Anatoly Karpov: "FIDE Made a Huge Mistake By Not Returning Carlsen Into the Candidate's Cycle"

Время публикации: 21.05.2012 20:39 | Последнее обновление: 21.05.2012 20:39

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The press conference held in the State Tretyakov Gallery 20.05.2012.

M.GLUKHOVShKY: Dear friends, let me announce that our guest today is the 12th World Champion Anatoly Karpov. Anatoly Evgenievich, surely there are a lot of questions to you, but I’d like to start from your famous phrase “This is not my cycle”...

A.KARPOV: That was a long time ago.

M.GLUKHOVShKY: Absolutely, and we know that exactly that cycle and that match against Korchnoi turned out to be the final World Championship match. So, when you were playing it, I mean the final match, did you have a feeling that this was the World Championship match?

A.KARPOV: As for my rivals in the quarter final, maybe I have to remind them for someone might forgotten; so, in the quarter final I faced Polugaevsky. I thought that I had all chances to beat him and I did so. The quarter final Candidates matches were played either till three wins or majority of wins in 16-game match. I managed to get the 3rd win already in the 8th game, so the match turned out to be quite short. Then there was a semifinal match against Spassky and I paid a great attention to the preparation for this match, because I believed that if I’d defeat him, I’d have all chances to play against Fischer. At that time Spassky was at the height of his career, he was playing brilliantly and he has won the USSR Championship; so, I considered him as a main rival; but I always played successfully against Spassky and I managed to gain four wins within 11 games and thus, this match also was almost twice as short. So, there were 11 games instead of 20.

However, the match with Korchnoi turned out to be very tense and persistent. We played according to the rules either 5 wins or majority of wins in 24 games; and 24-game match is a full value World championship match, like one of those that were played by Botvinnik unless they finished early. The match was very successful for me, because I gained three wins in 18 games without losing a single game and everyone considered that the fight was over, but unexpectedly I lost Games 19 and 21 and situation U-turned; however, I managed to resist even though the psychological advantage was on Korchnoi's side at that moment. Three other games ended in draws, so I was the one who would fight against Fischer; and as it was impossible to predict what Fischer was going to do or say, I was just preparing to the match in a quite serious way. And then there’s a very long story of how the match didn’t happen and how we finally mat with him afterwards.

M.GLUKHOVSKY: So, when you were playing against Korchnoi you were already looking towards challenging Fischer?

A.KARPOV: Yes, of course.

M.GLUKHOVSKY: Thus, you probably played more World Championship matches than anybody in chess history…

A.KARPOV: I participated in 11 World Chess Championships and played 10 World Championship matches. 

M.GLUKHOVSKY: So, we have two players here and for one of them this is the first World Championship match, partly due to you, while another had played a large number of World Championship matches.

A.KARPOV: While another one has also become the Champion thanks to me.

M.GLUKHOVSKY: Yes, also thanks to you. Let me explain, Anatoly Karpov has defeated Boris Gelfand in the Candidates match in 90’s when Mr. Gelfand was a probable challenger; and the question is how strong is the psychological advantage of the Champion, who has already played a large number of matches against the Challenger who is playing his 1st World Championship match?

A.KARPOV: I don’t know. I think the champion hasn’t got any advantage at all. Earlier he at least had it if the match finished in a draw, but now that doesn’t work. If recalling Spassky, he always said that the champion not just hasn’t got any advantage, but he is in a somewhat inferior position, because it’s more difficult to defend the achieved than to achieve something for the first time. However, I don’ think that will be a problem for Anand. He has proved that he’s a rightful champion and he has played the role of the champion brilliantly.

M.GLUKHOVKY: The matches now became much shorter than before – now we have 12-game match. So, what number of games do you consider to be optimal in order to support interest in the match and at the same time to determine the strongest player?

A.KARPOV: I think this is one of the problems we have now with the World Championship matches. I don’t want to even recall the times when there were 4 and 6 games in the match; but I think that even 12 games is a quite short distance. I wouldn’t recommend the number of games that were in my matches, I mean the shortest ones consisting of 24 games. I think that the players nowadays are not used to such extreme pressure and if they’d be forced to play a 24-game match, I’m not sure if they'd manage to reach the last game. So, I think that the minimum number of games in the match should be 14 and I’d recommend 16 or 18. 

M.GLUKHOVSKY: Six games are over – the half of the match, so what is your impression of the level of the players’ preparation and the quality of their play in the first part of the match?

A.KARPOV: We can see that both participants understand that they can’t lose even one game because as I’ve mentioned this is a short match and that’s why they’re playing consciously. They are trying to get a slight advantage, but first of all they care about safety. This is a well known tactics and a possible one, but the chess lovers as well as journalists doesn’t really like it.  So, let’s hope the second part of the match will be more exciting.

By the way, we have a quite complicated position today. I haven’t calculated the variants, but it seems to me that instead of 12.Bg5 White could have played 12.Na4 – I mean the position some 4 moves ago; and then 12...Na4 – 13.Qс6, and the bishop on d6 would be lost. It needs calculations and I just hadn’t time to do that. Anyways, it’s a quite fighting position, so let’s see how it will develop. 

THE QUESTION FROM THE AUDIENCE: Anatoly Evgenievich you expressed hope that the next games will be more active and exciting, but if we judge objectively the current situation, as well as the players’ tactics, do you think that is possible?

