Kasparov backs Carlsen; Karpov neutral

“For the greatest part of my life, I’ve been fighting the three Ks — Karpov, Kasparov and Kramnik — I have played no fewer than a hundred games with them”Viswanathan Anand on Moscow Radio in 2009

With less than a week to go for the World chess championship match, fans in over 150 countries have reasons to pick their favourite — champion Viswanathan Anand or World No.1 Magnus Carlsen. Going by form and rating, the majority surely favours the Norwegian.

For now, leave out the lesser mortals.

Here is what some of the Russian greats — Garry Kasparov, Anatoly Karpov and Vladimir Kramnik — who know more about playing for the World title than most, have to say about the clash.

Kasparov wants Carlsen to win. Karpov has no clear preference. Kramnik thinks Anand can win provided he does a few things right.

Kasparov, who helped Anand during the 2010 World championship match against Veselin Topalov, attracted the champion’s ire for being openly critical of him during the 2012 title-clash against Gelfand in Moscow. Since then, Kasparov has offered to help Carlsen to prepare against Anand.

Last month, Carlsen declared that he would be happy to get help from the man under whom he had trained in 2009.

The 22-year-old is 95 points ahead of Anand on the world rating list, but Kasparov has a word of caution.

“There is no such thing as an easy win against the World champion. I think Vishy will be quite happy that he is the underdog. He’s got huge experience. As we saw (in the Candidates tournament in London in March-April) there are problems (for Carlsen), there are still clear problems. The match is for Magnus to lose, clearly, but it’s a 12-game match, and whatever you’ve got from the first nine games, may not count.

“He (Carlsen) has to work on a lot — (on) psychological preparation. His opening preparation should be more precise. Anand is an expert. Those who say that Magnus will win easily are doing him a great disservice.

“It’s all or nothing, and that’s a big challenge. The psychological pressure will just keep growing, and he will have to learn how to cope with it.”

Karpov, another former world champion, has a different take.

“Taking into account historic parallels, I would perhaps support Anand because I have defeated him in the matches twice.

“Although I’ve not been competing (laughs) for the crown for 10 years, it is still pleasant when the guy who sits on the throne has been defeated by you twice. From a self-importance point of view — although it’s not the time to talk about my significance — it’s somehow pleasant.

“I think the appearance of Magnus is a good sign for the progress of chess.

If he becomes the world champion it will give a tremendous boost to the development of chess, especially in European countries. That’s why from the point of view of the future of chess, I would like Carlsen to win.”

Kramnik, who was the only man to beat Kasparov in a World championship match (in 2000) before suffering his only defeat in match-play to Anand in 2008, asserts the champion is not badly placed.

“I believe Anand definitely has his chances. It is absolutely realistic. The only problem, I think, Anand faces is that he — this is just my opinion — is somewhat intimidated by Carlsen. He is scared of him, I would say.

“Anand should relax and not be afraid of Magnus. If Anand manages to prepare himself this way, then the chances will be equal.

If not, then his chances will be very (poor). If he manages to hold the pressure of Magnus for (the first) six games, then Anand will become a favourite in my eyes.”

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