June 09, 2014 20:27

Norway R6: Three-Way Tie For First as Topalov Beats Kramnik

The Norway Chess tournament is still wide open with three rounds to go. In Monday's sixth round Veselin Topalov defeated arch rival Vladimir Kramnik while the other four games ended in draws. Kramnik is now tied for first place with Fabiano Caruana and Magnus Carlsen, who drew with Simen Agdestein and Sergey Karjakin respectively.

Eight years after Toiletgate (the cheating allegations during the 2006 World Championship in Elista), Veselin Topalov and Vladimir Kramnik are still not shaking hands. That's all there is to say about it, actually. As Topalov put it: “People are only talking about the handshake but if you exclude that, the games are completely normal. And it's not really the biggest problem of the chess world.”

Besides, on Monday we were also reminded of the fact that life is too short for such silliness. It was the day when British comedian and actor Rik Mayall, star of The Young Ones and Bottom, died, aged 56. Enjoy the video below, and enjoy life! Let's do-oo-oo it!

Back in March, at the Candidates’ Tournament in Khanty-Mansiysk, Topalov defeated Kramnik as White, but lost the second game as Black. On Monday the Bulgarian was on top again.

In a 4.Nf3 Nimzo-Indian Topalov decided to avoid his opponent's preparation and played a safe bishop swap on f6. After the game the Bulgarian said that he had noticed that Kramnik had problems when he needed to think already in the opening. 

And indeed, not only did the Russian spend 48 minutes on his next three moves, his choices were surprising: where the simple 10...exd5 would equalize (fine when leading the tournament!?) and 12...Qe7 would keep things solid, he decided to go for complications with an Exchange sacrifice.

Anish Giri had a theory: “Topalov plays very well when he's an Exchange down so probably [Kramnik] was hoping that he would play badly when he's an Exchange up.”

But that wasn't the case: Topalov played excellent moves which made clear that the sac was hardly correct, and forced resignation (between these two players a matter of “sign the score sheets and walk away” - Topalov) just after the time control.

PGN string



The sixth round was played in the Aarbakke factory in Bryne. (“We deliver advanced turnkey solutions and parts to the oil & gas industry, focusing on subsea and downhole. Aarbakke covers the whole process from engineering to manufacturing, assembly and testing.”) 

To the question whether he had won an important game, Topalov answered: “I looked at all the people working here and I thought: when it goes badly, maybe I should just apply for a job here!”

Topalov scores his first win, against Kramnik

Caruana moved back to (shared) first place by drawing his game (“I would have preferred doing that by winning”) with Agdestein from a horrible position out of the opening. What is that former professional football player doing to those top GMs??

An early queen sortie to b6 by Caruana was completely uncalled for, but the Italian only remembered Bc1-e3 after playing his queen. Objectively speaking it might have been better to put the queen back to d8 there, or the next move, but that would make one look pretty silly!

If only Agdestein had seen the maneuver Nd2-c4-a5 before playing c2-c4 (he saw it later), he might have won his very first game. Nigel Short described the position for Black as “stalemate”. In the game Caruana took the very practical decision to give an Exchange and his strong g7-bishop made the day. At the end Caruana was even a bit better, but Agdestein found good squares for his rooks.

PGN string

The third leader after six rounds is Carlsen, who drew extremely quickly with Karjakin. In a Berlin Ending with 9.h3 (where 9.Nc3 has been the main line for more than a decade) the World Champion switched back to 9...Bd7, his choice against Anand in the Chennai match. In April in Shamkir he had lost to Caruana with 9...h6.

The players followed a game Dominguez-Navara from last year and then at move 18 Carlsen played a novelty that steers the game right to a draw.

PGN string

Aronian and Giri got a standard IQP middlegame position that can be reached from many different move-orders - Chessbase calls theirs “Queen's Gambit Declined: Semi-Tarrasch with 5.cxd5”. As it turned out, Giri knew more about it than his opponent! “Anish tricked me in the opening by not playing what he so convincingly played against Magnus,” said Aronian, who had recovered from his loss against Carlsen by listening to some Bill Evans.

