Reports | December 13, 2012 16:50

Vladimir Kramnik on London 2012 - a brief video interview

Vladimir Kramnik

Here's a brief interview we did with the 14th World Champion Vladimir Kramnik, who looks back at the London Chess Classic where he finished second behind Magnus Carlsen.

[Transcript:]

How do you look back at your tournament?

I'm very rarely satisfied with my chess. OK, that's just my character, I'm a perfectionist. I always feel that I did something wrong and that I can do better but this time I'm really satisfied with almost everything. Only my game with Anand, starting from move 25 I didn't play so well for a few moves and that's basically it. In the the rest I didn't make a few inaccuracies and actually I played very good chess, I think even better than last year. Last year I made exactly the same performance, plus four (four wins, four draws) but I think this year I was even playing better. I'm happy with my play, I'm happy with the result, with my plus four, only it's a little bit of a pity... usually of course it should be enough to win such a tournament but OK, Magnus was winning every game so what to do! [Smiles.]

I played very good chess, I think even better than last year.

What was your best game in London?

I think all games I won were quite a high level. It's a matter of taste. Probably the game against Luke McShane was more entertaining because there were two exchange sacrifices, it was quite spectacular. But in fact also to win with Black against Nakamura is not easy at all and I think I played quite a good game, very positional. Everything was very logical in the game and I managed to outplay him slowly, although he had good drawing chances at some point. But anyway, you know, actually I didn't analyze my games yet, I simply didn't have time. I was preparing for the next games, so I didn't even check with the computer any of the games. So it's difficult for me to say, but all in all again, yeah, maybe if you ask me I would say yes, my game with McShane.

Against Anand in Bonn you played the Sicilian in the final game. Why not something sharper this time?

It was different, because my opponent didn't need a draw, that's a big difference. Of course, when you know you're opponent is just playing for a draw then it's one story, but here I actually was expecting Mickey to play something much more complicated. If he would win he would catch me and even overtake me, he would be second, I would be third in the general standings so I thought he would just play normal chess, which he in a way did, but OK it was bad luck that he chose a very safe line. Usually he plays much more complicated lines with d3 and then you can get a long game. That was my idea. You know, I'm very experienced already and I know that if you just start to bluf from the beginning... Mickey is a very strong player, especially with White and he knows everything, he [has played] 1.e4 all his life. I was having a look at all kind of Pircs, Scandinavian, yesterday in the evening. But you know, let's say in [the] Pirc, he has a score, a performance of like 14 wins and 4 draws, something like this. I think I have a good chance of simply losing the game stupidly, getting a bad position and losing the game.

I was having a look at all kind of Pircs, Scandinavian, yesterday in the evening.

It's not really an option, and so I decided to play my normal opening which I know well, which there is a better chance that I will get a decent position out of the opening, and then in an equal position, you know, all pieces are on the board, anything can happen. So I thought it was the right choice objectively. I would do the same next time if it would be this particular situation. Of course it's a different story again because he needed a draw; it's clear that he would just start to sterilize the game. Then of course it's a different story, but here I didn't at all think that Mickey would do it so that's why I decided to play [like this].

How do you look at Magnus' rating record? "Inflation" or "better than Kasparov"?

It's clear that there is a little bit of inflation and I would still think Kasparov's 2851 in that time was a little bit more, probably, taking into consideration inflation, than Magnus is, I don't know, 2860, 2870, whatever he has now [smiles]. But of course it's a big achievement, it's a great achievement anyway. I actually don't see in the very near future who is going to be close to this rating and also he's very young, he still has lots of tournaments ahead of him and even some more records to make. But otherwise, yeah, I played with both of them. They are unique players of course, both, but it's very difficult to compare. I can only say I have plus one with both of them! [laughs] for the moment so for me it means they are more or less equal.

I can only say I have plus one with both of them!

No, but I'm joking, but of course Garry at his best was incredibly strong also and Magnus... yes, definitely you see that he is really, really strong. But [it's] not impossible to fight. I don't really feel pressure when I play with Magnus. I actually like very much to play with him because I always like to play with really the strongest possible opponent. But I think at the moment our personal games are very equal, I'm on plus one at the moment but OK, he won some games, I won some games and in general it's quite equal. Quite often I manage to press even, so I feel I can fight with him. In this sense, maybe not for too long, maybe I don't have so much time, after all I'm already 37, but still I can do it. I'm quite optimistic that in the Candidates tournament in London in March, well, if I managed to keep and if I get a little bit more luck, let's say somebody will blunder against me [smiles], I have some chances to compete with him, I believe so. Let's see.

