Game 10: Vladimir KRAMNIK: ‘I deserved this victory’Once again everything turns upside down: the press
room saw happy Kramnik and sad and abstracted Topalov. Vladimir eagerly answered all the questions, even about
‘dead’ and ‘live’ water on his table during the previous game. Veselin would have probably preferred ignoring the
press conference, if it were not for the contract… – Vladimir, you were asked several times about spending your
last day, and I would like to ask how did you spend the last night? – The day wasn’t so good, but I had a good
night’s sleep. I said many times that I am professional. Yes, that game was not the best in my career, but this is
not a reason to get depressed. As you see, I played okay today.
– Vladimir, have you heard applause after the game? And when it was the last time you heard
applause addressed to you after your game?
– Yes, some people applauded after the game… I heard applause in Dortmund, after I defeated Leko in the last game,
and won the tournament. The crowd boos more often after my games, but sometimes they applaud, too (smiles). The
best reaction I ever heard was in Belgrade – there were more than a thousand observers, and they were giving
ovation after each game, if it was not a dull draw. I felt like in a theatre.
– What did you feel when Veselin played 24…f6?
– To be honest, this move came as a big surprise. I was dazzled: I have Qg4 and Nd7 – what to choose? Why Veselin
played this move? The tension was high, and he also makes mistakes. Yesterday I made a present to Veselin, today
the roles have changed. As for objective evaluation of the position, I think Black holds if he plays correctly – it
should be a draw.
I was so much into calculating long variations that the move f6 came as revelation. First I
thought it is some kind of trap, and spent time trying to find it. I did not find anything stunning, and proceeded
Later Veselin continued making mistakes. For example, 28…Rxd4 is another error; he had to move
the rook to e7, after which White must display some technique. After Black’s 28th move, White wins anyhow. I tried
handling the position in the most human way, avoiding any risk. In principle, I could have taken the piece by
playing f2-f3, but preferred to exchange everything and proceed to a won ending instead.
– You said the game would have ended in a draw if both sides played correctly. Had you
considered that this is your next-to-the-last White? The clock is ticking, so maybe it was time to show some
– I don’t know how to answer this question – after all, I nevertheless won the game! First, there was no immediate
draw, there was a complex position. Before the game I wanted to obtain a complex position with many pieces,
maintain the tension and wait for the opponent to make a mistake. It worked today.
– Proneness to time trouble is often considered a sign of poor form. How do you assess your
form, considering your frequent time troubles?
– Well, time trouble is a loose concept. I wasn’t in real zeintnot today. I was spending more time than Veselin,
which is natural – he selected a new setup, so I had to find the way to neutralize it. However, there was no time
trouble. I did not feel pressured.
– Veselin tries to exploit his time lead…
– Yes, he does. However, so far I have never been in a real time trouble during the match. There was some tension,
but it is normal. Poor form is shown when you have a minute for 20 moves, and I had 5 minutes for 3 moves, which is
okay. Veselin spares about half an hour by the control move, but this is his problem. For me there is no difference
whether you spare 5 or 30 minutes. Making good moves is more important. I spent more time thinking today, but my
thinking was more efficient.
– How do you assess the opponent’s strategy – trying to keep you away from the relaxation room
by making the moves fast?
– I think they just want to create uncomfortable conditions for me. Indeed, I got used to spending my time in the
relaxation room during the WCC games. There is a demonstration board, and one can keep thinking about the position;
the air is fresher, and nothing disturbs you. The opponent’s strategy aims at disrupting my rhythm. However, I have
no problem sitting quietly at the board. I don’t think such strategy is justified – there is no real reason to make
mediocre moves quickly only to disrupt my rhythm.
– Vladimir, at some point of the previous game you brought two glasses with mysterious liquid to
your table. Your position was so disgusting that I somehow associated it with dead and live water. Can you reveal
whether the liquid was the same, or different?
– This liquid is standing on the table – it’s [mineral water] Arkhyz!
– And why there were two glasses instead of one?
– I kept one in reserve. I got used to drink a lot during games. Once I forgot to take the glass with me to the
room, and filled another one just in case. Sometimes you have to think seriously, and there is no water… This is
why I brought two glasses of water.
– Do you expect an appeal against using two glasses?
– No, I think two is acceptable. If there were three glasses, the Appeals Committee would have started working…
– You won today, so your visit to a Buddhist temple was not in vain?!
– Actually I visited it the day before yesterday, and one cannot say it helped me in yesterday’s game. I hope I
deserved this victory by my play. I really hope...
– Veselin, how can you explain 24…f6?
– Just a bad blunder. There were so many pieces on board. Really, I just blundered.
– What did you overlook? Was it Nd7 or something further?
– My overlook was a bit further, but it doesn’t really matter. I think I had to take on b5, and there is nothing to
worry about. This was my initial idea, but then I decided 24…f6 being interesting, too.
– You clearly possessed the match initiative in the recent games. Maybe you became a bit
complacent, which resulted in the blunder?
– No, I don’t think so. The position was complex with many variations to consider. I wasn’t complacent; I just came
to play chess, but blundered.
– And was there any underestimation of the demoralized opponent from your side?
– I decided that 24…f6 is a more complex move compared to taking on b5. After 24…Bxb5 White has certain pressure in
the resulting endgame. I glanced at the clock, saw the opponent running behind on the clock, and decided to play
the sharpest move.