Columns | March 17, 2010 14:15

Not again!?

Europe-Echecs interview DanailovPerhaps it was because I'm currently reading The Age of Empathy - Nature's Lessons for a Kinder Society, Frans de Waal's latest book on how and why humans (and other primates) are capable of showing empathy and solving moral problems - that I found myself shocked by the recent Europe Echecs interview with Topalov's manager Silvio Danailov. Topalov's match against Anand hasn't even started yet, but the first provocations are already in the air again.

Photo: Europe-Echecs

Tiebreak in ElistaFrans de Waal is one of the world's leading primatologists and has written an impressive body of work about the similarities between apes and humans. In his latest work, he hands us a toolkit on how to improve our society by looking at (human) nature. Empathy and morality are not only human affairs, but also play an very important role in other species, such as chimpansees and dolphins. De Waal argues that the election of president Obama is a clear sign that the 'nightmare' days of Reagan and Thatcher are over and that perhaps it is time to transform society into a more empathic place. Well, I think it's time to end the 'nightmare' of Toiletgate and start a new era where chess professionals actually show some empathy and respect for each other instead of constantly trying to provoke the opponent.

In the video of the interview, Danailov talks about whether the 'Sofia rules' apply in the upcoming Topalov-Anand match, to be held in Sofia next month. They will not be applied - at least not officially. But that's no problem for Danailov:

If one player doesn't offer or accept draws they will apply. Vishy [Anand] doesn't agree but he will be forced, because Topalov will not offer him a draw and he will not speak to him. So, what to do? He will be forced. This is the best. This is the best, otherwise... I don't know, there's people who are absolutely conservative, they are against these rules, but this is the future of chess. This is for sure. Everybody now understands this. Of course, I understand there are some players, old players, who don't want to work... they like short draws and whatever. They like to offer them, but this is finished. Chess ... we need a professional sport, and in professional sport, we cannot do this.

It's a remarkable statement: Anand - forced against his will to comply to rules that are not official; this is the future of chess, no matter what 'old' chess players say - their opinion clearly is unimportant and shouldn't be respected. But the most remarkable is that Danailov says that Topalov will not only refuse to offer any draws but also will ignore his opponent altogether: "He will not speak to him." In other words, he will drop all courtesy and normal etiquette and create a 'non-speaking terms' atmosphere in a match in his home country, against one of the most relaxed and friendly chess players in the professional chess scene.

And why? Because of 'professionalism', that vacuous word all too often misused by people who refuse to acknowledge that most if not all work requires empathy and social skills - in other words, people who haven't the slightest idea what 'professionalism' really means. (Here's how one competency library actually defines 'professionalism': "Thinking carefully about the likely effects on others of one's words, actions, appearance, and mode of behavior.") To exclude all social elements from a profession is in fact the ultimate un-professional thing imaginable.

It's a fallacy Frans de Waal convincingly demolishes in his book, showing how cooperation and social interaction are absolutely crucial to succeed in any job and society, and are in fact measures by which we judge people and choose them as colleagues, friends or mates. Not so for the Bulgarians, who've created their own rules and apparently don't mind to be social isolates in the chess world, as long as the results speak for themselves. What an utterly unprofessional attitude!

In a similar vein, we've argued before on this site that shaking hands before and after a game shouldn't actually be incorporated in the rules of chess, but instead should be respected even though they're not in the rules - because, as De Waal shows, that's how empathy and social skills work: intuitively, without explicit rules, automatically. And that's why apes and other animals are capable of displaying them, too, without being able to read lawbooks or guides on ethical behaviour. It's a thing of nature. It's in our genes.

Tiebreak in ElistaThe sad thing is that we've seen this all before, four years ago in Elista. There, the Bulgarian team made themselves ridiculous in the eyes of world by accusing Vladimir Kramnik - without a shred of hard evidence - of cheating. They even published a childish book on it - still lacking any solid evidence - to prove their point, which I reviewed back in 2007. Perhaps it's worth recalling how Topalov accused Kramnik of unfairly using his 'home advantage' up till the Kremlin in order to "keep the title at any cost" and that he (Kramnik) "will not balk at violating ethical principles."

