Alexey Dreev, Vladimir Malakhov and Boris Postovsky Summed Up 2012 on Chess-News

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29.12.2012, 22.00 МSK Time

Е.SUROV: This is Chess-News and two days are left while we enter the New Year. Today our guests are three well known names in the chess world: Alexey Dreev, Vladimir Malakhov and Bori Postovsky.

A.DREEV: Good evening!

V.MALAKHOV: How do you do.

B.POSTOVSKY: Good evening to Russians and hello to everyone else!

CLASSICAL CHESS VS RAPID

E.SUROV: Here’s my first question for Alexey Dreev. Alexey tell us what happened to you in this year.

A.DREEV: Well, yes, I managed to win five rapid tournaments in 2012; those were three stages of Rapid Grand Prix in Vladivostok, Shakhty and Azov, then I won the European Championship and the final of the Cup of Russia. I don’t even know which of them was the hardest. In any case, I myself was a bit impressed. […]

E.SUROV: Will we hear about you in classical chess again?

A.DREEV: My performance in classical chess tournaments wasn’t successful this year. Not that I played in a lot, but in those I played in I wasn’t successful. I lost rating points in most of them except only one or two competitions. On the other hand, it was completely different in the previous year. I gained rating points and had 2700+ but then something has happened. Once I was playing against Dominguez in the Spanish League and I had an absolutely winning position. In the end I lost that game and everything went wrong afterwards… That string of failures in classical chess has continued, but now I have a feeling it vanishes, so I will be trying to recover myself in classical chess in the nearest future.

V.MALAKHOV: My performance was stable in both classical and rapid chess this year. If talking about the rating, I started the year with 2700 and finished with almost the same result – 2710 or so. I mean, on the one hand nothing special has happened, but on the other hand, I didn’t lose anything which can be a reason for being satisfied.
As regards to rapid chess, I also can’t remember any terrible failures. I played three stages of Rapid Grand Prix and as I remember, I took third place in one and finished fourth in others. […]

E.SUROV: What would you say Boris Naumovich: do you prefer watching classical chess or rapid tournaments?

B.POSTOVSKY: I would say I like watching both. Well, when I have time. When I watch classical chess game it doesn’t mean I stick to it – sure, I may drop it for a while and come back after some time. The games are quite long. Rapid chess games are of course more interesting to watch in the Internet as long as the games are more dynamic.
[…] Children shouldn’t be taught only one kind of chess. The sense of teaching chess is to teach them thinking in chess. Only after they start to think and play good chess – only after that you can give them kind of an incentive and encourage to play rapid or blitz.

E.SUROV: We found this interview with you Alexey where you say something like “Classical chess is losing popularity…”

A.DREEV: Well, that’s not exactly what I said. I’m not completely sure what I’ve said sounded exactly like that. As you know the final rapid tournament of Grand Prix Russia was postponed by one day. They held a press conference and at some point we started to talk about classical and rapid chess and I said that classical chess faces serious problems which aren’t really widely discussed. There’s a huge amount of that problems. I remembered Jakovenko – Gelfand game as an example. Then I added that despite everything “Classical chess, although it has a lot of problems, still can’t be replaced by anything including rapid.” I also said that I think rapid is underestimated nowadays, although it’s really entertaining. Anyways, I didn’t say classical chess has died, so all those comments portraying me as a grave digger for classical chess are absolutely wrong.  

E.SUROV: Vladimir do you agree that classical chess is facing serious problems?

V.MALAKHOV: No doubt that the main problem classical chess is facing nowadays is the fact that it’s very hard to sell to anyone. If considering chess the high art, it’s obvious that nothing can replace classical chess in terms of quality of play – neither rapid nor blitz. But if we look at chess as at a profession it’s obvious that there’s a wish of selling it to sponsors, a wish of making it interesting with further chance of receiving dividends. Rapid is more dynamic, which means it’s easier to find a sponsor, money and just interest for the rapid tournaments.
A.DREEV: We spent almost two hours discussing that at the press conference. That’s really how it is. Maybe you remember the period when rapid chess was very popular. I recall the Grand Prix which was initiated by Garry Kasparov. I played in the final and lost against Michael Adams, but on the way to the final I managed to outplay Anand, Ivanchuk and Topalov. I only want to say that the rapid chess has developed. It seems that my opinion has coincided with the opinion of the Russian Chess Federation Board – from now on Aeroflot Open will be held only in rapid and blitz format. I don’t know if it was worth to kind of sacrifice classical tournament, but I guess I’m not the only one thinking that development of rapid chess should continue. However, I wouldn’t want its development to harm classical chess. Classical chess should live.

