Andras Adorjan was awarded the IM title in 1970 and the GM title in 1973. He was a World Championship Candidate in 1980, losing to Robert Huebner (+1, =7, -2).
He was also European Junior Champion in 1969-70 and Hungarian Champion in 1973 (jointly) and 1984. He finished 2nd behind Anatoli Karpov at the World Junior Championship in 1969. As a junior he played under the name of A Jocha.
Chessville: You were closely associated with Peter Leko and Garry Kasparov during their formative years;, what makes a world-class chess player tick?
It is true that I was working with both Kasparov (1979-86) and Leko (between 1993 and ‘99 in a few ‘waves’, amounting to 3 years altogether), but neither these two players/persons nor the relationships I had with them can be compared.
I met 16-year-old Garry at the Banja Luka’79 GM Tournament, which he won with a 2-point margin(!!) ahead of the field consisting of 14 Grandmasters (led by T.Petrosian, Andersson, Smejkal and myself) and two untitled players, Sibarevic being the other one! It would be hard not to see a genius in him, not only because of the result itself, but also looking at his games. He played both 1.d4 and 1.e4 and he produced some wild attacking games, but when it was needed he also had the patience for positional play, fiddling about around an isolated pawn for quite some time and reach his goal in such a way. He had a very strong willpower (as well as a threateningly strong physique!), an obviously true LOVE for chess, very rich fantasy and more than serious opening preparation.
When he was already the BEST (since 1985), many of his rivals made envious remarks, claiming that his priority over them was due to more seconds, better databases and analyzing programs. This is all garbage. Even at the time I went for two secret missions to the USSR, first before and later during the match ‘84-85 with Karpov, he had the following seconds: 1.Sakarov, 2.Nikitin, 3.Timoschenko, 4.Vladimirov. That was the team, of which the first two were his trainers since childhood, still devoted and useful helpers, but could not be compared to nr.3 and 4. Dorfman was also added to this team, but only for the match, and my humble self was mostly a ‘correspondence partner’. I say this because we somehow did not have the chance to get together for serious face-to-face work, except for 2 weeks ‘somewhere in Russia’ in his training camp. Also, my contribution in Moscow lasted only for a month (as a ‘secret agent’), and most regretfully I arrived there when the score was already 0-3 and it became 0-4 on the following week. You can easily guess the mood this put Garry all the others in. Meanwhile, Karpov’s army (only the ‘visible’ people) numbered much more well-known people, some of them from the world’s elite. In Kasparov’s 3 other matches (against Andersson, Timman and Miles) I was his only second.
I don’t know much about what happened after we parted in ’86, certainly Kasparov was in a position to hire further specialists. Dolmatov or M.Gurevich, for example, are very strong aids – and let me add that they are also very nice people. I heard that Kasparov was generous in money matters (unlike Karpov). We did NOT have such experience, because I never asked or accepted anything from him (although he insisted) but my expenses. It may sound crazy, for he could afford it and I deserved it, but I felt honored to work with one of the greatest players of all time on a friendly basis.
It’s all the same, others employ seconds too, and good preparation is possible not only for leading players but even for the ‘middle-class’ in this age of databases. All that matters is face-to-face performance; good preparation does not mean to memorize what others played and/or analyzed, but to go beyond it. To have some original ideas of yours or your helpers as early as possible. But it is not so that anybody can win game by game at home. Finally all I can say: I predicted that no one shall take Kasparov’s throne as long as he can still move the pieces. I have never seen anybody of the ones alive (including Misha Tal and Tigran Petrosian, with whom I played altogether 9 games, and I really admired these strikingly different giants) who even came close to him. Too bad that I became a GM in 1973, just missing Bobby Fischer. He is of course another hero, an idol for me and many others!
Peter Leko is the second biggest talent after G.K. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. The difference is that I have known him since 1990, and next year we played our first and last very serious game in a GM tournament he entered at the age of 11. I should have caught him, but I did not, and at the end he managed to escape cleverly. We started our studies in 1993 when he was 13 and an IM of a strong kind. He already had a repertoire, knew a lot about chess because he was industrious, in love with chess as myself, and had a very good character, balanced and calm. Just like his father! There were and maybe are still a lot of hocus-pocus vegetarianism and whatever you can think of, but fortunately I was not required to follow all these. (Between us: both Karpov and Kasparov ate meat, what is more, bloody beefsteak, sometimes twice a day!)
It is somewhat funny to me that people are searching for the ‘secret’, when it is all so simple: talent, hard work, pure love for your subject (this case it is chess), strong will and faith. I understand that it is suspicious for a lot of people. They look for the ‘winning variation’ when they should know such a thing does not exist; they look for the key that opens every door. They try to copy the great ones’ repertoires, even their habits.
Let me just tell you that Bent Larsen usually went to bed around 4 o’clock in the morning and got up at noon during his tournaments. We met 4 times. From the Riga Interzonal, he gave daily reports by phone (and that was not very easy from the USSR!) to the Argentinean newspaper Clarin! I guess they paid him well. Still, I would not do it for a fortune. Would you?
If there is a secret, it is to find your own style, the weapons fitting it, build up a personality that differs sharply from anybody else. If you look at the World Champions, you won’t find any example for somebody becoming the new Champ playing the old one’s style, only better. No, Lasker was followed by Capablanca who was replaced by Alekhine. Three different worlds! And this is what the principle of development – or should I say evolution? – means. It seems so simple. It is very hard to do.
Chessville: Your books championing Black’s prospects are a challenge to the entire chess-playing community to reassess their attitude. Who are the current champions of this philosophy?
I do not know of any. There are of course people, among them Morozevich, the best who play with BLACK with an excellent score. There is no telling however if he is achieving this result based on belief in BLACK’s case or (rather) studying hard certain systems – such as the Slav – and working out concrete novelties. It would be interesting to ask him!
Chessville: What do you think about China’s emergence as a strong chess nation?
It was 1992 when I made sample copy with a little help of my friends of an intended periodical called ‘BLACK is OK!’ One of the articles carried the title: ‘The most welcome yellow danger…’ At that time China already had a World Champion: Xie Jun, who took away from Chiburdinadze the title a year before. But it was not the beginning! Some time already in the 80’s Liu Shilan suddenly became a Candidate. Also, the Chinese Men’s Team usually scored rather well in the Olympiads. I think this is very positive and natural. There is no point to be afraid of the Chinese over-running the chess scene – although they are better and better, their Women’s Team won twice in the last Olympiads – in return there were already a number of international tournament in China. I’m sure there are more to come. All in all: let there be fair rivalry among the nations for the sake of healthy development in the Royal Game!
Chessville: In how many years do you predict a Chinese player will become world champion, and what will her name?
There IS a Chinese Ladies’ World Champion again, so the question I believe belongs to the case of men. My scientific answer: I do not know. But it is clear that leading Chinese players will play a serious part in the International Chess for a long-long time. With a culture ancient as theirs, with their diligence, toughness there can be no question about it.
Chessville: Other than your own published work on black’s prospects, which other authors have written well on this subject during the past 15 years?