Will the Candidates in March be your last shot at playing a world title match?

You know, I already thought my last shot was in Kazan, sincerely, I thought that would be my last shot but now I have even a higher rating than at that time.

I thought that [Kazan] would be my last shot but now I have even a higher rating than at that time.

I believe to the next cycle definitely, I mean after let's say 2015 for sure I don't think I will have chances to fight for the world title. But I would say maybe two cycles, maybe. Of course now I concentrate on this one and again, I'm very happy with the improvement of my shape, both physical... I mean I made a lot of work after the Olympiad so my physical shape, on chess, on psychology, I filled the team already, which is working now, so I think things are really improving. My play improved very significantly since [the] summer, and I think I'm on the right way. Now the most important thing is to keep this form and to improve a little bit still. I still need a little bit more improvement if I want to win the Candidates tournament. I understand I am not the main favourite, probably the main favourite is Magnus, but maybe it's even better because there is less psychological pressure. If I play like I played here I'm confident, I have chances.

 

Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of ChessVibes.com, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.

Chess.com

Comments

harvey's picture

Kramnic is both a very nice guy and an absolute top player. As he says hinself, he certainly has good chances to take the title.

Jan Birk's picture

Being Norwegian it is easy to cheer on Magnus but I must admit that if anyone else should win the candidates I hope it is Kramik. He is funny, plays excellent chess and you have seen that he and Magnus are basically equal in many of their games. They respect each other and Magnus will have many more years - so I would not mind if Kramnik finally became the WC!

Chris's picture

Aronian and Radjabov are before Kramnik in the line.

simaginfan's picture

Wonderful interview. Kramnik is by a distance the best modern player to listen to when he talks about chess. Also peole overlook that he is a really outstanding player. Lets hope he gets the gods on his side. Top bloke.

Born's picture

I don't think anyone ever overlooked Kramnik

Jambow's picture

He has become impressive again as a threat and he really probably played the best chess in London in all honesty.I think Stylistically he matches up well with Magnus so we will see.

I agree too his game with Nakamura was well played as he is not known for winning with black even if it is a bit of a trend with him these days.

I always think Kramnik is straight forward and yet not obnoxious.

Thomas's picture

I wouldn't even emphasize too much that Kramnik had black against Nakamura: from a certain moment onwards color doesn't matter any more, and formally that point was reached early in the game when Nakamura lost a tempo with (6.Qe2, then) 12.Qc2.

It may be more a psychological issue about "wanting to win with black"- not against Nakamura, for two reasons: Kramnik remembered their Olympiad game and his subsequent play was rather risk-free (playing for two results). His black win against Shirov in Wijk aan Zee may be a better example:
http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1604453
Vlad's home analysis finished with perpetual check, making him happy enough. Then over the board he "suddenly" realized that he can aim for more - which at least didn't look risk-free as he was a rook down.

Yet another story is getting winning chances with black if the opponent is happy with a draw - cf. Adams-Kramnik (not just in a Berlin, also in many other opening variations).

regondi's picture

Yes, I was thinking just the same thing. Kramnik says it how it is without any arrogance or disparagement of his colleagues.

Jambow's picture

Oh yes he has a great sense of humor too but its often missed.

S3's picture

As is his irony.

Solomon Francis's picture

I am from Chennai, India and have been an Anand fan for a long time. However, one can't help but admire Kramnik.

Kramnik's sense of humor, ability to explain chess in terms I can understand, transparency of his own chances to win the title, make him a very likable player.

If Anand had to lose the W.C. I would be ok if it was Kramnik that took the title.

eric's picture

I was thinking of Levon for the next WC. I love Magnus, but I thought, "OK, he has plenty of time"! Then Levon started to surprise me. Now I think Vlad deserves to get back the title when you look at top 10 (of course Magnus would be great too). Vlad changed his style a little bit after losing to Anand. He fixed some problems, got more tactical etc. And his performance was amazing in London. So, I hope he keeps his form in candidates too!

Kwirin's picture

Very very nice and enjoyable interview. Kudos to chessvibes! Please bring in some more...

Anonymous's picture

" I'm quite optimistic that in the Candidates tournament in London in March, well, if I managed to keep and if I get a little bit more luck, let's say somebody will blunder against me [smiles], I have some chances to compete with him, I believe so."

hehehe

Greco's picture

Reality Check!

Anonymous's picture

Vlad's warm and competitive personality really shines through the interview. I especially like the format where the questions are silently shown between responses.

Lee's picture

Easily one of the best communicators at the top of world chess and as always, a pleasure to listen to.

