Kramnik is in danger of devaluating his title

7/11/05 -
 Kramnik made the following comments in an interview on May 26, 2005
 I have already proved to myself long ago all that needed to be proved. The tournament in Sofia was strong, interesting; it was a pleasure to play in it, but I did not plan to prove anything to anyone. This does not mean I played in Sofia casually. Some games I played had great pressure, and I played with courage.

 Hangin's Take:
     Well in this day and age of chess championships confusion, Kramnik has lot to prove. Many in the chess world donít even think Kramnik is the world champion. A lot of people feel Kramnik did not deserve his shot at the title in 2000. Let us recall that it was Shirov who defeated Kramnik in a candidate match for the right to play Kasparov for the title. Kramnik is th current world champion but virtue of the fact he defeated Garry Kasparov in a match back in 2000. But world champions must not be content with just having the title. They should also try to show their superiority in tournaments. There is always more to prove. Itís always tough to follow a great champion. Boxing great Larry Holmes had a tough time replacing Muhammad Ali as heavy weight champion. Larry Holmes won the title and successfully defended it for 8 years. In many respects Holmes championship years exceed Aliís championship years.

    Anatoly Karpov had his hands full when he succeeded the retiring Bobby Fischer as world champion. Karpovís task of replacing Fischer was tougher because there was no direct transfer of power that can only occur in a head to head competition. However Karpov was a worthy world champion; he was the last man standing in a tough candidate process. He was the best of the rest. He was forged into steel by the tough world championship process. Bobby Fischer was the best, however Anatoly Karpov was the best of the rest.  Karpov had much to prove. He set a great example for all future world champions to follow. He played and won a record number of tournaments as a world champion. He defended his title three times and held the crown for 10 years before succumbing to an even greater world champion named Garry Kasparov, who also had a difficult task in replacing Karpov 

   Garry had much to prove as well and also similarly dominated the chess tournament scene. without question, Kasparov is the greatest chess champion ever. He defended his title 6 times and held the title for 15 years. He ruled the chess world almost from the start of his career until his recent retirement after winning Linares in 2005. Both Karpov and Kasparov have been great ambassadors to the game and have help promote it around the world. 

    Vladimir Kramnik probably has an almost impossible job in trying to replace Garry Kasparov. Vladimir was off to a great start when he decisively defeated Garry Kasparov in 2000. During this match, Vladimir won two games and might have won two more, if it was not for the heroic defense of Kasparov. Kramnik has not followed the example set by his two great predecessors. Kramnik has not been as active or as successful in tournament play. But we have to be fair; Karpov and Kasparov are a very tough act to follow. But Kramnik must attempt to follow in their footsteps. Kramnik seems to be content in the fact that he won the title from Kasparov in 2000.  Kramnik narrowly retained his title by drawing Peter Leko in 2004.  Kramnik has been in a steady decline since he broke the 2800 plateau in 2002.

  For a world champion, Kramnik has had a poor 2005. He finished in the middle of the pack at Corus. He ducked Kasparov at Linares. He finished middle of the pack at Amber combined. He finished 2nd to last at Mtel in Sofia, Bulgaria.  He is in danger of dropping into the 2nd half of the top 10. In fact this has already occurred. Kramnik now sits in 6th place on the rating charts.  Being in the top ten is great, however a world champion should be near the top. Kramnikís status as a player and world champion are plummeting. He is endangering his title. He is devaluating his title.

   Should Kramnikís play deteriorate further, he will have trouble fining sponsors to put up the big dollars for his next title defense.   If Kramnik doesnít want to be left out of the next world championship process, he must pick up his play. He has got to care about his world ranking and his showing in tournaments. At 30 years of age, Kramnik should be coming into his peak chess playing years. Kramnik still has much to prove especially since many in the chess world dispute his right to be champion.  Kramnik, the artist, must use his creativity to find new ways to motivate himself.  If Kramnik wants to be a respected champion, he must dial it up several notches.

 Kramnik's recent interview -

2005 Corus  - Final Report -
2005 Amber combined -
2005 Mtel -
Latest FIDE ratings -

Kramnik the Artist - Chess Reporter

Vladimir Kramnik - Chess Reporter