by Teimour Tushiev, for extratime.az and Echo
Tushiev: How important is this match for you? Could possible victory give the national team of Azerbaijan a boost in self-confidence and encouragement for successful appearance at the official competitions?
Radjabov: To me, personally, it is always a privilege to play for our national team. And particularly in such an important match. Also, symbolically, the match is taking place right before the birthday of our national leader Heydar Aliyev, as President Cup, who did so much for the development of chess, first in the Soviet Azerbaijan, and later in the independent country. Despite the fact that this match will be of friendly character and serve in popularization of chess, I anticipate a fierce struggle for the positive result, as there are ambitious players on both sides. This match will be remembered in history of the world and Azerbaijani chess.
Tushiev: In your opinion, will the arrival of current and former world champion in Azerbaijan provide a new momentum for the development of chess?
Radjabov: Undoubtedly. The world chess champion is a cult figure, and Viswanathan Anand also has this special, I would say mysterious aura, that always makes him a dear guest in any competition in any part of the world. Vladimir Kramnik was for many years on the very top of the chess Olympus, and still is, and this speaks for itself. He has a huge number of fans all over the world.
Tushiev: Let’s talk about each player from the team of World. Vishy Anand, one might say, slightly disappointed in Linares, by not presenting the play level which is expected from a world champion. However, in rapid chess, it is hard to find him competition. What can now be expected from Anand?
Radjabov: Vishy Anand is always Vishy Anand, a brilliant chess player, who won everything there can be in one’s chess career. Traditionally a strong opponent. Besides, Anand is current world champion, not only in the classical, but also in rapid chess.
Tushiev: Vladimir Kramnik appears to be even greater mystery at the moment, having missed several major tournaments, and it is probably difficult to estimate his form now. But, judging by an recent interview, given to “Soviet Sport”, he intends to win back his position. What can be expected from the “Resurrected” Kramnik in this match?
Radjabov: Vladimir Kramnik is an outstanding Russian chess player. He is renowned by his fantastic positional understanding, he defeated Garry Kasparov in a match for the world chess crown in 2000 and then continued to hold this leading position over the years. Now former world champion, being forth in the world rating list. Very strong as in rapid chess. Kramnik will certainly make every effort to reclaim the chess crown in near future.
- Alexey Shirov is member of the world chess elite for many years already. Very creative player. His style of play resembling the one of legendary Mikhail Tal. Looking at the recent tournaments, Alexey is in good form.
- Sergey Karjakin is one of the best young chess players in the world. His results have not always been constant, but that is normal for his age. But the win at the Corus tournament inspired new confidence in his fans. In any case, Sergey’s participation in the team of the world is completely logical.
Full interview by Teimour Tushiev available in Russian language at extratime.az website