I don’t know of any. It doesn’t mean there couldn’t be, but those titled ‘A complete repertoire for Black’ in 100 pages are shameless junks. I am also trying to finish something like a real complete repertoire, it is actually contains 6 books, average of at least 150 pages: 1./ Gruenfeld 2./ Sveshnikov (these are the targeted variations) 3./ Queen’s pawn 4./ Rare Openings (everything but 1.e4, 1.d4, 1.Nf3, 1.c4) 5./ Sicilian Subvariations 6./ 1.c4, 1.Nf3. Now this goes to be a good 900 pages. Of which the Rare Openings has been published just like Sveshnikov, Gruenfeld, Sicilian Subvariations and I do have 80% ready the manuscript of Queen’s pawn. So it is number six to be done, and you may guess I shall suggest Hedgehog in the first place and take a look about the variations avoiding it too. I do pay attention to my works, still, even this repertoire may have little holes. On the other hand I understand I cannot compete those who promise their readers the ‘perfect solution’ in hundred pages… It must be some kind of masochism in the chess players (actually all the people) to buy stories like this, and never get disappointed enough to reject at least the same kind of rubbish. It may sound crazy, but I do not produce anything like that. I do make mistakes I don’t know of, but my aim is not to please readers (who could be satisfied with something average with my name and proud titles), I don’t try to gain credit from the reviewers. I’m not targeting perfection either for God’s sake, what I want is to be satisfied with the fruit of my efforts. This is something that matters. We all know when we perform well, and with a bit of self-criticism we are aware when we blow something. I am too timid of the guilt feeling of not be worthy to my mission. I don’t want to hate myself (too much). I do it still in another basis.
Chessville: What is you opinion about modern ‘short draws”. Is there a mechanism to fix it?
There is only one way to fix it. But before there should be given human conditions for the players: oxygen, light, space, free day(s) and the minimum dignity. Organizers who don’t do all these – and there are very few actually do it! – have no legal or moral rights to criticize poor devils playing every day, sometimes double round! Double round tournaments should not be rated at all, if it would be up to me, I strictly forbid them.
Supposing the NOT excellent, only normal, conditions are going to be given to ALL players and ALL levels, the solution is: draw is only possible in the following ways: 1./ perpetual check 2./ repetition of moves (3-times) 3./ three time mirror 4./ Stalemate. And that’s it.
There is no way of avoiding fixed draws, but to get rid of the draw offers during shall produce a lot more real chess. I myself should have been born into this imagined world: I was so many times hesitating about offering or not, finally doing it many times. Thank God, many of the games in which my proposal was rejected I won. Which shows if there would not be a choice (temptation) between stepping out or staying in the game, I could take the tension. Sure I could do better. And this belongs to most of other players as well.
Chessville: Is the traditional Fide World Championship cycle broken forever?
Not being a fortune-teller I have no idea. But one thing I can say: it is just gangsterism in the Chess World to organize any ‘Upperhouse Tournament of Candidates’, when those who have 2650 or more never have an opportunity to join. Nor to make real money. Those times when the cycle was composed of Zonals, Interzonals, and KO matches among the Candidates, theoretically anybody could become a Champion. And this chance was not just symbolic: there was indeed somebody who did it! His name is Garry Kasparov.
I happened to be once among those Candidates, ‘79-80, when I came =3-4 with Ribli in the Riga Interzonal. At that time he was one of the favorites, I had a tiny 2525 and the 11-12 place by rating before the start. And then we played a 6-game match which ended 3-3 after he was leading by 2,5-0,5!! By this I qualified because of my better Sonneborn in Riga. Against Hübner I experienced similar treatment: he lead by two points in half time. Yet I won the sixth, could win the next, and was absolutely winning in the 9th penultimate game, overlooking a Stalemate at the end! This is just one of the stories when some ‘black horse’ played a serious part in this procedure.
It is understandable that Kramnik and Leko and all the others prefer to decide everything in the ‘Club’. It is just a violation of all principles that are based on ‘Gens una Sumus’, it’s not enough that just 25-30 members of the ‘Club’ takes everything, but they and their supporters want to handle the World Championship as a private matter! It was scandalous enough to call Kramnik-Leko a World Championship Match. If my memory serves well, Kramnik was knocked out by Shirov 5 years ago. Then the good Garry overlooked the fact that the winner has qualified, and played a match with Kramnik which he lost like a child. This match however could not be renown as anything official! Not even in Garry’s Association.
As to Leko: He won a very strong tournament in Dortmund. But still it was just one tournament! A tournament in which Anand, the World’s Number Two did NOT take part. So what the bloody Hell is going on? In addition, Kramnik is not going to play among the 8 ‘Übermensch’. And that leads us to a question: with all the credit for the Great Ones, whose is the Chess World? Is it for the millions or for the ‘Blue Blooded’ only?
Chessville: Do you have opinions on how to teach young people to play chess, or of its value to them?
It’s been partly answered in No.1. Otherwise I think chess can bring joy and consolation to everybody, but success at any level requires human qualities such as objectivity, good concentration, self-discipline, willpower, the ability to handle defeat – and many more. These are all useful whatever profession you choose.
With some of my friends, our acquaintance goes back to a good forty years, it started when we played together in Béla Papp’s (Hungary’s Greatest Ever Chess Teacher!) teams. The best-known people are Faragó and me, who became GMs. Then come the IMs: J.Tompa, P.Petrán, P.Geszosz, Dr.E.Nagy, A.Szieberth, as well as a bunch of FMs, but this still tells little of his achievements as a trainer. He set a World Record with one of the teams, called ASI, an abbreviation for Angyalföldi Sport Iskola =Angels’ Field (it is the 13th district of Budapest) Sports School. Starting in 1957 the lowest league, the team (with largely the same players!!) moved up one league every single year till it reached National First Division! Only then did we have to strengthen the team, bringing Béla Bácsi (= Uncle Béla) to the first board!! We did not relegate but both of his teams (the other was JOSI = Józsefvárosi (8th district of Budapest) Sport Iskola) were dismissed with no sound reason. (Except most probably the envy and jealousy of the ‘Master Trainers’. It is a title that was awarded to Béla Papp only two years before his death, 1988. As Kurt Vonnegut would say: ‘That’s how it goes.’)
One thing is sure: we did not cost a cent apart from travel expenses when played out of Budapest. The whole thing meant a disaster to all of us, especially to our beloved Master. It went unnoticed internationally as well, although I don’t believe anybody anywhere has ever equaled the performance of Béla Papp. Both teams were composed entirely of the children he himself discovered by giving a large number of simuls in schools. Uncle Béla was a true genius in selecting the talented ones from 20-30 seemingly equally patzerish children. This is a skill very few people have. I’m sure haven’t got it myself. So at a time he had two of his own clubs, plus the one where he played. He trained all 3 teams, organized and ‘managed’ the two youth ones.
What did it mean? Well, put us to qualifying tournaments, organize the venues of our trainings and matches, take care of our trips to other towns, and on most Fridays and Saturdays making a private ‘roundtrip’ of Budapest reaching as many family homes as he could. Very few people had phones at that time, but anyway Béla Bácsi knew it from experience that he stands more chance to convince parents to let their boys or girls play chess on Sunday if he is there in person. How could he otherwise say to a mother: ‘Sweet lady, I personally guarantee that your son Stevie shall improve his maths by the end of the school year. It is as sure as my name is …’ (never finishing!) With his humble eyes and begging pose this usually worked… It ‘only’ took him 2 full days. As much as the training concerns: we had one session for each team (of course we visited each other) a week.
People keep asking me about another secret, but I do not remember almost anything he taught in particular. There were many things. He liked (and so we did) tasks like 2-move miniatures (less than 7 pieces). Needless to say we studied the games of Tal, Fischer, but indeed the so-called secret was his enthusiasm, flaming love for chess and children. A man who was not a Master till the age of 49 – when he took the title easily – because he simply did not pay any attention to his own ambitious. He lived in poverty with his widow mother having no children of his own, but 300 like us. When we finished the trainings we went home and continued. By ourselves, because we loved chess. And that was that!
