Hangin's take on Kramnik the Artist

 Kramnik's excepts from NIC interview : We are also artists in a way. I am good enough to do what I want to do and to play how I want to play. I think I have deserved this right in my career. A painter never asks people what they want to see. He paints. If somebody doesnít like it, he doesnít like it. Itís art, you do what you think is right. Or a musician, he doesnít play the way the public wants him to play, he plays the way he believes is right

 Hangin's take:    

   In a recent interview from New In Chess, the 14th world champion Vladimir Kramnik says the artist paints. I think chess players think of their work as a form of art. However, in order to be a chess player you must have some sportsman in you. It is true the artist just paints. The artist can only create his masterpieces when he feels inspired. Artists are not competitive, generally speaking. They don't understand competition. I don't think the artists performs well under pressure. The sportsmen can be inspired by competition.    The sportsman can thrive under pressure. When you're a sportsman, you can't wait for your inspiration. You must find it in your opponent. You must find it when the first bell rings, or when the first clock is started.

    The painter does his work alone. Its just him, his paint, his bush, his canvas, his inspiration for his plan. With chess, this is not the case. The chess artist has his canvas, its called the board. He has his paints, they are called the pieces. He has his brush, it's called a move. He has his inspiration for his plan, it's called his chess talent. However the chess artist does not create alone. He does not have sole control over his canvas, or the board. He has another artist who has his own set of pieces, moves, and inspiration for a plan. These two plans are in conflict with each other. This can makes the creation of art very difficult. If the artists lose their inspiration, they produce nothing. However this conflict does allow for the creation of great works of art. Artists are less likely to take risks or gamble. The Artist is worried about being true to his art form. The artist wants to create brilliancies, winning is secondary.

   The sportsman has his talent, his teammates, his play making, and the field to perform on. The chess sportsmen has his chess talent. His pieces are his teammates. His moves are his play making. The board is his field. The sportsman only wants to win. He wants to dominate his opponent. However, he doesn't care so much as to how he wins. He just wants to win. If he produces a great work of art, so be it. He wants to score.  Sportsmen are more likely to gamble and take risks. Sportsmen have no problem winning ugly.
    It sounds like Kramnik is an artist/sportsman instead of a sportsmen/artist.  That doesn't surprise me. Kramnik's father was an artist. He  painted and sculptured. Kramnik's mother was a music teacher. So Kramnik's inclination towards art is well ingrained. That could explain why he had trouble defending his title. I am not sure an artist can perform under pressure. An artist does his best work when he can find the inspiration for his work. Sometimes finding that inspiration is difficult. That attitude does not work so well for sporting events. The sportsman/artist finds his inspiration in his competitive instincts. The art is secondary to the competition.  The sportsmen/artist admires his work after the fact. This is probably the opposite to the artist/sportsmen who is think about his art while he is creating. Kramnik said  he was sick before the start of his match with Peter Leko. I think Kramnik, the artist/sportsman, felt the pressure to perform his art, and was having difficulty finding the inspiration. Kramnik started out slowly. He got a lucky win in the first game, when Leko, the sportsmen/artist, felt the pressure of being in a world championship match and over pressed in a drawn position. Kramnik went on to lose the lead by dropping games 5 and 8. It wasn't until the last quarter of the match, that the sportsman part of Kramnik came out. The sportsman side can operate and thrive while under pressure, the artist can't. 

    Prior to 2000, I think Kramnik was more sportsman than artist when he defeated Kasparov and became the world champion. OR it might have been the artist in Kramnik wanting to achieve the world championship title. But after Kramnik won the title, he said that it was something that just happened. He did not seek it out. Maybe the artist in Kramnik wanted to break the 2800 plateau. However, I am not sure an artist can maintain a 2800 rating, whereas the sportsman can maintain it. Artists aren't greedy, whereas sportsmen are greedy. They always want to establish their dominance over their opponents. This explains why Kramnik doesn't win as many tournaments as his world champion predecessors.

    Maybe it was the artist desiring to  achieve something new, like winning the world championship, that drove Kramnik to  greatness. When Kramnik does win, he doesn't dominate the field. An artist doesn't understand the concept of breaking away from the pack, white the sportsman does understand. Kramnik's inspiration in 2000 was to become world champion. Kramnik had trouble defending his title. Once the goal is achieved, I think it is difficult for the artist to defend something he's already achieved. I don't think artists like covering the same ground twice. The sportsman lives to defend his title. Kasparov is the sportsman/artist type. He wants to dominate his opponents. He liked defending his title. He defended it 6 times against the best of the rest.  

     Kramnik did not show his competitive edge when he faced Anand during the 2004 Dortmund final. During the blitz playoff, I recall Kramnik continued  his experiment with 1.e4. The first game with white, Kramnik took a quick draw.  Then with Black, Kramnik played the Najdorf, a defense he was not very familiar with.  It proved to be a dubious move against Anand, who proceeded to crush Kramnik. I was surprised that Kramnik would not seek revenge for his loss to Anand at Cap De Age in late 2003. Anand also passed Kramnik by in the FIDE rating chats. Anand took the 2nd rating spot. The artist is not interested in taking revenge, where as the sportsman will seek it out. The sportsman can find inspiration in taking revenge. Kasparov the sportsman/artist wants a rematch with Kramnik. Kasparov wants to repair the damage to his resume. Kasparov wants to right the wrong. He wants the title back that he lost to Kramnik in 2000. Kramnik the artist/sportsman appears uninterested in having such a rematch. For Kramnik the artist/sportsman, his mission was accomplished in 2000. It's time to do something different.


Kramnik's NIC. Interview
Final Showdown at Dortmund - Playoff Anand vs. kramnik