`This title means a lot to me'

Nigel Short... a worthy champion.-PTI

I am very disappointed with the state of chess in England. We don't have enough tournaments, so how can we produce players? You can't make money out of chess, says Nigel Short in this chat with P. K. Ajith Kumar.

For someone who has challenged Garry Kasparov for the World chess title, winning his second Commonwealth Championship may not mean much, one would have thought. But Nigel Short just couldn't stop smiling after beating Surya Shekhar Ganguly in the final round of the Commonwealth Championship in Mumbai. He explains why, in this interview with Sportstar.

Question: How do you look back at the tournament now?

Answer: With tremendous satisfaction. It's an interesting score that I finished with. I was lucky to win the title last time here in Mumbai as I was not playing well at all. I played horrible chess; I just had one decent game, against Harikrishna. This time around, there was hardly a bad game for me.

How did you motivate yourself for this event, which admittedly wasn't the most challenging assignment of your career?

It may sound very stupid, but actually being a Commonwealth champion means a lot to me. In my career I have won many more prestigious tournaments, but for the general public if I won some high category tournament in Estonia or Holland or somewhere else, they wouldn't understand the significance of it, but they know what Commonwealth means; it's a huge number of countries. I like it.

What are your impressions on India's young players?

Harikrishna and Sasikiran are the guys that have impressed me the most. Both are tremendously strong. I don't really see any of the young Indian players challenging for the World Championship in the near future though. Harikrishna, however, could break into the top 10. Parimarjan Negi has great potential, but let's give him some time. He could go further. Humpy, I feel, could easily win the World title. She is effectively the World No. 1, as Judit Polgar doesn't play with women. I am pleased to find Humpy is lightening up a bit now.

The recent World Championship Unification match between Kramnik and Topalov wasn't perhaps the best advertisement for chess with those allegations of cheating. What do you think of the accusations against Kramnik from Topalov's camp?

It was a plan to upset Kramnik. As simple as that. And they succeeded. They almost won the match thus. The charges were completely baseless in my opinion.

Do you believe cheating takes place in chess?

Yes, I do. There is a bigger danger today of cheating because computers are stronger. I guess they may check some of my games here, as I scored 9/10 (laughs). I have to improve my cheating though!

As a 10-year-old, you had defeated Victor Korchnoi in a simultaneous display. Do you remember that game?

It was a long game. It had gone right to the ending, with double rooks. I gave two minor pieces for a rook and two pawns and got some pressure on queenside. It was a good game; it went on for hours, don't know how many.

Are you worried that not too many talented youngsters are coming out of England? The country hasn't produced a player quite in the class of Michael Adams and yourself.

I am very disappointed with the state of chess in England. We don't have enough tournaments, so how can we produce players? Even Adams is getting long in the tooth. He was the last of the greats. Matthew Saddler has retired. Luke McShane will not become a professional player; you can't make money out of chess. And he is a bright kid. Maybe he will play for a year or two.

You are a big cricket fan. Which cricketers do you like to watch?

Flintoff, Pietersen, Lara and Tendulkar. When he is in full flow, Lara is the best, I think. Tendulkar is not at his peak now, but he is a great player. The guy is a genius, but I feel the edge has gone off his game. And I like batsmen like Afridi. He misses more than he hits of course. As for bowlers, I like speed merchants. And quality spinners. A guy like Glenn McGrath is a bowler's bowler. Someone who bowls a tight line outside the off-stump doesn't thrill me as much as someone who bowls inswinging yorkers at express pace.