The ...Nc6-e7-g6 maneuver is still standard, but the strong ...Bf6-e7! came unexpected for the world's number two. “I don't know if I would have found it but I knew it,” said Giri. And then, after a tactic on move 23, it became clear that Aronian needed to fight for a draw which wasn't so difficult because there was no way for Giri to avoid an opposite-colored bishop ending.

PGN string

The opening in Grischuk-Svidler, a Symmetrical English, was quite interesting when White came up with the energetic 11.b4!? - only played once in a correspondence game. Svidler's reaction looks decent, although White might have had an advantage somewhere.

PGN string


Norway Chess 2014 | Pairings & Results

Round 1 03.06.14 15:30 CET   Round 2 04.06.14 15:30 CET
Aronian ½-½ Agdestein   Aronian 1-0 Karjakin
Karjakin ½-½ Topalov   Kramnik ½-½ Carlsen
Grischuk 0-1 Caruana   Caruana 1-0 Svidler
Carlsen ½-½ Giri   Topalov 0-1 Grischuk
Svidler ½-½ Kramnik   Agdestein ½-½ Giri
Round 3 05.06.14 15:30 CET   Round 4 07.06.14 15:30 CET
Karjakin ½-½ Agdestein   Aronian ½-½ Svidler
Grischuk 1-0 Aronian   Karjakin 1-0 Grischuk
Svidler ½-½ Topalov   Caruana ½-½ Giri
Carlsen ½-½ Caruana   Topalov ½-½ Carlsen
Giri 0-1 Kramnik   Agdestein ½-½ Kramnik
Round 5 08.06.14 15:30 CET   Round 6 09.06.14 15:30 CET
Grischuk ½-½ Agdestein   Aronian ½-½ Giri
Svidler ½-½ Karjakin   Karjakin ½-½ Carlsen
Carlsen 1-0 Aronian   Grischuk ½-½ Svidler
Giri 1-0 Topalov   Topalov 1-0 Kramnik
Kramnik 1-0  Caruana   Agdestein ½-½ Caruana
Round 7 10.06.14 15:30 CET   Round 8 12.06.14 15:30 CET
Svidler - Agdestein   Aronian - Caruana
Carlsen - Grischuk   Karjakin - Kramnik
Giri - Karjakin   Grischuk - Giri
Kramnik - Aronian   Svidler - Carlsen
Caruana - Topalov   Agdestein - Topalov
Round 9 13.06.14 14:30 CET        
Carlsen - Agdestein        
Giri - Svidler        
Kramnik - Grischuk        
Caruana - Karjakin        
Topalov - Aronian        

Norway Chess 2014 | Round 6 Standings

# Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Pts SB
1 Kramnik,Vladimir 2783 2821 phpfCo1l0.png ½ 1 ½   1   0   ½ 3.5/6 11.00
2 Carlsen,Magnus 2881 2840 ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½   ½ ½   ½ 1   3.5/6 10.25
3 Caruana,Fabiano 2791 2823 0 ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½   ½ 1     1 3.5/6 10.25
4 Agdestein,Simen 2628 2784 ½   ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ ½   ½   3.0/6 9.25
5 Karjakin,Sergey 2771 2773   ½   ½ phpfCo1l0.png   1 ½ 0 ½ 3.0/6 8.75
6 Giri,Anish 2752 2778 0 ½ ½ ½   phpfCo1l0.png   1 ½   3.0/6 8.75
7 Grischuk,Alexander 2792 2755     0 ½ 0   phpfCo1l0.png 1 1 ½ 3.0/6 7.75
8 Topalov,Veselin 2772 2731 1 ½     ½ 0 0 phpfCo1l0.png   ½ 2.5/6 8.00
9 Aronian,Levon 2815 2705   0   ½ 1 ½ 0   phpfCo1l0.png ½ 2.5/6 7.25
10 Svidler,Peter 2753 2729 ½   0   ½   ½ ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png 2.5/6 7.25

The Norway Chess tournament runs 2-13 June in the Stavanger region. All photos courtesy of the official website | Games via TWIC phpfCo1l0.png


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Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers


AAR's picture

"But I guess there is a separate deal"
-- Sensible guess.
This could be the reason why Kramnik-Topalov don't appear together on the conference and they are not fined or reprimanded.

