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Sunday, May 9, 2010

Kramnik on the Anand-Topalov Match

The original interview, from Zeit Online, is in German, but regular reader Thomas has translated the portions relevant to Anand, Topalov and their match here. I reproduce them below, with Thomas's own editorializing in brackets:

[On game 9:] "This gives me pleasant memories. They play the variation which gave me my second victory in the WCh match against Kasparov. ... Anand played 13.Bd3, I had chosen 13.Qb3. This is now said to be analysed to a forced draw. Ten years ago computers weren't as powerful yet. ... Almost every game of the match has an opening from my repertoire. I am flattered that both players appreciate my ideas."
Q Did it surprise you that particularly Anand copies your openings, and played the Catalan four times?
"It's a logical choice. Topalow didn't have good results against the Catalan. At least statistically this opening was his weak spot. This strategy was actually easy to predict, but for Anand it worked."
Q With black Anand copied a rare line of the Slav Defense from you.
"That's my discovery which became rather popular. It doesn't make much sense to play it in a tournament because one gets practically no winning chances. But you have excellent chances for a draw. That's a typical strategy for black in a WCh match, and hence it's a typical WCh opening."
Q Were you shocked about game 8?
"Both played horribly, but I have to say that it was the only weak game of the match. Altogether the level is very high. The match shows that Anand is the better player, Topalov plays very well but not quite at his [Anand's] level."
Q It is well-known that you don't like Topalov
"I don't say this because I don't like Topalov, but I try to be objective. His trademark is excellent results, not excellent games. Sometimes he also plays fantastically. But, different from others, he still has good results when he doesn't play well. Maybe he knows tricks unknown to us mortals."
[I will skip the part on the Elista match which doesn't have anything new ...]
Q Anand is 40. How come he still plays that strongly?
"Because he is one of the really great players. And because he lives very professionally. Of course he doesn't have that much energy any more. He completely focuses on being in top form at the WCh. My impression is that Vishy plays better than ever. The last three years were the best of his career. This may sound strange as he is already 40, but Ivanchuk and Gelfand also play their best chess with 40. This gives me hope, maybe I will achieve the same [Kramnik is 35]."
Q How did you see the end of game 9?
"Topalov was completely dead. I don't know when I saw that much luck the last time. [Hmm, has Kramnik forgotten game 2 of the Elista match?] It's close to a miracle that he didn't lose. Vishy must be very deceived."

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