Alexey Shirov: "Chess Players Are Uncapable To Go Against Their Interests"

Время публикации: 21.09.2012 00:34 | Последнее обновление: 31.05.2013 01:34

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Е.SUROV: Good evening, it's 9 P. M. And I welcome everyone to join our conversation with a wonderful guest here - Alexey Shirov. Hello, Alexey. 

А.SHIROV: Good evening, Evgeny!

Е.SUROV: Well as our site follows the actual news, which takes place now, I will ask you my first question. Sergey Karjakin has signed his contract with his new sponsor and took some PR actions - he gave a simultaneous exhibition to "Spartak" footabll team players. Have you ever had any sponsors yourself? Official or non-official ones? Do you have it now? 

А.SHIROV: Well, actually, no, I never had any sponsor, I didn't sign any contract. I mean I signed some contracts with the tournament organizers and sponsors. I think that it's good for Sergey to do it really, he has more options now and due to that sponsor he can fully concentrate on chess. When I was on a peak of my career, in 1998 and 2000, I had to deal with everything myself, I had to concentrate on chess and all the other issues at the same time. Well, of course it made me stronger. So perhaps this is the answer to your question. As for now - well I am not pretending to achieve something great in chess right now really. If there are sponsors in Latvia - tha't good. 

Е.SUROV: Well, Sergey together with his sponsor though of a motto: "Let's return chess crown to Russia". Why not think of something like that concerning with Latvia? 

А.SHIROV: Well the chess crown was in Latvia, howeveer just for one year. It was a Soviet Latvia at that time. 

Е.SUROV: That's true. 

А.SHIROV: Well I'am quite surprised that our discussion started that very way. I also saw Andrey Maximov's questions. Honestly speaking, I am 28-th in the world now. I am sure to continue playing on that level but it's a bit hard to play better. I mean perhaps I can play better in the future, it would be good to start playing, to increase my rating, but it's not a priority for me though. I haven't played my best Olympiad. I am even not likely to play in the world cup. If I go there having enough rating points - I will certainly play, and if not it will be my first time to play on the European championship. From the other hand I want to reamin in chess and play well, so I need to do it seriously, i have some hopes in the future. At least I want to win tournaments. And i do everything to carry on. 

Е.SUROV: I didn't quite understand, whether we can consider your reply as an answer to Andrey Maximov's question. He asked about what you need to get to the top of chess world. 

А.SHIROV: When I was close to the top of chess world I had little chess flexibility of some sort, I needed a skill to put away all the questions not related to chess and only think about the next tournament and nothing more. I was always attracted by many thing on the peak of my career. When I won my match against Kramnik in 1998 I had bad times in my life - I wrote about that in my book. I mean normal preparation has stopped for some time. I thought that in 1999 I wasn't perhaps the third player in the world as I thought but the 8-th, 9-th, 10-th... I didn't play the tournaments as well as I could. When I realized in in 2007, I tried to get rid of these mistakes but it was not easy to settle the things when you are 35 years old and the number of young strong opponents has grown up. So I am happy to achieve what I have achieved so far. There's nothing to get more - I am happy with what I have. 

Е.SUROV: Perhaps this is the reply to our question. Well, we start to speak about the past, but I would ask you one more nowdays question. Suat Atalik has left the ACP. Can you comment that action? 

А.SHIROV: It's not quite easy to comment this as Suat Atalik is quite a complicated person himself. From one hand he shows that he can fight for his ideas, he defends the other people rights and he seems to create a positive image. From the other hand, when he starts arguing with Yury Vovk for example - well it's a nasty thing actually. Others wrote that in their comments on your site - I only repeat what they said.  