Anonymous's picture

Professionalism can be really stupid !

jimknopf's picture

Can't agree that coming to the press conference after a hard loss is cruel. In fact it is essential for chess to be able to lose - and I mean that beyond the rivial sides of losing. You can show your frustration or hide it, you can be oronic or calm, whatever you want.

But someone who can't lose with composure should keep out of any form of competition. In fact all kinds of sports, like football (the one which the funny Americans call soccer) is full of drama with devastated loser teams and trainers. And since they play at high stakes nowadays, they would have much more reason to keep away from winner cermonies and press conferences than any chess player after losing one game in a tournament.

So no, I don't see a good reason to avoid the daily press conference after a frustrating loss. Losing with composure is an essential part of playing chess IMHO.

Grandma's picture

I agree, jimknopf.

Of course!

ray's picture

I dont fu**ing agree with you jimknopf. kramnik is able and can go to the daily press conferences with other players like normal. but, when he's playing his ultimate foe which is topalov..its best not to since they are still strong enemies. would u still go together at press conference when u had the most grunge against ur only foe in the world that u know? i wouldn't. better not to, as they both dont even respect each other.

jimknopf's picture

I think you can do nothing better than show up EXACTLY where you see your biggest foe. You don't have to do small talk with him, you can just answer questions and show that you don't duck away from anyone and don't try to escape the tension. You achieve much more for yourself if you show sovereign behavior than if you leave the field to others.

I remember the famous press conference after Carpomanes ended the first Kasparov-Karpov world championship in a dirty way. Kasparov, - despite his utter frustration and much more exhausted after nearly fifty games than any of these guys nowadays do EVER expereince real pressure - did not duck away from any of his then powerful 'enemies', but showed up and even went a risk by pronouncing his point of view, instead of avoiding the tension.

From my view that's how to deal with tension an frustration, and not the way Kramnik prefers. And I like Kramnik as a player and have no problems with him as a person. Still I think his behavior doesn't even help himself, and he should definitely reconsider.

Frits Fritschy's picture

Jim, there is a difference between the Kasparov-Campomanes situation you describe and the thing between Kramnik and Topalov. For Kasparov the situation was fresh; of course he wanted to have his say at a press conference. But on Kramnik-Topalov everything already has been said a hundred times, by themselves and others. A press confence with the two of them would be as interesting as mud wrestling. Okay with me if you want that, but I won't be watching (well, I won't tell anyone if I do...). As I wrote here before, there is probably a deal between them about the absence of handshakes and about who will show up at press conferences. Only wise of organizers to go along with that.

jimknopf's picture

The single situation may be different, but the general outline is not IMO. Even after what he went through with Karpov and Campomanes (and the intrigues did not end at that press conference at all), Kasparov played several more fights with Karpov, never behaving like Kramnik. And besides writring his critical view on many things following, he wrote a very respectfull review of Karpov as a chess player in his "great predecessors" series.

And after enough water had flown down various rivers, Karpov visited Kasparov in jail and later they started a common campaign. I don't have a romantic view on that, I just think life works much better, if you don't punish yourself with a rigid form of missing sovereignity.

I read two things from such stories:
a) you margin of showing a certain degree of sovereign behavior is even bigger than the draw margin in chess
b) even your wildest 'enemies' do not necessarily have to be that for the rest of your life (I can confirm that from a lot of stories and own experience), how improbable a step towards reconciliation (even a late one) may ever be.

Anonymous's picture

Not too much to add to jimknopf's comments, other than that, in general, whilst I sympathise with Kramnik (rather than Topalov) over the whole WC match debacle and subsequent behaviour, I agree that he should be mature and professional enough to attend a press conference, rather than behaving like a child.
One observation I would like to make is that following the death of Vugar Gashimov, one thing that I was particularly moved by was the testimonies by people who knew him regarding his kind and generous character and, in particular, his ability to smile graciously in defeat and willingness to sit and discuss the games with his opponent. I think that there are many people, myself included, who could do better to follow the example of Vugar in this instance.

