After Magnus Carlsen only survived his first round Tal Memorial game against Kramnik by finding a study-like draw, Kramnik couldn’t resist the temptation to tease Kasparov a little.
Kramnik was quoted in a Chesspro report as saying (originally posted here):
After the opening I had a good position – Magnus’ trainer had clearly not done enough work. The Nimzovitsch with Qc2 is one of Kasparov’s favourite systems; clearly, they’d worked on it together, but badly. At a few points I could have forced a draw, but I didn’t want to. I could have picked up the pawn on g2, but that’s a draw, probably, and in the end we got a position that was unpleasant for him. Perhaps I needed to play more subtly, not allow him to regroup. He somehow managed to transfer the bishop to c3 when otherwise it would have been very unpleasant. After that it seemed to me that he was holding on, but something possessed him and he played e4 when he needed to play a4 and Ra3. Of course then I’d still be applying pressure, but a win would be unlikely. After something possessed him he already had a difficult position. But Magnus defended stubbornly. I probably let him escape in time trouble when I could have played stronger moves.
After the time control, on move 41, I sat down to look for a win but couldn’t find one, so I decided to make a draw. And then, unexpectedly, he started to play for a win. Complete madness! His position was worse, you had to pray for a draw by a tempo. I thought – maybe I’m wrong? But then he told me that he really was playing for a win. I probably had a win, but I relaxed, considering that after I took on c3 it was completely won and my pawns would queen. And then he began to create some sort of studies, some mate threats. He made a miraculous draw.
It’s funny, but in our analysis we couldn’t immediately find a way to win, though it seems as though the position’s completely won. Starting from the 42nd move he made only moves, but the position, it seems, was holding. Though at a certain point I’d already chalked myself up a point on the score table.
This picture of Kramnik’s comments was slightly altered by Vasiliev’s report at Sports Express (originally posted here). He says Kramnik came out to talk to a group of journalists, so I don’t think there were private interviews.
Mainly it’s exactly the same wording as in the Chesspro piece with a few extra details e.g. after e4 Kramnik says:
I don’t know why he did it, perhaps he simply underestimated 34…f5. After that mistake he has a very tough position. But Magnus played excellently, and – tempo by tempo! – managed to defend and almost make a draw.
But the significant difference is that at the start of his comments Kramnik said Carlsen hadn’t done enough work on the opening, not Kasparov. In this version it was only Vasiliev who asked, after Kramnik’s assessment of the whole game, if Kramnik had been aware of Kasparov being behind Carlsen and maybe had chosen the line for that reason. Only then does Kramnik say that it’s a favourite line of Kasparov’s and that Carlsen and Kasparov must have worked on it, “but badly”. After that he left, smiling.
So in that version he’s provoked into mentioning Kasparov, and its clearly tongue-in-cheek.
One little snippet worth adding. In the Chesspro report there’s an Ivanchuk moment:
All the players were given a book, “Studies for the Practical Player”, at the opening ceremony. The next day, after Ivanchuk commented on his first round game with Anand, he turned to Mark Dvoretsky, one of the co-authors, to say he was up until the early hours reading the book! He said he really liked it and then went on to show how he refuted a Kasparyan study when he was 17 years old…