18 July 2015

Anatoly Karpov: I Devote Time to Chess When on Holiday from Duma

Following the match with Evgeny Sveshnikov the 12th World Champion answered the questions of Vladimir Barsky.

"Anatoly Yevgenyevich, please receive my congratulations on your match victory! Please disclose your secret to us: why exactly have you made up your mind to resort to this opening as Black against such a recognized expert in the Sicilian Defense?"
"I wanted to see what kind of resistance I could put up there! However, Sveshnikov has not played 2.c3 even once, although he is known to make use of this line on a traditional basis. In general, as no opening line is free of a definite amount of problems, the Sicilian Defense is quite a reasonable choice. In fact, I used to employ this opening on a large scale basis, i.e. the Paulsen system and sometimes the Scheveningen Variation."
"What place does chess take in your life? How often do you manage to play, to look something up?"
"In general, when the State Duma is adjourned for the holidays then I am free to devote some time to chess. By the way, my chess life will be unusually active this year. In accordance with my tradition I participate at the Cap d'Agde tournament. Let me remember, since what year has this event been up and running? Since 1994 or 1995, if my memory doesn't fail me. In general, it turned out to be quite an interesting story. The main group of this rapid tournament was named after me. When I arrived there, playing was not in my initial plans, but I was talked into it. Finally I won the tournament that bears my own name! (laughing)."

"Since then I have demonstrated excellent performance there throughout all these years. On the other hand, however, the issue of being prepared for the event is always on the agenda, since no time can be spared for it, and I am usually at a huge disadvantage in front of my opponents right from the start. There is a notable disadvantage in terms of age, preparation, and the level of confidence. Many of my opponents are young enough to be my grandchildren and, while they devote all their time to nothing else but chess, my energy is scattered towards many other aspects of life. I would run on the remainder of my energy resources to play chess, which is absolutely amazing. However, I enjoy it a lot!"

"Other than Cap d'Agde, what other events do you plan to take part in?"
"Kazakhstan is probably going to host the rapid chess tournament of the World Champions. The final lineup of players is still unknown, but almost everyone who received an invitation would give his agreement to take part. I do not know if Carlsen is going to agree or not, but Anand and Kramnik have already agreed, so we are in for quite an interesting event!"

Anatoly Yevgenyevich Karpov

"Has Evgeny Sveshnikov come up with something to surprise you during the match?"
"Well, while his choice of black openings was, in general, quite predictable, the same is not true about what he played as White. It is clear that I too was analyzing these lines of the Sicilian sometime in the past, so it cannot be said that it took me completely by surprise. Nevertheless, this proved to be a definite surprise. In general, all games have turned out to be exciting."

"Which games are you most happy about?"
"I think the fifth game is good. The third game was about “squeezing" out the advantage. As to the fourth game, Evgeny displayed a rather poor level of performance as White. The second game turned out to be very difficult. Maybe I could still have held my position together, even though it was not an easy task to accomplish. In time trouble I impulsively lashed out with 24...e5, after which the position became extremely precarious. Had I not played e6-e5, then it would have been not so easy to defend the position, but maybe still possible. Or course, I should have avoided trading the dark-squared bishops. I should have placed one rook on b8, another one on c8, and bishop on d8, creating counterplay against the c3-pawn."

"You have not played in Latvia for many years now. Do you feel comfortable there?"
"I was training a lot in Latvia during 70s and 80s. There is a wonderful forest lake there, near which my training facility used to be located. Even today people would recall the "Karpov’s little houses", which burned down for some reason some time in the past, and then were rebuilt again. What a great lake! In summer it used to be especially good there. It used to be full of fish, and then (back in the Soviet times) the fishermen somehow decided to over-fulfill the plan and the lake was literally "cleaned out." I would be interesting to know if the lake is again full of fish or not!"