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‘Don’t see Anand regaining world title’

Garry Kasparov can be a much better Fide president than Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, says Nigel Short

Nigel Short in the city, on Monday. A Telegraph picture

Calcutta: Grandmaster Nigel David Short is a colourful person. He tells you why he thinks Viswanathan Anand can’t regain his world title, why current Fide president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov is “terrible”, and why England don’t have a chance of winning the World T20, all with well-timed bursts of spontaneous laughter.

In the city to participate in the 6th Kolkata Open Grandmasters Chess Tournament, the 48-year-old Short, who had lost to Garry Kasparov in the World Chess Championship in 1993, was nothing short of a revelation in his interaction with the media, on Monday.

The following are excerpts

On if he thinks it is the end of the Anand era

I had predicted Anand would lose the World Championship… The reasons being he is older, has been playing very poorly for about three years… Maybe carrying the World Championship title was too heavy for him in these last few years. If you have seen the film The Lord of the Rings, when Frodo was carrying the ring, it was like a heavy burden… Now that he has lost the title, maybe it has freed him up… I’m glad to see him do well in the Candidates… When you have the title, you have the fear of losing it. You forget to play in a free way. So I think this is a psychological problem. I spoke to him a few weeks ago about the Candidates… I told him if the head is in the right place, you do well… He replied in such a way that, at that time, I thought maybe his head wasn’t in the right place. Don’t forget, he isn’t a young man… Chess is a young man’s game.

On the way Anand was completely outplayed by Magnus Carlsen

He was completely outplayed. There was a big gap… Carlsen is half his age and is on the top of his game… If you look at the strength of the respective players, Anand’s opening preparation is definitely better than Carlsen. But my feeling was that if Carlsen could get an equal position, he had the chance to win.

On if he sees Anand regaining the title

I honestly don’t see Anand regaining the title. It’s a cruel game… People don’t always understand looking from outside. This was a very severe loss for him. It was very damaging. And he is not growing younger…

On how would he rate Anatoly Karpov, Kasparov and Anand

For me, Kasparov was always the best. I consider Anand to be in the second tier of the very greats… It’s a subjective view… The three very best for me are Emanuel Lasker, world champion for 27 years… Kasparov has won a ridiculous number of tournaments and basically done everything. I think, probably, at his best Bobby Fischer was burning brighter than any other player. Anand, however, is right up there with the greats.

On if he thinks Carlsen can rule world chess for the next few years

I think he can rule world chess for the next few years… It’s up to him because people sometimes get distracted. He is a world champion… He’s making money, meeting celebrities, he has lots of girls throwing themselves at him. All this is very good, but at some point you have to remember that you are still a chess player… If he can remember that, then he has the possibility to dominate.

On who can be the future star from India after Anand

It’s probably going to be someone younger than the present generation. This is strong chess nation, a powerhouse really. But I don’t see world beaters from the current generation.

On Kasparov’s chances in the fight for Fide presidency in the upcoming Fide elections (in August) and if he sees him as a capable president

I certainly see him (Kasparov) as being a much better Fide president than the incumbent, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, who is totally unsuited for the job. Kasparov himself is very optimistic of his chances of winning. Don’t’ know whether that optimism is justified, but I can tell you that he believes he is going to win.

On Karpov earlier failing to topple Ilyumzhinov

This is a different campaign… This is a campaign over four years, rather than a campaign over six months… Because Karpov decided very late to run for the election. It wasn’t very well thought out. Actually, Kasparov has been planning this since 2010… He has a big war chest. He has raised a lot of money. These things are very important in the elections. And he has been campaigning very vigorously.

Historically people who have challenged Ilyumzhinov have only done well in Europe… And I think it will make a very big difference because I believe Kasparov will win in Africa, he will do very well in Asia. He will not win India (laughs)… That’s a lost vote.

On why he will root for Kasparov

I became chess professional in 1982. Since then, we’ve only had two Fide presidents. They have been both very bad in different ways. Florencio Campomanes made his living from being the president… So that was influencing a lot of his decisions.

Ilyumzhinov is bad for many reasons… One of the great difficulties we have in chess is to get corporate sponsorship. If you are the CEO of a major company and you look at Ilyumzhinov, immediately you would see that this guy was a friend of Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi, Bashar Assad… You could keep going. You would see him giving interviews explaining he has been abducted by aliens, that he has been on visit to other planets! If you are in a serious company you realise, you don’t want to get involved with someone like him.

On how he thinks England will fare in the World T20

I understand it’s possible to lose to Australia, I also do understand that Australia have improved. But we completely disintegrated. I’m interested to see how we are going to do in the World T20… But I think England have got no chances. They have collapsed totally. We don’t have enough players who can hit boundaries. But my favourite is Test cricket… T20 is my second favourite!