A Mind Game In More Ways Than One...

A Mind Game In More Ways Than One...

| 19 | Chess Event Coverage

Mental preparation and the ability to perform at optimum levels whilst under stress are critically important for sportsmen and women of any discipline.  For competitors in mind games like chess, as opposed to physical sports, this mental dimension is doubly important.  Without physical demands to distract them, the mental strength required from chess grandmasters to think clearly and calmly under pressure - all the while sitting within touching distance of the enemy - is acute.

In a game like chess, achieving a psychological edge over your opponent can be a devastating blow from which your opponent cannot recover.

It's therefore not surprising that 'mind games' can occur before actual chess games have even begun, which brings us to...

Topalov versus Kamsky

Starting on 17 February, Veselin Topalov and Gata Kamsky will play an 8-game match for the right to challenge the World Champion, Viswanathan Anand for the title.  The long and tortuous negotiations that took place for the upcoming match between Topalov and Kamsky, have been - in effect - part of the match itself, and there is no question that Topalov so far has the upper hand.

Kamsky's manager - now tellingly his former manager - Alexander Chernenko, claimed to have raised a prize fund of $750,000 to host the match in neutral territory in Lvov, Ukraine, but ultimately failed to deliver on his promises.  This led to the match being delayed and moved to Sofia in Bulgaria - the only venue that could raise a reasonable prize fund with a rather more modest $250,000.  Thus Topalov gained home advantage for the contest and Kamsky was made to look foolish by his association with Chernenko.

Another 'Toiletgate' anyone?

Now, as the match draws closer, Topalov's infamous manager Silvio Danailov (pictured) has given an interview to the Bulgarian newspaper Standart, where he asserts that Topalov didn't want to play in Bulgaria because it puts him under more pressure playing at home.  He also claims that Kamsky wants to bring a Mossad agent to the match to check the venue.

With such paranoia evident before the match even starts, we can only hope that there is no off-board disturbance on the scale of the Toiletgate incident that marred the Kramnik vs Topalov WCC match.

Whatever events unfold over the 2 weeks of the match, let's all hope for some memorable games that are worthy of the occasion, and no embarrassing headlines to damage the image of chess around the world.

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