Garry Kasparov visited the World Chess Championship match between Vishy Anand and Boris Gelfand in Moscow on Friday, and gave some typically blunt opinions in a press conference.
Selected questions from the media and answers from Kasparov are below.
A fuller version is available at the official match website, along with the video of the full press conference (in a mixture of Russian and English).
Q. You have long known both players, Anand and Gelfand. You played a world championship match with Anand. What was your assessment of this match before it started and what do you think now that it has started?
A. It is the first time in history that an official world championship match has nothing to do with the title of the world’s best player. This is because of the problems that have piled up in the competition system. But a world championship match is always preceded by thorough preparation by its participants and we can expect some serious ideas to emerge from it. But content-wise, the match is inferior to all those played since I left professional chess.
Q. Five games and five draws. Does it mean equal strength or is it just that one of the rivals is better prepared?
A. Obviously, both players are cautious. Understandably, playing against Anand, Gelfand is trying to concentrate and take care. Anand has obviously lost interest in the game, this being something for which he has always been noted. Anand is afraid to lose and Gelfand does not believe that, if he loses, he will be able to get back into the match.
Q. Do you believe that, after a string of draws, one of them should win? Like it happened in your match with Vishy after eight draws?
A. In addition to the players’ wishes, there is the law of big numbers: the probability that a mistake will be made and someone wins grows with each game. The fact that they are to play 12 games will tend to increase tension.
Q. How different is the first world championship match from all the others?
A. When I played my first match, it was in 1984. The selection process was rigorous and it was clear that it was a game against a world champion. Today, these matches are different from those played 30, 40 or 50 years ago, even in the public’s perception. Even a match of 24 games has its opening, middlegame and endgame. Here the opening might move quickly into the endgame. It would be proper to compare this match with those played recently.
Q. What would you say to playing a match against one of the competitors, Anand and Gelfand?
A. I think every professional understands that even a chess player of my class cannot just sit down and play at top level. It is not so much about your proficiency in opening; it is just that your head no longer works in the algorithm that is needed for battling successfully throughout a seven-hour game. I might still do relatively well at blitz, after a bit of preparation, but playing serious classical chess is out of the question. Besides, I am happy with the score I have with both participants. I never lost a single game to Gelfand and won nine in classic chess, and I remember exactly my score with Anand: 15 to 3.