Silvio Danailov speaks for Yuri Vasiliev
Yuri Vasiliev: Silvio, the first question is obvious: why are the participants of the third M-Tel Masters not as brilliant as those in the previous two tournaments.
Silvio Danailov: First of all a category 20 tournament cannot by definition be a weak one. Topalov, Mamedyarov and Adams are part of the top ten in the world, Kamsky is the strongest player in America. He was a world championship challenger and a legendary player who has returned to chess, which makes him interesting for everybody. Sasikiran is an extraordinarily strong and talented grandmaster, the second in India after Anand. Until now he has not really had the opportunity to show his potential. Now we have given him this chance. Nisipeanu was the European Champion in 2005 and represents Romania, which like us has recently become part of the European Union. This was a gesture of friendship to our neighbors.
Vasiliev: But you got us used to elite players taking part in the M-Tel Masters…
Danailov: I invited all the strongest players. It is not my fault that Ivanchuk, who told me that he wanted to play in Sofia, had prior commitments with his club in the Russian league. For the same reason we could not invite some other Russian GMs. Aronian, whom we would have liked to see in Sofia, could not come because of his participation in the Candidates. The same applies to Judit Polgar who, after thinking hard, said “Sorry but I have to prepare for the Candidates.” For the same reason I did not invite Leko, because I knew he would refuse. He has to concentrate on the qualification for the World Championship in Mexico. I do not understand why FIDE refused to consider the traditional schedule of the tournament in Sofia when it arranged the Candidates matches. They could have easily move the dates for Elista slightly, but they didn’t want to do so.
Did you also invite Kramnik?
Kramnik lives in an unreal world. He refused to play a return match against Topalov in Sofia, although he was guaranteed a million Dollars tax free for it. He belongs where he now is. Everybody saw where he was when he started hiding from Kasparov. He was Mr. Nobody. And he would have remained a Mr. Nobody if we hadn’t agreed to play the match in Elista, which made him the World Champion. There was an incredible amount of interest for chess after the match in Elista. But Kramnik once again went into hiding. This refusal shows once again that the man does not understand the world in which he lives. It was a unique chance that was lost for chess. The interest in a match in Sofia would have far exceeded Elista. It was a golden chance for chess. But he missed it, just as he missed the chance to face Kasparov in a revenge match. Now we will see how he handles his title. In October he will of course lose it in Mexico. And then he will expect the revenge match that the FIDE president has promised him. But the question of getting this revenge match is still open. It is entirely possible that he will not get it. In one year, when Kramnik has lost his title, anything is possible…
At this event we once again see the “Sofia Rules” in their full beauty. But these rules are liked only by the organizers, not the professionals, who are less enthusiastic about them.
That is quite natural, since they have to work harder for the same amount of money. But at some stage one has to become a real professional. You have to play to the end of the game, you must wear a decent suit. You must appear for your games wearing clean shoes, and not in sneakers and a T-shirt. After the game you must talk to the press. You must do all these things. In former times you didn’t have to do anything. Take your money, play fifteen or twenty moves, and you can go and rest. But that could not go on forever. Either you become a professional or you can play in amateur tournaments.
Do you feel the after-effects of “Toiletgate”?
Kamsky said very well in his interview to the “Trud” newspaper. In America there is no such thing as “bad publicity”. There is just publicity. Unfortunately, in the world in which we live (the chess world) there are too many amateurs. They have never heard about advertising, they don’t know what marketing means, what real professionalism is. Because they are amateurs. During “toiletgate” everybody was talking about chess. The New York Times had an article about in on the front page. That was real publicity. Not “bad” or “good” publicity, just publicity. Everybody was interested in what is happening in the match with the two strongest chess players participating. Everyone was electrified by the events.
I am disliked not because of the scandal. People envy me because I took Topalov to the top, because I created the most professional chess tournament, because I am creating the Grand Slam, because I introduced the Sofia Rules. For fifty years people have been racking their brains on how to combat short draws. And it was so easy: just don’t allow the players to discuss it over the board. People are envious, they are jealous. But these are not my problems. Chess must renew itself or die. There are no other options.
You mentioned the Grand Slam. Are there any new developments in this project?
We are working on it. We already have 400,000 Euros in a bank in Bilbao for the Masters Final. As you saw in Linares, the organizers of three tournament organizers have already signed the agreement: Wijk aan Zee, Linares and Sofia. At the end of the year there will be a Masters, based on the results. We have the money for it. I think the forth Grand Slam tournament will be Mexico, where the mayor has shown great interest. We are working on it. Who found sponsors for Mexico Championship? Yours truly. Has anybody said thanks? Of course not. People just say “what a evil person this Danialov is!”