Can over the board rivals, victors and the vanquished, come together for a common cause? Will the former and current World Chess champions discuss, dissect and diagnose possibilities for an ongoing World Chess Championship match? Incredible or unbelievable as it sounds, two former World champions and rivals of Anand -
- Garry Kasparov who defeated him in the PCA World Championship final match in 1995 and Vladimir Kramnik whom he beat in the World title match at Bonn in 2008 -- connected, consulted and conspired together to bring about the downfall of Veselin Topalov in the high intensity clash which got over last week in Sofia, Bulgaria, Topalov's home country.
"It has never before happened in the history of any World Championship match. At least I can't recall nor have I heard such stories," said reigning World Champion Viswanathan Anand who said he was delighted with the assistance offered by Kasparov and Kramnik.
Even current World No 1 Magnus Carlsen of Norway had pitched in. Carlsen had worked briefly with Anand before for the Mexico and the Bonn World Championships but after ruling the ELO rating list, Anand wasn't sure whether Carlsen would be working with him. But sometime in March, Carlsen got in touch with him and offered to help for a couple of days. Basically, Anand worked with Carlsen more as a sparring partner, a real versatile one at that, more so in blitz games.
The second person to call was Garry Kasparov who said he wanted to help a bit, and Anand and his team sent him a general plan of what they intended to play. Incidentally, it was Kasparov who okayed the Catalan Opening with whites for Anand and this had resulted in victories in the second and fourth game of the match. "It was nice to get some tips, suggestions and psychological insights from Garry," said Anand.
The third was Kramnik who got in touch with Anand after the fourth game of the match. Thereafter the duo spoke almost everyday with Kramnik. The Russian GM's shadow could be seen lurking on the matches with Anand playing all the openings and defences which Kramnik had effectively used against Topalov in 2006.
"I have been publicly rooting for Anand for two reasons, I have a personal equation with Anand and secondly, Vishy is a better chess player. Topalov is a strong player but not on the same level with Vishy chess wise. So I saw no reason not to help Anand," Kramnik told MiD DAY.
Vladimir Kramnik. Pics/Getty Images
On a day of revelations, yesterday, Topalov confirmed rumours that he indeed had been using a 112-core computer cluster(Blue Gene/P) working at super speed and had spent close to 100, 000 euros to secure it. Anand, on the other hand, had just 4 to 8 core computers but his human cluster comprising of Garry Kasparov, Vladimir Kramnik and Magnus Carlsen proved that there is nothing to match the human angle.
The man responsible for bringing Vishy, Vlady and Garry together was Frederic Friedel of ChessBase.
"I have known Vishy for 23 years and it is gratifying to know that the human element has been re-introduced into chess. Since all three are good friends, individually, I thought it would be great if I could get them to work together," says Friedel.
Anand was very appreciative of Friedel's efforts. "It makes me feel privileged," says Anand and adds: "It is difficult to believe and at the same time interesting that Garry Kasparov and Vladimir Kramnik have been my rivals for so many years. The gesture from Kramnik is very special and I will treasure it. Kasparov has retired but is very busy and it was unusual chatting with him."
"Two years ago, if you had told me that one day Garry and I would be chatting and exchanging smiles, I would have laughed. After Game Eight, he gave me a lecture on opposite coloured bishop endings (Anand blundered and lost the game when he had the draw in his hands), and after game nine as well.
Vlady was actually incredibly helpful. I think he really got into it. The first day he said the only game I didn't play his openings I was blown away.
This is a boost for my morale, an incredibly high one for each is a towering personality in his own right, a historical figure and just thinking about it makes me feel privileged."