Interviews with Vladimir Kramnik and Peter Leko
How are you organizing your preparation for the match, and is it different from the 2000 preparation?
Kramnik: Rather similar in comparison with my match against Kasparov. Of course you are always ready to optimise and to adjust a bit.
How important are the computer chess programs in the preparation and
during a match?
Kramnik: On the one hand it is very important to use the computer in your team for getting a certain basic level in your preparation. On the other hand it is not good to use it all the time. In a way you have to become independent from it so as not to affect your own play. Let me put it like this: my trainers are working with the computer permanently – I do not.
In 2000, you told me that your victory against Garry Kasparov was psychological; how do you prepare psychologically for this new opponent?
Kramnik: I do not think I defeated Kasparov just because of psychological resilience. The psyche is of course an important part as in every sport especially in a World Chess Championship match. But your general understanding of chess, your preparation, your physical fitness, your mental energy, your strategic and tactical abilities are very important as well. It is complex: You have to be strong in every field to become World Champion.
Can you define your style and point out the differences between your style and Peter Leko's?
Kramnik: Our styles are a bit different because we are different personalities. But at the same time we are both universal players. In modern chess you need to adjust your play to the situation even if this is not in accordance with your style or your preferences. There is a famous saying: “It is not important whether one plays a strategic or tactical style. Nowadays it is just important to play a winning style.”
This match is supposed to be the first step towards a unification match; do you think this reunification match will occur some day and do you include this prospect in your preparation?
Kramnik: This match in the Centro Dannemann is not a step, this match is for the World Chess Championship title in accordance with the classical bloodline starting in 1886 with Wilhelm Steinitz. It is the main chess event of the year. Meanwhile the chess community is more and more aware that a possible unification will not depend on the Classical World Chess Champion alone. But please let me stop here. I have to defend my title first of all. If I am successful I will start to analyse the entire situation.
This is your first classical match for the world championship title; so how are you organizing your preparation?
Leko: I have still not finished my preparation but I am almost there. I hope I will achieve the optimum. This event is the highlight of my career irrespective of all my achievements in the past. I have been preparing specifically for about six months. For more or less two months we have been working intensively and I have done all I could. I will be ready in Brissago.
How important are the computer chess programs in the preparation and during a match?
Leko: You can analyse certain positions with the computer and you are able to develop them. In addition the machine is increasingly useful for simplifying your training. Nowadays you need this because your opponent is using the same technique. But all this should not be over-estimated. A computer is just an instrument - nothing more. You have to control the technique and not the other way round. On the highest level you still need to develop your own ideas and you should never forget to be creative. Human decisions, by creating moments of surprise, are still the most important factor in a World Chess Championship fight.
How do you prepare physically and psychologically?
Leko: I am mentally and physically strong anyway. These are important traits of my character and my nature and I do not need any special preparation in these fields. It is part of my philosophy that body and soul should be in a certain balance. I do not think that I will lose this balance during the match. Of course, at the moment I am exercising physically just to get relaxed and as a compensation for the very demanding chess training.
Could you define your style and point out the differences between your style and Vladimir Kramnik’s?
Leko: There are certainly some similarities between Kramnik and me because we are universal chess players. I think we both have a classical, positional understanding of chess and we are always looking for creativity. In my opinion Kramnik is the player with the deepest understanding of the game in the world, but like every human being: he has weaknesses as well. It is clear that he is a strong, a very strong champion but I think I will get my chances because of my own strong points.
This match is supposed to be the first step towards a unification match; do you think this unification match will occur some day and do you include this prospect in your preparation?
Leko: You know, I am challenging Kramnik, the man who defeated Kasparov convincingly and one of the strongest players ever. I need to concentrate fully on this. Anything else would not be very professional. Fortunately I have not been really involved in chess politics up to now. In general I am positive concerning a unification but I am only ready to think about that after the World Championship.
These interviews were originally done for Mr Barthélémy (Le Monde, Paris). We would like to thank Mr Barthélémy to put the interviews to our disposal.
Information for journalists:
In the opening Press Conference at Hotel Ascona, Via Collina, CH-6612 Ascona, on September 24, 3 p.m., Vladimir Kramnik and Peter Leko are at your disposal for questions.
To get further information in conjunction with previews for the Championship please have a look at the press releases, available at the official website www.worldchesschampionship.com.
The press service includes photos and logos for download in best print quality as well.
Please find attached a selection as preview.
Information about accreditation, press centre and press conferences are also available here.
Contact and further information:
Press Officer World Chess Championship
Via Ruggero Leoncavallo
Phone: +41-91-786 81 47
Fax: +41-91-786 81 49