KARLOVICH: Dear ladies and gentlemen, we don’t have to introduce you to our new guest. Everyone knows the Ex World Chess Champion, the first board of the Russian men’s team GM Vladimir Kramnik. We would like to congratulate him on his victory in the game against GM Levon Aronian from Armenia. We are very happy and grateful to him for his time and ask him to share on his impression on his particular game and the performance of the Russian team so far in general.
KRAMNIK: As for the match so far it is clear that we are not going to lose it. I hope we will manage to win it: there is a good chance on the 4th board, I hope Jakovenko will manage to hold it. The match result will depend on Grischuk as well. Sasha is always in time trouble and always in a sharp position. But fortunately it always ends up well.
As for my game it was really surprising. It went for me quite smoothly. Levon is absolutely a great player in a fantastic shape. Of course playing white my task was to try to press him and win. But somehow it went easier for me. Levon had an uncomfortable position out of the opening. Then he missed tactics with Nxb7 or maybe he missed Qb6. I don’t know exactly. But after that it was over and I just had to calculate the variations accurately. To my surprise I manage to do it. Not like in my last two games which were disappointing, especially my game against Wang Hao, such a simple victory which I missed. This time at least I managed to rehabilitate myself and win hopefully a very important game of this match.
FONTAINE: When you sacrificed a piece, did you already understand that the position is winning?
KRAMNIK: Well I thought so, but from other point of view when you play against such a strong player, you always have doubts maybe he has some ace up his sleeve. When I sacrificed I already saw the situation with Qb6, and all this line with Rb7, Rc6, Rb8, Qb8. I did not really consider Qa8. I thought that after Qa8 I can even play only Kh1 and then B5. But then I calculated b5, the line that I played in the game was not difficult, it was quite simple. I had a feeling that after Ka5 the black’s position is already difficult. I think Rc7 is a mistake. He should have done something else but black’s position is already uncomfortable especially with a pawn on f6. If a pawn would be on f7, something could be done maybe. But f6 pawn is not a fun at all. Then everything worked out tactically.
FONTAINE: How did you prepare for the game against Aronian. You recently played a match. Of course today it is another story;
KRAMNIK: Actually we played lots of games this year: we played a match, six games, rapid games, also we played in Moscow. It is of course difficult to prepare I tried almost all what I have in my pockets against him. Fortunately I had a rest day yesterday, so I had time to find some ideas. I think I managed to make a certain pressure after the opening.
KARLOVICH: So during the rest day we were only preparing for the game. Did you have a chance to have some rest, to go sightseeing?
KRAMNIK: Before the rest day the whole Russian team went to have dinner downtown of Istanbul, we played some bowling. Nothing suspicious, we had a walk and that’s it. Olympiad is one of the toughest tournaments. When you play in a team, you should be more responsible. Plus, when you play on the 1st board, you have only strong opponents who normally participate in the top tournaments. It is like you play in Tal Memorial. The difference is that in Tal Memorial you know against who you are going to play. Here you don’t know and the time control is a bit unusual for me as well. The last time I played this time control was the Olympiad in Khanty Mansiysk. And of course it is not a secret that our goal is to try to win the Olympiad. You understand that it is a lot of pressure and responsibility. So, I have, no time for absolutely anything: no Bermuda party, no sightseeing. Just work, play, sleep, again work.
KARLOVICH: What is the atmosphere in the team? We don’t see Svidler, nor Morozevich in a team. But you are doing well so far without them as well.
KRAMNIK: You see, in the Russian team we always have good atmosphere. This is my 7th Olympiad and we have this good atmosphere all the time. We are very friendly and have good relations, but it is not obvious that it would bring to a good result. But anyhow everything is fantastic. We are supporting each other, we are giving advises and helping each other. But still you have to win and once again it is a very tough event. Till now we are doing well, but it is still early to relax.
FONTAINE: You have now a new coach Yuri Dohoyan. How is it to work with him and did anything change in the team with him?
KRAMNIK: Yuri is just the best coach, maybe the best coach in the world on my opinion. No matter of which team, women’s or men’s. He was a coach of Gary who arrived today and we had already a chat. Yuri is really a great coach. He also led Russian women’s team to a success. We are very happy that we have him. As for the changes yes, we have some slight changes. But I would not tell about them now. If he wishes he will tell about them one day. I just think it would not be correct if I speak about the changes.
Question from journalists: If I am not mistaken so far Russian players don’t have any individual loss. Is this a new advice from the head coach : to win with white and make comfortable draw with black?
KRAMNIK: I would not say so. For example we won two games with Black against China. But ok, in the new system of match points, you should not play that aggressive; you just need to win a match. It is no difference if you make 2.5 or 4 out of 4. It is not like before when you scored team points. Of course now it is important not to lose games. In our team all players are strong, we try to play solid, but of course all of us try to win. It is not that Yuri repeats it all the time, but it is pretty obvious. But everyone plays his own style. For instance Grishuk plays complicated and aggressive chess but it suits him. I am already old and I play more positional chess. To my mind, if you don’t lose a single game, most probably you have all chances to win the Olympiad.
KARLOVICH: I wanted to ask you about your future plans, in which tournament you are going to participate?
KRAMNIK: Definitely I am going to play the London Classics. Then possibly in Wijk aan Zee if finally I am invited. Then of course I will play the Candidates. Also some other important events which I cannot announce yet, let the organizers and sponsors announce. It is one new event coming up in May next year. Very strong top tournament. I can say that I will definitely participate in it, but I cannot tell you now who will be my opponents. Then Tal Memorial, Dortmund and also one good tournament in Corsica. So, I have enough tournaments to participate. But what I know for sure, that independently from the result of the Olympiad, I will have some rest after it. So, my schedule is quite tight for my pensioner age. Of course I cannot play as much as my young rivals but my schedule is pretty full. Ah, also there is a tournament in Zurich with four strong players. I think I will also participate in it somewhere in the first half of the next year.
KARLOVICH: What do you prefer to play in an individual or team competitions?
KRAMNIK: There is definitely more pressure and more responsibility to play in a team event. From the other point of view it is always pleasant to be in a good atmosphere. It gives more pleasant moments to be with friends. I would say that psychologically it is much easier to play for yourself in an individual tournaments.
KARLOVICH: Thank you so much, Vladimir and good luck in your games!