The interview in Dutch can be found online here.
Here is the translation by one of our Dutch bloggers (Thank you for the translation!):
Elista is still on my mind
Interview by our chess reporter Gert Ligterink.
HOOGEVEEN – The scenes from Elista where top player Veselin Topalov recently lost the World Championship match from Kramnik are still on the mind of the Bulgarian. In Hoogeveen he looks back on this stirring duel.
The neighbourhood of the location where we meet is deceptive. In the rural hotel at the edge of the city of Hoogeveen there is a quietness so serene that one doesn’t expect an outburst of restrained anger. But it does come. It gives Veselin Topalov red spots in his neck and his voice starts to squeak when the behavior of Vladimir Kramnik during the recent WCC match is discussed.
Before the sensitive subject surfaces we speak about current affairs. Topalov lost his first two games in the Essent tournament and is halfway the tournament sharing last place. He doesn’t complain and praises the play of his opponents.
But he acknowledges too that by participating in Hoogeveen he has been asking too much of himself: “I have underestimated the reaction of my body. It’s not so strange that it now relaxes after the intense concentration during the match in Elista.”
“Whether I shouldn’t have come here? It hasn’t occurred to me for one moment. Never did I breach a signed contract. I am not Kramnik. How often didn’t he withdraw with vague symptoms of fatigue? This spring he immediately withdrew from the tournament in Monaco after he signed the contract for the match against me.”
The name Kramnik has the same effect on Topalov as a red flag has on a bull. During the first days after the match he has restrained himself, but now he thinks the time has come to tell his side of the story: “From the articles I have read I understand that outsiders see Kramnik as a martyr who won against the oppression. For them I’m the culprit and my manager Silvio Danailov is the embodiment of The Evil.”
“This is a depiction of the affairs which is completely unjustified. Our protest against the behavior of Kramnik, which was so condemned by everyone, was not a provocation, but an expression of sincere concern. During the first two long games Kramnik spent two and a half hours in his restroom backstage. That’s not acceptable is it? When one plays a fair match then one doesn’t hide oneself, but instead one makes sure that the audience can see you on stage.”
“After the fourth game my manager asked to see the surveillance tapes in order to have a look at how my opponent spends his time in his restroom. When he saw that Kramnik visited the toilet an excessive number of times we started to have suspicions. Of course this is suspicious behavior. The toilet was the only room which wasn’t covered by surveillance cameras.”
“When the Appeals Committee agreed with us and gave orders to close the toilets in the restrooms Kramnik reacted as if completely innocent. ‘Contract obligations this and contract obligations that. How dare they so insult me.’ ”It’s always the same with him. He breaks the rules himself frequently, but heaven forbid when his rights are at stake.”
“When Kramnik didn’t show up for the fifth game this was his own fault. He thought he could get away with it all. I would have preferred to play that game and see our protest being fully agreed with. Instead I got one free point, but Kramnik got his way on all other points. He again could do whatever he wanted in his restroom and the Appeals Committee was fired.”
“The consequence of all this was that from the sixth game onwards I no longer knew against whom I was playing. Kramnik had been vulnerable the year before, but in this match he hardly made tactical mistakes. I began to have doubts. Was Kramnik my opponent or was it Kramnik assisted by a computer? To keep him playing at the board as much as possible I purposely started playing fast. Too fast sometimes. The blunder which made me lose the ninth game was the consequence of a decision taken too fast.”
“I accept that I have lost the match. But what happened in Elista is still on my mind. At night Kramnik is in my dreams. I dream that he has accepted my offer for a return match in Sofia. Or that I make a long stroll with him in Moscow, after which we visit an expensive nightclub. The strange thing is that the two of us are the only visitors there.”