In his book, Topalov wrote that it was naive of him to agree to the match against Kramnik being played on Russian (well, kind of) ground, because such a match obviously couldn't be fair. Well, it's four years later and look who's playing on home ground this time. Will Topalov and Danailov return the compliment and agree if Anand claimed a match in Bulgaria couldn't ever be fair because of some kind of home advantage? Frans de Waal devotes an entire chapter on the 'walking in other man's 'shoes' concept, but looking at the interview of Europe Echecs, I have my doubts if Danailov has read it. Note how he laughs during the entire interview, routinely dismissing dissenting views and announcing how the reigning World Champion will be 'forced' to do this and that. Does that sound like someone showing any kind of empathy or 'ethical principles' at all?

Silvio Danailov has recently announced his candidacy for president of the European Chess Union. Heaven forbid someone who doesn't understand the first thing about 'professionalism', baselessly accuses some world class players of unethical behaviour and laughingly tells others what to do, ever gets to play such an important role in European chess, even if he did show some good initiatives like the exciting M-Tel tournament and his passion for more fighting chess. This kind of destructive madness really can't be tolerated in our beautiful chess world. Frans de Waal ends his book The Age of Empathy (I am quoting from the Dutch version) with the following words:

We must rely on our intellect to figure out how to balance individual and collective interests. One instrument we have and which enriches our thinking enormously, has been selected over ages, meaning its survival value has been proven time and again. It is our capacity to show a sense of oneness with others, to understand them, and to place ourselves in their situation.

We can only hope this message will reach the Bulgarian team before the Topalov-Anand match starts.

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Arne Moll's picture
Author: Arne Moll


Arne Moll's picture

@noyb, Pal G: at least read his book first if you're going to critique De Waal. Without having read it, your arguments sound extremely hollow.Of course he elaborates in great detail on all the points you mention. I was just quoting De Waal to illustrate my impressions about the interview, not to give an accurate summary or explanation of his 300-page, heavily footnoted book.

@pete: it was me who wrote the column - not Peter.

Kotrag's picture

Arne, I don't fully agree with you.
Shaking hands before or after the game is a sign of respect for your oponent, it comes to say "I respect you and don't have any claims against you". If you don't respect your oponent, it is ridiculous to be forced to show respect of him by shaking his hand. It is not such a tragedy if GM A does not respect GM B.
Sofia rules are the future of chess for sure, especially in tournaments with >2 players. Have you seen football championships when on the last matchday the champion is alread known and that team loses the last game because it doesn't matter? The Sofia rules are a medicine against unfair draws which influence the other players' results.
Honestly, I don't understand why Danailov wants Topalov not to speak to Vishy. Maybe this is a perverse way to show Vishy that he must accept the Sofia rules. It this is the case, I don't like it. But Vishy is not put at disadvantage.

It is not unfair to hold the match in Sofia as Bulgarian government gave state guarantees for the prize fund. You should agree that in such a case it is not acceptable for the government to let the match move to another country. No other entitiy gave guarantees to the place of the match is a consequence of this. Chess is a beatiful game but you have serious organizational work as well. Why did not Vishy organize anything? Whatever the reason, VIshy had enought time and chances; now he must accept the terms and conditions.

Creemer's picture

Somehow, I think morality enters into this argument without a formal introduction. First Danailov is quoted to say "He [Toaplov] will not speak to him [Anand]", then the following paragraph:

"And why? Because of ‘professionalism’, that vacuous word all too often misused by people who refuse to acknowledge that most if not all work requires empathy and social skills – in other words, people who haven’t the slightest idea what ‘professionalism’ really means. (Here’s how one competency library actually defines ‘professionalism’: “Thinking carefully about the likely effects on others of one’s words, actions, appearance, and mode of behavior.”) To exclude all social elements from a profession is in fact the ultimate un-professional thing imaginable."

It seems to me meant to be an argument to deny Danailov (and Topalov) professionalism. However, they might have given considerable thought and care to this decision not to speak during the match. There is of course a big difference between a chess match, which is first and foremost a competition and a society, in which competition plays a role, maybe an important one, but it's not its essence.

So maybe it's morally questionable to abandon social etiquette during a chess match, but it just might be completely professional. Morality has entered the discussion, like I said, without a formal introduction (that's bad etiquette ;) )

Bert de Bruut's picture

European Chess Federation (that is voters): take heed!

Tarjei's picture

Very well written, couldn't agree more!

Arne Moll's picture

Creemer, the point is that 'professionalism' should always include reckoning with others instead of 'forcing' them to comply with things they don't agree on. Nobody speaks during chess games - but the fact that Danailov feels the need to state this explicitly and that Anand doesn't agree with his point of view, is a sure sign for trouble.

