Interview With GM Efstratios Grivas

Grandmaster – Senior FIDE Trainer – International Arbiter – International Organizer

Chessdom: Please tell us about your recent trip to Asia.

Efstratios Grivas: Well, I have been in Asian Continent since October 2nd and I will be back home on November 1st! That means that I will spend totally one month in this lovely but rather new for me earth-place. When I started my travel from Athens, my first stop was Istanbul where I joined the Turkish Delegation (over the last 2,5 years I am training and captaining the Turkish National Men Team) and we flew to Beijing in China for the 1st World Mind Sports Games Festival. We participated in all events scoring some nice results, at the same time enjoying the capital of the 1,3 billion state. Then, on October 20th I flew to Vung Tau City in Vietnam where I have been the main lecturer of the FIDE Trainers’ Seminar, coaching at the same time a squad of Turkish Junior Players. I am expecting to fly to Doha in Qatar on October 31st where I will also have the chance to visit this country for one day as the next day finally I will be able to fly back home. A rather long trip but I can only be satisfied as I had the chance to see and enjoy some quite nice places and meet interesting people.

Chessdom: How are you enjoying your time in Asia?

Efstratios Grivas: Asian culture is rather different from mine as a European citizen. Asian people are quite gentle and in general nice and the Asian countries’ ancient history allowed me to acknowledge and admire different and ‘mysterious’ civilizations. On the same time I must admit that I have enjoyed a lot as I was able to participate as coach, trainer and lecturer in two respectable events – the 1st World Mind Sports Game Festival and the World Youth Chess Championships.

Tien An Men Square

Tien An Men Square

Chessdom: What is your opinion on the chess development in that region?

Efstratios Grivas: You can easily understand that there is a chess explosion in the Asian countries over the last 10 years. Led by China, which at the time of being can be considered one of the three strongest in the world, the Asian players are seriously showing their teeth to a lot of traditionally strong countries. People in general are quite fond of our sport, willing to get better and better and benefit from it. Also, we can see a lot of continuously successful events all around the continent. Chess has been backed up and it will pay dividend by helping its followers.

Chessdom: Tell us more about the training seminars that you conducted.

Efstratios Grivas: Well, I have been the main lecturer (the other two were IM/ST Jovan Petronic and FM/ST Ignatius Leong) at the FIDE Trainers’ Seminar that was conducted during the WYCC in Vung Tau City in Vietnam. For 8 days and a total of 35 hours, we tried to teach a certain approach to modern chess training to our ‘students’. I have the feeling that we succeeded and I am sure that also our students will be able to succeed in their chosen profession. The FIDE Trainers’ Committee is trying to develop a training system based on serious training seminars and certification processes, which in the end will allow everybody to make the correct choice for their chess education no matter of the playing strength. But I feel that we have a long way to go before we establish perfect procedures. Special thanks must be given to our seminar coordinator FM/ST Peter Long for his efforts.

Grivas and Xie Jun

Efstratios Grivas and legendary champion Xie Jun

Chessdom: What has changed in training methods over the last several years? Are there any new techniques in sight?

Efstratios Grivas: There is a need that all trainees, regardless of race, creed or circumstance, to achieve their full potential. Our task as FIDE Trainers’ Committee is to make it possible. Our mission is to provide practical, step by step assistance. Our aim is not only to teach what a trainer must know in order to perform well in his profession, but also to show the correct way to teach his/her knowledge. The trainers’ intellectual conversations very often come to the conclusion that chess has changed to a clear science, and demands from the top chess-player to watch for every-day information. But, very often you just have to perform the basics and then the rest are coming. Nowadays, this saying has become a motto of the top trainers that have worked or are working on a high level. We can be assured that today’s proper chess training is based on an academic form which combines the traditional techniques (the basics), the computer help and the scientific preparation.

Chessdom: What is your opinion about the perspectives of the coaches attending the seminar?

Efstratios Grivas: If their goal was to get a FIDE certification they succeeded. If their goal was to learn they succeeded. If their goal is to properly teach they will succeed.

FIDE Trainers Seminar

At the FIDE Trainers Seminar

Chessdom: What are your plans till the end of the year?

Efstratios Grivas: Still there is a lot of work to do. On November 12th I have to fly to Dresden where I will be captaining and coaching the Turkish National Men Team at the Chess Olympiad. In December I will have to attend my monthly camp in Ankara and in-between I will train some Greek juniors and clubs as usual. Finally, I have to prepare some surveys, mainly for ChessBase Magazine and New in Chess Yearbook. Well, do not think that I am complaining – I managed to turn my hobby into a profession and I really feel happy about that. And by the way, I hope that I will find enough time to spend with my wife and my two lovely kids!

