Vladimir Kramnik: "Chess Is a Young Man's Game"

Wednesday, 08.07.2015 12:26

In an interview with aif.ru, Vladimir Kramnik spoke about his chess, his health and his future plans, and also about political developments in the world.

Dmitry Granzev, AIF: Vladimir, you are the last Russian chess player to win the world title. That was in 2006. Was that the end of the era of our domination in chess?

Vladimir Kramnik: The Soviet chess school really had no equals. But the key word here is "Soviet". Look at the list of world champions: Mikhail Tal - Riga, Garry Kasparov - Baku, Tigran Petrosian - Armenian. If you were now to bring all players from the former Soviet Union area into the same team, it would be in the lead by a wide margin. And one more thing - do not forget that a lot of our chess professionals went abroad. They raised their level of play there. But still, I would define our position as the first among equals. The top twenty ratings today contains 6 Russians - more than the representatives of any other country.

- Number one in the ranking is now Magnus Carlsen. What explains the phenomenon of the Norwegian, who became world champion at 23? What is it which enables this boy, if you will pardon the expression, to surpass experienced grandmasters?

- In addition to talent, Magnus has the health of a racehorse and a powerful nervous system. He does not get tired, and he is incredibly stable and focused on winning. I think in the near future it is unlikely anyone will be able to compete with him. As for the age, when I won against Kasparov, I, too, was 25. In fact, chess is a game for the young. If only because after 30 years of age, a person starts suffering falling levels of testosterone - the hormone that including responsible and ability to concentrate. In this sense, Viktor Korchnoi, who at 60 has shown brilliant play, is an exception, at which one can only marvel.

- I'm not mistaken if I say that the players have admitted their helplessness against the computer? It seems that after you, there was nobody willing to fight the machine.

- I think that today this issue has lost its urgency. Man has no chance to win against the modern computer. And, by and large, a confrontation between two individuals is more interesting. I mean, a man playing against a lump of iron - so what? There is no aesthetic pleasure or emotional effect.

- Before the battle with the computer in 2006, you admitted that because of rheumatic disease, you had to take injections. What is the situation now with your health?

- It was a year when almost every day I had to take pain medication (V. Kramnik was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, which affects the spine and joints, accompanied by inflammation of the heart valves and lungs. - AIF Ed.). Fortunately, things got better. Am I healthy? They say that at 40 years, something hurts every day, but in different parts of the body (laughs). I can still get out of bed without the doctor's help. But seriously, it's all right. And, you know, the disease has given me a lot - it shook me, changed my outlook.

- Why did you move to France?

- Because I have a wife - a Frenchwoman. Marie and I met when she was working as a reporter at "Figaro". And now, eight and a half years later, I am a happy family man. We were married in the Russian Orthodox church in Paris. Our eldest daughter Daria is 6.5, and our son Vadim - 2.5. Moving to France was not some fundamental decision of principle. It was just so convenient as a family. Because I am constantly travelling to tournaments - I am not at home even six months of the year. It is possible that at the end of my career I'll be back in Russia.

- Would you come back to engage in politics or business?

- I do not exclude such a possibility. But to become a politician or a businessman - for me it is not an end in itself. It is important that what I was doing, had some meaning. In general, when the time comes to choose, I will think about where to go. But for now, I'm playing chess, which to me is still interesting.

- How do you see the political activity of your former chess opponent Garry Kasparov? It is believed by some that he criticizes the authorities for completely selfish motives...

- It's no big secret. Now he earns more than he did when he played chess. I don't see any crime in this. In politics, in principle, being unselfish is not enough. Another thing is that we completely disagree on the vision of what is happening today in the world and in Russia. In general, as far as I know Kasparov (and I have known him well for a long time and well), politics is not his metier. Politics is a team game, here it is necessary to compromise, to take into account the views of other people. As for Garry, he is quite a contentious, totalitarian person. But in general, I'm sorry that Kasparov switched to a role that does not match the scale of his personality.

- And what is your vision of what is happening in the world today?

- Frankly speaking, I am very anxious. It began as a tough fight between the western and eastern civilizations. After the war, there was a clear dominance of the West, and now there is a scrapping of the system. I think in the United States, people are aware of the beginning of the loss of power to China and potentially to Russia, India and throughout the East. And any player will tell you when trends are not in your favor, and you are heading towards defeat, it is necessary to try to muddy the waters, confuse the game - to bluff, trying to change the usual course of events. This is what is happening. In my opinion, Russia is not the main target in this game. Simply, we were on the front line. For now, Russia is probably the only country that openly tries to resist the dictates of the United States. Therefore, we are pressured. This pressure will be intensified, regardless of what is happening in Ukraine. Ukraine is just an excuse. The West does not want to give up their leading positions to the East and seems to be starting a large-scale campaign to retain its dominance. I think we should prepare for a long siege, so we do not just fall behind. And I hope that we stand our ground. A unipolar world, regardless of who is at the helm, is destructive in nature.


  


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