The most talented have become GMs or (semi-) professionals, while others chose professions like economist, lawyer, doctor, psychiatrist, mathematician – as I like to say, they have become decent citizens unlike myself – but all of them have kept chess not only as a nostalgic memory, but many still play in clubs (Dr.Ervin Nagy for example for Honvéd, Adam Szieberth for Statisztika – 1st league, etc) and I’m sure that most of them still play through the chess columns, visit tournaments personally or on-line time to time.
What was the question? Well, I do not see many children recently – my own daughters were seriously interested in chess at the age of 4-6. It would be of course stupid of me not to teach them to play chess, as it was all based on their curiosity. And they were able to give smothered mate! From time to time we also visited Béla Bácsi – I played in the same club with him anyhow – and the kids were sometimes literally on his neck. Children’s instincts work 100 % right! Yet later on their interest turned to music and other things and I did not force anything. I have noticed that the smaller one called Anna is too sensitive: she couldn’t take defeat and things like that. I was worried that maybe she inherited only my psychological weaknesses but not my talent…
Now there comes the first important point for parents. DON’T LET ANYONE ANYWHERE NEAR YOUR CHILDREN IF YOU OR YOUR CHILD DOESN’T LIKE HIM! NO MATTER HOW MUCH HE KNOWS ABOUT CHESS! There is much more to a trainer-pupil cooperation than inputting or changing information. MUTUAL SYMPATHY is not just a romantic attitude, but worth a million dollars when it comes to effectiveness. When one knows that there is somebody whom (s)he can always rely on and trust (who can also protect sometimes from your own parents…) and may be critical about you, but whatever he says is in your best interest, you really can fly.
How to start? I think all beginners, especially children love to see wonders. When – as we say – the idea overcomes material. So when somebody sees an economic mate with just enough pieces against a whole army, it is like a miracle. It indeed is! It’s just so that today we know that no attack can be successful without canny preparation. All these combinations target the seemingly impossible. They will love it – if not, you saved a lot of time, money and effort. Sure there’ll be something else to make a living of it. Professional chess with the hope of success is entirely for original characters and devoted or rather fanatic people.
Quite a few parents tried to have my services (‘…whatever it takes, Grandmaster!’) even for 9 to 12-year-olds. What I usually say is: ‘You see, it’s not a question of money. Your child simply doesn’t need a Grandmaster for his studies.’ And before they get hurt by this elementary truth (my mother was a teacher in an elementary school, and you bet she could do much better for that ‘audience’ than a professor from the University), I invite them for a free visit to meet the little guy and – because it’s inevitable – the parents. It consists of an overview of his games (I like them verbally annotated), a couple of things in the presence of the parents and a face-to-face friendly chat for only the two of us. There is sometimes mutual sympathy, so the kid can trust me.
I try to find out if the children THEMSELVES want to become serious chessplayers, or it is more of their clever parents’ big idea. One thing I must say: experience shows that two parents are necessary to have a child. But if I would teach somebody who has a shining talent like Lékó, I would prefer the boy to be an orphan. I hardly ever met some chessplayer-to-be whose parents were not total idiots, arrogant and aggressive tyrants, pushing the little unfortunate toward a direction of their 2nd career ambition. Some of them are ready to give a push publicly after a lost game! Once I saw it with my own eyes, but unfortunately the father’s size was shocking even for me. I mean for going there and simply butcher him. Words in such cases are wasted.
As far as the kid is concerned, anybody who says something like he wants to play chess in order to make money, headlines, traveling, becoming famous – in short, using chess as an instrument – is a dead man for me. For chess is to be loved for itself, and when somebody does so, chess loves him back! And then all those things mentioned above come to you, but THAT IS NOT THE POINT! That is a logical consequence when you do anything on a high level. It is like love and marriage. You cannot love somebody through a lifetime with the same heat when it all started and blossomed. But the basis of the feeling stays and together with respect and appreciation it becomes something of a deep, positive emotion. When somebody becomes a professional that means marrying Caissa. But beware of becoming a money-maker by using a game called chess! In this case, chess could be replaced by anything. I can guarantee that such an attitude leads to empty routine, and is disgusting anyway. These people don’t deserve big success and usually don’t make it, either.
Chessville: How many Grandmasters around the world can earn a living solely by playing chess?
My estimate is 25-30, Ribli’s 50. The truth lays somewhere between our guesses. Which is depressing. Others play all those dirty opens to earn their daily bread and occasionally teach rich people’s stupid children who are, of course potential geniuses. It is of course completely wrong, and I would love to see an open for the 100 best in 13 rounds, and I wonder where would the ‘Great Ones’ finish? Bloody Hell!
Let me give you another example. At that time when rapid chess was called wrongly ‘active’ there was an European and a World Championship in 1988. I won the Hungarian ‘Active’ Championship and together with the other medalists qualified to the Gijon (Esp) Europe Championship. From there there were 3 Hungarian qualifiers Csom, Kállai, and me. The World Ch. was held in Mazatlan (Mexico). It is true, that some guests who never qualified like the Polgar-‘Brothers’ and others showed up as invitees, but apart from this every qualifier had a right to play. And there were surprises! The biggest was that Kállai who was not even a GM reached the best 8!! I won a prize too by beating Alburt in the last round with (of course) BLACK.
Will you tell me if this system has ever been repeated? For I don’t remember! The Rapid World Championship (or Cup) is reserved for players of the Chess Olympos. To put it mild, this is scandal. I don’t doubt that Anand might be the best rapid player in the world, but I’d like to point out two things: 1./ Rapid chess is special. People like Kállai or P.Szekely (who has died at the age of 48) have never played serious part in the traditional time-controlled chess. But both of them played devilish rapid and blitz – Szekely beat Tal himself in a friendly encounter of quite some games, and many great ones. 2./ When Bobby Fischer started the cycle which ended with Rejkjavík ’72 beating Boris Spassky very few people doubt that there’s going to be a change of guard. Especially seeing him killing Taimanov (6-0) even Larsen (6-0) and finally Petrosian easily. But nobody, not even Bobby objected why should he bother with anybody else but Boris.
So what happens those who play all the decent tournaments and make real lot of money anyway took away the rapid WCh from everybody else who are breaking their backs to earn their living playing all the rubbish opens! This is wrong, selfish and most of all simply provocative to the rest of the chess world. I could go on without an own interest since I haven’t played a tournament game for 5 years.
Chessville: Describe your preparation for a GM tournament.
Good question after I seem to finish tournaments except maybe some kind of special events. But I remember.
Today it would have been much more easily done because you have all the databases with say, 3 million games, so that you can search for the opponent with one color, the openings that are likely to appear. But until the early ‘90s we did it all like people of the middle age or so: collected the sources, went through many-many bulletins, chess magazines, it was still good to have the Chess Informant. I estimate the time this manual paperwork could have taken about half of the amount we were spending on chess.
Therefore I’m really disgusted about the level and the style of modern chess. Because they have a minimum of 40 % more time for clearly professional chess matters. Yet I see a sea of well-educated, middle-strong IMs whom you cannot beat easily at all; on the other hand there’s a very-very little original contribution to the science and art of chess. Even so they should know that from this grey mass you can only climb out if you create new ideas, surprises. I know people who stare at the monitor 6-8 hours a day, watching, memorizing, using Fritz but think of anything? Never!
Capablanca said ones: ‘You aren’t supposed to know the best move, but to find it!’ It is of course an exaggeration, I’m sure deliberately, but on the whole this is the truth. If you are a skillful, well-educated and rightly confident, cold-blooded player, there’s a fair chance that you discover something over the board, or find the refutation of an unsound surprise. I remember seeing GM Jan Smejkal doing it quite a few times.