Read also profile of GM Efstratios Grivas

Efstratios Grivas personal website

Interview With GM Boris Gulko

by IM Anna Matnadze

One of the few players in the history of the game who has a favourable score against Gari Kasparov, whom he defeated on three occasions. Also the only chessplayer who won both USSR and US Championships. The legendary Boris Gulko is now in Catalonia, getting ready for the Magistral Casino Barcelona, which will start on October, 30. In this interview for the Official Magazine of the Catalan Chess Federation “El Butlletí d’Escacs” he talks about his life and career, as well as about different aspects of the royal game.

Matnadze: Hello Mr. Gulko, welcome to Barcelona. Could you please, describe to us your preparation process for the Magistral Casino Tournament? What chess analyzing program do you use?

Gulko: I use Fritz. Thanks to the organizers for making paring known a few weeks in advance, I could study games of my opponents and prepare some opening surprises.

Matnadze: Whom are you expecting to be the most difficult opponent?

Gulko: I think that the highest rated players like Dreev, Georgiev, Jobava will be the most dangerous.

Matnadze: You are a living legend indeed. However, you have not been so active lately. Has the importance of chess in your life changed in the last years?

Gulko: Chess was my passion when I was young, and now it is a quiet love. Now I’m far from using all opportunities to play. Of course, I was happy to accept the invitation to play in such an excellent tournament as Barcelona Magistral Casino.

Matnadze: You are the only player in the history of chess who holds both the USSR and USA Championships titles. Also you have a favourable score against Kasparov. What are your feelings about these facts?

Gulko: I would be glad to add Championship titles of a few more countries, but I do not know how to manage this.

Matnadze: Tell us about your victories over Gary. How and when exactly it happened? How did he react?

Gulko: I think in those games my strong sides and his weak sides came together. Gary was a normal opponent and each time reacted as a guy who lost the game. The first victory happened in the USSR championship in 1981, the second – half year later in the team Championship of USSR, and the third – in Linares 1990.

Boris Gulko

Boris Gulko

Matnadze: You did not have an easy life. You had to apply to emigrate from the USSR to escape the reigning Soviet regime. It was only in 1986 when you were finally permitted to do so. Could you tell us about that more in detail? How did you start your new life first in Israel and then in the States? How is your life in the States now?

Gulko: The seven years when I struggled for a right to leave the USSR were by far the hardest years of my life. I had three hunger strikes, a month of demonstrations in one of the Moscow squares together with my wife, during which we were arrested each day and spent hours in the police station. You can understand that after such a hardship, the years of my life in the U.S. feel like a permanent celebration of freedom.

Matnadze: Tell us about your family. As far as we know, your wife is a WGM too… Where and when did you two meet?

Gulko: We met with Anya at chess competitions. It was nice to travel and play together. Twice we played together on American national teams at Chess Olympiads. The last time we played together in one competition was the tournament in San Sebastian 1997. After this Anya pursued a different career.
Our son David is 29 years old. He is a lawyer. And we have a 10-month old granddaughter Sarah Nessa.

Matnadze: The number of Chess fans all over the world is growing every day, however, it is not yet popular as, for example, football or tennis… What do you think would be necessary to do to make chess more popular? What would be your strategy or ideas to attract more Sponsors?

Gulko: Chess will become more popular when more children will play the game. Adult chess amateurs grow up from children. When more people will become interested in chess, we’ll have more interest and more sponsors.

Matnadze: What do you think about the “short draws phenomenon”? What would be the mechanism to avoid them?

Gulko: People make short draws for two reasons – they are afraid to lose or they are tired. Against tiredness would help a rest day in the middle of the tournament. But I don’t know what is possible to do against a fear.

Matnadze: What is your opinion about cheating? It is becoming a very serious problem…

Gulko: I don’t believe in accusation of cheating of strong players. To become really strong you have to take chess as a matter of your life, and in this case cheating is excluded. I think in these accusations there’s more paranoia than substance.

Matnadze: What does Boris Gulko think about World Championship cycle and matches?

Gulko: I think that chess genius Mikhail Botvinnik created in the 1948 a great and fair system. Destruction of it was a big misfortune for chess. World Championship matches of strongest players were greatest events in the history of our game.

