As the press conference after the semifinals was only attended by the winners we didn’t get to hear from Gata Kamsky, but he later talked to a local newspaper. As well as discussing the games he described his approach to chess, the previous match he played against Topalov, and when he intends to retire.
Gata Kamsky played some of the most enterprising and entertaining chess in the Candidates Matches in Kazan. It was no surprise that half of Sergey Shipov’s live commentary games in the quarterfinals and semifinals involved the American grandmaster:
Despite having been a whisker away from victory, he finally succumbed to Boris Gelfand in a tie-break. The day after the game he talked to Sergey Kozin for the local Evening Kazan newspaper. Kozin notes in his introduction that Kamsky, a Tatar originally named Gataulla Sabirov, was at home in Kazan, the capital city of Tatarstan. Below I’ve translated the interview in full:
I played quite well in rapid and could have won the first game. I won the third and then I was also on the verge of winning the fourth … As Topalov said after his match, if you don’t win such positions then you don’t deserve a match for the World Championship title. Fate gave me chances of winning in three games, I didn’t take them, and ended up having a goal scored against me in blitz. I was particularly upset after the last rapid game. We had a policy: make it a fight. It was possible, of course, to play for a draw with White… But we decided to play for a win in every game, regardless of whether it was rapid or classical chess. After all, the spectators were watching. I can’t play like Grischuk and Kramnik – making short draws. It’s not my style…
Blitz in chess is like penalties in football?
Anything can happen in blitz… Particularly as after the four rapid games neither of us was thinking straight! We’d made such blunders. Even Class B players would see such moves. The fact that we didn’t says a lot. It was a match of “who’ll blunder last”. It was annoying, as after all my team and I had started serious preparation as early as the end of last year, but there’s no-one to blame but myself…
Will it be hard psychologically to recover from such a loss?
It’s not the end of the world, although it’s already my third attempt to qualify after returning to chess. The first was in 2005 in Elista, when I lost a Candidates Match, again to Gelfand. In 2007, I won the World Cup, and unexpectedly I then had to play Topalov. I still think that was an unfair match… I took my revenge on Topalov, but I couldn’t against Gelfand. It seems as though the fact I didn’t play chess for eight years had its say.
Do you enjoy playing?
Of course, after all otherwise we wouldn’t play all these stressful games. You’re sitting for six hours, striving, fighting to the end… I play for the spectators. Without them who would chess be of any interest to?
What are your sporting ambitions?
Of course, the main goal is to win the World Championship title. I told myself I’d fight for that title until I’m 40. If it doesn’t work out then it doesn’t matter. In general, I’m going to quit chess when I’m 40, so the next cycle will be my last.
You’ve already quit chess once before. Do you really want to do the same thing again?
You have to understand, life is about more than chess. Mr. Fischer was my idol for a long time, and I was impressed by his approach to life, but after all, there are a lot of other interesting things I want to do…
It’s well-known that you received a legal education…
I’ve got a degree and simply need to pass an exam on practical law. But it’s entirely possible that’s not what I’ll do. I’ve got lots of other ideas. I want, for example, to pass on my chess experience to children, to open a school.
You opened a school a few years ago here, in Tatarstan…
I haven’t had any connection to it, as I’m rarely in Tatarstan. If I had some contacts I’d be happy to visit. I really like it here.
Did you ever think you’d end up playing a Candidates Match in Kazan?
I hoped back then that I’d be helped to play my match against Topalov in Kazan. Perhaps the result would have been different. It’s always unpleasant to play on your opponent’s home ground. And Kazan would have been an ideal option. After all, I beat Topalov here!
Did you feel a special relationship to you in Kazan?
People came up to me, of course, but very few, unfortunately. I was surprised in my match against Boris that my opponent had incredible moral support: from the commentators, grandmasters and even the organisers. To be honest, it unsettled me a little. I wondered: and where’s my audience? After all, I was apparently a native here, but I didn’t feel that way.
And do they support you in America?
Yes, there’s strong support there. After all, I’m a three-time champion of the country. After the win against Topalov, in particular, I received a lot of congratulations. I also sense that a lot of people support me all around the world, and they wished me success on the internet. However, that’s the same for Boris. Chess is an international game. Above all, you’re representing chess, and it’s not important if you’re Russian or American. By the way, I’d like to see a major chess tournament in Kazan. All the conditions are in place. Lately many tournaments in Europe have come to an end, so why not organize an interesting event here?
I hope you’re still be playing by that time.
Yes, I’ve still got another two or three years.