There’s no way to learn EVERYTHING, even if it would be possible you’d get nowhere, because others use the same or similar sources. But I started questioning early sometimes in very frequently played positions or variations why don’t they play this move? Many times I found my candidate not at all worse than the popular one(s), even better when you improve on a line that has bad reputation! Anyway: Even if you only find out something in the morning and have just an hour to analyze when you through it in the afternoon the guy may have no idea if it is an ‘old’ preparation but anyhow if the move of yours only as good as the usual one(s) you still have won the ‘opening debute’.
There is also a Hungarian phrase: ‘Need is the best teacher’. In the 1991 Hun. Super Championship I was going to play Portisch, who had this unpleasant habit of beating me. Fortunately I was BLACK this time and just 3 days before round 4 I have created in the Gruenfeld-Exchange .Be3-Qd2-Rb1 b6! (instead of a6 or cxd4). The effect was incredible: Lajos thought about it forty minutes and made finally wrong decision – tried to refute it. Well, since I checked it out just recently and found 139 games with the help of my friend IM Végh. I’m glad to tell you that the idea still lives, developing, and promises good chances for BLACK. The fact I blew the game missing no less than 5 wins (see it in the ‘BLACK is OK Forever!’ – 2005 Jan) shows another extreme ability. Who else could be as stupid as I was?
Summary: I was only talking about the chess part of the preparation. But naturally there is psychology involved, sometimes you can’t explain personal results compared with the general achievements. For example both Ribli and Sax did (much) better than I, yet my score against them 7-4 and 8-1(!!). There were of course, people – not at all better than these guys – who were very nasty to me, and even now it is hard for me to find a rational explanation. As to the physical part I liked to swim. But of course it is fairly individual.
Finally: just to see the mystery of chess, there were tournaments I went well-prepared and almost happy. Such occasions sometimes ended by a catastrophe. And then the opposite, when all of your life is in ruins, and you got a phone call – an invitation to Luhacovice ‘73. I asked IM Kozma is there a GM norm? Yes, he said. And when does it start? It did a half an hour ago! – he said somewhat embarrassed. So I jumped in and made my final result. Consequency? Nothing matters! WRONG! Permanent work will naturally pay off. But you don’t know when!
Chessville: My chess encyclopedia say that in 1960 there were 2,000 clubs in Hungary and about 25,000 players. How does this compare to Hungary’s chess health in 2005?
It seems that you are much better informed about my motherland than myself. I swear I could never find out from authentic circles how many (organized) tournament players do we have. There were incredible extremes. But what I tell you is in the past 15 years or so there were no less than 20 teams from the National League Nr 1 and 1/B dissolved without ANY replacement. It means 12 players/team plus reserves. (Can’t be less than 16.) Between ’95 and 2000 I’ve played in 4 teams. Not because of enjoying the adventure! But you know what happened? All of them went up to the smoke! I don’t really have an idea how middle-class players or even GMs make a living, but there was no report of any chess player dying of hunger. Anyway in Hungary dying in hunger is not in fashion, but last winter 17 elderly people froze in their own house in one village which they could not afford to heat.
There is no point to talk about only Hungary, because tens of thousands of chess players are struggling all over the world to make a living from day to day. In Hungary (just like the rest of the world) all chess officials care is to have successes of the peak (take Lékó, Polgar) and try to cover the misery by having a successful Olympic or European team. Even this failed: the men’s 20th place in the European TCh, 31st in the last Olympiad can hardly be called anything but disaster. Ladies did very well twice: 6th and 5th in the last two Olympiads.
I wish I could tell you something else, but chess in Hungary suffers from all kinds of sicknesses.
Chessville: Eppur Si Muove! What are your next ideas to confront “colour superstition”?
Maybe it’s best to give a faithful translation of ‘Eppur Si Muove!’. In the foreword of ‘Still’ I said ‘it roughly means BLACK is OK!’ Well, I should put in ‘anyway’ to get close to Galileo’s original that reads ‘The Earth is moving round anyway’. But the spirit is just the same.
When I finished the ‘Twins’ (that is, ‘BLACK is Still OK!’ and ‘BLACK is OK Forever’), my editor and – as opposed to some reviewers – excellent proofreader Jimmy Adams brought up the idea of updating ‘The’ BLACK is OK! volume of 1988 to make it a Trilogy. (Mr James Adams was criticized for letting the word ‘BLACK’ be written in capitals all the way through both books. It was my wish, just like the ‘reversed’ diagrams – having BLACK downside, bringing him closer to us. There is a struggle going on in which BLACK has been mistreated for hundreds – if not thousands – of years. For this guidance – call it manipulation if you like – I take every responsibility.)
I did like his proposal, but without following the subjects – this book is mostly theoretical – I had the dark suspicion that ‘updating’ could mean rewriting in this case. No wonder: All of the subjects were – and some are still – very popular, which means there were many games played during these 16 years. Just one example: Queens Indian 4.g3 Ba6 5.b3 b5!?. My longtime friend IM Végh, who is a genius of classifying material, collected no less than 439 games (95 % of them fresh, compared to the book’s fairly lengthy chapter’s games). No need to say this quantity alone could fill another book, but it’s not a question of selection and appendix – in this and in quite some themes some of the new games change the evaluation of the line or even the whole variation.
I have analyzed already during the process of selection for the new books every single BLACK game of mine (the ones I still have, I mean) that was worth it in details. That makes at least a 100 quality games. The theory needs verbal support, and naturally there are results of scientific research, such as: chess-playing mathematicians Z.Blázsik and T.Binder had a debate and came to the conclusion that NOT ONE of the opponents has a drawing strategy in chess. Which means it’s not like White having a (theoretically) guaranteed draw while BLACK can achieve it with sound play only. The fate of the game is both theoretically and practically OPEN! I thought of baptizing this volume ‘BLACK is Back – OK?’
Coming up is a thick book composed from my articles about certain themes from BLACK’s point of view. At the moment it numbers 24 chapters. If I only take an average of 10 pages (it is certainly more) it already makes a book of above 240 pages.
The trouble is with all these plans that all I have to help me constantly is my wife, who understands some of chess, but I would hesitate to let her do a book in my name even so she could surely improve a lot during the writing process… (also I am depending on her too much so divorce – one of my favorite pastimes – is out of the question.)
What I have had in mind for a long, long time is to organize a big correspondence – e-mail – theme tournament on my ‘BLACKest’ ideas. Actually I did it already once in 1988 in Hungary in memory of Béla Papp who died 1986. Even that tournament brought quite some interesting games although a few of the leading Hungarian correspondence players could not participate. Having a decent amount of money in the Béla Papp Foundation I would not mind to sacrifice a large sum (by correspondence terms) if only I could find some people to run this Memorial. (Chessville sure has an option.) Discussing the subjects in groups, this time correspondence players also could play for more than just peanuts!
Otherwise I should finish my six-part BLACK Repertoire Series, the Queens Pawn, 1.Nf3 1.c4, naturally updating the Gruenfeld (1986). I have had a manuscript of over 250 pages since 6-7 years, so even this ‘new’ material needs updating. Something tells me the three latter books shall never be done. At least not by me.
Chessville: Another question asks about your general match preparation – what preparation do you typically make for a match against a specific opponent? I note that you wrote that GK sent you lines against your candidates match against Hübner in 1980 – is this a normal activity for seconds?
Well, in all of my life I played only 3 matches. Two of them was against Ribli with 10 years in between. The first one was played for participation in the 1969 Stockholm Junior World Championship. I started off by 3-0 in the 6-game match in Pécs. At that time we were fairly good friends so in the evenings I gave comfort to him who was broken and ashamed in front of his hometown audience. I must have done a good job since he beat me twice, and only the last game decided 4-2 to my favor so I could travel to Sweden, coming in second behind Karpov.
