Anatoly Karpov, former World Chess Champion and candidate for the post of FIDE President, is proposing switching the Candidates Matches from Kazan, Russia, to the Ukrainian capital of Kiev.
The proposal came in an interview Karpov gave to “Tatar-Inform” while he was guest of honour at a children’s chess tournament in the exotic location of Naberezhnye Chelny, which in Russian literally means “riverside boats”. Naberezhnye Chelny is the second city of the Russian Republic of Tatarstan. For anyone scratching their heads… it’s better known in chess of late for its first city, Kazan, where, as previously reported, FIDE has decided to hold the 2011 Candidates Matches.
Asked to comment on FIDE’s decision to move the matches from Baku to Kazan, Karpov had this to say:
The situation is very complex, very fraught. At some point at the beginning of July the President of the International Chess Federation, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, announced that he’d reached an agreement with all the participants to hold the Candidates Matches in Azerbaijan. A rebuttal from the Armenian Chess Federation followed immediately, and one of the leaders on the world rating list, Levon Aronian, said he’d never agree to play in Baku. It was stalemate. Next there followed the proposal to hold the tournament in Kazan. It seemed as though that would suit everyone, but there were still a few unresolved issues. According to the existing system the host country for the tournament has the right to pick one extra player who didn’t get through the qualifying stages. That’s no longer going to be taken into account. The additional representative of Azerbaijan, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, has retained his place in the Candidates Tournament, while Russia hasn’t been given the right to put forward another participant, as if we didn’t have enough strong grandmasters. Which is not the case. Off the top of my head I can name a long list of chess players who could lay claim to playing in Kazan. There’s Alexander Grischuk and Dmitry Jakovenko, and so on. There’s another problem in that after the World Championship match in Elista between Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria and Vladimir Kramnik of Russia the Bulgarian has declared his unwillingness to play in Russia. And he is, by the way, one of the main contenders for the World Title. That’s not aimed against Kazan or Tatarstan, but a decision taken on principle by Topalov.
After conferring with my team we’ve taken the decision to put forward a proposal to move the Candidates Matches to Ukraine, to Kiev. That would allow the Ukrainians to choose one of their strong grandmasters, for example ex-World Champion Ruslan Ponomariov, who recently won the International Super-Tournament in Dortmund in brilliant style. Please don’t take our proposal as having anything against Tatarstan, as we’d be happy to accommodate future proposals by your republic to run tournaments here. It’s just that right now Ukraine looks like the optimal way of getting out of this stalemate.
Perhaps the choice of Ukraine can also be explained by the President of the Ukrainian Chess Federation, Viktor Kapustin, being on the Karpov ticket.
During the same visit Karpov also talked to Alexandra Dorfman of the local weekly newspaper, “Novaya Nedelya”. The interview begins, understandably, with a question about the campaign for the FIDE Presidency:
You’re standing for the post of President of the International Chess Federation (FIDE). Your main opponent will be the incumbent President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. How do you rate your chances?
It’s possible there’ll only be one candidate left for the post. Of course, if that’s the decision of the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne. At the moment there are grounds for such a verdict as my opponents didn’t meet the requirements for putting together their paperwork. In general, a lot of intrigue has built up around the election. But my team is running a large-scale advertising campaign to promote its program of developing world chess.
While it would be hard to compete with Ilyumzhinov when it comes to weird and wonderful interviews, Anatoly Karpov does have a tendency to produce surprising figures that make you stop to wonder when he worked it all out:
In chess I’ve set many records, starting with having played in 11 World Championships. And if you count from the opening to the closing ceremonies, then I’ve spent 766 days in the struggle for the World Championship title! And, by the way, I was World Champion as many as 16 times! Eight times, individually, and eight times as part of a team. That’s an absolute record, not only in chess.
The interview ends with a rare glimpse into the ex-champion’s family life, as an important figure comes out in support of his candidacy:
Anatoly Evgenyevich, and does your daughter play chess?
Not with any great enthusiasm, but she plays. My son’s now 30, and my daughter, 11. They both play at an amateur level, though I wasn’t the one who taught them. By the way, my son is seriously involved with computer graphics. And my daughter still hasn’t decided, but, despite her age, she’s very ambitious and independent. My wife and I don’t go near her school bag, never mind her diary!
You’re carrying out a huge amount of public work. Don’t you want to devote a bit more time to your family?
You know, my wife and I saw our daughter in a whole new light recently, in many ways thanks to my work. At one point my wife started to hint that she doesn’t see me at home at all. That, perhaps, there’s no point in all these public obligations? My daughter heard and became indignant that we hadn’t discussed it with her. She wouldn’t calm down until she talked to me. In the morning I was getting ready to go out to work when she caught up with me: “Daddy! I need to express my opinion”. I stopped. She looked at me: “You know, in my opinion, you need to become FIDE President…”