GM Veselin Topalov: "It's Premature to Talk About Fighting for the World Champion Title"

Время публикации: 01.05.2013 22:34 | Последнее обновление: 30.12.2013 22:02

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Е.SUROV: Here’s a surprise for you, ladies and gentlemen! Veselin Topalov joins us live from Zug. Veselin, hello!


Е.SUROV: How long was the closing ceremony?

V. TOPALOV: It lasted for about half an hour and was just typical, normal.

E.SUROV: Was there anything interesting, let’s say special?

V. TOPALOV: The ceremony was visited by the FIDE president Kirsan Nikolaevich, one representative from Zug and one of the sponsor company Renova. As I have already mentioned, everything went just as usual.

E.SUROV: What did the winner get?

V. TOPALOV: I was awarded a big box of chocolate and a very nice cup – a crystal pawn, the only disadvantage of which is that it’s really heavy.

Е.SUROV: A crystal pawn? I guess there was nothing like that before.

V. TOPALOV: Yes, the cup is very nice, I liked it.

E.SUROV: Did you expect to show such a brilliant performance, I mean to finish with 8 points out of 11?

V. TOPALOV: I wouldn’t say the result is super-fabulous. I was expecting to finish with a good result, but +5 – taking into account the positions I was getting – that was of course much more than what I had to get. If I had lost against Ponomariov I could normally finish with +2 or +3, but what has happened in the last games was real luck.

E.SUROV: From the outsider’s viewpoint, it seemed that it went so smoothly for you at the end, that you could gain additional +2 if there were more rounds.

 V. TOPALOV: I guess that’s just an impression. For instance, at some point I was just repeating the position in today’s game and I think I even stood a bit worse. Black had a very powerful counterplay and Sergey [Karjakin] declined a draw, then he lost the thread somehow. Overall, I guess that’s just an impression.

E.SUROV: Could you tell us a bit more on your today’s encounter? There was an interesting, sharp battle, so it would be nice to hear your commentary on the game.

V. TOPALOV:  Of course, I wasn’t extremely motivated to play this game. I just wanted to play the Catalan opening solidly. Sergey, however, played 3…c5 for the first time in his life – he has never played this position before. I guess, he was doing quite well at some point, but then he played 22…Qh8 and I think this is where he lost the thread of the game. There were some good possibilities for him, he had an opportunity to grab initiative and fight for a serious advantage, but then he just fell into time trouble and eventually lost.     

E.SUROV: Veselin, recently we've heard about you mostly in connection to the Grand Prix series – this is the second tournament for you and for the second time you are finishing first. In the 1st stage you, however, shared the first place. Do you specially prepare for these tournaments? In general, what kind of schedule do you have and in which tournaments you will participate or you are going to take part in?

V.TOPALOV: I will have a lot of tournaments this year. In a week starts the tournament in Stavanger in Norway, and after it the next stage of the Grand Prix. I accepted the offer to play in Norway first of all because there wasn’t certainty that all these stages – the one that was held in Zug now and the next one, which I think will take place in Thessaloniki – would surely be held. There were no guarantees, so in order not to stay without any tournament, I agreed to play in Stavanger. So, I will be participating in three competitions in a row. The last tournament I’ve played was in Bucharest, so I think the three-month break is enough. It will be hard to play three competitions in a row, but there’s a wish to play and it is a really strong wish.

E.SUROV: Do you also have any special physical preparation? I mean it feels like you are in a good shape and at the end of the tournament you did not seem tired at all.

V.TOPALOV: To be true I have some health problems. Not that I’m having serious health issues, but I’m not in the optimal shape. I would like to be feeling better. In addition I didn’t have much time. We were in Argentina for a week, before that I was in Ireland and even before that I was in Bulgaria, so I didn’t really have time for physical preparation.

E.SUROV: Could you tell us who is helping you in your preparations? If that’s not a secret…

V.TOPALOV: Not that it’s a big secret but I prefer not to talk about that.

E.SUROV: Was any of them in Zug?

V.TOPALOV: No, none was here. Silvio arrived just for several days, but he, of course, didn’t take part in preparation. He has his own European affairs.

E.SUROV: Did your chess-colleagues congratulate you? Did anyone tell you anything special?

V.TOPALOV: In general, yes, they congratulated. But this is just one of the tournaments and it’s not as important for me, as to break into the next phase – the Candidates’ tournament.

E.SUROV: I see, but I’ll explain how it looks on the spectators’ part. If after the London stage there still were questions like what was going on with Topalov – was he back into big chess or not, now there’s absolute certainty that Topalov is back; and that in the nearest future we’re going to see him in super tournaments and fighting for the World Champion title.

V.TOPALOV: It’s still premature to talk about that. Of course, the result is notable, but the overall impression may be delusive, because the quality of the games wasn’t that high. I can’t point out a single game in which I have played well. Maybe I wasn’t that bad in the encounter against Nakamura. But still, I had an absolutely won position against Kamsky, but I didn’t win it. In general, I played worse with White in several games, so…

As regards to my coming back, I just had a break, but now I will be playing actively again. If I will perform like this in several other tournaments, then we can start talking about that, but still, even this result is not enough to consider it as a fight for the World Champion title. It’s premature to talk about that and I’m not showing a quality play yet. I think that the preparation showed by the players at the London’s Candidates’ tournament is much higher than what we’ve been showing here.

