Mejore su ajedrez con Boris Gelfand (por Carlos Miranda)

Nuestro amigo Carlos Miranda de la ciudad de Manzanillo nos ha solicitado desde hace un tiempo colocar nuevamente la entrevista realizada a Boris Gelfand donde el Israelí se refiere a el ajedrez en las edades tempranas.

 

Carlos Miranda por el interés que despierta en él este tema así como en el amigo Carlos Pantoja me insiste colocar nuevamente esta entrevista que yo colgué hace un tiempo pero incompleta muy probablemente. En cualquier caso ahí les va.

Comentarios de Carlos Miranda

 

Algunas consideraciones mínimas a partir de los puntos de vista de Guelfand sobre el ajedrez infantil.

 

  1. Presionar a su hijo(a) sería la peor cosa que usted pudiera hacerle. Hay que saber diferenciar entre “alentar” y “presionar” al niño(a), quien debe sentir al apoyo de sus padres, el amor de ellos sin importar lo que ellos hagan, entiéndase los resultados ajedrecísticos.
  2. Los jugadores jóvenes deben disfrutar el juego, a propósito de la atmósfera tensa que se vive en los campeonatos mundiales juvenil y junior. Se trata de un gran juego y debe ser divertido jugarlo. Si usted disfruta jugar ajedrez entonces usted puede lograr muchas cosas en él, como en otros deportes, el arte: los niños no presionados son capaces de destacarse.
  3. No hacer la carrera de sus hijos a expensas de ellos mismos. Los eventos mundiales sub 8 (y otros posiblemente otros “subs”) deben ser parecidos a festivales porque realmente hay mucha tensión en ellos. Un niño que gane el campeonato mundial a la edad de 8 años es nada, pues puede que a la edad de 12 deje de jugar. Alguien posiblemente no tan talentoso y que progrese poco a poco puede llegar más lejos. Es increíble el alboroto que se crea cuando alguien gana el título mundial sub 8 o sub 10 cuando tales victorias no ayudan a la carrera ajedrecística aunque pueda lograrse algún apoyo local y ganar algún dinero o contratar entrenadores experimentados pero este éxito en si mismo no significa mucho para Guelfand.
  4. Debe existir un equilibrio, a veces los niños van a los torneos como si fueran vacaciones. En tales casos la intervención de los padres puede ser apropiada.

Tratemos de contextualizar los puntos de vistas de tan excelente jugador de ajedrez para de alguna manera relacionarnos con el ajedrez infantil de otra manera. Organicemos muchos torneos de ajedrez para que, ante todo, ellos se diviertan mientras juegan, de modo que la evaluación de los entrenadores no dependa exclusivamente de los resultados competitivos de sus alumnos.

El tema del ELO a estas edades es todavía otro aspecto. En aras de ahorrar está siendo utilizado para, por ejemplo, organizar un campeonato nacional juvenil a partir de ese coeficiente cuando ganarse la clasificación jugando debe ser el único criterio. El país no ahorra mucho dinero haciendo esto y sí deforma mucho el escenario competitivo. A estas edades el ELO hace más daño que aportar beneficios. Ojo con el Ranking nacional de los subs.

Imaginemos que un niño cubano gane un campeonato mundial sub 8, sub 10 o incluso sub 12. ¿Se lo imaginan? La reencarnación de Capablanca…No es en busca de Capablanca, sino en busca de lo que buscaba el mismo Capablanca: el ajedrez en las escuelas. Hay un boom actualmente, en algunos países se ha convertido en una asignatura obligatoria, como en Armenia. Nosotros hemos tratado de hacer algo al respecto, pero faltan los recursos humanos: se cree equivocadamente que cualquiera puede ser maestro de ajedrez y por tanto que cualquiera puede iniciar a un niño en el mundo de los escaques. Nosotros sabemos que no es así y ya es hora de que sea eliminado del currículo de la secundaria, si es que no ha sido eliminado ya. “El ajedrez es peligroso” suele decir un Maestro Nacional que conozco y creo que tiene razón, hay que saberlo enseñar. Mientras tanto, con el sistema que tenemos actualmente, no existen Juegos Nacionales en ajedrez, sino topes inter EIDE.

Y hay más, pero es solo algo para promover el debate sobre este tema a propósito del comentario de Yuliet.

Salud…suerte…Carlos

 

Mejore su ajedrez con Gelfand (1/2)

por Sagar Shah
30/04/2016 – El editor de ChessBase India Sagar Shah se encontró con Boris en el Torneo de Candidatos en Moscú y le hizo una larga entrevista. En la primera parte, le pregunta por su gran fuerza de juego a la ciega, cómo recomendaría trabajar en las tres fases de la partida de ajedrez, cuáles han sido las mejores partidas y cuánta importancia tienen para él los módulos de ajedrez. La primera parte de la entrevista y un problema de ajedrez…

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ChessBase es un programa personal independiente de gestión de bases de datos de ajedrez que se ha convertido en referencia mundial. Todos usan ChessBase, desde el campeón del mundo al vecino aficionado. Es el programa elegido por cualquiera que ame el juego y desee conocer más sobre él. Inicie su historia de éxito personal con ChessBase y disfrute de su ajedrez aún más.

Más información…

Boris Gelfand y Sagar Shah en Moscú

Sagar Shah y Boris Gelfand

 

Vídeo rodado por Amruta Mokal en el torneo de ajedrez relámpago Aeroflot

El problema que Sagar le planteó a Boris

El rey blanco está en b2, el peón en a5 y la torre en a6. El rey negro está en la casilla f3, la torre en f8 y el peón en g4. Juegan las negras y ganan.

