16.09.2007 Three Questions to Grandmasters

Shortly before the start of the World Championship Tournament in Mexico, we asked grandmasters of several generations three questions:

1. What competition for the World Champion title do you remember most of all?
2. What system of determining the World Champion do you prefer?
3. Who do you think will win in Mexico?

41 grandmasters answered: 31 men, 10 women, all their answers follow:

Alexei Bezgodov

1. I distinguish all the matches Karpov – Kasparov by their advanced ideas. Young players should study their games deeply to improve their play drastically.

2. A system does not matter. The strongest player will win in any case. It is a level of preparation that counts. Everybody is in the same conditions.

3. Kramnik is the world best for the present. A gap between him and other players is more that may seem at first glance.

Liudmila Belavenets

1. The first match Botvinnik – Smyslov. It was in the Chaikovsky Concert Hall, demonstration boards were set in the streets. I never saw such tremendous spectators' enthusiasm later.

2. Matches.

3. Anand is a favourite. I wish success to Morozevich.

Nikita Vitiugov

1. The Karpov – Kasparov match, Sevilla 1987. There was incredible tension during the whole match and a twirled intrigue – in the 23rd game Karpov pulls out a win but the overall victory escapes from him. The last game played by Kasparov rather in 'Karpov's' style brings him success. It is a good example how to act in a situation when everything depends on a single game.

2. The match system, to my mind, makes chess a one-to-one struggle with the main principle "don't do it good, do it better than your opponent" or something like that. On the other side, there are world championship finales in all sports where not 10, 8 or 4 but only two teams play. The tournament system has its advantages: it is rather spectacular, colourful, but the very idea of the world championship somewhat blurs in this diversity. I like match better.

3. It is an interesting tournament with strong players, we shall surely see fascinating games. Still it is unclear for me what is at the stake? As I understand, the winner will play a match (against Kramnik) for the right to play a match for the title. So, in fact it is a quarterfinal in Mexico. The very word 'quarter' calms down mental trembling caused by expectations. My prediction: Anand wins, Svidler and Kramnik in the top three I hope.

Stanislav Voitsekhovsky

1. The first match Karpov – Kasparov. It was a blazing creativity fight of the two antipodes.

2. A match.

3. Kramnik.

Sergey Volkov

1. The first match Karpov – Kasparov: the utmost strain of the struggle.

2. I have no single opinion. Any system must be thought over, arranged and observed regardless of persons and circumstances. The rules must be clear and stabilized, they must not be changed during a cycle.

3. Anand has better chances because of his higher motivation. Kramnik has better chances for the second place.

Alisa Galliamova

1. All the series of Karpov – Kasparov matches. The enormously interesting event for me, a youthful chessplayer then.

2. The old system: an interzonal tournament, candidates matches, a match for the title.

3. Kramnik, Anand.

Vladimir Dobrov

1. Spassky – Fischer. The match abounded in mistakes.

2. A knock-out qualifier. Then a tournament of eight, the world champion personally admitted. Fischer time control, no intermediate controls.

3. Kramnik. But I am Grischuk's fan.

Sergey Dolmatov

1. Kasparov – Karpov, Sevilla 1987. I was Kasparov's second there and saw all the strain from within. The most bright reminiscence is evening the score by Kasparov in the last game.

2. A match undoubtedly.

3. Kramnik and Anand have better chances, I am Kramnik's fan.

Denis Yevseev

1. All Karpov – Kasparov matches. A great struggle of the two great chessplayers of opposite styles and tempers.

2. Match tournament.

3. Anand is a favourite. Leko and Kramnik have good chances.

Sergey Zagrebelny

1. Spassky – Fischer. Unexpected and unique beginning of the match. Kramnik – Topalov remembered for the scandal.

2. Matches. The knock-out system is acceptable too.

3. Kramnik, Anand.

Igor Zaitsev

1. As a spectator, I was impressed most by the match between Boris Spassky and Robert Fischer in Reykjavik 1972. Of course, great non-chess passions boiled around the match, but we knew that the two geniuses were fighting fully devoted to art. Almost every further match with Tigran Petrosian, Viktor Korchnoi, Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov I observed from within as a trainer. So I lacked some idleness for perceiving them joyfully. And they did not merely stick to my memory but rather became engraved in it by their responsibility and hard working.

