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Mar 15,2002

chess chess

V. Segal


A sort of concluding remarks

In letters and e-messages I am often asked whether the just completed match was, in my opinion, fixed.

No, it was not.

I used to write previously that the system when a champion himself finds money and then chooses an adversary deserves no credit and creates ground for a gerrymander. Well, I still hold this opinion, but it has no consequence that any match, played under such a system, should be fixed. So, the London match was not fixed. I would never trust Keene or Kasparov, but I believe that Vladimir Kramnik is a honest man.

Besides, the result of the match excludes a prior collusion. Garry Kasparov has a Napoleon-like nature (which does him credit as a chess player), and an assumption that he could have lost a match to his strongest opponent deliberately for some most obscure money prospects is as absurd as an idea that Napoleon Bonaparte could have lost deliberately the fight at Waterloo for the sake of his political intrigues.

Of course this is just my private opinion. There were expressed well-reasoned versions of Kasparov's intended defeat. But I don't want to believe in these versions. I also don't want to believe that we are going to become witnesses of a rematch soon. No doubt that there are many people who would be glad to see such a show, still, I suppose, in the present situation the number of those who would just throw rotten tomatoes at it's participants should be much more. I said that I would not trust Keene or Kasparov. I don't trust them as public figures, but as chess players they are both unstained. Kin was a quite solid grandmaster in his best years. Kasparov, especially at the moment of his historical defeat (though probably not the final one), deserves a particular characteristic.

In my opinion, Garry Kasparov is the greatest chess analyst of all times. Besides, he is one of the best players in the history of chess.

It's hard to compare greatest chess players of different times. The game of chess grows and changes. When speaking about the prevalence over contemporaries at the peak of their chess career, I'd give the first place to Morphy and Fischer, joined. As for Kasparov, he should occupy the third place of the podium, together with Lasker, Capablanca and Karpov. Well, and even within this classification I somehow doubt about but Kasparov's and Karpov's names. Both of them have fine records, but in their generations we can note a considerable decline of highest chess achievements. On the surface their achievements are even more impressive than results of previous Soviet champions, but we cannot leave out that in the 50-th and 60-th there were many talented and most ambitious challengers, striving for the chess Olympus, and it was extremely hard then to dominate in this world. In Kasparov's and Karpov's best years their main and practically single rivals were chess players from the previous generation: Korchnoi for Karpov, and Karpov himself for Kasparov. The number of grandmasters increased, but most of them were practical and not excessively ambitious professionals, and both great Ks were champions hors coucours. Of course this circumstance does not belittle their great practical achievements, all the more that it's no time yet to close Kasparov's biography.

About the winner.

I met Vladimir Kramnik in 1995 when he visited with me at New Jersey. This little episode would not be worth attention but for Kramnik's amazing personality which stroked me then: his extraordinary modesty, sincere friendliness and remarkable sociability. Less of all I hoped to discover such qualities in an outstanding chess player, after all, Vladimir was then already Kasparov's strongest opponent.

Years ran by, and Kramnik seemed not to justify the hopes of the world. He lost matches in which he was regarded as a definite favourite, demonstrated neither fine preparations nor special match strategy. It seemed that he should stay in the chess history as a player with an outstanding talent who showed no particular ambitions. Fortunately, this prognosis failed. Vladimir grew stronger, and his time came. In London he appeared as an absolutely new match fighter. Namely, a fighter, well prepared and purposeful.

Already before the match began I estimated Kramnik's chances as good, provided that his opening preparation was no worse than Kasparov's. Kramnik managed to prepare well, and in my opinion this was the main sensation of the match. Then, Kramnik surpassed his opponent in "simple" positions which reguire precise play, but there was no surprise in this fact. He only had to prepare thoroughly to obtain such positions regularly. For the first time since 1921 the strongest player failed to win a game in a match on such a level. Probably we can say that Vladimir Kramnik who has lost only one game for the last two years has already grown into the most impregnable player in the history of chess. Observing discussions on the ICC in the course of the match I saw how the faith of fans in Kramnik's invincibility increased with every day.

I should admit that the web polemics around the match showed that Garry Kasparov has much more fans than I could have presumed. Still, an overwhelming majority of amateurs and professionals welcome the success of Vladimir Kramnik with the traditional liking for the younger player and hopes for good changes in the chess world.

Good luck to you, Vladimir, and a happy and worthy career!

Playing chess for more mutual understanding in Europe. Press Release
Opening for White according to Kramnik" - II (English Opening)
Alexander Motyliov. "Chess has been always beautiful to me!"
Opening for Black according to Karpov.
Seagaard ChessReviews about "Mikhail Tal games 1949-1962".
Open letter of GM Valery Salov
Chess sites in Spanish
Lightning Chess
Valery Salov: Conversation with Alexander Khalifman
Valery Salov: Conversation with World Champion Xie Jun
Opening for White according to Kramnik
Gennady Nesis: The rich history of the ancient game
A. Khalifman. Opus 1, Opus 2
Puzzle (K. Mueller 2000, Original)
Alexander Baburin: Launch of Two New Chess Web

"He who fears an isolated queen's pawn should give up chess". Siegbert Tarrasch

"The most powerful weapon in chess is to have the next move"! David Bronstein.

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