Hangin's take on Anand interview on 8/5/2004

 Here is are excerpts taken from Chess Today Issue CT-218(1367) Thursday August 5th 2004:
 full interview can be found at www.chesstigers.de .
 here another link www.chess.gr/tourn/2004/mainz04/Anand_Interview.html

- Question : Mr. Anand, how does one feel as the strongest chess player in the world, as suggested by a lot of other GMs? (interview may have said .. as suggested by current World Champion Vladimir Kramnik)

- Anand:  It is of course a nice feeling, especially since I was also awarded the Chess Oscar as the best chess player. It seems that people realize that my results over the last two years were pretty good.


Hangin's take:

       I have to agree that Anand is the best player in the world today. Anand has established himself as the best rapid/blitz player in the world. He is the current rapid world champion. But being the best does not make Anand the World Champion.  Anand took 2nd place on the rating charts a few months ago. He is one spot behind Garry Kasparov. Anand certainly deserved the Chess Oscar for 2003. Anand has been hot these last two years. Since 2003 he has won 2 Corus, Corsica, Cap D’adge rapid world championship, Amber combined in 2003, and Amber rapid portion in 2004. Had it not been for his two blind folded loses to Morozevich he would have won Amber combined again.  Anand out speeded both Leko and Kramnik to take this year’s Dortmund title. Anand especially has to feel good about defeating current World Champion Vladimir Kramnik at the finals of Cap D’adge and at Dortmund. Anand is certainly with in his rights to feel he is the best player in the world right now.  Even though Kasparov is still the number one rated player in the world, he has not been that busy playing in tournaments the last two years. However this is not Kasparov’s fault. Kasparov has been busy playing two computer matches in late 2003 and early 2004. Kasparov drew both of his matches against the silicon monsters Deep Junior and X3D Fritz. We have to remember that the first Deep Junior match was postponed. Kasparov also had legal issues with KasparovChess.com.  Kasparov was also twice victimized by 2 failed reunification matches with Ruslan Ponomariov. Kasparov has not won Linares the last two years, 2003 Peter Leko won and this past year Kramnik won it.  Kasparov has also been busy promoting his My Great Predecessor book series on the past world champions. He has also been deeply involved in Russian politics. Kasparov announced that he would help form a challenge to Putin at the next presidential elections in 2008. Kasparov did win the 2004 Reykjavik rapids. He defeated his old 1993 world championship challenger, Nigel Short in the finals. Kasparov certainly deserves his right to play in the semifinal candidate match for reunification. After all Kasparov is the ex world champion, one match removed from his title.  However he can’t claim to be the best player in the world today. Now the current World Champion Vladimir Kramnik is having a very good 2004. He started building momentum late in 2003 at Cap D’adge where he lost the final to Anand.  Since then Kramnik had a horrible Corus, but rebounded to take Linares. He also shared first with Morozevich at the Amber combined.  Kramnik has been busy promoting the game; he played in two simuls against the German men and German women’s national teams.  He also got his world championship match with Peter Leko organized. Kramnik had to do this without the help of the Brains Games organization, which went bankrupt in 2003. Kramnik also was runner up to Anand at Dortmund this year. Even tough Kramnik won no classical games; he made some great saves against Karjakin and Anand.  In the rapid finals against Anand, Kramnik played inspired chess with the black pieces, however with white he accepts an 18-move draw. I guess he was afraid to expose any of his secrets for his world championship match with Peter Leko in September of 2004. Its good to see Kramnik experimenting with new openings. But I think Kramnik missed an opportunity to show Anand whose boss.  I thought Kramnik showed bad judgment in the final game by playing a defense he was not familiar with. I don’t think it’s a good idea to experiment with openings against Anand. I think Kramnik, after losing at Cap D’adge and dropping to the 3rd rating spot, should have tried to reaffirm his title and put Anand in his place and that's hard to do from the black side of the board. All things considered, Anand has won the important head to head match ups against Kramnik. So Anand deserves to be called the best in the world today. No question Anand is the hottest player in the world today. 


-Question : What is currently the difference between yourself and Garry Kasparov, who is still leading in the official rating list?

-Anand :  Kasparov is one of the all time greats of chess history. During the last two years, however, he has rarely played. He benefits from the fact that the Elosystem, as opposed to other rating systems, does not reflect this fact. It is sufficient to participate in one or two tournaments to stay ahead. Of course, he is a great player, nobody denies that, but in the last two years, my results have been (suppressed laughter) – I play more frequently (unsuppressed laughter).

-Question: Does that mean you think you are stronger than him?