Frits Fritschy's picture

Kasparov gave a nice description of his relationship with Karpov once, when asked why he analyzed with his enemy after a game, something like: "Who else is strong enough to analyse with me?" What may have helped improving their relationship might be Karpov's 'Teflon coating'. (I remember him saying about Korchnoi that they could get along when Victor had slept well.) Topalov may have a bit too belligerent nature for that. Of course, we all would like to see them hugging at Christmas, peace in the world, all is forgotten. But they are also human.
I think it was Donner (I'm quoting from memory, as usual) who wrote that it is only natural these guys start to hate eachother: they spend hundreds of hours in eachothers company, trying to destroy the other, without speaking. There are more cases in history: Alekhine and Capablanca were not on speaking terms for many years, and for Steinitz having arguments (even turning to fist-fights) was second nature, it seems.
Maybe someone can get Kramnik and Topalov together by way of behind-the-screen talks (starting by proposing them to tune down a little in their one-sided press conferences), but I don't see that happening in the near future.
In the mean time, it's better that the risk of the Steinitz option is minimized.

Frits Fritschy's picture

"I dont fu**ing agree with you" - are you actually reading chessvibes comments while having sex?

Beobachter's picture

Well, this is part of the professional aspects of the game for these players and indeed not showing at the press conference shows poor spirit...

Anónimo's picture

But Kramnik is, and has always been, a troubled person. It is clear that he lacks some self-esteem building blocks and has to try to compensate for them, either by being # 1 at chess as he was some long time ago, by pretending being cultivated and sophisticated (which, by the way, he is not, notwithstanding his all so pervasive high-nosed attitude), or as sadly we have seen lately, by attributing all his failures to bad luck, lack of sleep or supernatural powers just as a hurt scholastic player would claim.

If Jan ter Geuzendam words about Giri are true, it would mean that the kid is really looking forward to a clash at the top. Hopefully the youngsters will start surprising us soon enough!

Grandma's picture


What you say about Kramnik, it's sad, but unfortunately, it's true.
For me he therefore is the top-player who is most difficult to like or admire.

Sunny's picture

I agree with most things u said , but its only against Topalov that Kramnik doesnt show up....USually hes there even if hes lost a game....I feel its Vishy Anand who doesnt take a loss too well and gives very rude one line answers when hes lost a game. I can understand hes upset but he doesn't take loses very well .

jmason's picture

Kramnik just wasn't himself in this game, i mean he has no issues playing positions that lead to a dead draw against Simen but against Topa goes for a line that has no place in a classical game , maybe in a blitz or rapid .
I do not agree with the comparison Topalov made with that previous game, i mean that Be5 move from their past game was a prepared line and its not easy to react correctly over the board, here he feared that Kramnik prepared something in this line (as he said), went for a quiet and solid move that offers white absolutely nothing and Vlad , for absolutely no reason, started to get this crazy ideas with exchange sacrifices , i mean...what the heck was that ? Clearly what happen in this game was due to psychological factors not to the fact that Kramnik does not know how to react to moves like Bxf6, white had no hidden ideas here, no traps , he just played a safe move and that was all.

Chris's picture

ideas were not crazy, Topalov is better tactical player that is all about.

jmason's picture

both are excellent tactical players, thats not the issue, there were no hidden tactics , no blunders or things like that -just weird decisions Kramnik took , unlike his normal chess .

raze's picture

Kramnik is filled with Hatred with Topalov. Best solution. Forgive one another and God forgave us with our sins. Then it clear all your heartaches and pain. That is the true winner in life and in chess. accepting one's fault, forgive and correct it. God bless you all. Carlsen is a great man. He have a good heart. That the heart of a Champion.