As for the ACP, I know that membership wasn't gree of charge and the number of members decreased gradually. When I payed my fee last time I decided not to do it next time - so I also took my decision to stop being a member too. After that it was announced that the membership is free of charge and the number of members has increased up to 1 thousand players. Well, I mean I don't quite understand the fact that Atalik has left the ACP. The ACP tour hasn't taken place since 2010 so the ACP doesn't act like a real organiztion though. As far as I know, the ACP organized a women's tournament, and there was a men's tournament in Amsterdam, but it was possible for any body to organize it. I am likely to agree with Atalik that nowadays this ACP doesn't show any serious activity. But I do believe that things may change, so I do not take any serious actions. Speaking about his opponent Yury Garrett - well he is a professional in the term of someone who is working on chess professionally - he publishes books, he organizes tournaments. So Atalik's attacks against Garrett seem to be rather personal and are not connected with what he really does. To me Atalik's main subject for being cross is that ACP did nothing to solve his matter with Turkish and Greek chess federations.

Е.SUROV: Actually yes!

А.SHIROV: I don't quite understand, why is Garrett is to blame - he is not a player himself and he is organizing tournaments in Italy where noone forbids Atalik to play. Generally speaking the chess world is rather a world of individuals - I had the same situation like Atalik has now where noone stood up to defend my rights in 1998. It is true that I do not support Yazici in Atalik and your cases, but still we can't forget the fact that he developed chess life in Turkey. There wasn't anything like we see in Turkey now. However I am surprised to see what is going on there now. I don't mean to boycot tournaments as I have not yet been invited to play there. Perhaps if I have an invitation I'll think it over. 

Е.SUROV: Thank you, you've thought about my future question. But what if the Association asks top players to show their protest? How can they do it? Do you think that there will be a lot of players who can stop playing in Turkey? 

А.SHIROV: I think there will only be few of them. Turkey is now holding one of the Women's Grand Prix tournaments. You score points there. You can't blame the players for coming to Turkey though. 

Е.SUROV: Well you know, you fight for something in each tournament... 

А.SHIROV: Well yes. As for me, I clearly understood I am playing chess in Turkey during the Olympiad. However I had made this step, started playing for Latvia and it's my duty to play for the national team without taking into consideration where the Olympiad takes place. 

The question is a difficult one. I have not boycotted any tournaments for political reasons for a very long time already. Even in 2004 in Libya - it was not due to my political point of view - I simply thought that FIDE is not doing it in the right way. Afterwards I understood that perhaps it was not the right way to think. Perhaps it was better for me to play in Libya that time. The majority of chess players prefer not to go against their favour. If they find it suitable to play in Grece and Turkey, if they are well accepted there - then I personally think that players will go there.

Е.SUROV: Are you ACP member?

 A. SHIROV: As I told before I remained one of the members because when the membership was not free of charge I had time to pay for all these years. When I decided not to pay any more the membership became free, that's wgy I never went out of this organization, but my surname was still in the lists. I still watch the ACP-tour results, where I had quite a low performance for the first time. Generally speaking I have always played in the final. When the men's tournament was stopped, for me this organization became not so serious, however as a person dealing with the tournament organizing I quite understand, that it's quite difficult, so I don't want my words to be critical against somebody. I don't critisize anyone but I don't see ACP as any serious body with serious strength. In that situation Emil Sutovsky, as a head of ACP tries to use his position for personal reasons. Perhaps if the ACP stops working correctly it's better if doesn't exist.

E. SUROV: Well it's quite interesting to hear that, but thanks for your sincere words.

A. SHIROV: Last year I tried to get to the ACP board but I had not enough votes which quite surprised me. But I can't say I had a big program. I hoped that if I get to the board I would have managed to bring some more order to the sports life. But I also had an idea that nothing except some small issues could be changed there. I am surely not to say any critical remarks about the ACP board as the body itself is not an active player on chess arena.

E. SUROV: But what should in your opinion be the ACP main goal. To organize tournaments for chess players or to defend their interests in some conflicts?

