Modesty, Generosity, and Plain Truth

Interviewer: In November, New York City will host the match for the chess crown between world champion Norwegian Magnus Carlsen and Russian grandmaster Sergey Karjakin. Some have compared this match with your match against Robert Fischer, which was supposed to take place in 1975, but never took place.

Anatoly Karpov: So far, Carlsen has not reached the level of the Fisher. He does not have the brightness inherent in the American. So on that side, there’s no comparison. And Sergei Karjakin, with all my sympathy for him, he has not gotten to my level. Therefore, it will not be a match on the scale of what my match with Fischer could have been. But it is very interesting. I am glad that Sergei was able to get to the match for the crown.
Interview “Anatoly Karpov: It’s going to be very difficult for Sergei”, Sovsport.RU, 2016-08-04

After thanking the Almighty, friends, family and the Sinquefields, GM Wesley So, winner of the 2016 Sinquefield Cup said

Thank you to my honored opponents who are like unpaid coaches to me because I study their games closely and even when I was still a kid was so motivated to play by observing their amazing techniques. Like I said, anyone in this group could have won, it just happened to be my year. Mabuhay!

This was taken in some quarters as the generosity of a truly modest individual, but it seems to me such modesty and generosity constitute expression of the plain truth.

GM So won the 2016 Sinquefield Cup 5.5/9 (+2 -0 =7). Viswanathan Anand took second 5/9 (+1 -0 =8). None of the roster of grandmasters won more than 2 games in 9 rounds. In world-class chess, it’s not at all lonely at the top.

Even Karpov, an egoist since youth and something approaching an insufferable ass in his mid-60’s (as witness his comments on the Carlsen-Karjakin match), was forced in his own time by the realism of the chess mind to acknowledge the plain truth. In 1974, upon winning his Candidate’s Final against Korchnoi, Karpov was approached at the reception by a flatterer. Karpov brushed off this unwelcome and ingratiating individual with the words, “After all, I am merely doing what everyone else is doing, that is, learning to play better.”

Here’s a link to what, to my mind, is So’s best game of the Cup.

Jacques Delaguerre