Archive for the ‘Kramnik’ Category

Two Views on Kasparov’s Bravery

August 7, 2007

When Garry Kasparov retired from chess to go into Russian politics and oppose Vladimir Putin’s turning away from democracy and a free market economy, Kasparov’s family and friends feared for his safety. Indeed, in the subsequent months, Kasparov was bashed over the head with a chessboard, detained by the authorities, and his associates were beat up and arrested–apparent warning shots from Moscow to show him that they could squash him at any moment of their choosing.

And yet the chess community is divided on the issue of his safety. Vladimir Kramnik, Kasparov’s younger countryman who displaced him as world champion, believes that the older, outspoken Russian has nothing to fear from the Kremlin. He told the British magazine Chess (in an article called “When Lev met Vlad,” issue No. 4, 2007) that he didn’t believe that Kasparov’s life was in danger and that Russia was not the totalitarian state portrayed in Kasparov’s interviews in the West.

Contrast this with the attitude of New in Chess, the Dutch magazine that is a must-read for the grandmaster set and other fans of the royal game. Kasparov writes a chess column for New in Chess, and in issue No. 4 an editorial note marvels that this was the first time the 13th world chess champion had failed to turn in his column, owing to the rigors and dangers of his campaigning for an open Russia. “[Putin] likes to present the Russian opposition as an insignificant small group of disgruntled people,” New in Chess said. “But if the group is so insignificant then why does he send thousands of militiamen into the streets to keep this small group from uttering their protests?”

Topalov on Trial for Toiletgate

July 27, 2007

In year autumn’s world chess championship, reigning champ Vladimir Kramnik had his name dragged through the mudKrapnik, he was dubbedwhen Veselin Topalov’s team accused Kramnik of retreating to his bathroom a suspicious 50 times. (They exaggerated the number.) The implication was that he was somehow cheating in the lieu. Later. Topalov’s team said that it was suspicious that three-quarters of Kramnik’s moves matched what a computer would play in the same position. (That’s hardly surprising, though, because Kramnik and the best computers are of similar playing strength.) All the charges were ultimately dismissed by the tournament organizers as unfounded.

Tomorrow the world chess federation is holding a public hearing into whether Topalov and his manager acted unethically in making the cheating accusations.

Succession Planning

June 26, 2007

Vladimir Kramnik, the reigning world chess champion, celebrated his thirty-second birthday yesterday by doing, in his own words, something “unfortunately pretty boring”–preparing for today’s opponent in the elite Dortmund tournament.  When Kramnik, whose play has sometimes been described, perhaps unfairly, as “unfortunately pretty boring,” defended his crown last year, he earned the sympathy of fellow chess pros and fans when he was forced to explain his hydration and evacuation habits after challenger Veselin Topalov exaggerated the number of times (50!, he said) that “Krapnik” had visited the bathroom (Topalov was insinuating that the world champion was cheating on the toilet by consulting chess-playing software).   Kramnik managed to win the match despite Topalov’s assault on his dignity and bladder.   

Dortmund is the last tournament in which Kramnik will participate before September’s world championship in Mexico City.  This weekend, FIDE, the world chess federation, released a byzantine set of rules on who will be playing whom in world-tile matches after Mexico City.  When asked on his birthday about what he thought of the new labyrinthine rules, Kramnik said he’d need to study them in order to understand them!

“I think there are more people who don’t understand the system than who understand,” Kramnik remarked.   “I don’t know if the people who have invented it fully understand the system but it seems to be very complicated.”  And this coming from a man who has mastered the intricacies of the Semi-Slav Variation and other esoteric chess openings.  Pity us mere mortals who try to make sense of the new rules for world-championship succession.  Fortunately, chessbase and chessninja have taken a stab at deciphering the rules for us.


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