Peter Svidler describes how Kramnik’s approach to opening preparation is not his thing, while Alexei Shirov sums up the top 5 players.
Originally posted here.
In a recent interview at Chesspro, Svidler was asked to give his impressions of Kramnik’s opening preparation (after being a second for the Leko match).
It’s not my thing, and it never was. I’d have approached it differently. It’s not for me to judge Vladimir, but it’s not only my point of view: in his desire to solve chess like a mathematical puzzle he sometimes forgets, in my opinion, how good he is as a practical player.
And it doesn’t always work in his favour. When you set yourself the task, to put it crudely, of not making a single move of your own at the board, and then you’re forced to make moves, it becomes harder to make decisions. As much as I respect Leko, if the match preparation had involved less attention to forced draws with black and a small plus with white, and Kramnik had been able to come to the match in good playing form… Vladimir as a player is simply stronger.
I’ve always been a practical player, so for me there’s never been a choice. Of course, if I was in a similar situation I’d also prepare, because I’ve had, have and will always have opening problems which I need to solve, otherwise the world championship match would be over before it even began. However, I’ve always placed my own emphasis on practical chess.
You can see, perhaps, a similar point being made in Shirov’s terse description of Kramnik when he’s asked to sum up the top 5 players (in a Crestbook question and answer session):
Topalov – In Veselin’s play you can see enormous self-sacrifice: a continual striving to do as well as he possibly can.
Anand – The most profound sense of dynamics: the fastest and most accurate calculation.
Aronian – The most successful of the highly aggressive players. He achieves that thanks to his rare intuition in the sharpest positions.
Carlsen – A very well-rounded player with a brilliant feel for the endgame. You never know in what key he’s going to carry out the struggle.
Kramnik – The strongest analyst.