[Mientras que Sagar Shah le indicaba la posición, Boris repetía cada casilla en voz alta para recordarla mejor]

Haga clic aquí para ver la posición en un tablero

En cuanto Sagar le hubo dado la posición, Boris se puso a rumiar inmediatamente

Haga clic aquí para reproducir

Ajedrecista indio con dos normas de MI. Periodista especializado en ajedrez.

la solución

La entrevista en inglés…

Improve your chess with Boris Gelfand (1/2)

by Sagar Shah
4/28/2016 – ChessBase editor Sagar Shah met Boris Gelfand at the Candidates tournament 2016 in Moscow and did an hour long interview with him. In this first part we ask Boris about how he became such a strong blindfold player, how one should work on the three phases of the game, his best games of chess and how much importance he gives to computer engines. Besides this, you will also have a chance to test yourself with a study that Boris himself struggled with!

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Improve your chess with Boris Gelfand (1/2)

Interview by Sagar Shah

I was standing at the crowded reception of the Cosmos Hotel in Moscow for the Aeroflot Open 2016, waiting to hand in my passport and get the keys to my room. I turned around for a moment and noticed Boris Gelfand standing right behind me. Wearing a waistcoat to beat the Russian cold, he was talking in an animated manner with a friend. I greeted Boris and asked him to go ahead and take my spot in the queue. “Thank you” and a smile erupted on Boris’ face as he submitted his passport.

It was the first time I had met and seen this great champion in person. With the gruelling time control of the Aeroflot Open, in which I too was playing, I hardly found any time to speak with Boris again. On the last day, after he finished the tournament as joint first, I asked Boris if he could spare an hour for an interview that would be published on the ChessBase newspage. Yes, of course. But tomorrow I will be playing in the Blitz tournament and then will be leaving immediately for some work. I will be there on the first two days of the Candidates. I will be doing commentary but I am sure that we will be able to find some time.”

I was happy that Boris was interested for the interview but deep down I knew that it would be difficult to fit it in during the Candidates. After all as a super-strong grandmaster and an expert he would be in great demand at the venue. The first day of the Candidates saw Gelfand doing the commentary for nearly four hours. “Tomorrow is my last chance,” I said to myself. I went back to my room and prepared a list of questions for the interview. The next day I reached the Central Telegraph building and looked around for Boris. He was not to be seen. I went inside the press room and as I was putting my stuff on the chair, I heard a voice from behind: “So, shall we do the interview?”

I was amazed! Instead of me finding Boris, this man had looked for me and had specially allocated time in his schedule for our chat. Here was a person who stayed true to his word. I immediately sat down with Boris, opened my sheet of questions, turned on the live games page on my laptop so that Boris could follow the Candidates games. For the next hour I grilled Boris on all sorts of matters that could help the readers get an insight as to how a top player thinks.

 

Sagar Shah:Boris, let us begin with the Aeroflot Open that you played from 1st to 10th March. How was your experience playing the tournament and why did you choose to play this event?

Boris Gelfand: It was a strong event. Recently, I didn’t have many opportunities to play classical games. It’s important to play tournaments to keep yourself sharp. I am a very ambitious player and I want to keep playing. Those were the reasons why I decided to take part in the Aeroflot Open and the experience was quite good. It had its share of ups and downs but basically I am happy with the result. What makes Aeroflot Open different from other open events is that whatever you do, you will get a strong opponent. It was very intense with lot of youngsters coming from all over the world. I am glad I took part in it.

SS: Was the seven hour time control one of the reasons why you decided to play the Aeroflot Open?

BG: I like to play long games so this time control was preferable. But I am fine with shorter ones as well. [The time control at the Aeroflot Open was 100 minutes for the first 40 moves, then 50 minutes for the next 20 moves and 15 minutes for the rest of the game, with an increment of 30 seconds per move, starting from the first.]

SS: You drew the first two rounds against Artyom Timofeev and the unheralded Haik Martirosyan. What was your mindset going into the third game?

BG: I was very positive. It is obvious that this boy [Haik Martirosyan] whom I played in the second round is much stronger than his rating suggests. At the end of the event he finished with a positive result of +1. He played a good tournament and will be one the stars of the future.
I was glad that I was paired against Anton Demchenko in the third round, because I looked at his repertoire and I saw that he goes for the Open Sicilian. Of course, this opening gives chances to both sides. I was happy to see this fact and I think I played a good game. I didn’t check it in great detail yet but from what I saw it was a good game. He missed some finesses and it was enough to get into trouble.

 

Boris scored 6.5/9 and finished joint first at the Aeroflot Open with Evgeniy Najer

SS: Three of your games in this tournament lasted for seven hours: against Bartel, Grachev and Jumabayev. You are not so young anymore! How did you withstand this pressure?

BG: It was very tiring and having no rest days was quite a huge problem. When you play round robins there is always some time to relax, while here especially at the end it was tough. After the games I had my dinner, went for a massage, and after coming back to the room I would invariably fall asleep. I did not analyze my games. In the morning there were some hours because the round began in the afternoon. So I went for a walk each morning in the nearby park and then I prepared before going to the game. I stuck to this routine and it worked. Unfortunately the weather was the horrible until the eighth round. It was grey and dark and raining and snowing, but I managed. On the last two days especially the blitz tournament it was really fantastic weather and my mood was better.

SS: Do you follow a routine every time you play a tournament?

