Hangin writes to ChessToday

HI Alex

     I was disappointed to hear that Anand skipped out of Libya because of Kasparov being seeded into the reunification. I wish Vishy could appreciate Kasparov rights as an ex world champion. Kasparov has yet to take advantage of his rights as an ex world champion one match removed from his title. Other world champions have exercised great rights as ex world champions. Karpov and Botvinnik both had greater rights than Kasparov ever had.  Kasparov doesnít need to play Anand any longer. Kasparovís great legacy is already built, and he is just putting the finishing touches on it now. Anand on the other hand might be known as the 2nd best player never to have won the true world championship.

    I believe Anand lost momentum this year. He seems to be happy with his 2nd place in the rating charts, his victory at Corus the last two years, his win over Kramnik at Cap D'adge in 2003 for the rapid world championship, and his third Chess Oscar. Anand skipped Linares in 2004, a tournament where he could have proven his dominance over the chosen ones in the reunification process, namely Kasparov, Kramnik and Leko. Anand, at 34 years of age, is at the height of his chess powers. Anand is a very talented player who excels in rapid and blitz games. He certainly could have won the FIDE KO in Libya. He went to the finals twice out of three attempts. Anand finally won the FIDE KO in 2001 with just 8 wins against 6 opponents. 

     Anand also passed up on the Brain Games World Championship against Garry Kasparov in 2000.  Kramnik wisely took up the challenge and is now the current world champion. Based on how long reunification is taking and the uncertainty as to when it will finish, Anandís chances to be a true world champion are waning. Anand needs to be savvier with opportunities to play great players. Iíll never understand why players refuse great opportunities to play Garry Kasparov, arguably the greatest player who ever lived.

      I think that an Anand victory over Kasparov in a match of significant duration (12 games) would be Anandís greatest achievement. Anand's greatest  achievement is not his 2001 FIDE KO Championship, nor his 2003 Rapid World Championship. In fact I think Anandís greatest achievement to date is his loss to Kasparov in the 1995 world championship match by a score of 10.5 Ė 7.5. Anand completed the rigorous candidates process and he should be proud of this achievement and proud of his loss to Kasparov. During the 1995 world championship, Anand showed he was Kasparovís equal or better over the first 9 games; Anand led 5 Ė 4.

     I liken winning the true world championship to climbing Mount Everest. Its not enough to summit you must make it back down alive. Many climbers use great energy and desire to make it to the top, however once at the top they feel their mission is completed and they collapse on the way down and die on the mountain. I feel thatís what happened to Anand during the 1995 match, when he took first blood and the match lead in game 9. Anand fell apart afterwards and lost 4 out of the next 5 games. I wish the players would have a greater respect for the great tradition of chess world championship. It is this tradition of the man who beat the man who beat the man that gives value to the world title. 



   I was also surprised that Anand feels the world championship format is not important. I was surprised he felt the old system favored the champion. Well, with the old system the champion had to go through the candidateís process as well. Lets compare the old system by the match ups they created and the champions they produced.  The old system produced Spassky, Fischer, Karpov, and Kasparov; thatís   batting 1000 in my book. I call that an utopian system. 

Both champion and challenger had to demonstrate their superiority through strength of play in classical chess. The old system was a three-year cycle. The challenger gets time to recharge before playing the champion. The champion has the disadvantage of not knowing whom to prepare for, while all the challengers can prepare for the champion for three years. The 3-year cycle allows the champ to promote the game. Karpov and Kasparov were excellent examples of   great world champions. They played and won many tournaments around the world. They defended their titles and promoted the game around the world. In the old system the world champion could not relax, because he knew the process would produce the best challenger. 

   Lets choose the system that gives us the best and true world champion.  We have already seen with the many upsets in this current KO that this format is unworthy of world championship selection. Poor Topalov who started the KO with 9.5/10 points. Finalist Ruslan Kasimdzhanov eliminated him with one win. Thatís a crime. The KO format is a blitz-crazed, grab-bag process unworthy of classical world championships. I find it strange that Anand would play in 3 KO without Kasparov with no problems, but now itís a problem. If Anand had no problem with Kasparov playing Ponomariov for the FIDE world championship, why should Kasparov lose his rights because of Ponomariovís poor decision not to play?