International Master I.Odessky reports the press-conference.
... In a TV program "What? Where? When?" the erudites were asked: how many chairs, according to a wise Japanese rule, should be in the room, where corporative meetings take place? The erudites failed to answer, and the right answer is one chair less than the number of comers. But don't ask me why, I'm not Japanese.
In the corner room of the legendary Journalists' House, where about half a hundred of chess journalists of every stripe – of television, of press, of electronic information network gathered at first there wasn't enough not only chairs, but simply air. Then everything was settled, journalists and photographers found their places and the press-conference began. However it began behind time, everybody was waiting for the President of the Russian Chess Federation A.Zhukov, but in vain. As the host of the conference explained (the editor-in-chief of the journal "64" A.Roshal was the host by tradition), "Zhukov was urgently called by Fradkov. Alexander Dmitrievich didn't want go there, he wanted to come to us, but he had to go there".
The Presidium consisted of two chess players (G.Kasparov and A.Karpov), two vice-presidents of the RCF (V.Beresnev and V.Zubov) and the chief executive officer of the RCF (and also the director of the Championship) A.Bakh. It seemed that he highlight of the program must have been questions and answers about nonparticipation of V.Kramnik in the Championship. But it's necessary to give A.Bakh his due: he managed to find a correct strain and to subdue passions in the bud from the beginning, keeping them from running high. Alexander Grigorievich calmly gave his view on the event.
It's true, that the timing of the championship was cleared with Vladimir Kramnik. Yes, the super-final was purposely postponed till the latter half of November, to give Kramnik the opportunity to rest and to regain his strength after the match with P.Leko. But if the doctor considers that it's against medical advice for Kramnik to play for the next two months, then we must respect this opinion and agree with it. To the question, wasn't it better to choose someone from the reserve list (there were mentioned the names of Jakovenko, Inarkiev, Rublevsky) instead of reducing the number of participants to 12, Bakh answered: no, it wasn't better. An ingenious journalist (unfortunately I haven't remembered his name) asked: what would happen if Khalifman fell ill instead of Kramnik? Then the reserve list would be of use, answered Bakh. My colleague at the website www.dachess.ru Ilya Gorodetsky wondered: how did the sponsors react to the refusal of Kramnik? Bakh said that they reacted normally. The sponsors are conscious men and give money for the development of chess in the country, but not for the promotion of particular people. The last question on that subject was the following: why has the attempt to gather three "K" in one tournament failed? In 2000 Karpov dropped out, now the same thing with Kramnik.
The answer of two thirds of the quorum was a heap of facial expressions. There was a long pause; the situation was saved by a witty repartee of Maxim Notkin. He reminded that since Korotylev plays in the tournament, then there are three "K" and the tale is complete. Everybody began to laugh; the topic was exhausted.
Then it became clear that there were no other global subjects for discussion. Somebody of the old guard of journalists habitually mounted his hobby-horse, statistics: as though the readers wondered what will be a numerical order of the game that will be played between Karpov and Kasparov. Anatoliy Evgenievich and Garry Kimovich looked at each other as for the first time and began to count. At first they agreed on 140, but no, this was only the number of matches played. They added games in the tournaments. About 175. And blitz? Then everybody realized that the number "200" is close. Nobody dared to interpret this equally long and fruitful opposition.
There was an attempt to turn the statistics to the forecasts, but it became clear that the main expert in this question V.Dvorkovich is absent. Evrerybody turned toward E.Dubov – save the situation, fellow. He wasn't to be asked twice. With an effective gesture Eduard Lvovich took out of his inside pocket a paper with in advance revised calculations (like a host of a music program on TV shows a piano that was hidden in bushes) and told that the expected result of G.Kasparov – "plus four", and for example of A.Morozevich – only "plus two".
The topic "plus four" was developed by Garry Kimovich himself. He said that this super final doesn't achieve the level of the USSR Championship of 1988, since the make-up of the entry list is mixed, he supposed that "plus four" is the minimum, that must be enough to tie for the first place. Unexpectedly this phrase grated on many of those present. Somebody considered it to be insufficiently politically correct in relation to other participants, the host said that the words "super final' and "mixed make-up of the entry list" don't match with each other. But the comparison with Wijk-an-Zee calmed everybody.