Either he or Carlsen is my pick to win the candidates (for which I can hardly wait!).

Anonymous's picture

Great interview....much thanks.

saji's picture

informative interview. Expect more from chessvibes

saji's picture

informative interview. Expect more from chessvibes

columbo's picture

Kramnik is one of my favorite player too, but it seems that Magnus has wings these days. Another player to watch is Radjabov ! I wouldn't be surprised if he winds the candidates, as strange as it might sound

Chess Fan's picture

I agree with your excellent comments.

RealityCheck's picture

Viva Chessvibes!

RealityCheck's picture

Some ammo for those cheering for someone other than the Elo rating favorite during the Candidates matches next year.

The chessgames.com list of "overall winning percentages" of the contestants starting at the top:

WC Anand. 62,3 %

Kramnik. 61,9 % Grischuk. 60,3 %
Ivanchuk. 61,7 % Svidler. 59,9 %
Aronian. 61,5 % Radjabov. 59,2 %
Carlsen. 61.0 % Gelfand. 57,0 %

redivivo's picture

Anand's winning percentage the last four-five years is 0.3 though :-)

Thomas's picture

Making claims based on such statistics is rather silly. First, Anand's and anyone else's "winning percentages are actually scoring percentages - for Vishy 62.3% corresponds to +614=903-193. Second, they span variably long periods, and Anand's rising star period obviously spans a smaller part of his entire career than Carlsen's. For Anand it's 1984-2012, he entered the top10 in July 1991. For Kramnik it's also 1984-2012 (top 10 since January 1993). For Carlsen it obviously isn't 1984-2012 :) but starts in 2000 (top10 since April 2008).

One last time: when redivivo writes "last years" (now specifying last 4-5 years) about Anand, he has the last 1 1/2 years in mind - anything after Wijk aan Zee 2011 (8.5/13). Last 5 years would also include Linares 2008 (8.5/14 in a pretty strong field).

redivivo's picture

"Last 5 years would also include Linares 2008 (8.5/14 in a pretty strong field)."

Yes, it was 4 years and 10 months since that one, so if that is included depends on if one counts 4-5 as more or less than 4 years and 10 months. In that time Anand's tournament winning percentage has been 0 though, while Carlsen has won 15 tournaments in a shorter time than that.

Career scoring percentage of course means little when comparing current strength, I think the last years are of greater significance than how Carlsen did in Corus 2007 or Anand in Linares 2008, or how the players did decades before that. Much has changed since then not only with regards to Carlsen and Anand.

MW's picture

"Overall winning percentage" is a fairly meaningless statistic that doesn't take the strength of the opposition into account (among other things.)

Failipino's picture

GM Wesley So would've been the favourite,
"overall winning percentage" 64.0 %

Biggest favourite: Life Master A J Goldsby, 79.9 %

monte44's picture

I've had 100% against my father.

Chessguy's picture

Let's just settle on the following, okay? Kramnik is a fantastic player, Carlsen is a fantastic player, Anand is a fantastic player, and there are other great players, too. But the most fantastic thing is, if these players meet and play fantastic games which we then can enjoy, isn't it :-) ? Live and let live, please!

Leo's picture

Hear, hear!

KING's picture

Rewind 2 or 3 years back. Kramnik was called the Draw-master infact he was like how Anand is now. He rethought everything and refreshed his style of play which is so nice to see at this age. Hope Anand does the same. I am sure by his own words he is just tired of his play

RG13's picture

It is good to hear someone of the stature of Kramnik put Carlsen's superlative rating result into perspective; although he may have the talent to eventually get it done, Carlsen still hasn't equalled the dominance of Fischer or Kasparov.

"It's clear that there is a little bit of inflation and I would still think Kasparov's 2851 in that time was a little bit more, probably, taking into consideration inflation, than Magnus is, I don't know, 2860, 2870, whatever he has now [smiles]. But of course it's a big achievement, it's a great achievement anyway."

redivivo's picture

"Carlsen still hasn't equalled the dominance of Fischer or Kasparov"

Shame on him! :-)

S3's picture

Comparing with the time of Kasparov's rating record in 1999, the top 100 has on average 2,5 % higher rating. IF that is considered to be due to inflation Kasparov's adjusted rating record should be around 2922 by now.
I prefer Kramniks method though as he just looks at the level of play to put things in perspective and not to silly numbers. And like he said, it's a great achievement anyway.

Tom Servo's picture

I love his personality. He seems kind and also full of life. I think his chess ranks ahead of Fischer in the all time list.

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