Bronkenstein's picture

Ah, Vlad is only shared first now...tsk,tsk... =)

Zeveraar's picture

Don't like to take sides (huh?), but... I mean really how can you admire a person who proves to be such a poor loser?
He's still a brilliant player, that won't change. But once again he lets his fans down when he could have shown he is larger than defeat.

jmason's picture

He said he will have no problems leaving the Elista episode behind if Topa will apologize to him, which will never happen i'm afraid . And i agree with him on that , the accusations that Topa's team did back then were very serious, you can't just pretend it never happen . And by the way, if someone , at this level will be using a computer to cheat he will not draw attention upon himself by going to the toilet over and over again like he has no idea about what's going on at the board and needs to check with the engine every move like a noob, that's what made those accusations look ridiculous , in my opinion, in their logic it resulted that Kramnik was checking the computer at almost every move , if a guy at this level will cheat he will do it with style ( see the French Olympic case ), also as Max Dugly said ( regarding the Ivanov case ) : "if i had that thing you will not even know i'm using it" .

Chris's picture

the most dark place is near a candle

Frits Fritschy's picture

By insisting on a glass wall between stage and public in Elista, the Kramnik team went along with the accusations against Topalov of cheating in the San Luis tournament. I don't want to reopen the discussion here, but maybe apologies shouldn't be one-sided. Of course neither of them cheated.

jmason's picture

oh, c'mon - demanding before the tournament for a glass wall it's not the same thing as screaming at the other player : "cheater!" in the middle of it.

Frits Fritschy's picture

No, but one thing might have led to another. You bring a knife, I bring a gun. You bring a gun, I bring a rifle. You bring a rifle, I bring a canon.

Frits Fritschy's picture

Oops, cannon.

Anonymous's picture

And of course Bareev who was in Kramnik team and many other of the Russians had in fact accused Topslov of being a cheater for a long time before Elista.

observer's picture


Interesting that you say you are a fan of both Kramnik and Topalov. You may therefore have an unbiased opinion on the whole thing, so wondering if you can shed any light on the following: [My position is much the same as yours; I don't believe either Topalov at St Luis or Kramnik at Elista cheated. What Danailov and Topalov did was over the top of course, but some aspects of the whole controversy puzzle me]

1) My understanding is that Morozevich was one of the main guys who more or less implied that Topalov was cheating at St Luis. But as far as I know Kramnik did not (Is that correct?). Therefore why did Topalov make the thing so personal against Kramnik? (and I understand this started some time before the match). Was it because Kramnik was a Russian; the Russians in general (or was it Kramnik specifically?) insisted on the glass wall; Kramnik was the guy Topalov actually had to play, so Topalov transferred it all onto him?

2) If Kramnik really did have a medical condition requiring multiple trips to the toilet, after nearly every move, wouldn't it have been a common courtesy to the arbiter and his opponent to inform them of this so as to avoid any suspicion; and minimise mental disturbance to his opponent?

3) Has Kramnik equally needed to so go to the toilet since the match? You would presume he would, but I have never seen any report that this has been so. If not, the whole thing looks a bit 'strange'.
Why just this match, and a little bit in the match with Kasparov? Why not also in the matches with Leko and Anand?

4) If Kramnik did NOT have a medical condition requiring this, then what WAS he playing at?
Obviously, he did not have a computer in the toilet or was cheating.
I saw some item which (from memory) I think his manager Hensel said he was so nervous that he needed somewhere private to pace around. But wouldn't the players have had their own rest areas to do that instead of the toilet?
Could he have been playing some psychological game, playing on Topalov paranoia, pretending that he might be cheating to disturb Topalov? If so, that's pretty low, and would give some justification to what Topalov and Danailov did.
I'm not saying this was the case, but some aspects of the whole thing just don't add up, and I would be interested in your thoughts on the matter.

Frits Fritschy's picture

More precisely: I'm a fan of both Kramnik's and Topalov's playing styles. I have never cared too much about player's personalities. There is a Dutch saying: "hoe groter de geest, hoe groter het beest" (the greater the mind, the greater the beast). I will try to answer you from memory, if others disagree they can let us know.
1) During the San Luis tournament, some players urged that Topalov should be put at another table; he always had the same. As there were no official complaints, nothing happened. After the tournament there were some rumors/accusations in the Russian press that there had been communication between Topalov and Danailov. A funny video turned up with Danailov fumbling his ear. As far as I remember, it was Bareev, member of Kramnik's team, who openly accused Topalov. The Kramnik team (not Kramnik personally as far as I know) insisted on the glass wall.
2) I don't remember anything about Kramnik having a medical condition that caused him to go to the bathroom more often than usual. I would never give an opinion about this, because this is a private matter, where we have to trust the authorities that were there.
3) Same answer: we will never know, I don't want to know and it's none of our business.
4) Just on the psychological game: I think both the Kramnik and the Topalov team were playing at that field, and that things got a bit out of control.