[…] I spend several hours on preparation for the classical game, but I don’t prepare for rapid games at all. As I already said I didn’t even prepare for the final, I didn’t even know my color for Game 1. That’s because rapid chess doesn’t need that and as I said before rapid shows who is who. 

V.MALAKHOV: The fact is that if taking into account the time given for the classical game the player should prepare for it in order at least to try to raise some problems for his rival. Otherwise, you won’t achieve anything. As regards to rapid chess the players have 15 minutes on the entire game and it’s completely possible that some adventurous or even risky idea can put the opponent off the rails, so the time limitation won’t make it possible for him to find a reasonable way out. That’s why there’s no need in preparation for the rapid games in the way we do for the classical ones. I surely agree on this. 

Е.SUROV: So, does that mean only those who use computer preparation and have good memory dominate the classical chess world nowadays?

A.DREEV: That’s it. You may see who is who in rapid and that's an absolute truth. One may use computer analyses and memory in classic. I emphasize memory, because it's a great help for any professional player. [,,,] The player who remembers theory surely has an advantage in comparison with the one who remembers nothing; but is that the advantage of him as a real player? Is he stronger if he just memorized some computer analyses better than his opponent? Is that his advantage? I have no explanation for this. Rapid is really fair. Computer analyses and even opening preparation mean nothing in rapid. Your qualities as a player - this is what matters in rapid. Check the results of rapid tournaments, they're usually won by strong players. Not that only I win them. For instance the last World Rapid Championship in Astana: who became the winner? Karjakin. Who was second? Carlsen. I mean it wasn't won by the player with 2600 ELO. You have the same chess and people in rapid, those who are good will be finishing first. That's why they have nothing to fear. Those who play good chess only by the help of engines - those should be afraid.

E.SUROV: Do you count a possibility that there can be some famous grandmaster who may play good classical chess, but be really bad in rapid due to some natural qualities?

A.DREEV: Yeah, there are those thinking slowly. There are good players who can’t play blitz, but I guess rapid gives the strong player the opportunity to play at his best. The time control is really enough - 15 minutes with 10 second increment per move – that’s enough for showing good chess.

B.POSTOVSKY: In general I agree with everything said by our famous GMs. I think classical chess will never die. It has future. All the strong tournaments held around the world only prove this. I guess more attention should be paid to finding the balance during the preparation for the classical game. A lot of grandmasters don’t do that spending too much time and effort on preparation – in the end they just have no strength left for playing and implementing their skills.
V.MALAKHOV: That’s an important problem. One should really find some balance.
If you won’t prepare for the game at all then you wouldn’t raise any problems for the opponent, but on the other hand too much of preparation may help you to puzzle the rival, however, at some point your mind can just get stuck and everything will ruin. One surely needs to find some balance.
Look at how Carlsen plays. He tries to find something new already on 3rd-4th move. His game against Caruana in the final of the Grand Slam, with b3 in the French defence, is a great example of that. We can really come to some deadlock if we’ll be playing only most widespread continuations.

E.SUROV: That reminds me of Fischer’s words, who didn’t advocate rapid chess, but tried to promote his own – Fischer chess. He said the player shouldn’t prepare for the game at all, but he should walk, go to the swimming pool, sleep, eat before the encounter and concentrate solely at the board. Is rapid chess the only way out or do you consider Fischer chess is also an alternative?

A.DREEV: Fischer detected this problem many years ago. Nothing can replace that chess ideal being created through the decades – the board, the pieces and the way you move them – that’s kind of an ideal and everything different will be only worse. I have played Fischer chess and I should say it was also dominated by those who are the strongest in classical chess.

TIME CONTROL UNIFICATION

A.DREEV: I guess Fischer chess is really a radical change, I think we can start from decreasing the amount of time given for the encounter. We shouldn’t necessarily go into some extremities. Maybe 15 minutes is not enough, but let’s say 50 minutes with 10 second increment for the game should be enough – maybe we should try something like that? Or anything else.