Manu's picture

Not sure why you believe that not speaking to your opponent during a game is rude but leaving the board 40 times per game is an acceptable behaviour .
Danailov is right , Sofia rules and Bilbao system are the future , Topalov is not telling Vishy what to do , he just found an aproach to the match that suits his style.
Danailov will be the next ECU president , and it will be great for chess.

Nonationalism's picture

Manu: if only it was just the draw offers...

Manu's picture

Mmm , Elista was mentioned on the article , in fact it is even hinted in the very title of it... So it would be the author the one who bring it back.
Nobody is acusing anybody of cheating , and of course nobody is saying that the opponent is the enemy , or that good social behaviour is wrong... noone but you...
Like i said , they just found a nice way to enforce the rules that they have been promoting all this years , there is no disrespect implied on that , only the promise of a great fighting match.

Arne Moll's picture

Manu, just look at Danailov's grin when he says 'Anand will be forced' and how he laughs away anyone disagreeing with him. Are you sure no disrespect is implied here? I agree cheating is not an issue (yet), but to me these are clear signs of a fresh series of provocations - not the first time, I might add - reminding me immediately of what happened in Elista.

guitarspider's picture

Not shaking your opponent's hand.
Not talking to your opponent at all.

Great ways to enforce fighting chess! Literally! WOW, thank you for opening my eyes manu!

vooruitgang's picture

Excellent article. So now what? Vishy knows that Topolov won't speak to him. He probably will feel relieved. Vishy is quite capable of playing a dead position, and draw by repitition will only require that the champion talk to the arbiter, not the opponent.

Vishy is a veteran and knows how people like Danailov like to play psychout games. He will let it run down his back. The only way Vishy will lose is if he really no longer wants the title of World Champion which requires him to prove over and over that he is the best.

The rest of the noise just makes for great publicity and generates interest in the match. A classic good guy verses bad guy ploy.

Manu's picture

¨and how he laughs away anyone disagreeing with him.¨

Not at all , please explain that concept a little more , in fact i don´t see (or hear ) anyone disagreeing with him trough the interview ,Danailov´s smiles seems to match his enthusiastic state of mind , judging for his body language.
The way i see it you are being a little biased gainst him , which i completely understand if you considered Kramnik´s behaviour in Elista acceptable (im not trying to bring that up), but i cant help but noticing that you are also accusing him without evidence , so...
If you really had some training on reading body language you would have noticed the only (apparent) lie in the whole interview , which occurs when he is asked about wheter he believes that Topa is in good shape.
But it is also true that giving his position as a manager of Topa , the concealing gest that he makes can mean many many different things.
It is going to be a great and clean match , in any case Topa´s locality favours Vishy , like you already admitted he will be a hero no matter the outcome of the match.

Manu's picture

Who said anything about not shaking hands...?
Why is that you need to come up with things that are not related to the topic...?

¨thank you for opening my eyes manu!¨

You are welcome , although im not totally satisfied with the results.

guitarspider's picture

Not shaking hands with Short and Kramnik. Not talking to Anand. See a pattern yet? What reason could he possibly have to attack Anand, one of the nicest players on the circuit like this?

Danailov and Topalov have long been on a confrontation course. This interview just confirms they don't intend to change anything. It's hardly the first time we heard Danailov talk like this. So I have no reason to assume he's not intending to make a splash with his bevaiour at the WCC. And I don't doubt he's going to derail the WCC the moment it goes wrong for Topalov. I consider this to be an attempt at setting up conflict as early as possible, to be used later. He's done it once, why would he not try it again?

But we'll see. Topalov already lost many of his fans in Elista and there's no doubt he's going to lose more if he tries intrigues against Anand. At some point he has to see that he's on the wrong path. This guy used to be one of the most popular chess players and look what he's now. Elista is going to tarnish his name for the rest of his chess life, and it's his own fault. He's making a fool of himself, which is a shame, because he is a great player. But sadly, great players don't always have great personalities.