observer's picture

@ Frits:

1) Ok, thanks for that.
Still not clear then (to me anyway) why the main target of Topalov's hatred was Kramnik himself rather than say Bareev or Morozevich.

2) and 3) Of course I am not wishing to investigate someone's bathroom habits more than necessary, but that stuff was out in the open with respect to Elista anyway. If there was a big difference in what Kramnik was doing there, and in events both before and after, then to me there would be some sort of question to answer.

The Topalov team psychological game started at Game 5. But if Kramnik was playing one, then it started at Game 1 and might well have accounted for Topalov's truly extraordinary blunders in the first 2 games, after which the match (but for the Topalov team 'intervention') was already nearly hopeless for Topalov.

@ RG13:

I could be wrong, but I thought the main thrust of the Topalov team claim was that Kramnik was spending lots of time in an area that could not be monitored (ie in the toilet 'consulting his computer'). Could be that the rest area was indeed adjacent to the toilet, but it was not this that Kramnik was using.

Your recollection of the course of the remainder of the match is not fully correct. In fact Topalov won both Games 8 and 9 to go one up. He then made an incredible blunder in Game 10 allowing Kramnik to equalise the match.
Truly, Kramnik did not 'win' this match; Topalov lost it. Kramnik did not win a single classical game except those that Topalov gave to him by a massive blunder.

Frits Fritschy's picture

Of course Kramnik was leader of his own team and as such responsible for any actions by that team. About 2) and 3): your initial question was about a medical condition, not about 'bathroom habits'. A medical condition is no matter for open discussion.

Frits Fritschy's picture

Forgot to mention (but someone else did here): Bareev was part of Kramnik's team.

observer's picture

@ Frits;

I'm not saying that if Kramnik had a medical condition, he should have had to disclose what it was. I'm just saying all he needed to say (with perhaps a doctor's certificate to the arbiter) was that it had the 'frequent going to the toilet' effect on him and he would just be letting them know this was the reason for it happening.

Nowadays, it doesn't seem that Kramnik has to go to the toilet after every move. It seemed to happen ONLY in Elista. Why ONLY there? That's what makes it seem very odd. It looks like some psychological game (what else can it be?), and if so, Topalov would have had some justification in getting annoyed.

@ Thomas:

Yes, I understand what you are saying, but it seems to me that Topalov's hatred of Kramnik is on such an intensely PERSONAL level, rather than the general one of taking away a World Championship match.
And Frits, yes, Kramnik was the leader of the team and in that sense, Topalov could hate him in a general way. But if it was Bareev and not Kramnik that made the cheating allegation, you would still expect Topalov to hate Bareev more than Kramnik at a personal level.
And it seemed to start before the match started. I understand negotiations for the match were rather testy.

Regarding Topalov's strong, sustained allegations against Kramnik over 8 years, I'm inclined to think that Topalov and Danailov got themselves so caught up in their computer cheating lie that they had no way to back out without looking a total crock. So they've internalised the lie as if it's the truth and therefore repeat it as if it is such. Excuse my amateur psychology, but I hope you get what I mean.

I doubt that Topalov and Kramnik will ever reconcile - it runs too deep. I think it's about as likely as Capablanca and Alekhine.

Frits Fritschy's picture

I don't follow your logic. If (there are too many ifs in this discussion) Kramnik had some medical condition, it could have been temporal. Luckily, that's so for many afflictions. No use going into this; people that may know about it are supposed to keep their mouth shut.
Regarding the demands of the glass wall, as far as I would hate somebody, I also would blame the master and not his master's voice.
I'd rather not get too deep into Topalov's head, apart from the chess part.

observer's picture

Still not explained is why Kramnik 'had to go to the toilet' so much ONLY at Elista, and not at other events.