Matnadze: You were excluded from the World Championship held in Libya, together with other Jewish players. You wrote the famous letter to Mr. Ilyumzhinov. What was the whole story?

Gulko: FIDE promised to potential participants that Libya would provide normal conditions to all players. I planned to play in that Championship. Alas, the chairman of the organizing committee, the son of Muammar Kaddafi made a statement that Jewish participants of the World Championship would try to penetrate in the Libyan society and try to destroy it from inside, and he would fight against it. I was not ready to play chess in the mad house and demanded from Ilyumzhinov to move the Championship to a different country. But for him the mad house was OK.

Matnadze: There are emerging younger and younger chess geniuses every day. With 20-22 years you nearly become a veteran. What do you think about this?

Gulko: Now it is much easier to improve in chess compared to the pre-computer era because today each player has his computer as a high class sparring partner. Today young players reach grandmaster level much faster than in the previous epoch.

Matnadze: Which of these young players have the potential, in your opinion, to become World Champion, if any?

Gulko: All agree that Magnus Carlsen has to become the World Champion. Among the younger players, Ilia Nizhnik from Ukraine also has a potential to become the World Champion.

Matnadze: What would be your advice to young people who are just starting to play chess and take it seriously?

Gulko: Enjoy.

Matnadze: Once you said you do not regret the years you spent without playing – do you still think the same way?

Gulko: Seven years of a struggle for emigration from the USSR assisted me in development of my personality. But, if it were possible, I would be happy to avoid that school.

Matnadze: What do you like most in modern chess? What would you change?

Gulko: Modern chess is different from chess of previous centuries mainly by invasion of computers. Computers brought in our game a lot of things which are excellent, but something became lost. The world is changing, culture is changing, and we can’t stop the time.

Matnadze: About the time controls Mr. Boris Gulko thinks that…

Gulko: All time controls are good as long as both opponents have equal time for the game before the start.

Matnadze: I am sure you have also had enjoyable moments in the tournaments you have played. Can you share with us the most memorable one?

Gulko: In 1976 I played in the team championship of the USSR in Tbilisi on the same team with young Anya Achsharumova. Later I married her. It was happy, funny, and enjoyable.

Matnadze: What are your plans for the future?

Gulko: I plan to continue to work on a book of my selected games.

Matnadze: Thank you very much, Mr. Gulko, for the extremely interesting interview.

Teimour Radjabov interview

interview with the ECC winner for Day.az

Q: This is the third European Club Cup trophy in your career. What is particularly significant in this achievement?

Teimour Radjabov: I played for the Russian team “Ural” earlier this year when we became champions of Russia, which is also a privilege, because the Russian league with its composition of Grandmasters is considered to be the strongest in the world. Now we have won the European Club Cup. This is my third team gold medal from this competition, the previous two were taken with Bosna Sarajevo and NAO Chess Club. I also have two team silver medals, with Russian “Kazan” and the one with “Ural” from last year.

Q: This is not the first time that you are playing on the first board for famous clubs. Do you feel any psychological pressure?

Teimour Radjabov: Not at all. On the contrary, I think it is a great honor to play on the first board for such super-teams.

Excerpt here

Levon Aronian about the European Chess Club Cup

ambition and excitement before the start of the competition

Levon Aronian

Q: Good day Mr. Aronian, thank you for accepting the interview. Tell us what are your expectations for this year’s Club Cup.

A: We have a very ambitious side and all of our players are really excited. Some of our members are playing the Club Cup for the first time, as our young player GM Arman Pashikian. I expect that we will be fighting for the first place. And since the weather is so nice, we can also relax and enjoy.

Q: This is not your first tournament in Greece, what are the memories from previous events?

A: I always liked playing in Greece, it’s relaxing and nice.

Q: Your team MIKA is featuring Magnus Carlsen, Boris Gelfand and members of the Armenian Olympic squad. Do you think that this competition will be a good warm-up for the World Chess Olympiad, where you defend gold medal?

A: Certainly, I mean, we have the team that is capable of achieving things that we already achieved before. Our team here still feels like one, even if it not the competition where we represent our nation. In a way, it’s similar, but it will be much tougher for us in the forthcoming Olympiad, as our team is not that strong anymore, we lost one of our members. But still, I’m an optimist.

Read the full interview at the official site. The games start tomorrow with the participation of 23 players over 2700 and 60 players over 2600.

Jobava Petrosian

Baadur Jobava and Tigran L. Petrosian also playing for MIKA Chess Club