BG: More or less I always follow a routine. There are usually some adjustments depending on the time of the start of the round and other factors, like weather. For example, at the Aeroflot Open after the games ended it was already very dark and it was not so nice to go for a walk at night. So I preferred to go out in the morning and relax in the evening.

SS: One of the most amazing things when someone sees you play is your ability to spin pieces, right from the pawn to the queen, in your hand while playing. How are you able to spin them so perfectly and how did this habit come about?

Watch this video captured by Amruta Mokal at the Aeroflot Blitz where
Gelfand flips his queen to perfection without any difficulty!

BG: 40 years of experience, you see. 40 years of experience! (Smiles) Everybody laughs at it. In the past 40 years of my playing career two players were not happy with this (Portisch and Vallejo) and complained to the arbiter and I stopped it immediately because I don’t do it to disturb my opponents. It’s just a habit. Maybe a bad habit, I don’t know. Most of the people find it funny. I have seen a lot of people trying to catch it with their camera and film it.

SS: One more habit of yours while playing is that you do not sit at the board. You are walking around and thinking at the same time. Are you able to calculate in as much depth while thinking blindfold, as much as you could have had you been sitting on the board?

BG: Yes I try to think in as much depth in both the cases. Sometimes while thinking blindfold I try to widen my horizons. Often you focus on one line but it can be useful to pause and think whether there are some other options. Maybe you are stuck within a framework and forget about the other possibilities in the position. When I walk I am as focused as I am when sitting at the board. The only problem in Moscow was that there were many people who came to meet me and they smiled, so it was a bit distracting. But usually when I approach time control and I am in time pressure I sit at the board.

 

Not seeing the board is not such a huge handicap for Boris

SS: What would you recommend to players who would like to improve their blindfold chess?

BG: I don’t think I am extremely strong in blindfold chess. I played in the Melody Amber tournament, specially known for blindfold chess and did well sometimes. But there are other guys like Kramnik or Morozevich who are really incredible. I think it’s important to keep the position that is on the board in your head. I spoke a lot about it with great trainer and grandmaster Yuri Razuvaev, who unfortunately passed away, and he put utmost importance on young players learning to do it. So I developed this skill in the following manner: Let’s say after the game I walk or have dinner with my seconds or other players, we would discuss positions in the head and try to analyze what happened in the game. We would not rush to the computer to check but preferred to discuss with each other. This develops the ability to think blindfold immensely. This ability to keep the position in the head and calculate is extremely important according to me.

 

This picture was taken on Lilienthal’s 90th birthday in Moscow. Lilienthal is surrounded by grandmasters: Boris Gelfand, Vladimir Kramnik, Yuri Averbakh, Evgeni Vasiukov, Sergei Makarichev and Yuri Razuvaev. [A huge thanks to legendary photographer Boris Dolmatovsky for sharing one of Boris Gelfand’s favourite pictures with the chess world]

SS: If you were given a position, can you easily set it up in your mind and start thinking?

BG: Yes it is important to learn to do it. Also what I do at home when I go for a walk is to get a study and solve it while I am walking. That’s what Razuvaev taught me. It’s a good idea and I often do it.

SS: I have a study for you. Can I give it to you?

BG: (With excitement) Yes, tell me!

SS: White king is on b2, pawn a5, rook a6. Black king is on f3, rook is on f8 and pawn on g4. And it is Black to play and win. [While I dictated this position to Boris he would say the square out aloud. For example when I said rook is on “f8”, he would respond with the words f8. It meant that he had placed that piece in his head. We would recommend the readers to try and have a crack at this problem blindfold. If you are unable to do that then you can click on the board diagram link below to see the board position. Once you have solved it you can read Boris’ thought process and the answer in PGN]

Click for the board position

The instant I gave Boris the position, he was down to business! And just look at the dedication!

BG: [Thinking hard about the position and trying to understand the nuances and after exactly 60 seconds] 1…g3 doesn’t work, yeah. 2.Rg6 g2 3.Kb3 4.Rf4 a6 and it’s a draw. Other options are (thinks for a bit) either 1…Rf5, Rg8 or Rb8+

SS: One of them is correct!

BG: [With a smile] yeah, yeah! Candidate moves are always useful you see! Let’s see 1…Rf5 2.Kb3 g3 3.Kb4 Rg5 4. Rf6 Ke2 Re6 Kd2 Rd6 Kc2 Re6 g2 Re1 and it’s a draw. So let’s consider other options 1…Rg8 2.Rf6 Ke2 3.Re6 nowhere to go, yeah? Rf6+ Ke4 maybe.

SS: Why don’t you consider the line starting with 1…Rf5 again.

BG: [In a flash] Yes, got it. 1…Rf5 2.Kb3 g3 3.Kb4 g2 4.Rg6 Rf4+! and Rg4 and wins. Intermediate moves are important! And another point is that 1…Rf5 2.Ra8 g3 3.a6 you keep following the pawn with Rf6 4.a7 Rf7 and wins. This is standard rook endgame technique.

SS: Perfect! I have given this position to many grandmasters and they couldn’t solve it even looking at the board! You solved it blindfold in less than five minutes!

Click to replay the solution

Coming to your openings, you usually begin the game with 1.d4 and recently you have stuck to this move. Are you not afraid that your opponents would come prepared with computer analysis?

BG: Of course I am afraid, but it’s a risk whatever you do! If you prepare a lot of moves, you cannot go too deep and your opponents might be better prepared. Also, I play a lot of different systems, sometimes the Catalan, sometimes 3.Nf3 and 4.Nc3, and I keep varying. I don’t think my opening repertoire is narrow.

