Kramnik: You know, first of all blitz – it’s just a pleasure. It’s a very interesting game. Of course, those who played in this tournament, well, for them it’ll probably be a little harder, because, after all, there’s a kind of accumulated fatigue, and blitz, it’s true, requires concentration, requires, in general, a certain energy . But today the World Blitz Championship starts, right after the Tal Memorial. And, of course, it won’t be easy. But above all for me blitz is just a great pleasure, especially when you play the strongest chess players in the world. It’s a very interesting game. I know that all the leading chess players play blitz with great enthusiasm. But blitz is a game where your control over the situation is much lower than in classical chess, so a lot depends on how you slept, again, how much energy you have that day, how your head’s working – a lot depends on that. Therefore blitz is a very unpredictable game, and that makes predictions impossible. The only thing I’m absolutely sure of is that all the participants and spectators will enjoy the games. But then last year I was very close to winning the tournament. It was only at the end that I let it slip, taking 2nd place. I’ll try, but, of course, the field’s unusually strong this year. That is, it’s not just the strongest chess players, but also blitz players, so it’s absolutely impossible to predict the result. Come along and support us. Many Russians are also playing, including Anatoly Karpov and the world champion Kosteniuk. So it’ll be a struggle and I’m hoping for a good result.
N. KALUGIN: Just time for one more question: is blitz a good training for brain boxes [literally superbrains – they’d joked early about the (false) image of chess players]?
Kramnik: No, no. Blitz is more relaxation, I’d say.
M. Glukhovsky: Training for the hand. (everyone laughs)
Kramnik: Yes, training for the hand, yes.
Kramnik made his position a little clearer in this interview he gave to Vasiliev at Sport Express:
– What are your plans for the second part of the Memorial – the World Blitz Championship?
– I love blitz and when I’m fresh I don’t play it badly at all. Last year I nearly won the blitz tournament. But this year the classical tournament took too much energy. There were a great number of tough, nerve-racking games, and the question is whether I can recover in time. We’ll see how it goes. But with all respect to the outstanding blitz players who’ve gathered here this year I came here principally for the classical part of the Memorial. And the blitz – it’s more of a show, some entertainment, and for me it’s just a supplement to the main part of the Tal Memorial.
In the same interview Vasiliev suggests that Kramnik’s 100% guaranteed to get into the candidates tournament given his lead in the ratings – which Kramnik corrects to 99%, mentioning an idiom which is the equivalent of “don’t count your chickens…”. On the Carlsen-Kasparov cooperation he says that maybe with similar help he’d have won the title earlier, and maybe Carlsen can win it at 23 instead of 27, though nothing’s guaranteed. One odd point is that Kramnik says he still hasn’t been able to get a visa to travel to London, but presumably they’ll sort that out in the next two weeks!
The final question was on the absence of Topalov and the Grand Slam series of events:
– If the Tal Memorial was part of the “Grand Slam” system you, as the winner, would automatically be invited to the final “Masters” tournament in Bilbao and there, more likely than not, you’d meet Topalov. What do you think of that prospect?
– If the Tal Memorial organisers decide they need it, then why shouldn’t they join? But it seems to me that the Moscow super tournament is already one of the most prestigious tournaments in the world, in terms of strength, organisation and financial support. Which you can’t say about the final tournament of the “Grand Slam”: the “Masters” in Bilbao this year was cut down to four players and looked like a parody of a super tournament. Besides, the whole organisation of the “Grand Slam”, it seems to me, is under the influence of Mr Danailov, and subsequently they invite “their own”. Who plays, who doesn’t play, it’s not completely objective. If they want to perform the role of a real “Grand Slam” then politics and personal bias should be set aside in favour of objective criteria. For the time being I’m sceptical about the “Grand Slam”.