- Anand: Not only in comparison to him. My performance over the last two years has been very good. I'm happy that people realize that.


Hangin's take:

 Is Anand stronger than Kasparov now?  I’m not sure; too bad Anand did not play in the FIDE KO. He had a great chance to win it. Had he played, this question would have been answered. I would have loved to see that match and so would the rest of the world.  A Kasparov vs. Anand match would have fetched big bucks and would have promoted chess around the world. The last time these two met in a world championship match was back in 1995. Anand took the lead mid way thru the match, however he self destructed and lost 4 out of the next 5 games. Kasparov won that match by a score of 10.5 –7.5. Based on the analysis I did at http://www.chessgames.com/index.html, Kasparov holds a big lead in the head to head matches up. My records indicate that Kasparov in Linares won the Last decisive meeting in 2003. Overall record:  Garry Kasparov beat Viswanathan Anand 22 to 8, with 33 draws. * Based on game presented in our databases, may not be complete.

- Anand (speaking about Libya and players refusals to play): 

. In my opinion, this has caused too many refusals to call this a genuine World Championship. 15 to 20 players stayed away from Libya.

- Anand: A unified World Champion would be proof to the sponsors that we again have a reasonable chess organisation. A sponsor looking at chess closely will find multiple world champions and chaos. That is why a unified World Champion would help to find sponsors – but I do not have a miracle cure for the current mess. We simply need a World Champion who is recognized by everybody as the World Champion. Right now, this one and then that one claims to be the true World   Champion – and this problem has not been resolved by the agreements that were signed in Prague.


Hangin's take:

Well Anand could have contributed significantly to the reunification process. But to the disappointment of fans world wide, he chose not to. Why the confusion about who is the world champion?  There really aren’t many choices.


1)      Anand is not the world champion, because he won the KO in 2001 and has not won any of the 2 succeeding KOs.  Anand got eliminated in 2002 KO in the 6 round by Ivanchuk by a score of 2.5 – 1.5.  Anand choose not to play in the 2004 KO.  Anand took the stand that Kasparov should have to play in it also.

     2)      Ruslan Ponomariov is not the KO champion any longer; his term expired in Libya 2004. Even when Ponomariov was KO champ, he did not impress. Ponomariov lost his opportunity to factor in the reunification process when he over pressed his hand and failed to sign the contract to play Kasparov. Ponomariov decided not to defend his title in Libya.

     3)      We have a current KO Champion, Rustam Kasimdzhanov. Rustam was 52nd on the FIDE rating chart just prior to the KO tournament. But based on Anand statements, that a lot of top talent did not play, namely Anand, Morozevich, Kasparov, Kramnik, and many others, it was not a true world championship. Well that’s always been a problem with the FIDE KO in terms of choosing a champion. But the main issue is that the KO is not a true test. It's not worthy of world championship selection. Rustam should be proud of his win in Libya; it was an exciting tournament and nothing more. Rustam eliminated all the top seeds. He showed the world that he is a very dangerous player. I am looking forward to seeing the Kasparov vs. Kasimdzhanov semifinal reunification match in 2005.

       4)      Garry Kasparov, a chess living legend and still number one rated player in the world, is not the world champion. He lost his title to current World Champions Vladimir Kramnik in 2000 by a score of 8.5 - 6.5.  Being the number one player the world does not make you a world champion. Kasparov did hold the title for 15 years, he shoulder the burden of the title well. As an ex world champion, one match removed from his title, Kasparov deserves his seeding in the reunification semifinal match.


5)      Vladimir Kramnik did what no other human ever did against Garry Kasparov; Kramnik defeated the greatest chess world champion in a decisive match by a score of 8.5. 6.5. Kramnik’s title is the one based on the rich tradition of man who beat the man who beat the man. I liken Kramnik's victory over Kasparov in 2000 to Alekhine's victory over Capablanca in 1927. Kramnik has shown in 2004 that he is worthy of being a world champion. Based on Anand's comments, I think its clear that Anand does not back Kramnik as the world champion. Maybe Anand feels Kramnik is not the champ because Anand has beaten Kramnik in two important finals in the last year, namely Cap D'adge and Dortmund. Anand also pushed Kramnik aside in the rating charts. I hope that Kramnik reads Anand’s interview. The next time they play, I hope Kramnik remembers Anand’s words. Kramnik, as a world champion, should be looking to try to put Anand in his place.  Here are some stats I got from  www.chessgames.com/index.html

      Overall record:  Viswanathan Anand beat Vladimir Kramnik 15 to 9, with 71 draws. Based on game presented in our databases, may not be complete.