Schachblogger's picture

Arne is perfectly entitled to dislike Danailov. He should keep in mind though that English is Danailov´s third language and his use of it is less than subtle. Making public statements on behalf of Topalov and their timing is not Danailov´s strength, and the damage he made in 2006 is still very much with them. It would have been a fantastic investment to have a real communication professional (rather than anti-communication professionals) on their team back then and probably since in order to come clean in the eye of the public.
It´s remarkable how unforgiving Arne and some other commentators are about Topalov who has been for a long time and still is a model player in several respects: fighting spirit, attractive style, availability to the press even after setbacks. Still, some are seeing Anand, a great player and great sportsman without doubt, already on the moral high ground and the moral winner. Shouldn´t it all be decided on the board?

VladimirOo's picture

All that is tricks, tactics to add pressure on Vishy: quite typical at this level. On the contrary, Indian team's strategy is to keep on going silent.

Topalov fights hard to win Linares whereas Vishy steadily goes through Corus. Vishy knows he has public opinion and the majority of fans behind him, he has rightly gained his title against Kramnik (twice) whereas Topalov has not really earned the right to challenge Anand (he should not have played against Kamsky if Elista's conditions had been respected).

To summarize, contrary to what it seems, I believe that the Bulgarians are under pressure and not the Indians : they are much more nervous, they play a double edged game with their WCC clashes and tricks, they play at home: this is a matter of life and death, they must win at all cost when loss would mean their end (of respectability at least) in the chess world.

Arne Moll's picture

@Schachblogger: I have thought about the language-aspect, but it has been several days since the video was released and a transcript appeared on various websites. If Danailov felt he was misinterpreted he could have rectified it in his own language, but he hasn't, so we must assume he still stands behind his words.
As for forgiving Topalov, I can only say that he is, of course, truly a fantastic player - but after reading his book on the 2006 match (of which he has, to my knowledge, withdrawn not a word) and witnessing him refuse to shake hands with his opponents on several occasions even after the Elista match, as well as keeping Danailov as his manager despite the many unfounded accusations the latter has made in the past, it isn't particularly easy to be in a forgiving state of mind. In fact, I'm amazed some people prefer to forget these shameful events so easily, and I don't think we should feel sorry for the Bulgarians, let alone grant them the 'benefit of the doubt' until they've apologized or withdrawn their baseless accusations.

Manu's picture

¨Not shaking hands with Short and Kramnik. ¨
You are mixing things a little there , it was Cheparinov the one who didnt shake hands with Short , and you are also missing the fact that Moro did the same to Topa before that , you probably missed it because Veselin took it like a man and didn´t make an scene like Short did... nevermind , i dont want to argue.
But i see you have very strong feelings about Topalov and Co , and judging for the tone of this article you came to the right place to share them.
I just wanted to point out that not everybody agrees with the profiling tendencies of this article.
It´s been a pleasure.

Manu's picture

@Arne :
I´d love to hear the reasons or thought process behind your phrase:
¨and how he laughs away anyone disagreeing with him.¨
It seems a little too biased IMHO.

Nemozyne's picture

Anand will crush Topalov. There is no problem here, just a slow-motion traffic accident waiting to happen. And we'll all be watching this gigantic pile-up.

Topalov is in lousy form, and has been for a long time.

noone's picture

Danailov is right we do not wanna see no short draws. And people this is the world champion match. Like Botvinnik who said he would start hating his opponent to be able to win. He could not hate Tal...

guitarspider's picture

@Manu: Cheparinov is associated with Danailov and Topalov and his refusal to shake hands was nothing more than a test-run for the upcoming Topalov-Kramnik game. This is absolutely related to the topic. Moro refusing to shake Topa's hand, well, guess what, after Elista I can understand it.

Rodzjer's picture

Arne do you find your article to be "professional"? It is a column and you are entitled to speak your mind, but in all honesty I find that you are withholding some important facts. For instance yes, the Topalov team showed unacceptable behaviour in Elista, but Kramnik leaving for a toilet visit after every single move should be mentioned as well. It cannot be missed if you bring up Elista.

Further in general I agree with your statement. Danailov has a questionable view of professionalism. You can always analyze details and come to a different opinion. One thing is for sure: he's a smart man. He does it for a reason. There is a purpose behind this interview. And only he and Topa know the true meaning. If you ask me, he's trying to shake things up, provoke the Vishy team, shake them out of their balance. It's all part of a greater strategy.

Manu's picture

So what you are saying is that one refusal is justified and the other don´t , nice to have you here to show us who are the good guys in this story.

@Arne :
Well?... , What happened? Did the cat get your tongue/keyboard?