SS: What is your opinion about the opening? Should players focus on the openings since young age or they should first work on other phases of the game?

BG: I think it is always better to focus on other aspects of the game apart from openings at an early age. Let’s say learning basic endgames, to get some tactical alertness, to learn pattern recognition, to study the classics. I think all these are much more important than focusing on the openings.

SS: At some point, however, one would have to learn openings. At that moment how would you advice players to go about working on this first phase of the game?

BG: It’s different for different people. I believe that young players must try to follow the repertoire of a player whom they like the most.  You can easily get the opening ideas and you are also able to follow the complete games. For example, if you like a classical player you can take Kramnik’s repertoire. But you also have to be alert. You cannot just blindly follow the sharp lines. Your idol might have worked a lot while you just don’t know what to do! I would also suggest playing openings that suit your style.

SS: Who was your idol when you were young?

BG: I loved Rubinstein. But I looked at books of selected games of most of the top players like Geller, Polugaevsky, Alekhine, Botvinnik, Tarrasch, Fischer, Larsen and many more. Unfortunately there is no good book on Spassky. He hasn’t written any books and we can have his games only with comments by someone else. I also studied a lot of books written by Keres, his best games and also his book on the World Championship Tournament 1948. Keres was a good writer. A lot of top level players were good writers but not all of them wanted to spend time penning down their thoughts.

SS: Talking about good players being good writers, you have recently written a book together with Jacob Aagaard for Quality Chess on Positional Decision Making in Chess. And part II is coming out soon. Do you think writing the book has helped you evolve as a player?

Download and read a sample or just have a look at the reviews for this book by top players over here

BG: One of my favorite authors, Somerset Maugham, wrote his autobiographical book “Summing up” and somehow wrote his best novels after that. I hope the same is the case with me! I collaborated with Jacob Aagaard on this project. We usually worked on Skype. I live far away from Jacob but thanks to the modern technology we can not only speak but also see each other. Basically, I gave him a file, then we discussed it and he asked questions which helped me to explain things better. He is a strong grandmaster and an experienced trainer. The questions Jacob asked made me think many times. Often I would reply: “Okay let me think! We will return to it next time.” This process of thinking over his questions made me learn quite a few things which I wasn’t aware of.

SS: In the first book I really liked the games where you grind out a small edge with white against the Slav Defence, slowly improving your pieces. Is that one of your most favourite ways to play?

BG: Well I would say that the games of Slav suited the topic of the first book Positional Decision Making. If it was some other topic, I am sure there would be games from other openings, like in book two where we focus on dynamic chess. I am not sure how many parts this series of books is going to last – definitely more than three. I hope we will have the energy, motivation and time to work on future books. I like this idea and I think it is well received. Many people praised the work and it gives you a good feeling.

SS: Extremely impressive when seeing you play is the intensity with which you think. You are completely focused and often your face turns red. Are trying to create a masterpiece in every game that you play?

BG: I try to make the best moves. I understand that one cannot make masterpieces in every game that one plays, but deep inside whenever I sit down at the board I have the feeling that today I really want to play a great game and create a masterpiece.

SS: Could you tell us about some of the masterpieces that you have created in your chess career.

BG: Well let me think… If I had to create a list of my favourite games, then I would put the one against Shirov from Polanica Zdroj 1998, against Sergey Karjakin from World Cup 2009, against Wang Yue 2010, against Alexander Grischuk from the last game of the Candidates 2011 which brought me to the World Championship Match. These are the ones I would start with, although I am sure there are many more that I am missing out on.

[Ed- We do not want to put the entire game boards here of Boris’ favourite games and distract you from reading the interview, but if you would like to see these gems, all you have to do is click the link below for the boards to open]

Boris Gelfand-Alexei Shirov, 1998 (annotations by Gelfand/Huzman) Sergey Karjakin-Boris Gelfand, 2009 (annotations by Gelfand) Boris Gelfand-Wang Yue, 2010 (annotations by Gelfand) Boris Gelfand-Alexander Grichuk, 2011 (annotations by Gelfand)

SS: You told us about how one should work on one’s openings. Coming to tactics, how does one become tactically strong?

BG: For becoming tactically strong, one should solve a lot of tactical positions. Also a good way to train is to analyze your own sharp and complicated games without the help of a computer. It helps you to improve your tactical awareness. In general one should always work on the things that one would like to improve. There are no short cuts. You should solve positions, think about them, analyze and get sharp situations in your games. If you don’t practice you can never improve!

SS: While solving tactics would you recommend practical game positions or composition and studies?

BG: Both are good and important. Studies improve your imagination and feeling of harmony, while positions from the games develop more practical qualities.

SS: Can you suggest any books which you think can be useful for improving the tactics and calculation of a player?

BG: There are many books. The Grandmaster Preparation series by Jacob Aagaard is good. I also like Perfect Your Chess  by Volokitin and Grabinsky. Earlier books of Dvoretsky were excellent. The classic, however, is Hort and Jansa. I was arranging the books in my library and I found this one. I am going to go through it now. In Russian it is called “Together with grandmasters”. [Ed – In English it is named as “The best move” and it has 230 grade-yourself test positions]. The book is from the 70s. I liked it when I was young and recently it just fell from the shelf! I started solving it and there are really some amazing positions. I discussed it with Jacob and he said that vast majority of positions are correct under computer scrutiny. This is amazing. I solved them in my childhood and I have some very nice memories. When you solve from recent books and articles, all the positions are computer checked and hence it is clear that there exists only one solution. However while working with books like the one Hort and Jansa wrote you always risk spending a lot of time and not finding the win because it doesn’t exist! But it doesn’t matter. Your work is not wasted. I recently met Vlastimil Jansa and we spoke about this book. After going back home I will work with it again!