Thomas Richter's picture

You cannot compare Elista with other events, i.e. normal supertournaments. WCh matches have individual restrooms and bathrooms, for example Wijk aan Zee certainly doesn't have 14 private rest- and bathrooms. To my knowledge, Kramnik always has the habit to spend quite some time away from the board - his right as long as it is allowed by the regulations. Team Topalov somehow got hold of the video coverage finding out that Kramnik often left the restroom (under surveillance) to enter the bathroom (not filmed on video). Rumors say that Kramnik's "medical condition" was that he wanted to smoke without his wife (girl-friend at the time?) finding out.

You generally leave the impression that Kramnik was "as guilty as Topalov", and that Topalov would have easily won a 'normal' match - but blundered in several games because he suspected Kramnik of cheating, which was Kramnik's own fault. For one thing, it's equally possible and understandable if Kramnik played badly in some other games because he was suspected of cheating - this tendency seems to continue well after Elista whenever he faces Topalov.

Bareev's role: apparently he did accuse Topalov of cheating, but did so as a private person, not as Kramnik's second - should Kramnik have fired/not hired him because of that? [Frits Fritschy is, or at least says so himself, neutral - from my point of view he is "a bit too neutral" in that respect] On the other hand, Danailov came up with cheating allegations in his role as Topalov's manager - also, seconds are hired specifically for certain events, a manager has a (semi-)permanent position or role. It also DOES make a difference that Topalov himself accused Kramnik of cheating, while Kramnik never said so about Topalov.

observer's picture

Sure, Kramnik spends a fair bit of time away from the board. But Elista was something else again, and this was commented on at the time.
Perhaps Elista cannot be compared to tournaments, but surely it can be to other matches. What about the matches with Leko and Anand? (a point I mentioned above) - why wasn't he in the toilet as much in those matches? Why is it ONLY Elista?

That smoking thing sounds a bit of a weak explanation to me - he would spend most of the time he wasn't on the move smoking? And this is worth forfeiting a game over, just so his girlfriend wouldn't know he was smoking??
And if the explanation was this innocent, why hasn't he said so since? - he has a different lady now.
And again, why not same for the Leko and Anand matches?
I think Kramnik had a fair idea of what the effect of what he was doing had on Topalov's concentration, this wasn't just an ordinary action on his part.

Actually, Kramnik did not play badly in this match - he made no serious blunders at all as far as I am aware. In the 2 games that Topalov won over the board (and most of Game 2 as well), Topalov simply outplayed him really excellently. Topalov certainly played by far the best chess in this match (as well as by far the worst).
That Kramnik has played badly against Topalov since the match must be due to some other reason...

Well, it could be that Topalov considers Bareev an even more contemptible person than Kramnik; and Kramnik considers Danailov an even more contemptible person than Topalov - but Topalov and Kramnik are the big guys in this affair, and they are the ones that have to play each other...

Although Topalov is likely the greater villain in this affair, I don't think Kramnik comes out of it squeaky clean either, and he may well have been the initiator of unethical conduct. There are certain questions that need to be answered from his side also.

Thomas Richter's picture

I am 'new' to this thread (chess-related travelling with limited Internet access), I think a few things haven't been mentioned yet. Obviously (well, obvious for me) Kramnik was the target of Topalov's hatred (or Danailov's, I don't know and don't care whose idea it was initially) because it was an attempt to change the course of a WCh match - initially a successful attempt. How could Topalov possibly hurt Bareev or Morozevich the way he hurt Kramnik?

Even if there have been Russian cheating allegations against Topalov, they weren't as strong or sustained, going on for years after Elista. In a questionnaire by the German magazine "Schach", Topalov answered the standard and normally innocent question "Who is you favorite actor?" with "my opponent from Elista, he still pretends to be innocent. During the London candidates, Danailov criticized in his opinion inadequate anti-cheating supervision ... right after a tactical win by Kramnik.