The next short match we played followed the Riga Interzonal by three weeks, so much preparation could not be done from either party, being exhausted from the 17 rounds. This was tense, to put it mildly, also for non-chess-related reasons I would not like to talk about. The first half of the match brought me altogether ½-point. It was indeed humiliating mainly because it was not him playing fine, but me below all expectations. Then I took both of my days off, and most of the time I was crying. This is a kind of method I followed in Riga as well, and something I can advise everyone to do to feel easier. Laughing is good too, but it’s difficult to do without a reason. If you seek for an excuse to cry, just look around in this world…
Apart from this ‘mental preparation’ we decided with my then-second IM T.Horváth, that I shall play 1.e4 again. Something I haven’t done for some time. Najdorf came as expected and not exactly the line we’ve been preparing. Still I felt the spirit and made a strong novelty (attached). That is: everybody who plays g2-g4 pushes the pawn to g5 in which case the Knight can go to h5, and if it is not expressly bad, it does much better there than on d7. So I played first h2-h4-h5 and only then g5. The effect was incredible: he had to resign at move 22: a picturesque mate was inevitable. (More than two decades passed by when I checked this game and found only one (one!) game, won by Ehlvest, while g4-g5 was played on numberless occasions. If you happen to understand people please let me know with no delay!)
But this was a very different story, Ladies and Gentlemen! It was not the point scored, but the satisfaction of winning at last a very nice game that released me. I could still loose the match since Ribli was and is a player who loses very rarely. This time it took him only two days to lose two games – as many as he lost in 17 rounds in Riga!! It was not a bad game either from my part!
So the standing was even with my Berger-advantage, and I played White in game six. Now it was his turn to take both days-off, which he obviously needed. On the other hand it did me good too. It is somewhat strange to say, but changing psychological situations are hard to adopt to for both parties, also for the one who is favored by the turn of luck. Since game one all I was hoping for was to have a chance to equalize at the finish. Now ‘all’ I needed was a draw. But there were examples in chess history at the highest level that the one who equalized after having 2-3 points down and still lost (Korchnoi-Karpov ’78 Baguio, 2-5, 5-5, 5-6, also Portisch once evened the score against Petrosian from minus 2. Then he thought Petro would certainly take his day-off. He didn’t. He played, won, qualified.) So when we got together I started to play very actively and as his surprise made no effect he sunk often to his desperate thoughts. All he had at the end was two minutes for 16 moves and a much worse, probably lost position. Then he offered the draw which I took immediately, not torturing him a minute (I still had a half an hour).
Then came the only match I could indeed prepare for. The one against Doctor Hübner. Objectively speaking he was the heavy favorite having had around 2600 (at that time!) for ten years. And not only that. He played so many strong opponents in many-many super tournaments and matches that it would be another big surprise if I could kick him out. Something that almost happened!
Before the match I collected his games back for years – especially the ones annotated by him. I wanted to get familiar with his style, way of thinking etc. And I went through this mountain only to find out that he hardly ever makes a mistake in his analyses. On top of all, if anybody has gone through just one of Robert’s analyses probably experienced that he analyzes almost every legal possibility. Say he is BLACK against someone. The game goes like:
X.Y. – R.Hübner
1.e4! (1.d4!? Nf6/1. …d5!?/ 2.c4! e6! /2. …c5?!, 2. …g6!? 3.Nc3 d5=, 3. …Bg7?! 4.e4!+=/, 3.Nc3 Bb4!; 1.c4?! e5=, 1.Nf3 Nf6! – c5 2.e4! – 2.c4 c5=) 1. …c5 (1. …e5!? 2.Nf3 Nc6; 1. …c6!? 2.d4 d5)
It was a gesture from my part to the Readers to shorten this part and not dealing with 1.f4 1.g4?, 1.b4?!, 1.a3, 1.h3, 1.h4?!, 1.a4?!, 1.f3?, 1.c3!?, 1.d3, 1.e3, 1.b3, 1.g3, 1.Na3, 1.Nh3. But Robert has no mercy. There is hardly any of his analyses that numbers less than a few pages.
When somehow I survived all these, some of my seconds came up with the idea that I should play 1.e4. As I said before, I had quitted e4 for quite some time and not because I felt very confident about it. To make a long story short: you play 1.e4 to play a sharp game. That’s how I used to be young. 6.Bg5 against the Najdorf and things like that. But later on I started to play all these “wishy-washy” Be2 lines, I had no real strong weapon against the French, the Caro-Kann and I thought if someone wants to play positional, 1.c4 is fine. Through that I was going to reach 1.d4 later on. So we returned to 1.e4. Fortunately we kept the Gruenfeld and the Sveshnikov (although I lost a game with the latter but it was all my fault). Since it was just 25 years ago it is hard to recall all that happened before and during the match. It was held in Bad Lauterberg, Germany, I accepted the venue because there did not seem to be too much interest for our match. The hosts were very nice, more than fair. We lived in the same corridor as ‘the Hübners’ and there was no incident between us during the whole match. We did not analyze after the games, but we went through all the crucial encounters after the fight has finished. In some ways the match had similarities with the second one against Ribli: I managed to lose 2 games in the first half, but fought back in games 6/10, and had twice the chance to equalize. According to Hilgert (his manager and the owner of Köln Porz) the good Robert was all packed! (He had left a match before against Petrosian). Imagine: if I beat him in game nine with BLACK instead of giving stalemate in a totally winning Rook ending, the 10 would probably have been a draw. Then there would come 2×2 additional games, and if those could not decide, the one who equalized last or won more with BLACK would have qualified. It was a double favor for me! (In the same cycle Portisch qualified against Spassky having the more BLACK wins.)
As to Garry’s letters which were – just like mine – about eight pages long, we were building up something, and he gave me a lot of advice and concrete variations in those fields where he felt at home. I wonder how many of his ideas has been actually used by me or the reverse. But it was maybe not even the biggest point. Already in Riga I got a letter from him: finding out that I’ll play Tony Miles in the last round he sent some new weapon against some of his pet variations the Mikenas. It goes like 1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e6 3.e4 d5 4.e5 Ne4 5.Nxe4 dxe4 6.Qg4 Bd7!?N with the intention of 7.Qxe4 Bc6 8.Qe3 Na6!? with a dangerous attack. Of course it is more than nice to have such support. But it also meant that he believed the last round could still be important for me! I played my Hedgehog against Miles and won in style. Not that I had any objection to Garry’s idea, but what if Tony mixes up things? Just a week later I had a letter from Baku saying: ‘Believe it or not I never lost my faith in you. I really hope that you did not beat Larsen and Miles in order to lose from Ribli?’ Finally: when I qualified I got a telegram: ‘Always believed you’ll win! Garry’. These are the things that matter the most.
As to the question if this kind of communication is customary or not, today, in the world of the Internet, such aid during events may be very useful, for the enemy’s camp doesn’t know who is/are behind you. They know only about those who they can see. And vice versa! In our case knowing each other since ’79 somehow we could only meet in London 1980 (USSR-Rest of the World) and Malta ‘80 Ch.ol. (where I went as a tourist, not being good enough for the Hungarian Team…) From time to time we tried to organize some decent meeting, but I visited New York earlier than Baku. Even when I finally went there in ’84 as a ‘private tourist’ I was smuggled out(!) next morning, and went by plane to Garry’s training camp in Sikhi, 500 kilometers away from there to have ten days with him and the team. Secretly! The same happened in Moscow ’84 where I went as a ‘journalist’. By then his situation was rather hopeless than difficult. There were few things we could do for him after 0-4, but for example Dorfman and I taught him the Gruenfeld in just a few days. By the third weekend of the four they found out why I was really there, and Baturinsky called Budapest in order to teach me a lesson. I had to deal with other lessons and ordeals in my life, more than enough, actually. But not this time!