А.SHIROV: I think both. The body can't be called a serious one without making any professional events. Look at tenniss ATP - they hold a lot of tournaments. As for ACP a lot of competitions would be happy to become the ACP-tour ones but there is another question - where is the final. There's some final in Tennis. So I find that the situation with ACP-tour is quite a nasty one. As for the jurdical defence issues - I do find ACP as a suitable actor for that. However it could have done more in that field, but I do not have any illusions though. I wrote a lot about it at that time but I do think that in 2008, when Sutovsky was already a head coordinator, being still an ordinary board member - he used his position in order to defend Kamsky's interests. Well. it's quite a complicated story and I was told that I am quite wrong in my ideas. I would remind you that in 2007, as far as you know I lost the World Cup final to Gata Kamsky and lost a chance to play against Topalov. Kamsky got that right, however the fact that he won the world cup didn't automatically mean that Kamsky was to get to the next cycle by default. Then when it became unclear whether Kamsky and Topalov will play together they were both promised to play candidates matches in Kazan in the end and they met there by the way. And it was a complete violation of all the chess rules, because the composition of new candidates matches should have been done according to ratings. I have an impresson that when people get some powers, when they are on the top, whether it is ACP or FIDE, ECU or something else they think about their personal interests first or about their team interests and profits and not about the future chess world development. I think that the situation will remain unchanged. Personally I have no great thought about it, that we need to change everything and that something should go in some other way. I know that it is hard to get invested in chess events so we are in a sort of a magic circle.

Е.SUROV: Well, you are right - a magic circle, so there's no way out, right? 

А.SHIROV: The way out could have been simple if we had guaranteed money funds for the sports cycle - the world championship or the world cup, if all these funds would be undr control of some thoughtful body or under chess players control. That could be a way out. But this time it seems unreal though. But now the right to organize anything is in the hands of those who pay.  

Е.SUROV: Let's get to the Olympiad. 

А.SHIROV: By the way - perhaps I tell you more about my personal impressions and they are a bit old of style. I know little about Andrew Paulson. Perhaps FIDE is moving to some more serious organization, I don't know.  

Е.SUROV: Andrew Paulson attended the Olympiad. He came there and said that everything is alright. What are your impressions from the Olympiad? How well have you managed to play for the Latvian team a long time after the break? 

А.SHIROV: I had no illusions about the Olympiad. It was clear to me that it's my first time playing for Latvia and we can't make the country get to the top at once. I just wanted to play and to see what we will get out of it. Last Olympiad Latvia came on the 68-th place and of course I was sure to raise this position a bit with my own participation. Before the strat the team was ranked 30-rd. Of course we wanted to get to the top-20 but it was quite hard to play. We played against Russian in round 3 and at some moment we stood ok. Normends Miezis made a draw against Grischuk and Artur Neiksans defended against Tomashevsky but here Vitaly Samolin made a rude mistake against Jakovenko. I couldn't watch their game accurately enough but it became clear - white can not save the game there. And at that moment I became nervous and made a couple of serious mistakes too. It was a great luck that Kramnik couldn't win the game - he had a clear advantage. So the result against Russia, just a point down was ok. The real tragedy occured in round 4 against Macedonia. We could win 3-1, but then all those mistakes started and Vitaly Samolin made a real disaster. Vitaly doesn't play too often - usually he plays in rapid tournaments and here he suddenly though that the time control is made not for 40 but for 30 moves so he simply lost on time.  

Е.SUROV: So he thought that he has enough time, right?

А.SHIROV: Yes and that he can find the way to win because his position was a bit better...

On board four Ilmars Starostits couldn't win some better position and we lost our second match in a row and were thrown away to the middle of the board though. Then we won the other three matches but the Olympiad was over. Of course here I realized one thing - you need to prepare for the Olympiad you can't do a lot of things at one time. Before the competition you need to take some team training and stop playing. We have such an example. Artur Neiksans - he is a good grandmaster who wants to achieve something but he is head coach of Riga chess school and had to go to Prague for the European championship between 8 and 18 years old. Imagine his work there - he had to help his pupils to prepare the opening e.t.c. So in Turkey he made a draw against Tomashevsky and was then simply worn out.