2. In principle, I like matches better (though without humiliating tie-breaks) for they reveal one's superiority more distinctly. But now, when an organizational disorder prevails in our chess kingdom that prevents from revealing a real candidate, a solid double round robin seems more expedient. However, since qualification rules are changing constantly, I am disappointed that Vassily Ivanchuk and Veselin Topalov are absent in the tournament. Public opinion is on the side of these creative persons, and their inclusion would be only useful for chess art. But today's FIDE seems to be exclusively and irrevocably only a sport-and-commerce structure.

3. As the Mexican tournament is still a historically significant event, the one will probably win who is destined for it. Consequently, it might turn out a player who, as compared to others, would mostly care of quality of his play, not of the result.

Igor Zakharevich

1. Karpov – Kasparov matches, second to fourth. Brilliant matches, the summit of chess. Nothing can be better.

2. A match.

3. No forecast.

Elena Zaiatz

1. The first match Karpov – Kasparov. I attended it. Great spectators' interest was astounding.

2. A match.

3. Forcasting is the ungrateful thing.

Alexander Zlochevskij

1. Capablanca – Alekhine. Interesting games of different style chessplayers: The classic of positional play against the brilliant master of attack. Spassky – Fischer.

2. A match is more interesting.

3. Real stars will play. It is impossible to predict the outcome.

Sergey Ivanov

1. All the series of Karpov – Kasparov matches. They pushed forward development of chess, tremendous layers of new ideas have been risen, basis of computer preparations in openings has been laid.

2. A match.

3. Favourites: Anand, Kramnik.

Artem Iljin

1. Topalov – Kramnik: high passions and uncompromising struggle.

2. Candidates match tournament, then match against a present world champion.

3. Kramnik, Anand and Leko have good chances to win. But nobody can be thrown off.

Sergey Ionov

1. Petrosian – Spassky 1969. It was the first big competition in my life. Simultaneously, I was playing a match for our family champion title against my father.

2. For the present, I think, a tournament is more interesting to spectators.

3. No answer.

Ekaterina Kovalevskaya

1. I must think, cannot answer at once.

2. A match.

3. Aronian is the favourite. I am a fan of Grischuk and Svidler.

Ekaterina Korbut

1. The first match Karpov – Kasparov, remembered for psychological stability of Kasparov who managed to keep his ground after 0-5 and to turn the match flow in his favour. Topalov – Kramnik: a hard psychological struggle.

2. A match tournament of eight, as in Mexico.

3. No predictions, I wish Grischuk to win.

Alexandra Kosteniuk

1. I could not be a witness of historical matches of Botvinnik or Spassky – Fischer 1972. Even during Karpov – Kasparov matches I was too little girl. So only several years later I began to study these games in books. All the world championships I observed 'alive' were not so interesting already. Lacking clear system of determining the world champion, the title has lost its weight.

2. Chess is a sport. So, regardless of the system, only the winner will be happy. Nevertheless, it is obvious that two-game matches in the knock-out system must not be the way to decide the title. Of course, in the modern world the previous 3-year system seems too long. It must be a two-year cycle. The present system offered by FIDE seems attractive to me. Topalov's admittance into the final stage leaves some questions, of course. I hope this system will live and there will be no such strange admittances next time. I think that in the end of any system there must be a match of two players consisting at least of six games. To say in addition: watching endless changing of the men's world championship system I see with bitterness that not a word is said about women's championship. The knock-out system is functioning, moreover, a new world championship is announced only two months beforehand, making preparation to this important event an illusion.

3. I will be a fan of Russian chessplayers in Mexico. I would call Kramnik, Anand and Leko favourites. Much if not all will depend on start rounds.

Svetlana Matveeva

1. Karpov – Kasparov, Sevilla, remembered for its tremendous tension.

2. A match tournament is more interesting and spectacular, though a match is more objective in revealing the strongest player.

3. To my mind, Kramnik has best chances. Morozevich and Grischuk may present pleasant suprises.

Alexander Panchenko

1. Spassky – Fischer. Boris Vasilievich played with great power then. I believe the match the best in history by its quality and content. They struggled to the last opportunity in each game. Also, Capablanca – Alekhine and Karpov – Korchnoi, Baguio 1978.

2. A match.

3. Somebody of younger players.

Evgeny Pigusov

1. Kasparov – Anand. I was a trainer in Kasparov's team at the match.

2. A match. There is a casual element in a tournament.

3. No answer.

Vladimir Rogovski

1. All Karpov – Kasparov matches: a struggle of blazing personalities.

2. A match.

3. Kramnik.

Evgeny Sveshnikov

1. All Karpov's matches. Especially the second match Karpov – Kasparov where I was Karpov's assistant. Petrosian – Spassky matches were very interesting.