Arne Moll's picture

@Manu, just look at the video and pay attention to what he says about 'old players' and 'absolutely conservative' people. Is this how he is planning to treat critics of his ideas if he were to become president of the ECU?

Manu's picture

I will , but i´d like you to justify your phrasing first :
¨and how he laughs away anyone disagreeing with him.¨
IMHO That belongs to the realm of bias and speculation Arne , if that is not the case, please let me know your reasoning behing those words.

Arne Moll's picture

Why? I'm just describing what happens in the interview. Isn't that enough justification?

Manu's picture

That answers my question , thx for your time.

Jens Kristiansen's picture

In the late 2009, just after the Sofia-match was scheduled, Danailov said in an interview:
"I suppose that in the next six months from Anand's team will make everything possible to require unfulfillable conditions during the negotiations for the contract for the match, in order to make us nervous."
Now, after some four months, you should ask him what came through of his expectations.
I do not like Danailovs attitude, which maybe would be more suitable for heavy-weight-boxing. He is plain disrespectfull to his opponent.
But the real one to pity is Topalov, who has to get by with such a manager. It may very well backfire on him.

Serdal's picture

I cannot agree entirely to the article. Most of us are afraid (if you can say so) that things might turn ugly in Sofia - and if that happens it's pretty likely that the Danailov side will be responsible. But I find the article rather exaggerating.
I don't think it's condemnable not to offer draws; and as for the 'not speaking'-part Danailov might have meant (at least that's how I understood) that Topalov isn't going to speak to Vishy *during the game*. Apart from that they won't talk too much, but that's just natural in a match, I guess. And even they don't talk at all it might be an unpleasant atmosphere but I think it's within the boundaries of sporting rivalry.

Mauricio Valdes's picture

I would strongly suggest Topalov to fire his manager.
Topalov is an excellent player and his games are remarkable.

Mr. Danailov makes you look like a very greedy political figure. Many people hate Silvio and incidentally hate you as well.
Get rid of him Veselin!

You are the one of nicest most beloved chess players and Danailov is keen to exploit that into his own advantage. I wish you win the match for the sake of RIGHGEOUS CHESS.
Don´t let Silvio push you around!

Who the heck is going to vote for you?
The Devil?

guitarspider's picture

@Manu: I didn't say Moro refusing the handshake was justified. I choose my words with care and what I said was "understand". That's something completely different. I don't believe people should refuse to shake Topalov's hand because he thinks he can do that. Show him how it's done with style, maybe he'll learn. But I can understand if people choose not to do it.

Kremlin's picture

@Arne. I like your moral appeal and your thoughts on being respectful towards others. That said, I think your definition of "professionalism" is somewhat problematic. Professional sports without conflict or antisentiment is, to me, unthinkable. Whether it makes you popular with the audience is something completely different, but I very much doubt Danilov shares your view on the definition of "professional".

jazzkoo's picture

Don't the Sophia rules include the soccer scoring thing? Which wouldn't make any difference in a heads up match. The only thing left would be the draw rule (is it 30 moves?). But NO offers or acceptances.... does that mean playing on in drawn stagnant endgames until the 50 move rule is reached? One could always decline a draw offer couldn't they? The whole thing seems unnecessary, in poor taste, and "unprofessional" (in my interpretation of the word).

chesstroll's picture

Anand knew about Danailov's attitude and mind in advance. He agreed to the terms of the match contract. Does he deserve any compassion?

Jonas's picture

In that picture danailov looks like a devil!

Pal G.'s picture

Thank you for the article and the insight regarding the Bulgarians. However, I hardly ever agree with your ideas regarding socialism, liberalism, and darwinism.

So, I believe you are missing the mark on your call for professionalism and empathy. The Bulgarians are lacking neither. Professionalism is defined as having skill in an area. The def. from a university human resources website is not a practical resource. They are clearly skilled, off the board and on. And empathy, which I doubt can be attributed to primates, is simply defined as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. I believe the Bulgarians fully understand Anand's current position, and are playing moves off the board. They are empathetic towards Anand; hardly sympathetic.

I believe what the Bulgarians are sorely lacking is Sportsmanship.


