Kasparov on coaching Carlsen
When earlier this week the news came out that Magnus Carlsen and Garry Kasparov are working together, we immediately tried to contact the former World Champion as well. We sent a few questions for Kasparov to Mig Greengard, who has now sent us a preview of a small interview he did with Kasparov on the train.
The video will be posted later today by Macauley Peterson at the Chess.FM blog (update: now embedded below), but we thank Mig for allowing us to post a transcript here already. He included questions from his readers at the Daily Dirt but he started with the two questions we sent to him.
MG: What can you teach him that no-one else can, really?
GK: The experience always plays a role and I think an advice. If nothing else that's already valuable. That I still enjoy the possession of probably the largest opening database, with some ideas that are still fresh and ready to use. And I think for Magnus it's a great opportunity to learn how to work, on work ethic. The younger generation now they spend too much time with computers -- is just organizing the work place, and making sure that this work is efficient. He was in school and when we started our cooperation earlier this year it was not an easy time for him because his opening repertoire looked -- by my standards definitely -- quite odd.
MG: Specific openings, or the way of selecting his openings...?
GK: It was not up to the level of his general play. I think he needed great improvement of the opening repertoire, but also, you know, to organize his work, to make sure that he will realize his potential.
MG: You didn't have that problem, I mean that was almost the opposite: Your strongest suit was your repertoire, the discipline... So what similarities do you see with yourself as a young Kasparov?
GK: He is of course very talented, but what helps us is that his style is very different from mine. He's more of a Karpov style, yeah, Karpov, Capablanca -- he has great natural qualities in evaluating the position, while I am more dynamic, more a work-oriented player. I think that makes this cooperation potentially more profitable for him because he's learning from a player of the opposite style.
MG: So his unique talent -- you'd put in in that line -- because you've always spoken of yourself as being in the line of Alekine, Tal --
GK: --Yeah, there's no doubt he belongs to the players of Capablanca, Smyslov, and Karpov-like.
MG: Is that something you noticed in him when he first appeared on the scene or, clear to you now that you've seen --
GK: --Clear to me now, yes. We -- once we had a discussion when I'd just stopped playing chess, he was in Moscow for a couple of days. They asked for this...testing, and I didn't have a very clear picture, well actually at that time I didn't concentrate on that -- but basically I looked at his games and when I was approached with this offer, I thought that I would better understand the nature of his talent, to see whether I can do a better job.
MG: And you think, from six months -- what is your opinion?
GK: I wish we could have more time but it's not easy -- I'm a busy man -- and also it's not automatic. So, you know, he played well, but he hasn't won yet -- if you don't count rapid -- he hasn't won yet a major tournament this year. But I like the way he played in Sofia except for this last round disaster with Shirov. He got exhausted. And I was, for example, disappointed to watch his terrible loss with Kramnik, which again was not -- I would say not deserved. Anything you do is deserved, but still, to be bullied by f5, by this breakthrough which offers white nothing. Magnus missed quite an easy way to, not refute, but to equalize -- it would be a draw, probably with best play. But the way he played in Dortmund was not very convincing. And of course it's not easy just to watch the game when you have a computer, you can check it, and even if you don't check, so I still can, you know, you can evaluate. And you know, you keep getting nervous.
MG: Right. That must be a strange feeling -- having a
routing rooting interest.
GK: Yeah, truly, truly.
MG: Kind of like having a different perspective. That kind of leads into one of the other question. You're doing this coaching every once in a while. Would you consider seconding him in a match or tournament?
GK: No, I have no interest in doing that, you know, with my physical presence, but at the tournament we speak on the telephone...It's part of this work, so that we can always get advice, and I still keep updating my database, and doing some chess work, so, and I'll always, you know, submit him (sic) with some ideas that I find during this process.
MG: As far as you being a coach -- are you ready for that "senior Botvinnik role" here...?
GK: For me it was not unusual -- I've been assisting Botvinnik since I was world champion in 1985. So I've always been working with kids in different tastes. I've been doing now this KCF work, so you know those are different kind of engagements. But still, sharing my experience, giving advice was always a part of my professional career -- even when I played chess. And because it's a very different coaching program, it also helps me to keep my brains working.
MG: Right, because you have some chess coming up here --
GK: -- Yeah, and when I considered this idea, I already knew that it might have happened -- suspected it might happen -- and I always wanted to have some chess refreshment. And it helps. It's not that I'm planning to use the idea that we found in Croatia, during the summer session. Some of the sort of second quality work -- second line of importance -- these ideas, I think that they will be quite helpful.
MG: Just to keep you sharp---
GK: ---Yes exactly -- it keeps me sharp, so it's a very different feeling than if you play on the Internet, because you do some work, you have to look at the games and I'm regularly, as I said, updating my database, so it was a lot of work this year, and I hope that will help against my old rival.
MG: I was going to say, I know, it's going to be -- talking about and 18 year old, and now you've got to face a 58 year old.
GK: Look, yeah, Karpov is definitely just a shadow of what he was before, but a dangerous shadow. So, I think his dreadful results recently, they might be misleading because he can concentrate and he would be really dangerous -- he's still a unique talent -- and it depends very much whether I could overcome the lack of practice, because even working with Magnus still doesn't give you the same feelings as playing professional chess. And I do some playing, so I hope that I will be showing some decent quality in Valencia, and, probably, Paris.
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