V.MALAKHOV: We have plenty of different time controls nowadays. In my mind time control for the classical game should be 2 hours for 40 moves or 1.5 hours for the entire game; or maybe we should try 1h and 40 minutes for 40 moves + 30 second per move, which is the real classical time control.
When you play classical chess you really try to create something that may stimulate the wish of writing a book about it as about some masterpiece. Playing rapid is on a large scale a pure action, because it's really hard to create some rapid masterpieces. What can be done with all the problems classical chess faces - I mean continuous draws and super computers, the problems that make us want to give up already now... As I said, now
we still watch the top level tournaments, which means even in this situation there still are a few players who manage to win. I mean Carlsen, Kramnik and some others. I wouldn't be burying classical chess while they manage to do so. Well, when Carlsen in his best shape will be drawing all of his, let’s say, 10 games against the strong opponents in some super tournament, we then may say we should change something or we should really start playing Fischer chess, or do something else.
B.POSTOVSKY: Lately a lot of tournaments show the high rate of decisiveness. Someone has said that
we need the time control unification and I agree with it. It’s not right when Wijk-aan-Zee for instance is played with one kind of time control, while London uses another.

MOST MEMORABLE EVENTS OF 2012

Е.SUROV: We are actually trying to sum up 2012 so Boris Naumovich I will ask you to be first to remember the events that stuck in your mind in this year. Of course, I mean chess events.

B.POSTOVSKY: First and foremost that is a completely unexpected result of the Women’s World Championship – I mean Anna Ushenina’s brilliant performance. I’m really happy for her. This is another proof for the statement that strong-willed players who are ready to fight can achieve success. Another interesting event took place almost in the end of the year and that is the World Cities Championship. Although it was a bit short, I found it to be a really interesting competition. I think there should be the rule which would regulate the composition of the teams – the teams should consist of the players coming from one city not the country only. Well, these are the details which should be discussed; in any case this was an interesting championship.

A.DREEV: Well, this was just an ordinary year. What can I remember? The World Championship Match Anand-Gelfand. I wouldn’t agree with those saying it wasn’t interesting from the chess point of view – that was really a big event. The professional players surely understood how complex the games were, although the match itself was not full of decisive games. Well, I actually can’t remember anything else. Would anyone help me?

V.MALAKHOV: No doubt Anand - Gelfand match is the event of the year for it was full of drama despite its visual dryness. It seems to me that Boris Gelfand was really close to winning the title.
Another memorable event is the Olympiad and another fascinating success of our girls. Our men’s team was also very close to victory – Armenian team played brilliantly there. I should also mention Women’s World Championship, because it was hard to consider Anna Ushenina as the favourite of the competition. She showed a very good chess and we once again saw that the knock-out tournaments are usually won by the dark horse players.

B.POSTOVSKY: I also remembered a very important thing – Magnus Carlsen broke Kasparov’s record in this year. Certainly that is the event worth of mentioning. It seemed that this record wouldn’t ever be broken, however, he managed to do that.

A.DREEV: I remembered that rapid and blitz ratings were introduced at the very beginning of the year. I guess that’s a good initiative. It’s advantageous for FIDE from all points of view including the financial one […] I really hope that starting from the next year we will have some world championships as long as the rapid and blitz ratings are counted for a year already. You know how it happens now. For instance, last year I participated in the qualification tournament for the World Championship in Astana. Only three players could qualify, everyone else was the invited participant. Of course, they all were strong chess players, but the fact is that they’ve been participating due to their classical ELO. That seems really strange for me. That’d be OK if we didn’t have the rapid rating, but as long as we have an official rapid rating that exists for already the year, I believe these kinds of competitions should gather players according to exactly their rapid ELO. I hope that will happen next year.

E.SUROV: Going back to the time control issues, Emil Sutovsky just sent me the message saying that there’s a plan of approving two formats of time controls. All world championship stages – Grand Prix, Candidates tournament, the World Championship Match itself and the World Cup will be played with the classical time control – 2 hours for 40 moves + 1 hour for the next 60 moves and so on, as I understood; while the continental tournaments will have 90+30 time control. This decision was introduced by the Association of Chess Professionals and as long as it got only preliminary, but not the final approval it seems that the discussion around it hasn’t finished yet.

A.DREEV: I consider that to be absolutely OK, because you have some space for moving. We consider 5 minutes game to be blitz as well as 3m+2sec/per move and even 1 minute game is blitz. Perhaps it’s okay if there will be two classical time controls; actually that’s the same in rapid […] So, I don’t see a drama here. It would be completely wrong if there are ten different time controls, but having two is completely okay. I think rapid can also have two types of time control.