Paul's picture

what's the big deal? he won't take any draws, good luck to him. As for not responding to draw offers, yeah it's not polite or friendly, and in amateur competition when you know the player personally it's a little bit confrontational senselessly- but this is the world championship game, them being buddies doesn't really matter to anand or topalov.

noyb's picture

Frans de Waal's arguement lacks only the merit of being true. He needs to stick to monkeys because it's clear he knows NOTHING about people. His ascertion that "the election of president Obama is a clear sign that the ‘nightmare’ days of Reagan and Thatcher are over and that perhaps it is time to transform society into a more empathic place." is HILARIOUS! Everyone in the US would gladly bring back Reagan and his less contentious approach to politics compared to Obama's contemptuous treatment of his political opponents and the citizens of the U.S. Obama is even trying to break the laws of the U.S. to impose his will on the people. How is that compationate in any way?! Obama can't hold a candle to Reagan's level of compassion! Speaking of monkeys...

pete's picture

I am a bit surprised by that article, not your usual stile Peter. Seems to me you are taking sides here mate.
Personally I don't see what the big deal with that interview is. Topalov will not accept draws and will more or less play on the Sofia rules ... I think Danailov said that so Anand will not try to offer draws therefore avoiding any uncomfortable situations when Topalov will not speak.
In all that there should be some nerve game, but isn't that normal in WC match?
Lets see what the players will show on the board and not get too carried away with talks.

chickypanda's picture

There is something even worse not yet mentioned: WHEN THE SAME PERSON IS THE MANAGER OF A TOP PLAYER AND A SUPPOSEDLY-NEUTRAL ORGANIZER OF TOP LEVEL EVENTS, A SERIOUS CONFLICT OF INTEREST ARISES. Consider the following: Danailov introduced shorter time controls and the bilbao scoring system, both of which arguably favor Topalov's risky style of playing. Think of how many games he won in the opponent's time trouble in dubious positions (last game of Kamsky match comes to mind). Also, Danaiov can choose whom to invite to his tournaments, arguably favoring players that are not known to be dangerous to Topalov. For example, Kramnik is never invited. How convenient.

Do you remember the Grand Slam press conference during Corus 2009? It was announced that Nanjing 2008 RETROACTIVELY functions as qualifier for the Grand Slam Final 2009, and thus its winner, Topalov, is the first player seeded into the final. And all that in the middle of Corus, when all the players are working hard to win the tournament, attempting to qualify for the same final. Needless to say, there were no such announcements during Corus 2010, and the selection process of the players (and the number of players) is still in the air.
Talking about fair qualification and changing rules in the middle of a cycle...

Now, the logical consequences of Toiletgate SHOULD have been: Topalov not allowed to participate in rated events for one or two years, and Danailov not allowed to organize rated events for the same period. Or - that might have happened if chess had been an olympic sport. Instead, FIDE gave them a "warning" and congratulated them for their willingness to cooperate with the investigation committee. The real results are well-known: Topalov, who never won a World Championship Match, but only lost one, was seeded directly into a very convenient semi-final match with a player outside the top 20, and now playing a direct match with the current champion, while the rest of the elite players are still waiting to know if and when there will be a sixth Grand Prix tournament or an eventual Candidates Tournament.

Now, with regard to investigations, some things will always remain a mystery. In San-Luis 2005, Toplaov's claim to fame, he sat in the same chair throughout the first half of the tournament, in which he made his +6 score that earned him the title. Several players (notably Morozevich) complained about secret eye-contact with the audience and alleged computer-assistance, but no one investigated. Later, when the video from Corus 2007 and the article on Danailov's sign language came out - things got public and even Kasparov said that it should be investigated. But apparently the political situation in the chess world is such that some individuals are not allowed to be investigated.

As for the fact that a World Championship Match is being organized by the same person who is the manager of the Challenger - I don't think such overt conflict of interest occurs in any other international sport at the top level. So even before giving such interviews that are disrespectful for the opponent there are serious problems in the nature of the situation.

Does anyone remember Henrik Carlsen's words when FIDE changed the rules of the Grand Prix? He wished for Fairness, Predictability, Transparency. I'm afraid we're still very far from this in the chess world.

Coco Van Loco's picture

Not responding verbally to the opponent's offer is by no means rude. A standard way of declining the offer is to simply make another move. I'm sure you're well aware of this, Arne. Whether or not Topalov will take this to the next level (not shaking hands, or something like that) we will see.
Also, I recall Anand also saying a couple of not-so-gentlemanly things in a recent interview, but I don't remember what or where.

Harish Srinivasan's picture

Who is Danailov indirectly referring old and conservative people who dont want to work? Forget all others, that phrase "not wanting to work" definitely sounds disrespectful to whoever he may be referring.