 

If you looking to flex a few tactical muscles,
this book by two Vlastimils might be a good idea to work with

SS: Coming to endgames, which one would you say is your favourite endgame book?

BG: The Levenfish and Smyslov book that deals with rook endgames was excellent. Also when I was young I spent a lot of time on the Minev’s book on rook endgames, and I refuted quite a few positions in that book. But I liked it. Also Dvoretsky’s Endgame Manual is a high quality book. The good thing about Averbakh’s books is that they give you quite a comprehensive picture about the material in a particular endgame, but you have to check it carefully with tablebases like Nalimov.
In general I like books which show ideas, not just variations and evaluations. These days whenever you reach endgames you are already on 30 second increment with almost no time on clock. Hence it is much more important to learn the method of how to play endgames. Under time pressure even if you know the positions by heart, you can easily forget them under stress. Therefore I think it is important to know ideas and how to play a particular endgame.

SS: Reminds me of the cases of players unable to mate with the bishop and knight in the World Blitz Championship 2015. Of course they knew it, but with less time they weren’t able to execute it.

BG: Yes, exactly. Under normal circumstances I would mate with the bishop and knight quite easily, but once I got it against Judit Polgar in the World Blitz Championships and it took me 52 moves! Fortunately she didn’t count! The reason for this was simple: stress. It was a game with lot of ups and downs, and when we reached the endgame I was already quite spent. It is a bit extreme in blitz, otherwise even in a rapid it shouldn’t be a problem.

SS: Which books in general have made a huge impact on your chess?

 

Boris is a voracious reader as can be seen from the number of books lying on his work desk at home

BG: Books written by Keres. Yuri Razuvaev’s books on Rubinstein, Polugaevsky’s book Grandmaster Preparation in which he discusses opening as well as some fantastic endgames against Gligoric, Gheorghiu, Geller, etc. Kasparov’s books are really great. My Great Predecessors are nice but his book on the two Matches, as well as “Test of time”, were at an unprecedented level. Fortunately for us, there are a lot of good books. Even though we live in the age of computer, books are quite important – even more these days because we are overloaded with information. So a good book helps you to focus on really the important points. Because there are many databases like Correspondence, Computer, Mega Database, etc. You can easily get lost. So the importance of books suddenly grows. Earlier books were the main source of information. Then they were replaced by databases, but now we have so much material available that one needs to be guided through this.

SS: You are a player who has passed through this transition of books to computer. I was once listening to one of your press conferences. It was the game between you and Magnus Carlsen from Candidates 2013. The following position was reached in analysis:

White’s last move was Re1-d1. The commentators said that computer recommends 20…Qf8!? But you were convinced that 20…Qb6 followed by Qb3 was the right way to play. You didn’t seem to have the amount of respect that young players have these days for engines. Is my assessment correct?

 

Magnus Carlsen vs Boris Gelfand at the London Candidates 2013

BG: First of let me say that this game played by Magnus against me was simply fantastic. Maybe it is Magnus’ best game of his career to date. Yes, I remember this episode with me going for 20…Qb6-Qb3 and sticking to it in press conference even when commentators and engines were suggesting 20…Qf8. Qb6-b3 is trying to equalize the position while Qf8 is admitting that you are worse. In general it is very rare that spectators watching the game with an engine try to look into a player’s mind. Sometimes computer moves are great but they are not something that humans would even consider. These days it’s funny that the more you work with the computer, the more you become like it. But this has its advantages and disadvantages.
Rejecting the computer’s ideas can be quite stupid because its suggestions are often good especially related to opening preparation. But there is a danger of becoming over dependent on it. I have seen episodes of young strong players refusing to analyze other moves and options once they see the strongest computer move. This is a very common phenomenon. And this is the thing that I tried to put emphasis on in my book. One should be able to tell the difference between one move and another. Of course, I use computers quite a lot in opening preparation because the price of a mistake would be very high here. But whenever I watch live tournament games online I try to follow them without silicon assistance, because seeing the games live with an engine makes no sense and it blocks your thinking ability. Also a good exercise can be to choose between the first two lines of the computer. You must try to think whether you will go for one line or the other. Maybe the evaluation is the same but the ideas are completely different. In general my advice would be use the computer when the price of neglecting the best move would be very high.

SS: You have nothing to lose when you see the games of others and hence it is a good idea to test your thinking skills without using a computer.

BG: Yes exactly. Also another important point is to analyze your own games at first without an engine. It could be a very good idea to discuss variations and ideas after the game with your opponent – to discuss the feelings that you had during the game and also understand his train of thought. You can always analyze with an engine when you get home, but it is not often that you get a chance to discuss with another human being. I think it is really great.

SS: So, according to you analyzing with your opponent after the game is very important?

BG: I don’t think it is important, but I enjoy it. And many players of my generation prefer that, like Topalov, Kramnik and others. I have also analyzed after the game with young generation players like Carlsen, Caruana, Giri. It is clear that they are extremely strong and have learnt the art of using the computer to their advantage and not become slaves to it. You should always make the engine work for you and not the other way around.

Press conference with one of the best players of the young generation!

