Boris Spassky is invited to Nalchik to comment the games of the FIDE Grand Prix tournament. Before the next round starts 10th world champion was answered the questions of the journalists.
- What was the most memorable in the first days of the tournament?
- There were several interesting games in the first round that were rather dramatic. One of the most interesting games was between Vasily Ivanchuk and Peter Svidler. Ivanchuk was running out of time and though he played very well, he hadn’t enough time to solve all the problems and as a result he lost. Levon Aronian is a convincing leader. He has two wins. It is quiet a good start. But it is difficult to judge after the first two rounds.
I watch with great interest how the grandmasters of the new generation compete to each other. It is very interesting to follow the style of struggle and to find out who is the dark horse. We know the white horses - they are our favorites.
- Are you going to continue the player’s career?
- The point is that I am 72 and what is the most difficult is to bear the tenseness of the struggle. I can’t do it anymore. I can play one-two games when I am invited to some contest but it is impossible for me to whole distance.
- The most necessary condition to be able to play in the tournaments is to feel like you are ready to “kill” everyone, but I am very shy and now I don’t want to win. If I win I don’t feel any joy but I don’t like to lose. And it is very boring to make draws. I have already made a lot of them. I can tell you that now the old age comes to chess very early. Flourishing comes very early at 26-28. We became champions at 32. I became the champion at 32, Bobby Fisher was a bit younger, Karpov was 24, but he didn’t play the World Championship match. Vasker was 24, and it was the 19th century time.
- Are you going to attend the club “Ladja” and play simultan or may be something else connected with chess?
- Now I don’t have any special program of getting acquainted with the
chess life in the republic and namely Nalchik. But there are two things
I would like to do- I want to visit the chess club and the local museum
of regional studies. This is the minimum program, and I think that it
is also the maximum that I can do. As far as I know we have two days
off and there are definite touristiс programs on these days. And, of
course, I would like to join our chess herd, pardon me for the
- What do you think of the today’s system of determining the World Chess Champion?
- I have never thought of the ideal system. It always seemed to that
the title of the champion has lost it significance. I think now it
would be reasonable to hold one tournament of claimants of the year and
there should be the World Champion of the definite year. But, on the
other hand, after Anand, who is the World chess champion now, had won
the last game with Kramnik, the significance of the title became more
important. And I am happy about this. Speaking about the idea of taking
such kind of series in which the selection will be made on the pyramid
scheme, which consists of six tournaments, I must say that it is not a
new idea. I have an experience of participating in tournaments, made on
the GMA. There were also four tournaments and the three best results
were taken into consideration. I can’t judge whether it’s reasonable or
not. May be it is a little bit complicated. And especially for now,
when it is quite difficult to find money for organization of
- Don’t you think that chess needs a new Bobby Fisher? It seems to
that grandmasters are apart, spectators are apart, and chess is also
- I think now it is Magnus Karlsen from Norway. He can play this role,
because he attracts in the chess world by his young age and the quality
of his play. He has quite an interesting and rich play, moreover hу is
a very brave boy; he goes forward whether he wins or looses. He also
plays endgames well like Bobby Fisher in his time.
But if you mean that there must be an extravagant figure, some kind of
showman, I can say that we don’t see such a person for now. And
possibly we won’t see him.
- After the chess crown had returned to Russia, women’s chess became more popular. What’s your attitude towards it?
- Speaking about the women’s chess, I’d like to say that I glad to know that the professional work is paid well in chess too.
- Our chess school was the strongest one in the time of the USSR. How is it now?
- Unfortunately, now there is a split. We may talk a lot about the so
called reconstruction, or think what has happened with the country and
so on. Many players, who grew up and got chess education of the high
level here, left the country. That’s the thing with me. I went to
France in 1976. I have been living there for 34 years.
I think now the title of the champion became underestimated, but it is
not because the interest to chess has decreased. The thing is that now
the competitors have a little disparity and for this reason I don’t
take the one who wins as the World Champion. He just gets the title.
But in my time everyone used to be the official champion for three
years. But I’d like to add that there were persons like Misha Tal. He
had been the champion only fort a year. However, he was a very bright
figure in chess. I think the chess world would be very boring if there
wasn’t Misha Tal. His work was very useful. I can remember once when I
was a participant of the tournament in Belgrade I met amateurs who were
discussing the tournament. One of them said: “ No Tal- no tournament.”
So there is the other reason why the titles are being underestimated. I
was always fond of the history of chess, and it was very interesting to
learn more about the chess world which had different steps of
development. The first World Champion, the conditions which were that
time. And what we have now: if your phone rings you get no point. I
wish I lived in the 19th century.
- What do you think of the coach career?
- The talent of coach is a special one. You can be an excellent chess
player, but at the same time an absolutely untalented coach. I have an
example. I was asked to work with Flora Dmitrieva, who was the champion
of Leningrad. I agreed but didn’t understand what it would be like.
She had already been the champion of Leningrad. So, I gave her a piece
of advice:” Flora, don’t think about the debut, just play as you like
and as you see.” So she did at the next championship and she was the
last. After that I realized that I should be very careful with my coach
But watching Bondarenko, who had a real talent, I understood that it is
easier to be a head of the school then to work. Now I am reading the
lectures on general chess items because I have a great experience. It
calls ”How I became the champion”, ”The most offending lost”, “The way
one shouldn’t play chess”. I have a great number of such stories.
So, before I agree to become the head of the school I had thought it other very carefully.
Now we hold two sessions in my school in Satka Chelyabinsk region, a
winter session and a summer one. There are about 30 pupils there. Now
their number will be decreased. I think that my lectures can be very
useful, because I am a kind of a magnet that attracts and unit
children. And I can also make serious professional remarks at the coach
lessons. That’s why I value my chances as 50/50.
I like to watch the youngsters and to point out their strong and weak sides, comparing them with my generation.
What do you think regarding computer influence to chess, do you see a positive moments of it?
It’s very important to take into consideration that computers have
changed chess. The drawback of them is that many games begin only with
the 35-th move or even later. So you are immediately involved in
endgame and there is no live game.
But there is also a great advantage about them. For example,
Grandmaster Bondarevsky and his wife spent a month to type the debut
repertoire of Bobby Fisher. Now, you find the program and you can have
everything in half a minute. It’s really a great advantage. The
computer is important on the high level when the value of the move is
It`s very important to learn to work with the computer. It must be our
servant; we should not let it become our master, other wise we will
- How did you earn your first “chess money”?
- I got my first chess money in 1948 when I was giving simultan chess
play in the Officers` House in Minsk. I was 11 then. In game I
checkmated one officer. He asked to return his move. So after two moves
I was checkmated. I began to cry bitterly and the game was stopped for
15 minutes. When I calmed down I finished the game. Since that time I
never return the moves. I got a very sad experience. Speaking about
money, I got the sum on which I could buy a winter coat. So that was
money, tears and a coat.
- Which of your games you can call “evergreen”?
- I think that the evergreen game is the game with Bronstein in 1960.
There was a very good balance between the strategy and tactics. This
idea was used in one of the movie of James Bond.