So our correspondence and telephone calls were born by necessity. I regret that I did not make a copy of my own letters, but I still keep Garry Kimovich’s ones who once promised to be a revolutionary, then became a kind of Czar, and who has left chess to becoming a freedom fighter in Russia. I hope they will not shoot him.
Chessville: Steinitz, Alekhine and Fischer scored 50% with Black and over 60% with White in world championship matches. Gary Kasparov scores only 42% with Black but 68% (highest of all) with White. What percentages do you think necessary to obtain for a traditional-style world champion?
Since chess is a fight between two individuals, and this is especially valid for matches, to my mind a good match strategy is the most important thing. And it is all the same which way we win, qualify or retain whatever we had. The result is the only thing that matters and afterwards who cares what your way to success was like. Take Sevilla ’87. With 2 games to go the standing between the two Ks was even. A draw was enough for Kasparov to keep the title. Then he lost. And he won. The tension this way was incredible, but at the end the result was just the same as in case of two fighting draws. As for the colors again, let me remind you that between the same gentlemen in 1986 ‘White won’ by 8-1!! Later on in 1990 it became 7-0. Anybody wants to convince me this is OK? Or could anyone answer my question (also in the book): what happened? Did they play like geniuses with White or (rather) like patzers with BLACK? Anyhow: nothing matters as long as you can win in a fair encounter.
Chessville: You admired England’s Tony Miles as “an original thinker.” Name a few young players who have the same qualities.
Now I’m in trouble. I still follow international top chess, but not very closely. And I know quite a number of young players by their games and results. (I don’t care much about anybody’s rating because it is clear that there is – at least – a 100-point inflation in general. The late professor Árpád Élő /who was, of course Hungarian-born/ realized the danger and wanted to make corrections but he died before he could do it, and now everybody is happy to have a higher ELO than (s)he deserves. ELO records are junk, to put it plain. When Péter Lékó and Judit Polgár went /well/ above 2700 and were celebrated noisily, the good old Lajos Portisch said: ‘I was never above 2650, but with that I was number 3 in the world!’. That’s exactly what I’m talking about. May I add that Portisch was wrong: he actually shared 2nd-3rd with Korchnoi…) Yet I can’t remember seeing something extremely original. It may very well be my own mistake. But will you pardon me: almost any game played by Shirov is something special. I don’t think too many people care about beauty in chess. I don’t think it’s the players to be blamed, as getting new invitations is a question of life or death. Take Linares. For me this degree of stupidity, which leads people to have just seven players in order to keep the category, should really call for emergency treatment. Yes, there were times when organizers all over the world were competing each other who can bring together the highest category. Those days are gone! Also I do not believe in these ‘categories’ at all. It’s the same players playing between each other and having a nice time. When they meet unknown opponents, who are ‘underdogs’, but not at all weak, they sometimes go astray. Everybody is crazy to have at least a category 16 tournament, when it’s quite clear that a category 13-14 (for much less money!) is surely more attractive from the spectators’ point of view. Talking about beauty again: I won nine brilliancy prizes during my career, eight of them not paying a penny. To my great surprise I got 1000 US dollars for the last one at the Debrecen (HUN) European Team Championship (that Giorgadze game, you know…). My time seems to be over now. Therefore I feel entitled to demand much more respect for those playing attractive chess. Especially under the inhuman conditions that characterize almost every single open. But who cares about the quality of the games at all? I remember 1998 when there was a double-round rapid tournament for Hübner and his former candidate opponents. That went smoothly, to everybody’s great surprise I came in 4th. But then there was a big rapid event for no less than 320 participants. On that list I was ranked 35th by ELO. It was indeed pretty strong. But the organizers did not provide score sheets at all, and only the four games played on the stage, at the top boards, were recorded. Question: apart from the conflicts that may arise due to the lack of a score sheet, wasn’t anybody interested in the games played by (at least) the first 80 who were above 2400?? Or maybe just the openings? At the same time, you find U-10 games in any database…
Finally, let me say that Morozevich is someone who is very original. Has a tremendous score with BLACK too. The only thing I don’t know, is if he can still be considered young in this world when in Hungary we have (they have!) Kindergarten Championships…
Chessville: What has your friend IM Dr. Ervin Nagy never produced a book on chess psychology? It would be appear to be an essential title for any serious player’s library.
Let’s begin with something that should not surprise anyone by now: Ervin was a pupil of Béla Papp just like me. So we have known each other since 1962. At that time, however, I was the youngest of us, fairly small too, so they called me ‘plug’ and such things. They did like me, but at that age a difference of 4-5 years was too big. This changed later of course. Ervin became a psychiatrist and seldom played apart from team matches or individual tournaments during his holidays(!) Even so, he became an IM. We made a great pair: him being a doctor of soul and me bringing my wounds and problems to him between 1981-93.
Whenever I went to see him I poured my heart, and when I was off I usually asked him: ‘What am I to do, pal?’ To which he usually answered: ‘Nothing.’ First I was angry, thinking he might be indifferent or even cynical. But, as I found out later, in certain situations there isn’t indeed anything to be done but to endure and survive. Any action could just worsen the case. The trouble is that for me doing nothing was probably the toughest in both life and chess. But Ervin really tried to help me. At that time (1992) there was this idea of making a periodical ‘BLACK is OK!’, and I asked Dr. Nagy to write something about chess psychology. And he did. The only trouble was that it was an essay, and I told him that no matter how good it is, people will still not read it. I proposed to change the format into dialogue, and I suggested that he should call the patient Bill. All of a sudden he got upset and asked: ‘What should we call the doctor?’ ‘Call him ‘Doc’ – I take all responsibility!’ And so it happened. I also encouraged him to write another 12 chapters (to make it 13) and so he did. Now comes the harder part. None of us is a manager-type, in addition he is still working full time. I forwarded the whole manuscript and my supporting letter to a publishing house. It failed. The readers can judge the quality from the chapter of ‘BLACK is still OK’ titled ‘BLACK or White?’ There are two more chapters translated into English, if I find them I sure will send you. We are planning to publish just 500 copies in Hungarian with the help of Béla Papp Foundation. Perhaps it will get a serious publisher interested.
As for the psychology and philosophy of chess, my feeling is that it is rather popular with chess lovers. The problem is that most tournament players have given up serious studies, they don’t intend to work on anything that pays off only in the long run. Which is, of course verrry stupid! If you take a field of any level composed of thousands of players of seemingly equal strength, who are studying the same/similar sources in the same way, learning the variations by heart, it should be clear that if someone wants to stick out of this crowd (I mean upwards…), he needs not more of any above mentioned methods, but something extra. I don’t think I’m mistaken to say that books on chess psychology make up maybe 1/100,000 of everything written about chess theory. I myself have Fine’s and Krogius’ work, also a book by Kotov titled The Secrets of the Chessplayer’s Thinking, and of course the manuscript in question. I can not imagine there are more than a total of 15-20 books! In addition I must say that only Fine, Krogius, and Nagy are professionals of both fields. I don’t know what to say. Chess is probably the fighting sport that lasts the longest. It’s not hocus-pocus to improve your skills by learning about the psychology of it, at the same time your observations about the opponent become much more accurate. So how it is, Ladies and Gentlemen? Are you ready to eat bullshit or anything, make a monkey of yourself following some idiot, paying for being misguided, but you reject something that is scientific, based on decades of tournament and clinical experience? Or let me put it this way: is it possible that none of you noticed when your brains were stolen? Or you still don’t miss it? Or maybe you are not interested in anything that is simple and logical, but unfortunately cheap or free? We can help that!