Of course we want Latvia to participate better in the future but we need to make a serious work with the young generation and we can hardly finish this work in two years time but we will make a try, I am experienced enough and I will try to put the things in the right way.  And I will finish my story saying that our 28-th place means we are not a third world country in the field of chess. However our hotel in istanbul was shared by those countries and I knew practically no one there so after the game I took my bus to the hotel and followed the Olympiad on the web.

Е.SUROV: Well, you see, perhaps you were more lucky with this hotel as in the main hotel there were huge problems with the internet connection.

А.SHIROV: We also had some problems with the connection, especially it was nasty when we had to apply for the next round. But I find that the connection in our hotel was better than in the others. This internet problem - it's something horrible. I came to the lobby and asked for explanation and they told me that they are not used for chess players actually and no one is complaining, but you know that players always need a connection. Who is wrong here? It's Yazici and his team who had to tell the hotel management to increase internet connection to its maximum. I wish he could have used those resources that he used to fight you for internet purposes. In that case everyone would be quite happy. 

Е.SUROV: How long have you been playing in Olympiads? 

А.SHIROV: It's my 10-th Olympiad, but i still have to do a lot to beat Torre's record.

Е.SUROV: I thought you played more times. 

A. SHIROV: Well in 1990 I came to the Olympiad trying to play for Latvia and at that moment nobody gave a permission to play because at that time Latvia was still a Soviet state, i have not played in Bled in 2002 due to some financial issues in 2004, 2006 and 2010 I played for Spain and now I am playing for Latvia again - so this is my third Olympiad for Lavia so for Spain I played 7 times.  

Е.SUROV: I opened the questions once again to finish talking about the Olympiad. Elena Klimets asks whether you feel sorry for your play, whether there's some difference between participation for Latvia and for other countries?

А.SHIROV: I am sure not to be sorry - my transfer was well planned and I clearly understood all the advantages and disadvantages of that action. By the way I need to admit that every month I come more and more to a conclusion that my decision was quite right. Perhaps it is to do with the fact that in Spanish team there was some nervous atmosphere. I mean I don't want to say that in Latvian team everything's fine but in Spain it was not a good atmosphere. And when I left the team this atmosphere remained unchanged. In my opinion the reason for that is Miguel Illescas. During the recent years he has done a lot of things that others do not respect him for. As he participates for teh team every time, his presence in the field makes it quite nervous to play. See, Spain has just achieved place 38. I did everything well - We got a good team and the atmosphere is friendly. However I think that Olympiad is just one tournament. The main thing is that we did very well, but our aim is to get to top-20, not top-30 as we did this time. 

Е.SUROV: Would you please excuse me, but I simply don't know, what's wrong with Miguel Illescas? Why isn't he respected? 

А.SHIROV: Well, unfortunately he did a lot. He is quite active and that is his advantage and disadvantage at the same time. He plays in tournaments, he is an editor of Spanish chess magazine, he is a trainer too. Well, in Spain there are a lot of competitors in this field. I would simply draw one example. There was a situation in the Spanish team championship when we could make a pre-arranged draw with the other team in order to get to the final round both. However we could not hide that fact afterwards. It all became quite clear. And Illescas's team could get to the final if we lost that match. So it all ended in Arbitrage court. It was a bad story for everyone and after that he personally told me that he never played pre-arranged games. Even with me he played such like games four times. last year during the Spanish championship he made a quick draw with his wife - well I do understand that you don't always need to win your wife, but please don't say aloud the things that are not true after all. At that very moment I decided to leave the Spanish team. And before the 2010 Olympiad I told the Federation president - you are lucky, that Illescas isn't going there because if he did - I would prefer to stay in Spain.

Е.SUROV: Well, you see, a year ago we talked about some reasons to leave and you have not mentioned Illescas at that moment. 

А.SHIROV: Well at that moment I was still representing Spanish chess and I couldn't afford to make this information open to public and do some loud statements and now I don't care much about it. 

Е.SUROV: I feel that you are a bit satisfied that Latvia played better than Spain during the Olympiad... 

