Chess Informant no. 100

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Exclusive interview with editor-in-chief Aleksandar Matanovic

Recently, the famous Chess Informant reached a milestone: edition no. 100 was published. Facts, figures and an exclusive interview with 77-year-old editor-in-chief Aleksandar Matanovic.

Forty-two years ago, in the former Yugoslavia, some chess enthousiasts had a few interesting ideas. They wanted to collect the most distinguished chess games from all major events, and publish them. For this, they established a "chess language" - an international code akin to those used in mathematics and music, equally understandable to chessplayers all over the globe. Lastly, they subsitituted traditional opening names with a classification of chess openings based on evaluation of all the available hitherto played games. In 1966, the first volume of Chess Informant was published.

Within a few years, their publication (also called "Informator") became the one and only chess bible (or should we say: bibles?) for travelling chess professionals, who in those days were known to carry more chess books than clothes in their suitcases, something we can hardly imagine in the digital era.

ECO As a solution for the growing piles of Informants, the Yugoslavs at some point started to publish their equally famous Encyclopaedias of Chess Openings ("ECO"), in five separate volumes. In the seventies and eighties, these were the books you could find in most GM's suitcases, and all pages would be cluttered with pencil notes, with updates or personal additions to analysis and evaluations.

101,033 games The Chess Informant publishing house, Sahovski, continued to come with new titles, and by now they have produced five volumes of the Encyclopaedia of Chess Endings, the Anthology of Chess Combinations, the Small Encyclopaedia of Chess Openings, 1,234 Chess Problems and many Monographs of Chess Openings. In total, 101,033 games have been published, along with a selection of 3,128 combinations, 2,503 endings and 108 studies.

Korchnoi Viktor Korchnoi has had the most games appear in Chess Informants - an awe inspiring total of 1,709, closely followed by Jan Timman's 1,703 over-the-board battles. Among the openings, ECO B33 holds the record: there were 1,498 games published with the Lasker-Pelikan Sicilian, Sveshnikov variation.

Interview In modern (internet) times, it's as easy as ABC to get the latest games of chess. Still, every issue of Chess Informant is one of the best buys for the chess fan possible, with hundreds of analysed GM games. Here's an exclusive interview with 77-year-old editor-in-chief Aleksandar Matanovic, who has been leading the Informant team since the very beginning.

What is the best chess game you ever played yourself?

Not many chess players have an answer to this question. They remember "the most important" games that are decisive for the standings. Pragmatism against beauty.

Why exactly did you start with Chess Informant in '66? What goal did you have?

An inferiority to the Soviet chess players, whose organization ensured the most important information to them. So, our goal was to enable the access to information to all the chess players.

How big was the team back then, and how big is it now?

Our team was bigger at the beginning. Now we have more contributors, leading chess players from all over the world.

Did you expect to reach a 100 issues?

Many years ago, after publishing first volumes of Chess Informant, in a conversation with Mikhail Botvinnik I told him that he would not have to carry in the future so many books and different papers when he went to some tournament - those several volumes would be enough. Mikhail Mojsejevich thought of that: "And what when there are 30 volumes. How big suitcase will I need then!". At that moment I thought: " 30 volumes! That is not my problem. The one who lives to that, will be solving it."

What are the biggest differences, in your opinion, between the chess world of 1966 and the chess world of 2008?

A great quantity of information increased the importance of chess players' memory. That is the reason as well that a title of grandmaster is earned at the age of 14 - bigger memory goes with the youth. Time, increased competition contributed to overcoming some stereotypes - which is a constant process in development of chess. Chess players rarely avoid risks and complications today, there is more "mess" on the chessboard. Somebody has described it as a "controlled chaos".

Do you have a personal favorite game, published in Chess Informant?

Spassky - Tal (15/518), Karpov - Kasparov (40/202), Psakhis - Geller (33/564)... However, it is questionable whether an "objective" estimation is possible, necessary. There is no accounting for criteria.

What, in your opinion, is the most important opening novelty ever published in Chess Informant?

The time of Frank Marshall has passed. Rare are the theoretical novelties that live for a long time. Anand has corrected significantly some critical openings: Anand - Bologan (88/77), Anand - Adams (94/267). A novelty in the game Atalik - Sax (71/559) will be long living.

What is your opinion on the use of computer programs?

What's the destiny of chess? Will computers overtake? Botvinnik said: "Cars and airplanes have been invented, and still people run the 100 metres or 1500m". Gratitude to Botvinnik! And what if everything can be learnt, if there is no defence against good memory?

How will Sahovski celebrate the 100th issue?

Among hundreds of thousands of high quality games played over the last four decades, 900 best and 100 golden games will be collected in one book. It will be a chess book on books; the crown of creativity of the best chess players all over the world. It will be available this spring.




Here are two strong games by Matanovic himself, and below the games he mentioned in the interview.











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