DISAPPOINTMENT OF THE YEAR

Е.SUROV: Well, we mentioned the most memorable events that took place this year, so now let’s think of the event or events that disappointed you.

V.MALAKHOV: Despite my respect to ACP I would say the fact that they are unable to organize the final of the ACP Cup for the third or fourth year in a row is the main disappointment of the year […] Everything they have organized for women gives them a credit, but ACP Golden Classic, the tournament with adjournments, which was held this year in my opinion was too small-scaled and didn’t actually attract that much interest. On a large scale, we see that nothing has been organized for men during the year and that is sad.

B.POSTOVSKY: My lifelong experience makes me to conclude that it’s better not to get disappointed on the New Year’s Eve. That’s why I have no disappointments. […] I would only wish the players to pay more attention to their health in the upcoming year, because in my view health plays the crucial role as in classical so in rapid chess. Carlsen demonstrates that actually. Volodya was right when he said Magnus is not showing any exceptional preparation, he just has energy and that helps him to outplay his opponents easily.

А.DREEV: I have no answer for this question. I’m on the contrary fascinated by everything happening around. Volodya was talking about some problems, but they actually didn’t arise today. We’ve been talking about rapid, so I don’t see the reason for being disappointed. The Cup of Russia is ahead – as I know in the New Year there will be organized 20 tournaments, while we had only fourteen in 2012. I mean rapid is strengthening despite the poll you had on your website and at the same time it’s not killing the classical chess. We will have Rapid World Championship and I hope that qualification tournament will be fairer this time, i.e. more players will be able to qualify for the final and the main criteria will be their rapid ELO, so I don’t really see any reasons for disappointment.

PROFESSIONAL CHESS

Е.SUROV: Here’s a question from our reader, he asks: “Do you consider chess tournaments to be sports and the participants sportsmen/women?”

V.MALAKHOV: Certainly yes.

A.DREEV: For the person who plays chess professionally the answer is obvious – chess is a sport with all the usual consequences. The person who asks that probably doesn’t play chess professionally. Those who are professional players will surely say chess is a sport – it is a sport to a great extent. Of course there are some other things in chess, but there’s no doubt that chess is a sport.

B.POSTOVSKY: Certainly chess is a sport! Moreover, it’s a very difficult sport. I would even say it’s one of the most difficult sports in the world. Only those who haven’t dedicated oneself to it don’t understand that.

E.SUROV: Another reader asks: “Whom do you play chess for? What is chess for you?”

A.DREEV: It’s absolutely obvious that we dedicated our life to chess and when we started playing it we weren’t thinking about what we were going to play it for. We simply loved chess. It’s worth of that – chess is beautiful and even computers can’t kill it. Chess helps the person to express oneself and at the same time it brings the pleasure of creativity as well as of pleasure of victories…

B.POSTOVSKY: I will say it even simpler: we play chess for ourselves and for millions of chess fans. All the professionals work for making one’s life reputable. So, if at some point you need to solve some sporting task and do it without spending a lot of effort… Well, there will be some disappointed spectators looking for bloody fights only… I think it’s not right to ask for supernatural things from the players… How do you think?

A.DREEV: It’s better not to ask from us that, but to create the conditions which will help to avoid that, I mean when there will be no need in doing that kind of draws and so on.

ADDITIONAL RULES

Е.SUROV: What do you think about the additional rules – dress codes, 40 moves rule and others?

А.DREEV: I think all that should be made in respect to the conditions. If you introduce the dress code rule at the Individual European Championship where half of the participants are paying for their own expenses, it seems to me that such a rule is just nonsense. If you do the same at the Grand Prix or Wijk-aaz-Zee where the invited participants earn enough money, it’s okay to ask them to dress respectively…

E.SUROV:  Well Silvio Danailov would tell you now: “You first dress and then we will be able to sell the tournament and as a result you will earn more.”

A.DREEV: In my view that things work when the tournaments have a few participants. No one dresses up at the competitions with hundred or more participants and that’s a fact. It’s senseless to ask them doing so; I guess that’s okay for the round-robin competitions... 

