interview with Silvio Danailov for Standartnews
Veselin Topalov’s team for the Chess Challengers match has already arrived in Sofia. The one of Gata Kamsky is expected to land on the 12th of February. The event starts on the 16th and Bulgarian media already produce massive information about the match.
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Mr. Danailov, the Challengers match starts in a few days. You had lots of obstacles on the way, was there a possibility that the match didn’t take place?
Yes, it wouldn’t take place if Kramnik had won against Anand. The Russian influence is very strong. It is clear that Topalov is number 1 and Kramnik avoids playing with him. He even refused playing in Sofia for 1 million dollars.
The other obstacle was coming from Kamsky’s team, who thought that this a million dollar match and did not want in any case the event to take place in Bulgaria. We gave them 8 months to look for money. We told them we would play anywhere in the world. For me the match in Bulgaria is not the best option because a lot of national funds get spent. The pressure for Veselin and for me is big. A loss will be a real national tragedy. Everyone expects victory, while this will be a very difficult match. I preferred that it were played abroad. In the end they could not find the money and it was either our offer or no match. I am happy that they were reasonable and this match will take place.
The team of Topalov
Did Veselin Topalov compromise during the negotiations?
He did, Topalov did not want to play in Bulgaria. Outside it would have been much calmer. Even if he lost, it would not be a drama. Here the whole Bulgaria will be watching him, he is a national hero.
The other thing we had to give up was the Linares 2009 chess tournament. We had a signed contract and thanks to the fact that the mayor of Linares is my friend, the contract was annulled. Either Vesko had to give up Linares, or Kamsky Wijk Aan Zee. Gata did not step aside. From this situation we do not only lose money. We have been working with this people for 15 years and we are very close. I want to thank them for making this gesture. We are professionals and we have never broken a contract. This is the first time in our career. It is not good, but it is a force major situation.
With Paolo Coehlo during
the first Mtel Masters
What are you worried about before the match?
Bulgaria will make a fantastic preparation. We have big experience with the 4 Mtel Masters tournaments. We will become a reference for this type of events in the future. I want to thank the government, the sponsors, the National agency for youth and sport, all of them enthusiastically helped us with the preparation. My only worries are not to disappoint them. This loads us and obliges us too much. However, this match gives a great opportunity to popularize chess among young people in the country.
Topalov was in top notch form in the end of last year, when his match was expected to be. What is his condition now?
And if he qualifies with the match with Anand?
I do not want to think about that, first “A” then “B”.
What is the difference with the match with Kramnik?
Topalov has much more experience. Our team is also more experienced. We learned a lot from the match in Elista.
Kamsky’s career also went through Elista?
Kamsky has won against Anand, Short… he lost from Karpov in Elista, but there were not any scandals until after the match…
What were Kamsky’s requests and conditions for the match in Sofia?
He wanted to increase the prize fund, which was done. Before it was 150 000 dollars, now it is 250 000 dollars.He achieved everything that he wanted. He wants to bring a specialist to check the playing hall. I heard he’s been working for MOSSAD. Let him come. We do not have anything to hide.
Why is this fear from electronic devices in chess?
There is some kind of hysteria. Chess media talk too much about that. It is something interesting, something that sells. It is gossip, yellow news, intrigue…
Danailov in Wijk Aan Zee 2008
(exclusive photo by Carla Amse
You were in Wijk Aan Zee, which has just finished. How do you evaluate Kamsky’s performance?
He was alone. He was hiding. He did not have any team. It was obvious he did not care and plays just to fulfill his contract. His thoughts are directed to the match with Vesko. His team is hidden and working. Nobody knows who is it and where it stays.
In such matches there is a silent game between the managers as well. Tell us something about Emil Sutovsky?
He is not his manager, he is his speaker. At first the negotiations were with the wife of his father who is an advocate. Later on with Chernenko, with his father, and in the end appeared Sutovsky. To be a manager you have to have at least one contract in your life, and to have found at least one sponsor. Actually, Kamsky does not have a manager, he decides alone. He temporarily uses some people to help him.
Is it an irony that you brought back Kamsky to chess?
Yes, and I am not sorry. All my intentions have been noble. I knew it was good to give Gata a chance. He is a very interesting player. We have known him for a lot of time. Topalov was his second for the match with Kasparov in New York in 1994. Topalov lived in Kamsky’s house. Now I brought him back to chess, he receives a lot of invitations, and he will play against us. But that’s the way life is.
Veselin Topalov said Gata Kamsky is very strong psychologically?
Kamsky really had iron nerves. But the ten years out of chess affect this. Topalov was making mistakes due to his ambitious play. Now he play stable chess, he is mature and very confident.
The Grand Slam proves to be stronger than the Grand Prix. How does the chess community evaluate your efforts?
The Grand Slam is a professional association, while Grand Prix is done by FIDE. They did not have any experience. They thought it is very easy and they can work as we do. Three tournaments, in Qatar, the Czech Republic, and Switzerland got canceled.Ilymzhinov again had to save them with a tournament in Elista. But in any case, it is going towards a failure.
More and more funds enter chess because of the Grand Slam. Now we have a tournament in China, we are waiting for South America and the USA. In total, the Grand Slam is moving some 2 million euros in prize funds every year, which before was impossible. If they evaluate my efforts or not, this does not concern me.
President Georgi Parvanov is always
supporting Topalov and Danailov
How do you find money in the financial crisis?
Let’s not forget that chess is not an expensive sport. It has a nice image. We talk about culture, education. Sponsors during the crisis do not have money for soccer, but for chess the crisis is even good because we offer sponsorship packages that are at affordable prices.
In many countries chess is a subject in the schools. It can happen in Bulgaria, talks have been going on with President Georgi Parvanov.
Will the FIDE President Kirsan Ilymzhinov come for the match?
He should come.
In Moscow Ilymzhinov has said he would be glad to try Bulgarian wine. What would you recommend him?
The best wine at the moment is “Katarzhina”, and the other one that I like is “Enira 2003″, but I am not sure if it is still available at the market. Ilymzhinov will visit also the grave of Vanga. In any case he will be pleased.
Interview by Maria Dimitrova for Standartnews.com. Translation by Georgi Nikodimov for Chessdom.com, usage of information and excerpts only with proper credit and written permission.