Kramnik finishes year on top
So Kramnik finishes the year , perhaps, as ”first amongst equals”. But is he? What about the young Norwegian Carlsen? His consistency is quite remarkable: he usually finishes first or second, while Vlad rarely finishes first and sometimes (recently) finds himself dangerously close to the bottom of the x-table!
It very much seems to me that Carlsen is the player of the moment. In a few years time he should be reaching his peak and by that time he will very likely be dominating every tournament that he plays in. UNLESS, of course, another youngster comes up and steal’s his thunder…
It is quite another thing, however, to talk of Carlsen as becoming the World Champion. Would that be a promotion to his present-day status or a demotion? It likely would not add to his achievements in anything other than mere symbolism… It seems to me that that title has been losing prestige ever since Short and Kasparov broke away from FIDE in the early 1990’s. It took years to re-unify the title, and when it was finally achieved, the title never regained its worth and value as the top prize in the chess world.
That being said, HOWEVER, to me it is clear that the title is meaningless without FIDE first establishing unchanging rules and allowing for several unbroken cycles to take place without political interference. As it is at present, FIDE’s leadership is fickle and the rules seem to be made of rubber (they can and are bent at the drop of a dime).
There is some doubt that having India’s Anand as current World Champion might also be an impediment to the Title regaining its former glory. Anand may have benefited from the political fickleness of FIDE’s re-unification efforts and the lack of permanent, unbending rules. True, he has defeated both Kramnik and Topalov (his challengers) in matches, but the ugly off-board tactics of Anand’s fans that plagued the championships –creating at times a very vocal whirlwind of hatred and hysteria in the chess press towards Kramnik and, especially, Topalov–may have contributed to their poor play.
IN ANY CASE, Anand is but a shadow of his former self. There is no doubt in my mind that the Indian superstar can not support the weight of the title of world champion, and it seems that with each appearance in tournaments he is more happy with making a draw than in playing the type of chess that he was so able to play in his youth. In this respect he reminds us of Tigran Petrosian’s reign as world champion.
That being said, perhaps the whole chess world does not deserve better than what now exists at the top. Are we now seeing the same type of stagnation in chess as existed in the world in the late 1960’s, before the arrival of Bobby Fischer?