Dear Chessfriends! Please do hate me, it’s a healthy feeling. That’s good for you and doesn’t matter for me. Because I want to help you, and I’m not going to sell you rubbish! Rubbish you can buy next corner. Every next corner! Others try to rob you, fool you, like them if you want. But I am not here to please you, but to serve. Take it or leave it!
Finally: in 1999 a certain German gentleman, Fritz 5.32 beat Judit Polgár like hell 5.5-2.5 in Budapest. I immediately challenged that garbage, putting my own money at stake in case I lose or even draw. Strangely enough, there was no reply from Friedel. But a true friend of mine for 32 years called Sándor Dobsa had a copy of the program. (He was a great piano player PLUS a well known correspondence mat(t)ador. He died very recently.) So a match of four games was played during the Week of Books (June 2000) in the middle of Budapest. In all games I played BLACK and Rainbow Chess (same rules). World premier happened. The ‘Free Press’ did not write a word about this event, although I sent them daily reports PLUS THE GAMES! (Never published from the Polgár-match). In the end I managed to lose by 1,5-2,5, but I have to say this was the very first occasion I ever played a computer. I almost did not have any time for preparation (finishing a book for the Week of Books), so I followed some experts’ advise: I made the guy play for itself. In the first game it took altogether 2 minutes in a Ba6 5.b3 Queens’ Indian to get all the pieces off the board except for a rook and a knight each sides plus 3 vs 3 pawns. A dead draw. Why did I tell you all this? Because you can see games like that – end of theory and the ‘fight’together so many times! The fact that people are not interested in others is sad enough. But is it possible that so many of them have lost interest in themselves too?
So much about the story of: ‘Our psyche in chess/ck’ by IM Dr Ervin Nagy. If anybody happens to know some publisher who produces intelligent chess books (as well) may contact him at email@example.com and/or me firstname.lastname@example.org. I note that what’s in this book is just a part of the most important problems (and suggestions on how to solve them). In my estimate, only Ervin Nagy could write two or rather three of this kind of ‘guides’. Actually, in some ways those conversations between Bill and Doc resemble to those we had through the long years. I also have an idea to put in footnotes (of the usual size of mine…) as follows. Chapter title: ‘I offer a draw’. My afterthoughts: ‘Draw offers and what are behind them’. I am quoting this because it is ready. The basic idea is a very gentle kind of editing, not hurting any of his ideas, but putting in my own experiences, and anecdotes from my life as a tournament player.
In the end, we always return to this point: there are daily problems to solve. But for someone who is ambitious it is very important to draw wisdom from all possible sources and have patience until his various efforts bear fruit.
Chessville: A traditional Chessville Question is:- What question did we not ask, but you would have liked to answer?
There’s a number of questions I would like to answer if I only could. The trouble is comparing the quantity of time I spend contemplating the results are poor. It is well-known that people use their brain’s capacity up to 10 % at best. Maybe my effectivity is even worse? Do you know that the brain of Einstein was as little as a chicken’s? Sure he could go up to 101 % but still. And his results were quite acceptable.
A handy question would be: ‘What is the meaning of existence?’ In general there should be something, in my own case I do not know yet. Having ‘messianistic hysteria’ (own, similar to ‘cosmic feeling of responsibility’) I used to think about mankind in general. Where do we go? Will it be like in the ‘Planet of the Apes’ where it turns out that human civilization has already destroyed itself – at least once? Very good odds for that, Ladies and Gentlemen!
High tech did not make people morally better. Might is right – a saying I learned from Bill Lombardy back to 1981 – is still one of the leading forces. Humanity is on the floor. On the other hand it’s not true that everybody lies to everybody! Only to those they meet. Mankind is something like a wonderchild with amazing intellect but almost no emotions or the feeling of responsibility. Depression has been already described before Christ. Do you think they can cure it today? Come on! I happen to be an ‘expert’ of the subject for 26 years and went through all existing therapies, I swallowed probably tons of pills (including Prozac, that heals everything) of all kinds there is. I make a point of that not only IM Dr Nagy Ervin but every other therapist I met did his/her best. I can say that with all of them I have become indeed friendly terms if there was not already a friendship at the beginning. Yet! Among them there was a real genius: professor and brain scientist. Top of everything he was a real good hearted someone who could give a lecture about very serious things in a style that reflected empathy and even humor. He is dead now.
He was only 55 (my age) having a fine second marriage with two lovable sons. He had a returning depression he could not escape, went through hell. Till in a desperate moment he hung himself. To make the picture complete: I never ever met someone who got cured from his/her depression or if yes it was NOT depression.
Anybody wants to say science could not find a saving method through more than 2000 years? No, it was not important enough. Today, when every 6-7th citizen of Hungary suffers depression (not mentioning other mental illnesses) and I know it is a growing problem worldwide, the situation is still not bad enough for people in charge. Healthy doesn’t care about sick, rich ignores the poor. Certain countries have banknotes saying ‘In God we trust’. When it is just the opposite: Money is their God…
I made a mistake earlier. It is already a Planet of the Apes. Except I’m sure apes are more human towards each other…
Chessville: What’s next for András Adorján in chess – you are preparing a new title, what other plans do you have?
About most of my plans I told a lot in Question 12. There is however a tremendous ‘novelty’: Rainbow Chess, invented by Paul Suvada (died in 1995). Uncle Paul was a painting artist (lived in the US for 30 years) and a hobby player. He attached colors to each piece, with the two armies having the darker / lighter version of the same color. The point is not only to make it much more visible for spectators, TV, etc., but also to add an identification color to each piece. (PAWNS remain BLACK and White!) It aids the players’ visual perception of the pieces, and this way reduces the number of blunders. Since 1994, I have organized “Rainbow” tournaments (first rapid but later also FIDE-rated events), and if I only take the fact that the quality of the games was not at all worse than those played by BLACK and White it may already be called a successful test. I myself have been using only this set ever since ’94, what is more we always analyzed on it with Péter Lékó for 2,5 years, even in the mornings when he played BLACK and White in the afternoon. It did no harm, just the opposite: he said either he can train twice as much with it or get less tired with the same amount of practice. Needless to say I don’t have a sponsor of whatsoever. Still I would like to produce a book under the title: Evergreens in the colors of Rainbow. It would contain those evergreens everybody knows (or at least should know) of the greatest players and some of the most beautiful ones regardless of who played them. The point would to mix the Rainbow diagrams with the BLACK and White ones sometimes, also the notation would be ‘Rainbow’. This is an innovation of my wife, who first wanted to have the main line and also the analyses in Rainbow, but when I said it would drive everybody crazy and the world is going to be full of people like me she gave up. At the moment the main line is going to be algebraic-figurative with the pieces colored while text and variations remain ‘normal’. For many years I have an idea called ‘Schyzo-chess’. The basic idea behind that was that during the games we are afraid of a number of things, regardless of whether they are sound or just look threatening. So: it’s played by two people who sit opposite each other. And the one who sits behind the BLACK (!) army begins the game like 1.e4. That is the move he is afraid of the most (since total sincerity needed it’s best used for training. Also it is possible to begin from a key position after move 8-10.) White leans ahead and grabs BLACK’s c-pawn putting it to c5(6). So BLACK actually plays White and vice versa. It’s necessary to do it this way because to get the real “Schyzo feeling”. It looks funny, but it is really useful, as after finishing a game, we are usually quite light-hearted about the fears we felt during it. And if we don’t analyze them, similar ghosts shall return in similar positions.