Arne Moll's picture

@Coco Loco (and others): of course not responding verbally to a draw offer is nothing special - I don't usually do that either during a game. I don't have particular problems with the whole draw-offering thing, and I never said so.
But Danailov said much more than that, didn't he? Not speaking to Anand at all and saying all these other things about people disagreeing with him is quite another matter. And then there's that smug grin, which, I admit, really irritated me, especially in the light of Danailov's previous provocations and allegations.
By the way, if you think my words were harsh, check out what The Closet Grandmaster writes about Topalov's coach! :-)

@bird, Manu: the article is not intended as an objective piece of journalism, that's why it's called a column.

Sherman's picture

@?Bert de Bruut
Are you read my previous post or you just want to tell me how much you dislike Danailov i Topalov ?

You may hate what you want but argues like how Danailov smile during interview is funny. I for example dont probably like how you grandmother looks but never say that she cant cook with face like this.
Chour of biased fans is in action...

Sherman's picture

Arne, when you find 3 milion euro for match then you can teach us what is gentlemen and what is not so. Kamski has no any problems in Sofia but here appriory haters/including you/ teach us that in Sofia will be very sad to play.
So Arne, Sofia is for your information capital of one of oldest european countries. And for your information bulgarians are more hospitable than dutchs... This is just for your information. Bulgaria is not Russia.Sofia is not Elista.
I expect great match with enough respect from players to oponent. Anything other is just jabber.

Saravanan's picture

Anand Please crush Topalov without any mercy and it would be the right answer.

Arne Moll's picture

Sherman, exaggerating the prize fund of the match by 1 million euros isn't exacty helping your credibility, and I'm sure Bulgaria's ranking on the World's Corruption Index (as compared to, say, The Netherlands) isn't either. Anyway, all this is completely beside the point. As Kasparov once argued, there could be a prize fund of 10 or 15 million euros and the match could be held in Medellin or Pyongyang. Would this make the organizers any more 'gentlemanly'? Money doesn't buy good manners, you know.

jhoro's picture


1) I see a bit of discrepancy between these two statements you made:

column: "It’s a remarkable statement: Anand – forced against his will to comply to rules that are not official"
comment: "I don’t have particular problems with the whole draw-offering thing"

Sofia rules are designed to prevent from ending the game early by agreement between both players. If one of them wants to continue playing this is not a new "not official rule" and "Sofia rules" are not needed. Not making/accepting draw offers is already part of the game and Topalov is within his rights to play for as long as he wants. Don't see how is Anand forced to play to rules that are not official.

2) Then farther down you wrote:
"But the most remarkable is that Danailov says that Topalov will not only refuse to offer any draws but also will ignore his opponent altogether: “He will not speak to him.” In other words, he will drop all courtesy and normal etiquette and create a ‘non-speaking terms’ atmosphere in a match in his home country"

You are really twisting Danailov's words. At no point did he say that Topalov " will ignore his opponent altogether". If you listen again to the entire video, I'm sure Danailov was trying to say that (a) Topalov will not make draw offers, (b) if Anand makes a draw offer Topalov will not "reply" to it. He did not mean Topalov will not speak at all to Anand and totally ignore him. On the other hand, are they even allowed to talk to each other during a game? Also did Anand and Kramnik follow "proper etiquette" and talk to each other during their games in Bonn (excluding draw offers)?

3) "It’s a fallacy Frans de Waal convincingly demolishes in his book, showing how cooperation and social interaction are absolutely crucial to succeed in any job and society, and are in fact measures by which we judge people and choose them as colleagues, friends or mates."

This is totally not applicable to opponents in any competitive event. I don't see how cooperation and social interaction fit in this case. Making & accepting draw offers seems the only way to please de Wall and yourself in the context of the interview you are dissecting. if you are talking about Danailov's ECU candidacy, there is no need to beat around the bush.

4) I actually thought it was nice of Danailov to let Anand know in advance there will be no draw offers from Topalov instead of doing it at the board during the match regardless of the fact that Anand or you may find it disrespectful.

5) Danailov did not come on charging at Anand. He was answering a question about Sofia rules & the WCC match (unless he told the interviewer to ask him about this before the interview). BTW I also have problems with the way Danailov acts in general (not so much in this interview) and wish Topalov had better spoken and more tactful manager, but this is not going to happen.


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