microscopic advantage. Some people are saying that your technique is better even than that of the legendary Capablanca.

I would not compare myself with Capablanca, that’s going too far… But nobody can argue with the fact that I perhaps have the best technique of any player around today [smiles].

Here is the full interview as published on ChessBase.

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