Some interviews with top players

0 | Chess Event Coverage

In the short period between the Tal Memorial and the London Chess Classic (which starts tomorrow), a few interviews with some of the world's best players have been published. In this post we share the most interesting ones with you.

In today's The Guardian, Sean Ingle interviewed Vishy Anand for the Small Talk series. The World Champion shared some details about his preparation:

When you are preparing for major tournaments like London how many hours a day do you devote to getting ready?

As much as it takes – up to 10 hours if needed – plus another two or three hours during the tournament.

And how do you prepare physically?

Mostly by running and doing weights. Mainly it's to relieve yourself of tension, and to sleep soundly.

It sounds a strange question to ask a world chess champion, but how much can you bench?

I don't bench press but I use machines to work 10-12 muscle groups. Biceps, triceps, a few things for the back, calves, shoulders and so on — and then I'll go on the running machine, cross-trainer or mountain climber.

An interesting part of the interview is about Bobby Fischer.

The BBC are currently showing the documentary Bobby Fischer, Genius and Madman. You met Fischer in 2006, a couple of years before he died. What was he like?

I found him surprisingly normal. Well, at least not very tense. He seemed to be relieved to be in the company of chess players. He was calm in that sense. He was also a bit worried about people following him, so the paranoia never really went away. But I am really happy I got the chance to meet him before he died in 2008. It was weird as well because I kept having to remind myself that this was Bobby Fischer sitting in front of me!

Were you tempted to whip out a pocket chessboard and challenge him to a quick blitz game?

No, because he whipped out his pocket chess set first and we started to analyse some recent games I'd played.


Yes, I showed him some of my games from Wijk aan Zee and tried to share some interesting developments. He was sort of able to follow everything – he hadn't lost his sharpness for chess – but his methods were a bit dated. In that sense he had fallen behind.

How do you mean?

Well, he had some suggestions, and he was sort of in the ball park … but when I would tell him that the computer says white is winning here, for me that was a sign to move on – but for him it was a starting point to argue with me! [Laughs]. I found it difficult to say to him 'No, no, no – these computers are really strong. You shouldn't be arguing with them!"'

Levon Aronian recently appeared on the cover (!) of the Armenian magazine Yerevan.

His interview was quite special for the photography (by Arnos Martirosian) and here are a few quotes from what Colin McGourty translated for WhyChess:

So it turns out any encounter takes place on two fronts – a struggle against your opponent and a struggle against yourself.

Exactly. The greatest player can defeat strong opponents but lose to a weaker one. That’s possible if he’s bad at talking to himself, if he doesn’t grasp his own problems, his strong and weak points, if he doesn’t know what he loves and what he doesn’t. So with everything he needs to win he suddenly starts to feel uncomfortable and loses a game. He loses to himself.

Chess is a game of individualists…

I’d even say of egoists. Just as all individual forms of sport of are. You can see yourself that the game is very lonely. The best chess players, as a rule, are introverted, unsociable, taciturn people. I cover all that with the word “egoism”.

But it’s also a game of intellectuals…

Putting that together you get “smart bastards”.

For the Russian website ChessPro, Egeny Atarov interviewed Peter Svidler, who won this year's World Cup and scored 50% at the recent, terribly strong Tal Memorial.

He won his last round game against Kramnik and when discussing this, Atarov suggested that Svidler had started to go all out to win even against the world’s best players. Here's the answer:

It’s – and this rare for me – a position I’ve formulated in life. No, it’s not that I specifically set myself such a goal in this tournament. I formulated it for myself a few years ago. It goes: if I find myself in normal form then I shouldn’t allow myself any “half-measures” during a game!

In general, if you’re absolutely convinced that such and such a move is the strongest in the position but it leads to double-edged play where you might win but also lose, while after other moves you’ll simply be +=, then it’s forbidden not to make such a move just because of the element of risk! You need to forbid yourself from making neutral moves.

(Translation again by Colin McGourty, you can read more here.)

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