Also another thing which I would like to point out, and this really annoys me, is that after coming back from their game you see some of the players writing on Twitter, “Amazing, I missed this move in my game today. It was +5.” I think this is absolutely senseless information.A player should analyze why he didn’t make a particular move, why he missed it, is he not good in calculation or if there was a lapse in concentration. We are humans and we are going to make mistakes, but the point is to learn why you do it. This is exactly what I focused in my book with Jacob [Aagaard] – why certain mistakes are made and what are the shortcomings of human and the limitations of a computer.

 

A young Boris, like always, thinking without seeing the pieces!

Part II of this interview will follow shortly. In it Boris gives us special insights in his World Championship Match with Anand in 2012, his views on the eternal dilemma of whether to become a chess professional or not, role of parents in a chess player’s development and last but not the least how his family helped him to become what he is today.

Sagar Shah is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He is also a chartered accountant and would like to become the first CA+GM of India. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He maintains his own chess blog.

 

Mejore su ajedrez con Boris Gelfand (2/2)

03/05/2016 – La primera parte de la entrevista se centró en asuntos relacionados con el ajedrez. En la segunda, habla sobre el duelo por el título mundial, su familia y como siempre le apoyan y en qué circunstancias alguien se debería plantear dedicarse al ajedrez de manera profesional. Hasta revela la receta que le preparó su esposa Maya cuando tuvieron la primera cita. Alimento para el estómago, el corazón y la cabeza…

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Más información…

 

Boris con su hijo Avner en el aeropuerto tras el Campeonato del Mundo 2016 contra Vishy Anand

 

Boris con su esposa Maya y sus hijos Avital y Avner

 

Un pequeño extracto del libro escrito por su esposa Maya, traducido al castellano:

Poco después de mi inolvidable cumpleaños, le conocí a Boris. Entonces trabajaba para una cadena local de televisión como editora adjunta y en paralelo estaba estudiando en la universidad el primer año. En aquellos tiempos vivía con la sensación que todo iba por muy buen camino. Me dedicaba a las cosas que me gustaban, me gané la vida, conocí a personas famosas en el estudio (por ejemplo, ¡a Shimon Peres!) e incluso salí en la tele una vez entre unas risas y un operador público que se estaba poniendo nervioso.

En una ocasión, le invitaron al estudio a Boris. Era encantador, inteligente y tranquilo. ¿Qué más te hace falta para enamorarte de un hombre?
Seguía estudiando y trabajando pero no pude parar de pensar en él. Tenía claro que estaba difícil la cosa. ¿Cómo me podría encaprichar coon con un personaje tan famoso como él? Al fin y al cabo, Boris era una de las estrellas más brillantes del ajedrez de elite.

Pero por alguna razón, me pidió mi número de teléfono. ¿Iba a llamarme? Me reí de mi misma por soñar con semejantes cosas. Probablemente ya tenía novia en todo caso. O incluso estaría casado. Probablemente ni se acordará de mí.

Pasaron varios meses y casi ya me había olvidado del encuentro. Pero entonces de repenteme sí me llamó por teléfono.

Comida para la primera cita: ensalada de remolacha con ciruelas pasas y nueces

Ingredientes:

  • Remolacha
  • Ciruelas pasas (100g)
  • Ajo (1 diente)
  • Nueces (50 gramos)
  • Mayonesa (30 g , una cucharilla)
  • Sal y azúcar

Preparación:

  • Cocinar la remolacha con su piel en agua dulce
  • Dejar enfriar y cortar en dados
  • Picar el ajo y las nueces y mezclarlos con la remolacha
  • Cortar las ciruelas pasas en hilos finos
  • Mezclarlo todo y añadir una pizca de sal junto con la mayonesa

La segunda parte de la entrevista en inglés…

 

Improve your chess with Boris Gelfand (2/2)

by Sagar Shah
5/1/2016 – In the first part of the interview with Boris Gelfand we spoke about the opening, middlegame, endgame, books he loved, focusing on chess. In the second part Boris tells us about his World Championship Match, how his family supports him, and when a player should think about going professional. He has extremely useful advice for parents of chess kids, and by the end of the article you will learn how to make beetroot salad with prunes and walnuts!

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More…

Improve your chess with Boris Gelfand (2/2)

Interview by Sagar Shah

Here’s the link to the first part of the interview, in case you have missed it.

 

Sagar Shah interviews Boris Gelfand in the press room of the Candidates 2016

Sagar Shah: You played in the World Championship 2012 with Vishy Anand. A lot has been written and said about it. I wouldn’t go deep into the subject. In one of the interviews you said that you were under pressure, but still enjoyed every moment and woke up fresh each day. How can these two contrasting feelings of pressure and enjoyment co-exist?

Boris Gelfand: It’s a good question. This has lot to do with one’s attitude and mindset. I remember that when I was young I had a lot of friends around me who wanted to become a master or a grandmaster or even a World Champion. But I never had such aims. I always wanted to enjoy chess. That kept me motivated and ambitious for my whole career. When I reached the World Championship Match, which is the peak in anyone’s chess career, I said to myself that I should enjoy it. It was easily possible that I wouldn’t have got there. When I played the World Cup and then the Candidates there were moments when one right move by my opponent would have sent me home. But I survived and I got the Match, so it was natural that I should enjoy it.

You do your best, you do your utmost to win this Match but you shouldn’t feel stressed. I took quite huge measures to isolate myself from the world during these 20 days. My assistants and seconds kept monitoring what was written in the newspapers and social media, sometimes there were some ideas which could have proved to be useful, but I didn’t read them myself. We decided to stay in a small hotel, not in the official one. We wanted to be by ourselves, not wanting to be disturbed. After every game I went to the press conference, then back to the hotel and after checking my game, prepared for the next battle.

