There is a great interview of Boris Gelfand at www.chessvibes.com, which is required reading for anybody who is still coming down from the adrenaline buzz of the World Championship match. Probably the most interesting revelation of the interview is the fact that Garry Kasparov offered last year to help Gelfand prepare for the match. Gelfand declined the offer — he thought it was inappropriate, considering that Kasparov had worked with Anand as recently as two years ago. “For me it was unthinkable to receive help from somebody who has access to secrets of my colleagues,” Gelfand said.
I think this quote says a lot about Gelfand. Certainly there are many players who would not hesitate to accept the services of someone who might know the opponent’s secrets! Gelfand is obvious a player with a great sense of honor.
Kasparov has subsequently said some disparaging things about the match and the players in it, particularly Gelfand. He pointed out, possibly correctly but nevertheless in a very unflattering way, that Gelfand would not have qualified to play for the championship under most reasonable systems. (Gelfand is currently rated #20 in the world.) Gelfand’s rebuttal: “OK, under Garry’s system I couldn’t qualify, but he was picking the challengers.” Touché!
Gelfand is certainly not to blame for qualifying to play in the world championship match. Yes, the system was flawed, but Gelfand took the opportunity he had and earned the right to play, instead of just coasting in on his rating. Kasparov should be praising him rather than criticizing him.
Although Gelfand is too much of a gentleman to join Kasparov in the name-calling, he does make one other comment that is a classic example of how to criticize someone while on the surface saying only complimentary things:
Vishy’s response was that Kasparov should return to chess. Do you agree?
I would be very happy.
Yes. He’s a great player, probably the greatest in history, so I think he does much better playing chess rather than being outside chess.
While I do not know the people involved, I do tend to agree with the chess fans in the forum who say that Kasparov is trying too hard to rule over the chess world from a distance. If he can say that he helped the world champion, then the world championship is in some way partially “his.” But Gelfand denied him that opportunity, so instead Kasparov has to belittle the championship and say that the contestants were not worthy. At least it looks that way from here.
There’s lots of other good stuff in the interview, including a game-by-game discussion of the match. The Kasparov part is really just a small part of it. Check out the two-part interview here and here at Chess Vibes!