Kramnik Now Master of Chess World

By CHRIS FONTAINE, 
Associated Press Writer

LONDON (AP) - The chess world's young and reticent new king, Vladimir Kramnik, bears little resemblance to his brooding, egocentric countryman Garry Kasparov, whose crown he seized this week.
What they have in common, of course, is their supreme talent, which 25-year-old Kramnik cultivated as a former apprentice of the 37-year-old Kasparov.

Kramnik toppled his one-time mentor Thursday with a draw. It was the 13th draw in 15 games, but Kramnik had won two games. With only one more game in the match, Kasparov cannot catch up.
Newly crowned, Kramnik seemed eclipsed by the 15-year champion. The world was still more focused on what might be wrong with Kasparov than on the unerring play of Kramnik.
Before Thursday's game, American master Michael Greengard, who runs Kasparov's Web site, said he was tired of being asked about Kasparov's problems.
``I just tell everyone that aliens have stolen his brain and are going to transplant it into Elvis's body somewhere near Neptune,'' he said.
In an interview on Russia's ORT television Friday, Kramnik said Kasparov was not at his best.
``I succeeded in achieving, let us say, the right psychological mood and my chess preparation was correct, and this was very unpleasant for my opponent and so he played below his potential,'' Kramnik said.
``I am glad I succeeded in beating Kasparov,'' he said. ''... I had dreamed about becoming world champion.''
Chess fans - and Kasparov himself - have been warning for years that the Russian prodigy would someday fulfill that dream.

Kramnik, son of a sculptor and a musician, was born and grew up in the Russian city of Tuapse, on the Black Sea coast.
By the time he was 4 he was playing chess. He captured the attention of master players when he won Tuapse's adult chess tournament at age 7. Two years later he claimed his first regional Junior Championship title.
At 16, Kramnik achieved the rank of grandmaster. He exploded onto the world chess scene at the 1992 Chess Olympics in Manila, putting in a brilliant performance that helped secure a gold medal for the Russian team.
Chess masters describe Kramnik's game as a potent combination of aggressiveness and control, but the young champion criticized himself in his autobiographical book ``Kramnik: My Life and Games'' as lacking the instincts of ``a cold killer on the chess board.''

The 6-foot-4-inch Kramnik allowed himself to be bullied by the smaller Kasparov during a match in 1996, according to the book, and was so shaken afterward that he announced he no longer had any interest in chess.
Yet over the years, only Kramnik has equaled Kasparov in head-to-head play. The two had faced each other 23 times before the 2000 World Championship, battling to draws 17 times and winning three matches apiece.
With the championship now his, Kramnik faces perhaps a much greater task - filling the shoes of a man whose name has become synonymous with the game.

The lanky and bespectacled Kramnik displays none of the polish of Kasparov, a handsome and confident man with a fondness for finely tailored suits.
Kramnik already has his own Web site and he has further excited the chess world with the possibility of unifying the world chess title. The title has been split since Kasparov broke away from FIDE, the World Chess Federation, in 1993 and helped form the now-defunct Professional Chess Association.
Kramnik avoided specific comment on the issue Friday, saying he was still savoring his victory.
``I would like to do something to change the chess world for the better somehow. And one must think over very carefully how to do this,'' he said.

FIDE adopted an annual knockout tournament last year that was won by Russian grandmaster Alexander Khalifman. This year's event is scheduled for late November in New Delhi with the finals in Tehran at year's end.
While Kasparov staunchly ruled out a match against the FIDE champion, Kramnik has left the possibility tantalizingly open.

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