01 February 2010

The Chief Trainer

On the subject of World Championship Opening Preparation, who can be more authoritative than the World Champions themselves? In my last post, One Hundred Days for an Opening Repertoire, I quoted from Kasparov's book 'Kasparov v Karpov 1990', and in this post I'll continue with another passage from the same book (p.11). It gives more insights into what can go wrong with the best planned preparation.

For the first time my team had no chief trainer, such as Alexander Nikitin, who worked for many years with me. He left without explaining the reasons. As he said in an interview, 'Kasparov and I have parted without any fuss'. Back in April [1990] I discussed with him the strategy for the forthcoming match, but he left, and I did not try to detain him. Perhaps he thought that he could no longer cope with the enormous tension that accompanies all World Championship matches, without exception.

At any event, I encountered a problem that there was not that person who would have headed our operational headquarters. My team was young. Although, almost all the trainers had worked with me at some time before: Zurab Azmaiparashvili and Sergey Dolmatov in Seville [1987], and Mikhail Gurevich in Leningrad [1986]. Alexander Shakarov has been helping me since my childhood days. And only Giya Georgadze was a 'new recruit'.

In short, I myself had to carry out the functions of chief trainer. Organize the work of the trainers, allot concrete tasks, think up new ideas, and also ... play the match! Such work was new for me, and I do not think I was very successful with it.

The trainers conscientiously did their work. True, not all tasks were within their powers. The theoretical duel took place as on foreign territory. The openings which had to be analyzed were ones which practically none of my trainers play. They had to delve into positions about which for a long time they only had a very rough impression.

In addition, three of them are strong grandmasters. They frequently approached the evaluation of this or that position from the practical viewpoint: 'It is playable!' But I have a completely different approach. Even so, often they were able to 'persuade' me, but I am accustomed to finding the best continuation. And if I know that in a certain continuation the opponent is assured of an advantage, I do not go in for it. My colleagues think that this is possible. This is by no means a reproach, but demonstrates the different approach to chess which I had to encounter.

Coincidentally, in a recent Chessbase.com article titled Bisik-Bisik with Garry Kasparov (Part 1), a copy of the same book appears in the photo subtitled 'Garry Kasparov coaching Magnus Carlsen in his summer residence in Croatia'. Why is the former World Champion consulting his own book on his last World Championship match with Karpov?

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