2. In my opinion, world championships must be held every year: a match one year, a match tournament next year. World championships in rapid chess and blitz must be separate events. To keep priority of classic chess there must not be grandmaster titles in rapid chess, ratings must be calculated separately.

3. No forecast.

Tatiana Stepovaia

1. Kasparov – Short.

2. A match tournament is more interesting and spectacular.

3. No predictions. I wish success to Russians.

Artyom Timofeev

1. Karpov – Kasparov 1985, remembered for its very high quality games.

2. A match tournament is more interesting.

3. Kramnik.

Mikhail Ulibin

1. Karpov – Kasparov matches. A titanic struggle between great chessplayers, incredible persistence and strain.

2. The best system to my mind is: a tournament of eight as in Mexico this time, then a match for the title between the two winners.

3. Somebody of the four: Kramnik, Anand, Aronian or Morozevich.

Alexei Fedorov

1. Kasparov – Anand: unexpected course of the match. Equal play in the first half, full domination by Kasparov in the end.

2. A match is somewhat boring. The knock-out system has more interest and intrigue.

3. I believe Anand the favourite but I am Grischuk's fan.

Valerij Filippov

1. The first match Karpov – Kasparov, remembered for strained struggle. Kasparov managed to gather himself up in the crucial situation (0-5).

2. A match.

3. Anand's chances are preferable.

Andrei Kharitonov

1. Kasparov – Karpov, New York. I was Karpov's second at the match. Spassky – Fischer, 1972. I was a 13-year old boy then and I was playing in the boys' championship of Russia. Once before the start of play all participants were informed that Spassky had won the 11th game – we applauded.

2. Candidates matches with 7 hour time control, then a match for the title, 12 games at least. The world champion title must not be determined in rapid chess.

3. No prediction.

Andrei Kharlov

1. Kasparov – Kramnik. I was a trainer in Kasparov's team.

2. Matches became obsolete. The number of strong players increased, rate of living accelerated. A tournament is more interesting.

3. Younger players will have advantage. I think Grischuk and Leko are favourites.

Vitaly Tseshkovsky

1. Botvinnik – Tal, 1960. I attended it in passing to the championship of Russia for schoolchildren. The impression was great. Music Hall was overcrowded, all spectators used pocket chess. The match was interesting by its struggle and content.

2. It would be ideal to leave it as it was: interzonal tournaments, candidate matches, a match for the champion title. A new clear and harmonious system of the world championship is not formed yet. The present system lacks just qualifying.

3. I cannot prefer anybody.

Oleg Chernikov

1. The first match Botvinnik – Tal. I saw it myself, it was quite interesting. Chessplayers of two generations were playing, a genius against practicism.

2. A match for the champion title of 12-16 games.

3. Anand.

Valery Chekhov

1. The first match Karpov – Kasparov.

2. A match is more just.

3. Aronian and Leko are favourites, to my mind.

Tatiana Shadrina

1. The first match Karpov – Kasparov, very interesting from psychological point of view.

2. A match tournament. The knock-out system is good for qualifying.

3. Kramnik has better chances.

Sergey Shipov

1. Spassky – Fischer: the richest chess content and enormous public agiotage. Capablanca – Alekhine: the battle of historic titans.

2. A match tournament. I believe the system most interesting and perspective.

3. Aronian will win.

Tatiana Shumiakina

1. Karpov – Kasparov, the first and the second matches. Remembered for fascinating struggle and huge public interest.

2. A match.

3. No predictions. I wish success to Russian players: Morozevich, Grischuk and Svidler.

Ruslan Scherbakov

1. Karpov – Kasparov matches, the first one and Sevilla, the most interesting for me as a spectator.

2. A double round robin, eight players.

3. No predictions.

Valeri Yandemirov

1. The first match Karpov – Kasparov. I was working at the match and saw it alive, stage and behind the scenes. It was creative and sport struggle of the two absolutely different chessplayers.

2. A match reveals the strongest player objectively, though to watch the tournament is more interesting.

3. I see no clear favourite.

Sergey Janovsky

1. The first match Karpov – Kasparov, interesting and dramatic. Different creative styles, huge internal tension.

2. A match is more interesting.

3. Much will depend on accidents. Anand's chances are preferable, he is highly motivated and is in excellent condition.

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