Kramnik begins psychological warfare versus Anand

Challenger Runs Down Champion’s Mexico Triumph, Calls WC ‘A Huge Compromise’
Amit Karmarkar TNN

When Garry Kasparov took on V. Anand in the PCA World Championship title match in New York (1995), Vladimir Kramnik was one of his seconds. Not surprisingly, the latter knows a thing or two about psychological warfare. His latest interview is full of salvos ahead of his World championship title match against Anand scheduled at Bonn in October.

Sample these pearls of wisdom from Kramnik:

“Look at the catastrophic record Anand has against Kasparov. Kasparov managed to beat him almost everywhere they played, even though Anand has belonged to the absolute top players in the world for 15 years. This difference cannot be explained purely in chess terms, there must have been some psychology.

“You can call me an old-fashion guy, but I still believe that the real chess championship is actually a match between the best players, not a tournament.

“The tournament in Mexico was from my point of view a huge compromise.

“It was always my goal to end the unhappy period when the World Chess Federation organised their ridiculous knock-out or round robin tournaments for the title… So in order not to cause another split I, in the end, agreed to compromise and played the tournament (Mexico)….I have no right not to consider him (Anand) the World Champion. A question is, however: what is the value of such a title?

“I will compete against him this year in the real contest for the chess crown. I attach ten times more attention to the coming match in Germany — consequently this event is 10 times more important to me than the tournament in Mexico. “The winner of the match Kramnik-Anand won’t be World Champion only from a legal point of view, he will be considered to be the World Champion and best chess player by the entire public.”

From one angle, whatever Kramnik is saying makes sense. He also seems confident of beating Anand in this 12-game match. Indeed, the Russian starts as a favourite against an Indian who is deemed suspect in this format.

The majority of chess world has high regard for Kramnik. For, he defeated none other than Kasparov in a head-to-head match (London, 2000) and that too with a great idea of Berlin Defence which, according to Anand’s former second Elizbar Ubilava, took his games with black from opening to the endgame without having to play much of the middlegame!

However, Kramnik’s stance in some of the above quotes smacks of double standards and selective amnesia.

Kramnik believes that the real championship should come through a match, not a tournament. That’s understandable. Partly because he won’t win many tournaments now with Anand, Magnus Carlsen, Vassily Ivanchuk, Veselin Topalov and Levon Aronian in form and playing great aggressive chess. In fact, if chess decides to award three points for a win and one for a draw (instead of existing one and 0.5 respectively), Kramnik could well announce his retirement. But if it sticks to the current rule, he can the “best second ever” in most of the tournaments due to his high percentage of draws.

He says that the tournament in Mexico was a huge compromise and Fide’s knock-out version was ridiculous. He also says he played the former for the betterment of chess. By the same logic, even Anand is playing a match against him for the betterment of chess only. For, the Indian had already proved his superiority over Kramnik in Mexico.

Kramnik must have forgotten that he played Fide’s knockout version in Las Vegas (1999) and was knocked out in quarter-finals by Briton Michael Adams.

Here is the full article.

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