A.KARPOV: I don’t know how objective we can be, because we’re always subjective, but it’s quite clear that the less number of games are left the safer they become; but on the other hand it should be still pondered. I think that in terms of rapid chess Anand is not stronger than Gelfand, but in blitz he still has some advantage. So, if he chooses this tactics, he then probably be “drying” the positions in order to go to blitz; but Gelfand should also be considered, he’s not bad in blitz too. Anyways, as to me Anand is stronger in blitz.

THE QUESTION FROM THE AUDIENCE: I’d like to ask you the same question I’ve asked Mr. Kasparov. There’s an opinion that the World Championship matches should be changed somehow. Some say that Sofia Rules or some other reforms should be instituted; others stand for leaving the traditional way of matches without any changes. Which opinion do you support?

A.KARPOV: The Sofia Rules is an interesting idea, but you can still avoid it by three time repetition, so the arbiter will be forced to register a draw. In former times we had a rule that forbade to agree on a draw before move 30. We had this rule in Soviet Union only; but if the players just don’t want to fight they can discover the ideas for avoiding any rule.

As for the World Championship match, I’m supporting a conservative side; I believe that the classical chess should remain and I’m not for changing the rules or making the time control shorter.

THE QUESTION FROM THE AUDIENCE: You had many big successes in the World Championships as well as losses. So, I was wondering how did you feet  when you have lost the crucial games, it was twice – once you have lost against Kasparov and the other time against Anand; what sort of blow it is to lose a crucial game?

A.KARPOV: There were different reasons for the poor results in those matches but the outcome was also different. I managed to overplay Anand in additional games, while the match against Kasparov finished in a draw, so he retained the title. It’s of course very hard psychologically, because you understand that you have some chances, but you make a mistake and everything changes. In the match against Anand I couldn’t sleep the night before the decisive additional games; and then I opened some secrets of cheering myself up. As long as we lived quite near to the hall where we were playing the games, I found probably the only way to pull myself together by taking a contrast shower 10 minutes before the game.

THE QUESTION FROM THE AUDIENCE: Anatoly Evgenievich, by the time you were the World Champion there never raised a question if the participants of the World Championship match were the strongest players of the world. Recently Mr. Kasparov has shared his view saying that this match has no relevance in determining the strongest player of the world. Do you agree to his opinion and don’t you think that the status of this match loses a bit because of that?

A.KARPOV: You know, the participants of this match are close to each other in terms of their age and this is probably for the first time in history since Botvinnik. Since then there always has been some difference in the age of the players – Botvinnik had 10 years difference with Smyslov and 13 years difference with Bronstein. I also had difference with my rivals. When I was young the age difference was in my favor, but when I started to get older things changed. As for who is the strongest player of the world, I don’t think that the rating system is so perfect that we can say that Anand holding the World Champion’s title is not the strongest player of the planet. That’s actually a very dubious statement; but still there are some questions and I think that it was a huge mistake by the chess federation to expel Magnus Carlsen from the Candidates cycle. We remember that Magnus Carlsen refused to pay in the continental cycle because the federation was planning to hold it In Azerbaijan, so Magnus Carlsen would face either Radjabov or Gashimov there, and we also remember that it has always been possible to hold the match in the home country of one of the participants, in the case of mutual agreement. That was an obvious rule regarding to the venue of the match. The federation didn’t want to change the venue of the match and excluded Carlsen from the number of candidates, so later it turned out that those matches were held in Kazan, so I think that the federation was obliged to return Carlsen to the Candidate's cycle. So, it’s clear that now when Carlsen hasn’t participated in those matches, the popularity and the status of this match has decreased considerably.

THE QUESTION FROM THE AUDIENCE: Evgeny Anatolievich, you’ve just said that the shortest match you’ve played consisted of 24 games and it’s doubtful if the current GMs would manage to survive till the last one, so what has happened?

A.KARPOV: I don’t know. I think that now there’s not that level of dedication or self-sacrifice.

M.GLUKHOVKSY: But still these participants of the match mentally are representatives of your generation, but that’s probably true regarding to the next generations... Another question please.

THE QUESTION FROM THE AUDIENCE: Anatoly Evgenievich what is your assessment of Boris Gelfand’s strategy in this match for he has changed his opening repertoire quite radically. Do you think that is a right decision?

A.KARPOV: Let’s asses by the results. Actually, I have radically changed my opening repertoire in the match against Spassky in 1974. That proved to be very efficient, because Spassky didn’t expect me to play the Caro-Kann defence or closed openings, so it can actually be a very efficient weapon. And probably when Gelfand decided to change his opening repertoire, he must have considered it thoroughly.

THE QUESTION FROM THE AUDIENCE: If we go back to the match do you follow the games thoroughly, do you analyze the games or maybe sometimes you even think that you would have played differently?

A.KARPOV: Well, you probably know that I’m involved in completely different issues at the moment.  Yesterday I’ve returned from the international conference, where I received an outstanding award together with the former President of America Bill Clinton; actually Americans don’t use the word “former”, they say the President. And that is how it always worked with me, being a champion I headed some social, charity organizations, as well as ecological ones, and even now I’m more focused on these issues, because that’s my job, so I haven’t got time to follow  all the games, I’m not a member of any of the participants’ teams, I’m not prejudiced towards any of the player, because as we’ve already recalled, I’ve played against both of them; so, I just wish them a good play.


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