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Conversation with GM Peter Leko

By Valery Salov

Q: Congratulations, you have qualified for the next stage. How do you feel about this knock-out system? So far you haven't been very successful with this system, considering your ranking and your potential.

A: Of course, at first I always got eliminated by unknown players. After that they became famous. I cannot tell that I like this system, but, on the other hand, if you want to be successful, you have to start liking it. So I sort of tried to do some self-hypnosis that I love this system and even try playing sharp games even so that hanging always on the edge to win the games is maybe not the right tactics but what to do? I already got eliminated two times very quickly, so it can't be worse.

Q: Hopefully, this time you do it better. Your today's game was very interesting.

A: Yes, it was very exciting. Normally in such knock out tournaments you like some technical victories that you're slightly better from the beginning and then you slowly win the game.

Q: But it is not always possible with a strong opponent.

A: Yes. That's the problem.

Q: Do you know anything about new proposals for the changes in the world championship?

A: Yes. I heard a lot about it, but at the moment I cannot say anything serious, because I am really focused on my chess only. I didn't study those proposals seriously. For myself it wouldn't be good, I think. After the championship I will think about it but probably by that time it will be already decided.

Q: GM Lautier came up with three ideas of new format, new time control and draw offer. Have you seen them in the last bulletin?

A: Well, actually, I am trying to miss those proposals just not to block my mind. I think the players are not the right people to discuss these questions. There should be some professionals to work out the right systems. Professional chess players just cannot seriously think about these things. They have other job.

Q: But don't you think that they should also give some ideas and help to take decisions? Another idea of Joel might be quite frightening: he wants to make a reform of time-control in a way that players will be given 2 hours for 40 moves, then 15 minutes till the end and after they spend all the time, they are given just 5 seconds per move without the right to accumulate time.

A: I don't like these things. And this proposal with time control is not helping chess so much. There's classical chess and there's a rapid chess. I think that these 2 things shouldn't mix, because it's not so sensible.

Q: The fewer changes are made, the better, what we need is stability. But at the same time, some changes are needed in order to attract the sponsors and spectators. We have a vivid example here in India. Such an excellent tournament, the best players, but still it is not so easy to find sponsors.

A: Yes, but I heard about these proposals with 40 minutes and other measures in order to attract TV. I don't really believe that TV is the future of chess. If you play games 2-3 hours, no TV channel will agree to broadcast this transmission.

Q: Don't you think that it is very useful that you share your opinion on time control and other changes, because otherwise the decisions will be taken without participation of the players?

A: Yes. On the other hand, I think that the future is in Internet. I think in the Internet it doesn't really matters how long the game is being played. And this is the future of chess, but it still has to be developed. I think my match with Khalifman in Budapest was very professionally organized. We had 9 million visits in one week.

Q: Didn't you feel almost like a world champion after winning that match?

A: No, I met already so many champions personally and not over the board. I really want to win this world championship. When I win a real world championship, I tell that I beat this or that player. But if it's not official, then nothing's to be said, not even a thought should cross my mind about those things.

Q: OK. At least, you don't claim to be world champion. You are one of the very few.

A: I will claim it later when I feel I have the right to say so.


© 2000 Boris Schipkov