Chess in Translation

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Chess in TranslationIn this holiday period many people, either at a camping site or on the beach, are looking for only one thing: something to read. And since you can take the internet with you these days, with your phone, your netbook, your iPads and all, we might as well make a suggestion for you. A new website was launched recently, and its title and subject is 'Chess in Translation'.

Chess in Translation is a new site by Colin McGourty about chess news and interviews published mainly in Russian. You probably know Colin already a bit, from his articles here on ChessVibes, about the Ilyumzhinov-Karpov saga. For us he keeps an eye on Russian media, and summarizes and translates the most important news. He's doing much more of the same on his own site.

We give a few examples below, to give you an idea of what you can find on Colin's site.

Gelfand at Crestbook Part I Boris Gelfand’s responses to reader questions at Crestbook.

Can anyone who wants to become a GM? It’s a complex question which I’ve already touched on. I’d repeat: it seems to me that it’s possible. Especially if you have unlimited opportunities to study 24 hours a day. Plus an enormous desire to do it – that’s the main thing – whatever it is in life you’re aiming for. On the other hand that’s not the most important goal. The main thing is, why do people play chess? It seems to me that it’s most important to do it for the pleasure it brings you.

Can the intellect and memory be developed? Let’s leave the intellect aside, it’s an abstract concept. While memory can in some ways be trained. At my level I pay more attention to systemising my knowledge. So as not to remember everything, but only the most important things. And as for development… I play the game “Memory” with my daughter and have it on my computer. If children can develop their memory then adults can too… No doubt there are some methods but here the question isn’t for me, a chess player, but for a specialist in the field of psychology.

Classical Anand, Romantic Topalov 84-year-old Mark Taimanov interviewed by the Russian site Smena. He talks about the recent WC Match in Sofia and gives his opinion of how the current players compare to the former Champions.

Was it really as high as the legendary encounters between Anatoly Karpov and Gary Kasparov?

I don’t want to offend the players in this match, but here we saw a struggle among chess players, while in the Karpov-Kasparov confrontation we witnessed a battle of personalities. Differing in world view, temperament… The interests of Topalov and Anand are focussed on chess – they have no achievements or even a desire for achievements beyond the board, in contrast to the great players from Steinitz to Kasparov. Moreover, in spite of their total concentration on chess the current leaders have in no way surpassed their predecessors in their play, and in fact seem to be inferior.

Analysing by the riverside with Bobby Fischer In a remarkable interview given to Yury Vasiliev of Sport Express, the 87-year-old GM Svetozar Gligori? talks about some of his career highs and lows, his friendship with Fischer and the unlikely new career he took up, aged 81.

I considered it my duty to take care of Bobby; he was 15, while I was 35. We spent a lot of time together. Once we were by the river, swimming and sunbathing. I was a good swimmer but Bobby tried to outswim me. And then sulked when he didn’t succeed. I told him: “Bobby, you need to train for about 20 years – and then you’ll beat me!”

Kramnik on competing with Carlsen In something of a media blitz around his 35th birthday, Vladimir Kramnik gave another interview, this time to Evgeny Gik of the Moscow-based Moskovsky Komsomolets. He talks about Magnus Carlsen’s threat to his chances of reclaiming the title, chess politics and how age has affected his chess. You once said of Magnus Carlsen that there’ll come a time when it’ll be impossible to compete with him. Has it already arrived?

The Norwegian’s successes really are impressive, but nevertheless they’ve been achieved mainly against the lower half of the table. So that if we talk about matches against, say, Anand or myself, I’m not sure that Carlsen will be the favourite. But in a tournament his chances are greater – his flexible, malleable style adjusts well to different types of opponents. In that you can see the influence of Kasparov who also, on top of everything else, was capable of “cutting down the tail-enders”.

Karpov on the World Champions

Karpov: I simply developed that universal style which dominated with the arrival of Spassky and then Fischer. But all the same we were different chess players, of course. Both Spassky and Fischer were brilliant at developing and sensing the initiative. In that regard I was, perhaps, a little inferior, but on the other hand I stood out by having excellent technique for converting an advantage, positional sense and an ability to maneuver positionally – in that area I was clearly superior to Spassky, and Fischer, and perhaps everyone, except Petrosian.

Kramnik: “if Topalov becomes champion it will be a disaster for chess”

You just won the Tal Memorial with 6 points out of 9, while not playing in the Kramnik style at all – but boldly, confidently, with a flourish – like your walking around the hall. Where did that change come from?

Kramnik: No, no – I’ve always walked around a lot, there’s nothing new. And in general these cliches about my style – “boring”, “careful” – are rubbish. Professionals understand it – it’s just my style. Take, for example, Morozevich – do you think he plays that way so that the spectators will call him a “romantic”? No – that’s how he wins the most points. Or Kasparov – everything that he said about playing for the fans – it’s just not serious, he just has that style of play. And me – my talent’s best seen in positional play, in the endgame, though I consider myself a sufficiently universal chess player. Forgive me, of course, but no-one plays for the public – everyone plays to get the best possible result.

Spassky: “I liked that the rook moved in straight lines and ate everything.”

Spassky: I didn’t learn to play, I learnt a few chess moves. How did it happen? At first I watched others playing and then, when I was alone, I went up to the board, took away the black pawn and then ate up the whole white army with the black rook. That was the start of my career. And what attracted me – I’ve no idea. I liked that the rook moved in straight lines and ate everything. It was voracious. That’s all.


In December last year in Elista there was a friendly match between you and Viktor Korchnoi. Tell us about it.

Spassky: What’s there to say? Two old men hurled themselves at each other, thrashed each other around and then quietened down with the score at 4:4.

We recommend you bookmark Chess in Translation immediately!
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