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Great player & a gentleman

other Updated: Oct 25, 2008 23:42 IST
B Shrikant
B Shrikant
Hindustan Times
Vladimir Kramnik

It's been far from good going for Vladimir Kramnik at the World Chess Championship match against Viswanathan Anand, but that hasn't affected his pleasing personality. He sports a smile while taking questions at media sessions and never loses his cool. Maybe that's why Kramnik was once asked to present the Russian version of the hit American show 'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire', the Indian edition of which was made famous by Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan. It was in 2001 after he defeated Garry Kasparov to win the Classical World Championship, but Kramnik declined the offer, saying he was a chess player and not a showman.

Kramnik's positive attitude and his never-say-die spirit was famous in chess circles but what has won hearts this time is that unlike some former champions, he doesn't throw tantrums or resort to mind games.

One reason why Kramnik is not totally obsessed about chess can his other interests. "Vladimir is interested in art, literature and music and likes reading," says his manager Carsten Hansel. Vlady, as he is known in chess circles, likes classical music and has once said he would like to learn to play the piano after he ends his career. He has inherited his artistic genes from his parents. Father Boris is a well-known sculptor and mother Irina a music teacher.

Kramnik is also interested in current affairs and keeps track of world events just as intensively as numerous sport and cultural activities. He is married to French journalist Marie-Laure Germon and lives in Paris. The last few years have been tough for as he has been diagnosed with a rare form of arthritis, called ankylosing spondylitis. It causes him great physical discomfort while playing and is troublesome in a sport like chess where one has to sit at a table for hours.

A great chess player and a gentleman, the dignity he has shown while accepting defeats and the wit he has replied questions with have warmed the hearts of those present here.