 

Boris with his son Avner at the airport, on returning from his 2012 World Championship Match with Vishy Anand

SS: You basically enjoyed this entire atmosphere of working hard and being in the zone?

BG: Yes, absolutely! Also the month before the Match, when I worked with my seconds, was amazing. We were locked in some place in the Alps and every morning my seconds would be analyzing and kept changing my partners – analyze with one guy, then another and so on. You think about only one thing, you have only one aim. You are very inspired and in a creative mood. Many of the ideas which we invented back then, could still be used. From time to time they pop up and I make use of those analysis.

SS: Boris, coming to an issue that affects almost everyone who plays chess, right from upcoming talents to seasoned 2650 grandmasters: when do you decide that you would like to choose chess as a career, or when can one decide to be a chess professional?

BG: It is a very good question and at the same time a very difficult one. It’s a tough choice. From one point of view if you get to this level you must be talented and you enjoy chess. From the other point of view, it is not a stable life and you do not know how long you can sustain your career. I can even tell you that Henrik Carlsen, father of Magnus Carlsen, asked my advice whether Magnus should become a professional. At that time Magnus was just 15 or 16 years old. I told to them that they should do what they think is appropriate. But I think Magnus was very lucky with the support he received from his family, this amazing family. It’s one of the cornerstones of his success. Such great attitude and so much love – it was really great to see this.

 

According to Boris Gelfand, Magnus’ family is one of the main reasons why he is at the top right now
[picture by David Llada at the Qatar Masters Open 2015]

I had to make the decision after high school about what I wanted to do. My family supported me but they were not sure because chess is not a stable profession. It was the period of Iron curtain back then and I couldn’t travel abroad. So it was a risky decision, but my motivation was so high that I decided to go for it.

SS: So, according to you, love for the game is necessary to pursue it as a career?

BG: Well, I think if you are in doubt you shouldn’t pursue it. It is only for people who are completely devoted. Of course, if you enjoy it, you can always stay connected to chess through writing or training or other such side activities. The good part about chess is that it is a highly creative field. It is not easy to find another profession which is so creative. If you pursue your academics and get a job, there is high possibility that you would be working in the office day after day. Whether to pursue a career in chess or not depends on personal feeling. It is a very difficult choice to make and everyone has to decide for himself. But to become a chess professional requires huge amount of discipline and devotion to the game.

SS: Were there any days or periods in your chess career where you felt tired of the game and wanted to quit or just get away from the chess board?

BG: I have always loved chess. You want to play, but you do not have tournaments where you can compete against players of your level. I played the Aeroflot Open but I don’t see any tournament coming up in April, May or June. Maybe I am spoilt with playing tournaments only on the absolute top level. So when I don’t have it, I don’t feel well. I am still highly motivated and work a lot. When you work for days and you cannot show on the board what you have worked and learnt, it’s a little frustrating. But I have always enjoyed analyzing and whenever there are good tournaments happening I login and follow the games.

SS: Isn’t it sometimes boring to keep playing the same opponents in these super tournaments?

BG: I have played quite a bit at the highest level, but objectively speaking not as much as some of the other guys. When you play against the best players, say someone like Kramnik, in 2013 I played six games against him, almost each game was just so amazing. Our battles had big fights lasting nearly seven hours. Isn’t that the reason why you play chess? To play the top players and try to show your best.

 

Boris Gelfand and Vladimir Kramnik present an elephant as a gift to Andor Lilienthal and his wife Olga, on the former’s 90th birthday [Picture by Boris Dolmatovsky]

Nowadays there is a general rise in the level of play. The world is more open and there are more than five players with whom it is interesting to play. I played the Aeroflot Open and in each game I faced a tough challenge. There were no easy points. There was one young opponent that I faced [Haik Martirosyan] and it was clear that he is amazingly talented and just lacks experience. I felt his strength during the game and he confirmed this with his performance in the tournament. There were so many such young and talented kids at the Aeroflot Open! I saw many Indian boys and there was this Russian lad, Andrey Esipenko, who made a GM norm. There was also the 14-year-old current Iranian Champion Alireza Firouzja. Even the Chinese players were very strong.

SS: China is really making huge strides when it comes to having top level players.

BG: Yes, China is doing well but I am not so sure about their structure. At the top we see strong players like Ding Liren, Li Chao, Wei Yi, Wang Yue and others. Around eight players who are 2700+. But if you go below you do not find a solid bank of players in the 2500 to 2700 zone. The proportion is completely distorted. One of the reasons is that they do not play much abroad and they are under-rated. But still to have nearly eight players in the top of world chess, and to win Olympiad and World Team and such strong events is really an impressive feat.

SS: A normal scenario that you see in many tournaments is a lot of parental pressure on kids who are on their way to becoming strong players. You are a parent and a few decades ago you were also a prodigious player. So you are a perfect person to ask this question: what would be your advice to such parents who put a lot of pressure on their children?

Boris with his wife Maya and two cute little kids Avital and Avner

BG: I think this is the worst thing that someone can do to your kid. As we just discussed, you can take the example of Magnus who was encouraged but not pressed by his family. It was the case with me as well. And it really helps when you feel the support of your parents, that they love you no matter what you do.