E.SUROV: Did you follow that tournament?

V.TOPALOV: Of course, I watched the games, but at that time we were in Argentina, so I couldn’t follow them move by move.

I liked the tournament [Candidates’] itself. It showed how FIDE was mistaken when it didn’t introduce the Sofia rules in Kazan as well as in Anand - Gelfand match. In general everyone did well there! This was a quite bright competition and I liked that even the games, results of which had no importance for the first place, were played till the very end, till the last pawn.

E.SUROV: We just received a message from Vladimir Tukmakov. Remember him?

V.TOPALOV: Of course, he’s my coach.

E.SUROV: Yes, he’s the captain of your team SOCAR. This is what he wrote: “I’m using this opportunity to congratulate Veselin with this brilliant achievement! Not all of the team members are pleasing with their results lately, so Veselin’s win is especially pleasant.”

V.TOPALOV: As far as I know, practically every member of the SOCAR team played here in Zug. I don’t know what kind of competition we will have in Greece in October, but I’ve been looking for the team which had real chances to fight for the first place for a long time already. I mean I don’t need just to participate and get some money for the European Club Cup, I need to fight for the first place. Eventually, I got an offer from SOCAR and I’m very glad that we managed to win the Cup in a tough fight.

E.SUROV: You mean that the motivation to fight for the prize-winning place is important for you, don’t you?

V.TOPALOV: Yes, that’s what I mean. I’m not really interested in just participating and getting money for that.

E.SUROV: How do you feel about the fact that you are not playing neither on the first, nor on the second or third board in your team?

V.TOPALOV:  We are fully democratic in that matter, because the rating decides on which board you will be playing. Even if that didn’t work like that… When I signed the contract, I wasn’t told on which board I would be playing. That was decided by the coach. Honestly, I guess my rating corresponds to the first board at the moment, but if I will be told to play on the last board, I won’t have any complains.

E.SUROV: Going back to motivation. As I see it, the main reason for your shortfall for the last few years was lack of motivation, am I right? After the match against Anand you seemed to be disappointed. Do you have enough enthusiasm now?

V.TOPALOV: Well… Even the recent result and the fourth rating in the world is far not… I mean Carlsen has almost 2900 and that’s a great difference, so I don’t think about that. Frankly speaking, my motivation is to qualify to the Candidates’ tournament through the Grand Prix in order not to play in the World Cup. That’s my modest goal.

If I won’t manage to do that through Grand Prix, then I might participate in the World Cup as well. Even though it’s a quite democratic system they have in the World Cup, it’s not advantageous for me. That’s because I’m not quite good in rapid chess, while the possibility that you will have to play tie-break is really high. That’s why I would prefer to make it clear here, in this kind of tournaments.

E.SUROV: You mentioned Carlsen’s rating and I remembered that there was a time when you also were among the players with 2800+ ELO points. Do you have a goal of improving your rating now?

V.TOPALOV: No, I don’t have that kind of idée fixe. That’s interesting when you are reaching that for the first or second time. I’ve already reached 2800+ for several times, so that’s not motivating me really. At the same time when my rating was 2812, I was world’s number 1. And now the player with such rating is only second or third. That means there’s the inflation going on. So, those are just numbers.

E.SUROV: I've just started to recall when you last played against Carlsen. I actually can’t remember where you faced him except in Bilbao.

V.TOPALOV: Last time I played against him was in Wijk aan Zee. We also played rapid and blitz in Astana. In Wijk, the assessment of my position was +3 but I managed to lose with black.

E.SUROV: How do you feel when playing against him? I mean do you have anything like the so called “Carlsen complex”?

V.TOPALOV: I don’t think anyone has that kind of a complex. Earlier, the same thing was happening with Kasparov – usually those results aren’t just accidental. He [Carlsen] achieves those results due to his good play, not because he’s just being too lucky.

E.SUROV: Recently, there has been a lot of talking about cheating and the means needed for fighting this problem. As I know, there weren’t any special measures adopted regarding that in Zug?

V.TOPALOV: Absolutely no measures were introduced here. Well, except the coach announcing before the game that we had to turn off our cells. This is a quite complex problem [cheating] and it will stay like that for a long time. It won’t be that easy to solve. In addition, fighting against it is expensive.

E.SUROV: Do you have any ideas on how to fight against cheating? It’s expensive, so what should be done?

V.TOPALOV: Personally, for me the fact that there’s Live Streaming working is already very good. That’s already great when anyone from anywhere can see what is going on in the playing hall. If any kind of a problem emerges, everyone will be able to see what’s happening and all of it will be recorded. I mean, it’s absolutely necessary that there should be a camera recording everything during the game.

That can help not only to prevent cheating. It sometimes happens that in time trouble it’s unclear if the player has touched a piece or not, if there are any witnesses or not. You can always double check when you have a camera.

[…] E.SUROV: Veselin, thank you for joining us on Chess-News. I guess this was really an outstanding achievement especially if taking into account the composition of the tournament. Would you like to add something?

V.TOPALOV: I would like to congratulate your website. It seems to me that, at the moment, it’s far the best chess website not only in the Russian language but in general among all those I know. I wish you to stay being objective and neutral, continue being what you are now.

E.SUROV: Thank you very much Veselin!


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