Both vice-presidents of RCF for a long time had nothing to do at the press-conference. They were not asked questions, but wanted to express themselves. V.Zubov made an expressive speech (may be it only seemed to be such, because he got the loudest microphone), the sound of which was that there is no place for chess on TV. V.Beresnev chose carrying out the competitions according to the schedule by the Russian Chess Federation as a topic of his speech. In his opinion, there are many competitions planned in our country, and taking into account regional competitions, a host of them, and all of them are carried out successfully, and this is very good. During his speech a representative of the Journalists' House permitted herself a remark: it turned out, that the press-conference is being broadcasted in regions on-line; the regions can see and hear us.
Everybody lost the desire to ask questions at once. Then the elder of the journalists' guild Naum Dymarsky rose from a seat and quietly, but distinctly said: "I agree with Valery Mikhailovich Zubov". The meeting was threatening to turn into a rally; it was necessary to save the situation. It was saved (unexpectedly for myself) by your obedient servant. The question was addressed to G.Kasparov and was as pure as the driven snow.
– Garry Kimovich! – I addressed, – the match with Peter Leko exhausted Kramnik so that he couldn't take part in the Championship of Russia. Don't you feel anxiety that a reversed story will happen to you, that you will be fagged out by the participation in the super final so that the January match with Kasimdzhanov will be endangered.
– I realize that you asked the question in a veiled form – Kasparov answered and ... for the next 10-15 minutes he spoke about the sore subject. All said by GM can be reduced to one conclusion (the match with Kasimdzhanov most probably won't take part) and to three theses:
1. Kasparov uses the same open sources of information that everybody use; he knows not more than we do; in other words, he doesn't know anything clearly.
2. Kasparov hasn't received any bank guarantee from sheikhs and FIDE until now.
3. The Turkish CF was ready to outbid the right for carrying out the World Championship match and to provide all the necessary guarantees in 10 days, but the idea was choked off.
"Such a lie", – somebody said straight in my ear. "Who is this chess-lover", – I thought, then turned back and... No, that wasn't a chess-lover; the personal assistant of Mr. Ilyumzhinov Berik Balgabaev was sitting behind me. "Firstly, Ali (apparently, the president of the Turkish chess association Mr. Ali Nihat Yazici – I.O.) didn't say that he agreed to outbid, he told that if Dubai refused, then he would agree to outbid; secondly, a representative of FIDE has already departed for Dubai and soon all the necessary guarantees will be provided; thirdly, Kasparov's business is to play, but not to throw words around."
I was in absolutely foolish situation. Kasparov substantiated his case in front of me, but behind me Balbagaev told me in a hissing whisper in my right ear absolutely the contrary. It seemed impossible to dive somewhere down and thereby to open a passage for the men to talk to each other directly. I was perplexed; the rest of the press-conference my mind was in a fog. I remember only that someone, absolutely non-chess in appearance, (a very textured man, resembling the lieutenant colonel Malenkikh from the serial "Special Forces", those who saw him, will never forget) asked: and where is Ilyumzhinov, why doesn't he take part in the organization of the Championship of Russia? "There are one hundred thirteen thousands different countries in FIDE. What then? Is he to go to every country and to organize a championship?" – Balbagaev said thickly, but loudly and maliciously. Honestly speaking, I was quite concordant with him (I think, the man, who asked the question, simply didn't know that Kirsan Nikolaevich isn't the head of Russian chess), but there was absolutely unexpected answer from the presidium... "He doesn't have enough time, at first he must build City-Chess in Dubai", – Karpov said. "And to see the Dalai Lama", – somebody obligingly caught up in the hall.
Having felt that the conversation takes absolutely unnecessary political tint, the host recaptured the initiative. "In our chess midst, – he said, – there is such a thing as the last question. And, as a rule, after the last question a press-conference is over". The audience reacted in its own way; suddenly a great silence settled in the hall. "What then, let's finish at next to the last one?" – somebody joked in the presidium.
The press-conference was finished at next to the last question.
The super final of the 57 Chess Championship of Russia will take place on 14th – 30th November, 2004, in Moscow, in the central hall of the restaurant "Vasilevsky" of the hotel "Rossiya". Prize fund will make up to $125000, first prize – $50000. By the agreement with the participants it's possible to establish supplementary creative prizes of $5000. Opening of the Championship and the drawing of lots will take place on the 14th of November at 20 o'clock.