AEROFLOT OPEN

Е.SUROV: Here’s another question from our reader. How do you see playing against the amateurs in the first rounds of Swiss format competitions? Is it kind of a “labour duty”? Do you consider yourself a labourer or maybe you feel like an examiner? Or do you just play chess? I will also add Alexander Khalifman’s recent words in regards to the Aeroflot Open and the situation around the closing of the classical tournament. As you know the decision was widely discussed on Emil Sutovsky’s Facebook page. Namely, Alexander said that Aeroflot differed from other Swiss competitions because professional players needn’t to play against the ones with 2200, 2300 or even 2100 ELO, while in most of other Swiss tournaments you should first outplay them in order to fight for something bigger.

V.MALAKHOV: It’s most likely that I just play chess. Well, from the professional player’s point of view when you go to play in some Swiss competition you face some rules and conditions from the organizers. Okay you play stronger, where’s the problem then – just go and win. It’s okay if you won’t manage to win – everything happens. You may draw by chance. That’s also okay. What I mean is that sooner or later you will still go up to the level when your opponents will be stronger.

V.MALAKHOV:  As regards to Aeroflot I think the admission fee was too high. I consider that to be unprofessional. That’s what I think and not everyone will agree with me, but I believe that when the person is considered to be a professional, it’s wrong when he should pay for doing his job. It has to be vice versa. He should be able to get something for doing his job or at least he shouldn’t be paying for getting an opportunity to do his job.

А.DREEV:  I understand Volodya completely. It’s really unprofessional to pay, but Aeroflot also had some advantages, In any case that was an interesting tournament, which gathered lots of people and became a tradition, so it’s a bit sad it’s closed. On the other hand, that’s how life is. I think we should thank Alexander Bakh for the idea because it was a useful chess event. Perhaps, there wasn’t an ideal scheme of holding the tournament, so admission payment was needed in order to just hold it.  

CHЕATING

E.SUROV: One of our readers sent us the following question: “Just a week ago Croatian city Zadar hosted the Open in which 25-year-old Borislav Ivanov shared 3rd-4th having 2230 ELO. He scored +3 among the opponents with average rating of 2570. In Round 8 they turned off the live broadcast and took away his pan, as a result he easily lost as white against the rival with 2600 ELO. However, in the last round he beat as black the opponent with 2622 ELO. So my question is if you are going to continue playing chess when the technologies develop so fast and it gets practically impossible to catch the cheaters. Do you have an alternative profession?”

A.DREEV: In all the competitions we participate we mostly know each other and trust in some way. All the players know each other for a long time already. Some doubts may rise when you see new faces and especially in the story mentioned by the reader, but I think better not to go into extremities, maybe that person won deservedly. We shouldn’t be making premature conclusion or we may fall into cheating phobia. I agree that the problem exists but I think it hasn’t become universal yet. Although professionals talk about that now, deep inside they still aren’t that afraid of that. At the moment the problem hasn’t gone beyond the bounds of decency. 

V.MALAKHOV: We all know about this problem but I personally haven’t faced it yet. […] I believe this problem is solvable, which makes me to think it’s not that serious.[…] There were suggested several ways out – delay of the live broadcast, another suggestion was to prohibit leaving of the playing hall during first 30 minutes and others…

E.SUROV: So, you support all that…

V.MALAKHOV:  I just think this problem is not that serious yet; and if it becomes that serious I guess we may try using those suggestions, why not?

A.DREEV: As I already said I don’t consider that to be the main problem in today’s chess world.

NEW CHESS TITLE

Е.SUROV: Ivan Kashirin asks if there’s a need in introducing the new chess title and if yes how should we name it. What criteria should be used for defining it?

A.DREEV: I think that’s not necessary. I read Karjakin’s opinion that the title of supergrandmaster should be introduced, but if that will happen we will all just "come to blows." Some will say their past achievements should be counted, others will argue only current achievements are important. All that smells fishy. There are quite specific criteria of the players' strength - that is the rating. Why in the world you need anything else?
Having the title is not that important. For instance tennis - do they have any special titles? Not really, there's World No.1 player and the player who is 100th in the list. It's the same in chess, but as long as we have such a tradition, let's just keep it. Let them [traditions - CN] live, why should we break them? It's definitely not the most important problem now, that's just a try to avoid discussing some other more important issues.

Е.SUROV: Vladimir, do you agree with that?

V.MALAKHOV: It’s hard to say. It’s clear that the grandmaster title has been really devalued lately. That’s because we now have GMs with 2400 or 2500 ELO. I agree with Alexey, today the rating is sufficiently objective criteria. Moreover, today rating is the only objective criteria today.


  


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