А.SHIROV: I am rather sorry for those spanish players which have done nothing bad and thus they shouldn't feel sorry. They were ranked 18 in the starting list and deserved to be among the top-20 i the end. By the way, I am now in Spain and I am going to my fellow mate's marriage quite soon. He is a member of the Spanish national team. So I have no negative feelings for Spain.  

It's Manuel Peres. He was my coach at the World cup in 2007 when I managed to get up to the final and lost against Kamsky. he is my closest friend, a person I trust in. He was my second in Sofiya when I got the first place, having overtaken Magnus Carlsen in the last round. So I like the fact that I am going to attend his marriage. He also attended mine two years ago.  

Е.SUROV: Petrov's memorial is another topic to discuss. For quite a long time we have known that there is going to be second Petrov Memorial next year in Latvia, so as far as I understand the organization process is on its way.  

А.SHIROV: Well, yes, I am proud that this year the budget is under control and I do hope that we will still have time to increase it even. If I have more money I will use it to invite some chess stars but I can't be sure 100% here. I am glad I received confirmation from sponsors and other related bodies.  

Е.SUROV: What is the difference of this year's Memorial comparing with the last year one? 

А.SHIROV: This year I decided to make a single big tournament and everyone will play in this big tournament together. So we are likely to overcome the problems of the swiss system by making 14 rounds. So the players will play 14 rounds in three days. Many amateurs couldn't afford to come on Thursday in order to play 4 days, so I though about it too and I decided to have a three day tournament starting on Friday night. The time control will remain the same 15 minutes plus 6 seconds increment. So, having 14 rounds we will be able to obtain two goals - the player who is in the better form has more chances to show it when the number of rounds is important enough and major competitors will indeed have time to show who is stronger among them. So I personally think that the more rounds you have the better it is. So we are having a big swiss tournament and I do hope that the number of players will exceed 100. The venue is Jurmala city museum. The number of grandmasters who applied is about 20 and there are some players from Norway, who wish to take place. And of course the legendary Viktor Korchnoi will be present. I visited him in Switzerland this summer. He has s great fighting spirit indeed. Although he had some problems he has a real will to play better so I hope he will be able to perform his best game. And rapid chess is something that is quite suitable for him - his intuition will serve him well. I hope that he will be in good health and will give some lessons to young Latvian players. They indeed await those lessons.

My task was not to create a grandmaster tournament but attract chess amateurs. Hope that this time there will be more players from Russia.

Е.SUROV: Andrey Maximov asks whether you find Baadur Jobava near to you in the field of understanding chess. Has he got the same style? 

А.SHIROV: I know Baadur quite well and I admire some of his games,but I don't find that we lead the same work in chess like finding new ways, perhaps he relies too much on his intuition and doesn't calculate up to the end. From the other hand he is unique just because he doesn't play like a machine. Many players in this world play like Houdini more or less, but I respect Baadur, he is very artistic. I am quite of the opposite. 

Е.SUROV: Last question for you. If you had some powers to change FIDE, what would you prefer to change? 

А.SHIROV: I know for sure I would fire away Macropulous. This is without any discussions though. I just don't know what he is doing in FIDE all these years since he wasn't capable of organizing Thesalonniki Olympiad in 1994. Actually he had 2 periods: when he was a serious FIDE official, he organized an Olympiad every four years, he did a lot, but I do not quite understand what he has been doing since except playing in Casino using FIDE money. I simply have no idea about it. Perhaps we should ask Ilyumzhinov this question. I can't say the same words about Ali. Although his behaviour leaves much to be desired in recent months I still think he did a lot for Turkish chess and he is not the worst FIDE official. I still stand on the position that players shouldn't be the victims of finance and tournament investments. Chess should become sport where everything will be decided at the board.

Е.SUROV: Thanks for your interesting talk. I do not feel at all tired although the interview was quite long. 

А.SHIROV: Thank you, it was a very interesting talk. Hope the audience liked it. 


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