Genna Sosonko: "Do You Know Who Was the Most Famous Swiss Chess Sponsor?"

Время публикации: 19.02.2013 04:24 | Последнее обновление: 19.02.2013 22:36

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Е.SUROV: This is Chess-News and our guest is Genna Sosonko. Good evening!

G.SOSONKO: Good evening!

E.SUROV: Today we will talk about the Zurich Chess Challenge which starts on February 23rd (the first playing day); the winner will be defined on March 1st. This year the tournament gathered four participants: Anand, Gelfand, Caruana and Kramnik. Chess-News will offer you the detailed coverage of the event, namely Genna Sosonko will be on the spot to share everything he will see in Zurich. Genna, I know this is not your first visit to Zurich. In general, this is a city with a rich chess tradition.

G.SOSONKO: That's true. Moreover, I guess the oldest chess club of 1809 is located exactly in Zurich. And that means something! As regards to Switzerland, I would like to say several things about it.

Generally speaking, Switzerland is a special country in Europe. It's a sterile country where everything is clean, everything is alright, there are no problems and nothing actually happens. I remember GM Donner who divided European countries into three categories: the first one gathered countries which participated in both World Wars, the second category had the countries which went through only one World War (as Denmark and the Netherlands); and in the third category was Switzerland only. Another GM I have talked to, I won't name him, said the residents of other countries just envy Swiss. I don't know if that's true though.

Going back to chess in Switzerland and namely in Zurich, first thing to remember is the tournament won by Tal in 1959. Among the participants were young Fischer and Keres. Surely the Candidates tournament 1953 is also noteworthy. It was won by Smyslov and we practically celebrate its 60th anniversary. Zurich Chess Challenge which starts already on Saturday (the opeing ceremony will be held on Friday) is dedicated to this anniversary.

[...] I have played in Switzerland a lot of times, namely, I have played in Lugano, Zurich, Biel... Now Viktor Korchnoi lives near Zurich. I have talked to him lately and I think I will visit him if having such opportunity. He tries to keep his spirits up, but at the moment he's in a wheelchair. Unfortunately, his feet failed under him, but in general he tries not to give up.    

Е.SUROV: You were talking about Switzerland and I wanted to ask you - if not considering Viktor Korchnoi, Switzerland isn't actually rich on chess talents. Is that correct? What is the reason for that, how do you think?  

G.SOSONKO: Oddly enough I again remembered Donner and Tolush. I would explain it as follows. As Tolush used to say in order to play good chess you should be poor, hungry and angry. None of these is true for the young Swiss who likes to play chess or who is starting to play it. It's too good here. The life is too good and calm...

Аs regards to chess traditions in Switzerland, do you know who was the most famous Swiss chess sponsor? That was a woman - Clare Benedict, the distant relative of James Fenimore Cooper. She was very rich. In 1953 Max Euwe has met this rich American woman in the Netherlands. So, she told Max that she regularly sponsored the Zurich university - she lived in different places like Switzerland, Italy in which she was eventually buried. Euwe together with Cristoph Nagler thought how to draw her in chess. So she became the sponsor of the tournament held in 1953. Moreover, she then organized the competition which was known as Clare Benedict Cup. When she died in 1961 she has bequeathed all her money for holding the Cup named after her. This tournament was held annually at different Swiss resorts. There were no prizes, however, the conditions were great. I've participated in several editions. Usually the teams were from the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Austria and Switzerland. Sometimes France and England also participated.       

The last Cup was held in 1979, while the first one took place in 1953. The tournament was held after her death from 1961 to 1979 when they ran out of her money.

(on the upcoming tournament)

G.SOSONKO: My opinion regarding Anand's play has somewhat changed of course [in September 2012 Sosonko wrote an article in which he doubted the World Champion could show a better play than "the one we have been observing for the last two years" - CN]. I mean, Anand has just won the tournament. That's a fact and the event that happened for the first time perhaps in two years, or maybe even more. That undoubtedly inspires. Despite all the luck and Caruana's mistakes in the last rounds, Anand has still become the winner. Anyway, despite my great respect to all German participants, none of them is among the world elite or on the list of the top GMs. [...] The tournament that will start in several days is pretty different. That's because there aren't any easy opponents, that's why it will be really interesting to see how Anand will cope with them. As in the article I wrote last year, so now I add that I would be happy to be wrong, because I'm really happy for Anand - it seems that he's getting back to his shape. So, if anyone will be writing - and I'm sure someone will do! - that Kramnik and Gelfand (as the participants of the Candidates tournament) will try not to reveal their preparation... I consider that to be nonsense, because any player wants to show his best when he gets to the board.  

Е.SUROV: Here's a question if chess we're going to see this year in Zurich differs from the one of the epoch you have mentioned...

G.SOSONKO: Sure, that was a different game with a different approach... There are some changes in the rules, actually we have launched the website which gives detailed information and in general looks quite nice. 

(about the sponsors)

I have mentioned Clare Benedict and now we see chess gains new sponsors - we saw that in the World Championship Match and even now the tournament is sponsored by the businessman from Moscow Oleg Skvortsov. He was the organizer of the Aronian - Anand friendly match last year. Oleg himself is a quite strong player, who competes with GMs time after times. Why I'm emphasizing this (by the way, Andrei Filatov is also a quite strong candidate master as I know), just to compare them to some other sponsors, who may be pretty different. For instance, on February 23rd opens the exhibition in Antwerp where they're going to present a chess set made by some famous Flemish sculptor. The pieces are just wonderful and they asked me to send them some game for opening the exhibition. I thought the game between Salwe and Rubinstein would be interesting, equally interesting would be Aronian - Anand encounter from the recent Wijk aan Zee competition. So, I sent them both. They responded this wasn't a good choice for they need all pieces to be on the board. Then I thought to send them the stalemate where all pieces are on the board (Loyd's position), but eventually I sent them the following position 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5. Approximately an hour ago they emailed me asking what is the purpose of the last move of White and actually if I can give them more accessible explanation for how should they place those pieces. So, I'm thinking now: should I write them that White pushes its kingside pawn on two squares and Black does the same, or should I simply despise them giving no answer...

E.SUROV: You just noted Oleg Skvortsov, the sponsor of the tournament, regularly plays with the grandmasters and he does that quite successfully. The same is true about Filatov. Does that mean we're facing the tendency when chess is gaining sponsors who not just have money, but have some chess achievements?

G.SOSONKO: I guess so. So, we have to compliment not just those people to whom all the GMs should be thankful - as long as they gain an opportunity to play, as well as the spectators - who can watch all those games, - but chess itself, for it stays an absolutely pure game which they all played years ago, while being students and haven't forgotten it. That's why I think chess is having kind of a pulling power; and only time will show if that is going to become a tendency.   


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