Hangin's take on Anand's interview on chessbase - 7/8/2004

Here is the full interview on chessbase


 Excerpts from Chessbase :

Frederic: Why arenít you there, playing in this championship?

Vishy: Well, basically I disagreed with the idea that Kasparov was seeded to the final and just decided it wasnít worth playing, that it was no longer a real world championship and there was no reason to play.

Fred: You would have had a pretty good chance, thoughÖ

Vishy: Maybe, maybe not. But I simply could not take part in the event. In principle once you take part you accept that Kasparov is rightly seeded above you and that you donít have a problem with that. Obviously the organizers committed a lot of other mistakes, especially with regard to the Israeli players, but well before I knew whether the Israelis would be allowed to play, or even thought of that aspect yet, I had already made my decision.



Hangin's take :

     I wish Vishy Anand could appreciate Kasparov's 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.
    Both 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 seemed 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  for the 2003 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 chess. He certainly could have won the FIDE KO in Libya. He went to the finals twice out of three attempts. Anand won the FIDE KO in 1997 with just 8 wins against 6 opponents. However he lost the FIDE Championship match to Karpov in 1998. 
 Anand also won the FIDE KO in 2001 with just 8 wins against 6 opponents. 

    Anand 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. After 9 games, Anand led the match 5 Ė 4. 

    I liken winning the true world championship to climbing Mount Everest. It's 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. 

 Game 9 of the 1995 world championship match between Kasparov and Anand was exciting. Anand won this game and took the lead in the match, a lead that he would soon lose. 


Okay, Vishy, but let us say that one day you become FIDE president, or president of India or something, and you have to select a format for the world championship. What would you do?

[Thinks] At the moment I would have to say that just getting everybody to the world championship is half the job. It doesnít matter which format you have, the tournament has lost some of its lustre if half the people are not playing. You have these knockouts, and Kasparov or Kramnik refuses, or you have some private events where basically everyone else refuses, and on and on. Let us assume that in a knockout everybody plays. Then the result at least is valid, even if not everybody is completely happy about the system. The old championships were not that fair in themselves Ė I mean the challenger had to work for three years while the champion just sat there waiting for him. So we canít pretend we are coming from some Utopia and switching to the knockout system.


Hangin's take:

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 champion 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, was eliminated because he lost one game to finalist Ruslan Kasimdzhanov. Thatís a crime. The KO format is a blitz-crazed, grab-bag process unworthy of classical world championships selection. 

   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?



Letís assume you had to redesign Linares Ė what would you do about draws? Would you perhaps try to regulate it with the prize money?

That is one possibility, but in the end I can hardly imagine that losing is ever going to be more advantageous than a draw. Okay, you can take huge risks, but then your opponent might try to exploit that. It comes down to something fundamental. You have to actually redesign the way chess works. We have tinkered around with quite a lot of different formats. The knockout has at least that one virtue, that at the end of the day it produces a winner. I donít know if a blitz game is any more elegant than a tie-break in tennis, or the penalties or the golden goal in soccer, but at least it works. Maybe we should take that from other sports, that at the end of the day somehow you need a winner, one way or the other, even if chess purists go nuts about the way it is done.


Hangin's take:

What to do about the short draws


1)      Lets make use of the Fischer rule in the 1992 match against Spassky. If a game ends in under 1 hour, then switch sides and play again.

2)      Maurice Ashleyís no draw offers before 50 moves.

3)      Lets take a page from Don Shultz book ďChessDonĒ. Don likes to split out some of the prize fund into a winning pool. Each player gets money for each game they won.

4)      Lets change the scoring system. I donít like the soccer system because chess is not like soccer. In a soccer game no side has an initial lasting advantage. As Adorjan said recently in chess today White has a small but lasting advantage. I propose the following system 1.2 points for black to win, 1.1 points for white to win, and .5 for a draw




Speaking about soccer, how about taking their system of awarding three points for a win and one for a draw?

[Thinks] Itís possible that it would work, and maybe there would be an incentive to change your style a little bit and play more aggressively the whole time, so that over ten or fifteen games there are chances that you will score many more points. For an individual game, if your opponent is willing to play some really boring position, if he is going to be really solid, there is nothing really that you can do. But in the long run it may not be a bad idea.


Hangin take: 
    I believe the soccer analogy is flawed.  Lets change the scoring system. I donít like the soccer system because chess is not like soccer. In a soccer game no side has an initial lasting advantage. As Adorjan said recently in Chess Today, "white has a small but lasting advantage."  I propose the following system 1.2 for black to win, 1.1 for white to win and .5 for a draw.