13 July 2011

Interviews Past and Present

The completion of a major milestone in a World Championship cycle always brings a spate of interviews with the players involved and the recent Kazan Candidate matches continued the tradition. Chessbase.com ran a three part interview by Shay Bushinsky (developer of a former World Computer Champion) with GM Gelfand, Anand's future challenger.

Here are some excerpts.

Q: You are in the cycle for a long time now. Did you actually believe you would reach this stage challenging the World Champion? • A: Yes, and I reached it! I had chances in the early nineties, when Kasparov thought that I was the favourite. But I didn’t succeed then. [Gelfand lost to Short in the quarter finals of 1993, and to Karpov in the semi-finals of 1996]. Then, for ten years, there was no proper cycle. When it reappeared I had two excellent results: I qualified for the World Championship in Mexico, and there I tied for second place. And now I reached the final. So I think I showed that in this system very few people can compete with these results. I must emphasize that unfortunately a lot of excellent players never reached this stage. Players like Keres, Geller, Polugaevsky and Larsen never made it. So I consider myself really fortunate to have managed to get this far. I see it as a privilege and I will do my best to seize the opportunity.

Q: How do you explain your recent success, especially at these elite knockout tournaments? • A: Throughout my career I was in all possible situations – must win with black, must draw with black etc. You know that I’m pretty experienced, having participated in previous candidate cycles. It was probably in the early nineties when I managed somehow to store somewhere all these experiences, and apparently I can retrieve them now, when similar moments occur. It is all unconsciously stored in my brain.

Q: Let’s talk about your age – do you feel its effect on your game? • A: No. The only thing I feel is that it takes me a little longer to recuperate between games, and perhaps it is a bit more difficult for me to achieve consistency, compared to past years. However, by no means do I feel any decline in my tactical ability. When I play I am in full concentration, a condition I attribute to the healthy life style I lead.

Q: How do you assess your chances against Anand? • A: Vishy and I played a lot in the 90’s. I must say that in the first half I had a big advantage, while in the second half he prevailed. If my memory doesn’t fail me it is +1 for him out of the 34 classical games we played, which is by no means a big advantage. During the last decade we played no more than six or seven games, so to be able to play twelve games in one month against such a player will be very interesting… I think that my chances are decent. This opponent is of course extraordinarily strong, but I showed that I can play matches well against the strongest opponents.

Plus much more. An interview with GM Ponomariov, FIDE World Champion in the time period 2002-2004, was posted a few months ago on ChessInTranslation.com and crossposted on Chessvibes.com. I give links to both because Chessvibes generally receives more comments from chess fans.

  • GM Ruslan Ponomariov answers your questions: Part I • ChessInTranslation.com: Part 1, Part 2 • Chessvibes.com: Part 1, Part 2

The interview is excerpts from more extensive material at Crestbook.com, KC-Conference with Ruslan Ponomariov: Part 1. On this last link, the most interesting section to me was '5. The Kasparov Match', with details on the aborted 2003 pre-unification match.

Q: Why didn’t the match come off? • A: I’m not entirely clear myself what the real reasons were for Ilyumzhinov suddenly announcing the cancellation of the match in Yalta. Did he consult Kasparov and the match organisers before taking that decision, or didn’t he? I don’t know.

Plus much, much more.

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