I could go on for much longer, but it is rather a dream world, really. I have serious doubts about how much of these plans will come true. But still, somehow it is a good feeling to talk about them. Like in the following old joke:
An old woman goes to the priest to confess her sins. She gives a tearful account of a lad “surprising” her at the haystack when she was 16 years old … The priest tries to comfort her: “Come on, it is such an old story, our Good Lord probably forgave you long ago. Anyway, you confessed the same thing last Sunday, and the Sunday before that. Try to forget it already!” “But how, if it still feels so good just talking about it!?”
Chessville: GM Mark Taimanov in 20 Questions said that Music provided him an emotional balance in his life to the intellectual activity of chess. How would András Adorján characterize other interests in his life, which compliment his chessic dedication?
As a matter of fact I also started to learn to play on piano (just like my elder sister and brother) but unlike GM Taimanov I was not a wonder-child, only someone who loved music and had certain talent (I never heard a family legend that goes: ‘You know my son has been a total flop already at early childhood…’). When I fell in love with chess I quit the piano lessons just because I had no time to practice both enough and there was no point of becoming a double mediocre. But music stayed with me, for example I practiced chess while listening to music almost constantly from Chopin to Led Zeppelin or the good old Rolling Stones mixed with anything of Beethoven. Later on I found out that symphonies have too much effect on me emotionally during analyses so I switched to his sonatas. This is a great combination and also had a practical benefit for I used to live places where there were some traffic noise. So music gently swallowed the noise and gave indeed extra inspiration.
I always liked to write. I started off in 1965 as chess literature concerned with a reader’s letter to Magyar Sakkélet (Hungarian Chess Life) and since GM Gedeon Barcza (blessed is his memory) encouraged me, I have done it ever since. My articles, analyses etc. were published so far in 59 chess magazines (from one piece to through several years) in all the big languages including Chinese and Arabic. I’ve written 11 books (four of them by Batsford – starting with the Grünfeld and the three BLACK IS OK! books). Most of these works were published in several languages such as German, French, Italian, Norwegian while – strangely enough – five of them have never been published in Hungarian (likely because of the low quality…) in addition the Grünfeld and the BLACK IS OK! from ’88 has been translated back to Hungarian. I can assure you my motherland is a strange one… All of these I did not mention ‘for the record’ I never considered chess or writing a work. By which I mean work is in my eyes something you do – like it or not – for a living. Chess and writing in an artistic level is certainly tough, but on the main pure enjoyment. (The trouble is with tournament chess that there is usually sitting another guy opposite to you and wants something completely different from your desires…) I have never written an article or book that was not my field, therefore I do love still whatever I’ve written with all the drawbacks and mistakes that I (or somebody else) discovered later, following G.Barcza’s warning: ‘It is a sin to lie in written’. If there shall be a Last Judgment I might be send downstairs afterwards, but for some other reason sure.
I always liked to read and brought books with me to my tournaments, it may sound odd, but mostly of the real hard literature, like Dostoevsky and the like. Other people read easy pieces, but I found out only something serious can take my mind away from the tournament’s tension. Also books supposed to be funny many times are just very weak. Unlike Hasek’s Svejk that I and sometimes with Sax we brought to tournaments which is a kind of book that has just about everything. Later on we did not even have to bring the thick book with us: both of us could recall pages of it!
And I write poems, lyrics, songs, I have translated all the songs of Godspell and made them Hungarian lyrics too. The same happened to Bonnie Tyler’s ‘It’s a heartache’ also three of the Roxette songs: ‘Listen to your heart’, ‘Spending my time’, ‘Must have been love’. I do not have the necessary music education, but sometimes I hear melodies that I can play at the piano (all by myself!), until my very good friend the late Sándor Dobsa – artist of piano, leader of the Hungarian Radio’s Orchestra ‘Studio 11’ and a well-known enthusiastic correspondence player – shows up. During our friendship of 32 years he has arranged a couple of times my music in the studio, and apart from that he plays the piano somewhat better, but I tell you he was a wizard by dressing up my melodies!
My music was played during my second wedding (arranged by Sándor). This marriage could not work but it was his fault…
All in all: I never felt I make any sacrifice for chess. Sacrifice is something you do with a heavy heart. On the other hand I never believed that somebody is going to be great in chess or anything else by way of practicing only that as a (chess) idiot. I happen to know young Hungarians stars who speak several languages some even claim in a ‘mother-tongue level’. Actually this last thing is true. The trouble is that these guys speak Hungarian in a level that resembles to the British dock-workers’ – rumors say they use 200 words through their lives. They don’t read literature because that is ‘not useful’. They do only things they think (with the amount of brain they have) which can be beneficially and directly influencing their chess preparation. If we ignore that they give interview by interview using this pidgin-Hungarian putting themselves and chessplayers in general in a shame they still are very stupid. From the practical point of view! Because! First of all it is known that we only use our brains’ capacity by 10 % so there’s plenty of room still. Second, that is more important: the language is an instrument of understanding and expression. So it sure influences the chess-thinking too, and the more you can understand or express verbally the better are your chances for a tidy, complex way of thinking. Point: there is no need for the words to be spoken, it’s enough to say and hear inside. I checked it out with two different doctors (psychiatrist and inner medicine?) and they looked at me with the question of their eyes: ‘Do you think there’s anything new in your clever discovery?’
Fine with me! It is not at all necessary to invent something just for the sake of having something new. Novelties are needed when things don’t work. There are enough needs in this world for help. But people best stay people whatever profession they follow.
I’d like to finish with a switch. Many of you probably have heard of the Hungarian Revolution in 1956 which fell only after the Red Army entered the country with a force enough to capture Europe if needed. Still according to Yeltzin this took the first brick off from the communist Empires’ building. Needless to say this uprising was called officially a counter-revolution till 1989, when the changes in Eastern Europe started. (I must say that the result only confirms the saying: ‘It always can be worse’.) But anyway! Hungary became full of revolutionaries, Christians, democrats and most of all true Hungarians. But!
It was ’99 December when I called a friend of mine and we started to talk about rock-operas that were getting ready for 2000. (That was the year when Jesus paid the best to the aging-aged rock musicians, many of them paid tribute to Him and visited the cashier little later.) Then I asked him: ‘Of all these great Hungarians and famous authors nobody cares to write a rock-opera about ’56?’ He said he doesn’t know of any. Then I asked: ‘So why the hell we don’t make one?’ All he said was ‘Well’. So it was 10 December when I wrote the first lyrics carrying the title of the leading slogan of the Revolution: ‘Hungarians, come with us!’ Then there came till 31 December a wave of ecstatic pieces finishing with the ‘Voice of America’. I constantly sent him by fax whatever I wrote some 10-11 lyrics. Until I could put on flame the ‘bastard’, whose participation was heavily needed for he had experience of story-writing and also educated to dramaturgy. It all went first like a dream. We found in the wood of Hungarians some real ones, who supported financially producing a demo-CD with 7 songs (at that time we had a composer too) in October 2000 (the Revolution started 23 October). Then a year later we came up with an 18-song CD/cassette about the half of the songs (not in chronological order). In the meantime the story has been finished, the songs put into it. What happened since? Except that our main helper has died NOTHING! Next year is going to be the 50th anniversary. Seeing the level of enthusiasm it is very likely that it shall be me sponsoring the second CD produced together with the first in a very limited number of copies. With my usual luck the premier is probably will be posthumous… Not an exceptional success-story.
I understand that my answers don’t always correspond with the question. All you have to do, however, having the answer search for the question that it corresponds…
With my best regards to all the Stuff and the Readers, András Adorján