My impression is that Kramnik wants to rest the case - not by restoring a normal relationship with Topalov, but by simply ignoring him as much as possible. While the Bulgarian side went on and on and on after Elista. So "Eight years after Toiletgate ... , Veselin Topalov and Vladimir Kramnik are still not shaking hands. That's all there is to say about it, actually." isn't quite all IMHO. On Topalov's statement: games against Kramnik might be completely normal to him (actually I would doubt it), but games against Topalov aren't normal to Kramnik, and I don't think they are normal based on purely looking at the moves.

Kramnik skipping the press conference: people can criticize him, but having to face a triumphant Topalov smile and snide remarks ("maybe it was too deep for my opponent ...") would be a unique situation. It's easy to criticize Kramnik without being in his shoes. But much of the discussion here seems good ol'fashioned Kramnik bashing ... .

Frits Fritschy's picture

Yes, Topalov doesn't seem to be a very forgiving person. As the person that seems to be suffering most of the bad relations, I think it would be a smart tactical move from Kramnik to offer his apologies for seemingly descrediting Topalov prior to the world championship match, offering to normalize relations. That would leave Topalov with a big problem.

RG13's picture

re: "Kramnik did not win a single classical game except ..." Maybe, but no one can be responsible for his opponents blunders. If Topalov wouldn't have blundered then who is to say that he would have won or drawn those games?

RG13's picture

@ observer
I admit that my memory isn't perfect but I don't think that Topalov would have gotten a one point lead without that forfeit win that Kramnik gifted him. I think sitting out a round to sulk because you feel insulted is as much a blunder as those which Topalov gifted Kramnik. Kramnik managed to win even after extra security measures requested by Topalov's team were taken; that much should be clear.

observer's picture

Yes, but Topalov's blunders were so incredible that they had to be caused by the atmosphere of the match. So if Kramnik was playing a psychological game [and I'm not necessarily saying he was, but I'm interested to see what people think about this, which is why I have brought it up], then he would be in a sense responsible for his opponent's blunders.

Games 1 and 10 were clearly going to be draws when Topalov blundered, while he missed a stone cold win in Game 2. So that's a difference of 2 points to him and away from Kramnik, which would have easily won him the match.

RG13's picture

I believe that his repeated visits were to his personal rest area that were ADJACENT to his private toilet, not necessarily to the toilet itself. From there he could monitor the board with the provided CCTV monitor. Also there was a camera on him so that the arbiters could monitor him while in his personal rest area. This set-up was the same for both players and was stipulated in the contract that they signed. When Kramnik appeared to be running away with the match Danailov (knowing Kramnik's emotional fragility) came up with this brilliant psychological assault and it almost worked - prompting Kramnik to sit out a game just like he sat out this press conference. Topalov pocketed that forfeit win and then another won earned over the board to even the match. It is to Kramnik's credit that he snapped out of his emotional stupor and actually won the match. That victory caused Topalov great emotional pain (as he admits) and kept him from playing top events for awhile.

RG13's picture

@ jmason
"you can't just pretend it never happen"

He can but he doesn't choose to. There are people who have been through much worse that have learned to let go of the anger/hate. I didn't say 'forgive' but just let it go. The anger/hatred doesn't hurt the person it is directed against; it hurts the person harboring it. That is a psychological fact and a person of Kramnik's level of intelligence should know that.

jmason's picture

well, chess players are famous for their big egos so we can only guess what kind of scars such incidents can leave in a world champion mind and if erasing that episode from your memory is that simple...

RG13's picture

Not forget it happened but pretend it never happened by letting go of the negative emotions (anger, hatred, etc.) associated with the event. Hypnotherapy, psychoanalysis or meditation can help with that. But hey he has got the right to be miserable if that is what he wants.

whalehunted's picture

Norwegian VGTV actually had a white pigeon in a cage ready for the post game discussion, planning to somehow forge (or rather force) a peace treaty between Topalov and Kramnik by having them release it.

Kind of bizarre.

Terrell Owens's picture

Wow. That is awesome. They have a dry sense of humor in Norway... Nakamura should be relieved. No telling what the press would have done to him had he gone this year given Magnus' total domination of him in 2014.

jmason's picture

I;m quite sure Topa would have not come to the press conference if he lost .


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