I was told by many players and I have witnessed the nervous atmosphere of World Youth and Junior Championships where the parents are putting pressure on their children. Young players should enjoy playing chess. First of all it’s a great game and one should have fun playing it. If you enjoy, you can achieve a lot of things. It’s not only in chess but also in any other form of sport or art, that pressure-free kids are able to excel. Very often I see that the parents want to make the career of their children at the expense of the little ones. It makes me very unhappy. When I was young there were only World U-16 and World U-20 championships. But now there are also U-8 championships. Such event should be like a festival. But actually there is so much tension. A child winning the world title at the age of eight is nothing. Maybe by the age of twelve he would stop playing chess. Someone else is not as talented and progresses step by step and he can go much ahead.

The fuss that is created when someone wins the World title like U-8 or U-10 is just unbelievable. Let me put it this way: such victories do not help your chess career. You might find some local support, get some money, hire experienced trainers and things like that, but this success on its own does not mean much according to me. Lastly I would like to add that it is of course necessary to maintain balance. Sometimes kids go to tournaments as if it was a vacation. In such cases parent’s intervention would be appropriate.

SS: Can you tell us how your family supported you in your chess career?

Two-year-old Boris with his parents Abram and Nella Gelfand in 1970!

BG: My parents supported me completely for my chess career. You might have seen the movie Album 61 [check out the 69-minute documentary at the end of this article]. It shows the positive involvement that my father had in my chess life. Last year, at the age of 101 years, my grandmother passed away. She was taking me to the chess school when I was six, and until her last days she supported me.

 

Boris with his grandmother Sonya in 2010

When I go to tournaments these days my children do something special for me, like draw a picture or try to call me and cheer me up. Even at the Aeroflot Open I tried to be in touch with them through Skype. My wife also supports me a lot. She wrote a book about me entitled How to feed a Champion. It is about the stories of my career supported by food recipes on what she would feed me.  It currently exists in Hebrew and Russian. I don’t know if there is someone who is interested in publishing it in English.

 

[Ed – Here’s an excerpt from this amazing book which we translated from Russian using Google Translate]

Shortly after my unforgettable birthday, I met with Boris. Back then I worked at a local television station as an assistant editor and in parallel studied my first year of university. At that time I lived with the feeling that things are going great. I did what I like, I earned a living, met famous people in the studio (such as Shimon Peres!) And I even appeared on television once somewhere between a laughing and anxious public operator.

Boris was once invited to the studio as a guest. Charming, smart, calm. What else you need to fall in love?
I studied, worked, but could not stop thinking about him. I understood that I had no chance. How can I dream of such a famous person? Boris was already one of the brightest stars in the chess world.

But for some reason he took my phone number. Will he call me? And I laughed at myself for this dream. He probably already has a girlfriend. Or even a wife. Anyway, I don’t even think he remembers me?

Months passed, I had almost forgotten about the fleeting meeting.

And then he called.

Lunch for the first date: beetroot salad with prunes and walnuts

Ingredients:

  • Beetroot – 1 piece
  • Prunes pitted – 100g
  • Clove of garlic – 1 piece
  • Walnuts – 50 grams
  • Mayonnaise – 30 g (tablespoon)
  • Salt, sugar – to taste

Cooking method:

  • Cook beets with peel in sweetened water.
  • Cool, peel and cut into cubes.
  • Chop finely garlic and walnuts, mix with beets.
  • Prunes cut into thin strips.
  • Mix all ingredients. Add salt and season with mayonnaise

SS: A hypothetical question, Boris: if you were not a chess player what would you be?

BG: [In an animated tone] Why would I be doing anything else! I enjoy being a chess player! [After some thought] I would love to learn the piano. I have never tried, but it’s my dream to learn it. I enjoy music and it helps me develop love for other things. Also it would be interesting to be the manager of the football club Barcelona. Football gives me inspiration. I like to watch games of Barcelona, EPL, German league, basically a good game between two teams. And I like to read books. I read many books when I can focus and am not stressed by chess.

SS: Do you read general books during the tournament?

BG: I try. Here I started, but after long games I couldn’t focus so I will finish it on my way back home. I am reading right now a book by Alice Munro, a Canadian writer. I read her first book, liked it, and got the second one. It’s based on short stories.

SS: What’s your opinion about Chess 960?

BG: I do not see anything wrong with the current board position. There are always talks about death of chess by draws, but it has been going on right from the time of Capablanca. Chess has proved that it can survive. Chess 960 is possible for exhibition matches or something like that. For the moment there is no need to make such drastic change I believe. Initial position on the board is extremely harmonious, while if one looks at Chess 960 some of the positions are fine, but many of them lack harmony and one spends first 10 to 15 moves to get a normal position on the board. [Smiles.]

SS: The final question: one quality of yours that is extremely impressive is your humility. How did you develop such a humble nature?

BG: It comes from my family. It was the way I was brought up, the way my parents taught me. You should always keep your human side and your two feet on the ground, and that’s what I enjoy. I don’t like to be a celebrity or a superstar. I enjoy being a normal person. It’s nice when people recognize your achievements. In Israel many times people come to me and say that you have made the country proud. That really makes you feel good. But I don’t think that fame is the most important thing.

SS: Boris, it was wonderful interviewing you. Thanks a lot for your time and these amazing insights. I am sure many devoted players of the game will benefit from your words of advice.

Boris Abramovich Gelfand: A thorough gentleman and a great ambassador for the game of chess!

Watch the 69-minute documentary Album 61 based on the life of Boris Gelfand

A huge thanks to my wife Amruta Mokal for
helping me in transcribing this interview

Sagar Shah is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He is also a chartered accountant and would like to become the first CA+GM of India. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He maintains his own chess blog.

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