SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
With the Topalov vs Anand 12-game match soon to begin on the 23rd of this month in Sofia, Bulgaria, it is a bit surprising that Topalov is so willing to give interviews. Contrasting the hermit, out of sight style of Anand, Topalov is willing to give interviews to any and all. The following interview was published in Trud Daily this past week.
Topalov about the World Chess Championship with Anand
Interview with Topalov before WCC 2010
– Once again you are in the big game for the title. What is you sixth sense?
– Before such a match I always have the feeling, that I am well prepared. However, whether this is true or not will be found out at the game. Maybe for the previous match in Elista I was a bit better physically, but this hardly matters any more.
– Appart from the location and the opponent, what is different from that battle with Kramnik?
– After all Anand is a true champion, he is balanced and is a games wining machine in all types of chess – blind, blitz, classic… He is not a genius, but rather a natural talent, born for chess. He manages to play fast and without mistakes, while I play slow and well.
– In which component of the game do you expect the battle to be resolved? Or is it a matter of playing on the nerves between two equal opponents?
– One cannot say that we are equal, we are different. He is a complex player and has only slightly noticeable weaknesses, which show depending on the situation. Sometimes also he makes mistakes.
– Are you now smarter after the scandalous match in Elista?
– That was my first long duel and I had the problem of trying too hard. This is exactly what I am trying to avoid right now. During the last few days I have been training on a light regime because the battle will be really on the nerves and I have to conserve energy.
– You surprised by taking a Czech person in the team. Do you expect Anand to pull something out of his back pocket?
– I do not know his squad, but the winning team should not be changed. I suppose that the people who helped him win Kramnik for the title in Bonn are probably going to be here.
The playing hall and stage
– Do you expect any caprices on his side?
– I do not think so. The organization is at such a high level, there will be no ground. But if someone is looking to provoke, he will manage to find something to do so with.
– Can it be said that this is your biggest battle in chess?
– In 2004 of the world championship in Lyberia I reached the semifinal, played very well but lost. And I said to myself – I lost the battle of my life, everything is over. But, as I can see it, I have another chance to become a champion.
– Not too long ago Anatoly Karpov said that it is time for someone to put an end to the chaos in chess, to the fact that the names of the current champions are not known and that the money has become less. Is he right?
– I suppose he has in mind the constant changes done by FIDE. This way the players cannot make plans and to some extent creates chaos. However, on the other side the number of tournaments has augmented and so have the prize funds. And it is as if there is no logic, only chaos, but it does not affect chess in a bad manner. The situation is a little peculiar, but life became dynamic, and there are changes in other sports as well. 20 years ago only two people won a lot of money – Gary Kasparov and Karpov. Now more players have the chance to earn well from chess and even to become quite wealthy.
– Are you a wealthy man?
– It depends on who do you compare we with. If it is with Abramovich, I am not. But I have enough not to be worried about my retirement. And I do not need the money from the game, which is not little, to buy something and they are not going to change my life. I do not need a Lamborgini and yachts, I do not need unnecessary luxury.
– Is there something you would throw a lot of money on, just like that, for fun and enjoyment?
– I have to remember (long pause)… No, there is not. I afford myself some luxuries, but I know how to control myself. I said about the Lamborghini. I can, for example, buy really expensive cars, but I do not do it. I do not see the point. I am happy with my life.
– And how do you see yourself in life after chess?
– (again pause). Frankly speaking, I do not have an answer to this question. Apart from chess, I do not have another specialty . I know languages, but this alone does not give work.
– Maybe the “Topalov Academy” for young talent, why not?
– I doubt it. Now with computers the chess changed so much that one coach, whoever he/she might be, can give little advice. Many of the young talents work alone with computer software programs. The most current example is the break up between the leader in rank Magnus Carlsen with Kasparov. Therefore, I will not be teaching kids how to play. I can give advice.
– And do you see yourself in the shoes of Viktor Korchnoy, who is 79 and still plays?
– Also not. I deeply respect Korchnoy, he really loves chess and plays for pleasure. Just like I do. But I would not do as he does.
– If you win the title, would you bet it again, as with Kramnik?
– Absolutely. Together with my manager , Silvio Danailov, we believe that the champion should have only economic advantage, by winning more funds. And everything should be proven on the chessboard, where should be not advantage.
– Danailov is going on another battle – to become chief of the European chess…
– Silvio and I started 20 years ago by playing on tournaments in Spain and look at us now. As a private person he has done a whole lot – matches for the world title, the Mtel Masters tournament, he created the grand slam… and this was done by him alone. Imagine if he is backed by an organization as the European Chess Union. With his ideas he changed chess a lot, but I would say that he made chess better.
My prediction for the match
It is always risky to make predictions about sporting events that have the pre-conditions for scandal and intrigue. Neither player has escaped some of their earlier experiences unscathed or untouched by off-board antics, either by themselves , their opponents or their managers.
Before this match, Anand and Topalov met 87 times. Anand scored 55%: he won 23 times, drew 50 times and lost 14 times. However, this includes rapid, blitz and blindfold games. If we only look at the classical games, in a total of 44 games, Topalov won 11 games, Anand 10 and 23 games were drawn.
As we can see, their score in slow (serious) chess is just about even. Both players are excellent theoreticians, have strong teams and make excellent use of information and information technology.
But, several factors are in the Bulgarian’s favour:
a) the chess match is being held on Topalov’s turf, and with it comes the home-town advantage. Anand must know that he will be playing before a hostile crowd.
b)Anand has recently shown signs of being in a crisis. Perhaps also a mid-life crisis, but certainly the Indian is now afraid of losing games, and as a result his recent tournaments have produced little in the way of quality chess. He does not look like a champion.
Topalov, in contrast, exhibits confidence and is not willing to shy away from risks and over the board sacrifices. The Bulgarian’s play is more energetic, ambitious and more appealing to the public. On top of this, recent interviews indicate a relaxed attitude and philosophical approach to the upcoming struggle.
Taking all this into account, I believe that Topalov is a very heavy favourite in this match. If he can avoid unpleasant theoretical surprises from Anand’s team, I predict that the Bulgarian will win 4 to 1, with the rest being draws.