Against the background of his young opponents 46-years-old Gurevich looked like a “fossil”, master and keeper of traditions on the stage of the Arts Centre in Khanty-Mansiysk. At the same time it was formally here where Mikhail achieved the highest result in his long and bright career having qualified for the first time for the World Cup holders.
– Mikhail, you are the “youngest” qualified participant here. Do you feel at ease playing here and what can you say about your opponents?
MG: I have performed not badly. I played against players who are younger than my eldest son… The most unforgettable game was when I managed to strategically beat Shirov with black. When I knocked him out, immediately I started to play more smoothly, almost mechanically I beat the young Russian Grand Master Malakhov. I am taking with me a lot of good impressions, many new interesting opponents who I have never played against before…
A new generation rises. We have successors! I was the last one who stood in way of the youth. Young 15-years-old players like Carlsens cannot succeed in everything. The computer cannot substitute human in everything. Such terms as position conception, experience, intuition, and skill to play an end game still exist. The computer cannot train for strategic struggle in a middle game either. It will take time.
Of course, an opening now takes almost 50 percent of the whole preparation and such computer boys as Magnus have the huge advantage over others that they grow up incredibly quickly. Equipped with computers they work hard and they have an experienced coach who helps them comprehend new information, to memorize it…
– How do you evaluate Carlsen in general?
MG: This boy has gone far already. What will be further it is difficult to say. I played with him once in the Spanish League. Draw – I failed to convert in the end game. Without any doubt this boy is a phenomenon in the world chess already. He performs very well and it is obvious opening information is accumulated so quickly that the experienced Grand Masters get lost how to play against him! He will go far…
– You made an interesting remark: computer did not adapt to the human thought process but vice versa. Do you think the machine has become so creative?
MG: It is spirit of the times... I can only regret it, but no use, it is reality. When two high capacity computers in which Junior9, Fritz9, Shredder are installed they find incredible things! But in order to understand what is important out of all the martial discovered and what is not, a strong Grand Master is needed. And the information that they produce is so vast that it is necessary to work a lot again…
There is nothing to be done: computers beat us… But we should not be afraid of this. Chess still remains, people play in it, and it is still a creative game. There are positions still one should think over, one should understand, one should reflect on. I am a representative of the Soviet chess school. I always do creative work. Opening books are full with my games, my opening analyses. Nowadays I have to remake the new things invented by computers.
I see no creative source in it. It is just mechanical hard work that demands unbelievable amount of time and memory. To simply memorize is not interesting…
- You were working as a second of many strong chess players, of World Champions. How much did the work with them differ from the modern work with computer?
MG: Yes, it was absolutely different work. But… several years ago I met Kasparov who told me that after the computer analyzes our analyses of late 80ies - beginning 90ies occurred to be “with holes”. But I don’t think that the computer changed its opinion on all positions in openings. I worked with many brilliant chess players – Kasparov, Anand, Topalov. All these players have worked for many years with computers; there is no way to escape from that. Vishy has even “installed” Fritz program in his head. He says he is very much interested… Well, to each his own: I stay with an art, and he – with the main prize.
- Doesn’t one go crazy after this kind of “installation”?
MG: Anand has stood it – Vishy remained a rather normal person. Someone might go crazy… Perhaps it is very hard for people with unstable mentality.
- Mikhail, no matter how strange it might sound, but you have become a candidate for the first time in your life… How do you evaluate your chances to win the World Cup?
MG: There are always belief and hope – “the one who believes is blessed, he is easy to live this life”. I have had many delays and breaks. If you remember I became the USSR Champion in 1985 but they did not let me participate in the Zonal tournament, without giving me a permission to leave the country. Anyway, I have lived to see, have managed to be a candidate. As for the match against Aronian, he simply was better prepared. All knowledge, which he has collected before the tournaments, I was trying to catch when preparing for the game. But the work with the computer at nights with “tired” brains does not seem to make good job for me.
- Don’t you think that the chess players are becoming one-sided; they are interested only in the games?
MG: Yes, I think so. And I don’t consider it bad. American approach, narrow specialization. We live in the computer age, the age of professionals. To achieve high results, one should devote him to only one profession from the very childhood. And the common culture, the old soviet method, does anyone need it now?! We can do many things: we can speak about the French literature or the artists of Renaissance, it has nothing to do with chess. The common culture time is becoming a thing of a past, alas.
- By the way, do you consider yourself a chess professional? In your fiftieth you will play for some team in the World Olympiad for the first time…
MG: In 1992 I played for Belgium in the Olympiad in Manila. I had a private sponsor at that time. After that there were 15 years during which I was missing all team competitions – it became boring for me not to play. That is why when the Turkish Chess Federation came forward with its proposal, I said: why not? So, I signed a contract with them for the next ten years. The country is very nice, have you ever been at Antalya beaches? You have not? Please do your best to go.
- Besides, you have an opportunity to become a Champion of the Third World Country.
MG: Yes, I was the USSR Champion, the Belgian Champion (I played once showing the performance of Fisher, made 9 out of 9). So, now I can try to conquer Turkey. We shall fight with Atalik!
- What is your opinion, does chess have its future meaning classical variation?
MG: Certainly there is future. This is like in Athletics; people compete in race despite the fact that cars are much quicker. The same with chess. I am eager to believe that people will be always interested in any intellectual activities. Chess, as Vladimir Lenin said, is the physical exercises for mind. Classical chess will undoubtedly exist. Because none of the computers would help the human mind remember all the information.
- Perhaps to escape from the computers one should play “Fisher Random”?
MG: This is surely not for me. I used to play it in Frankfurt and I did not like. I was playing against Aronian, we made two moves in the opening – and here it is – I see that there is no defense. In “Fisher Random” every game has its new position, for the preparation one is given ten minutes during which you should think over what is this game we are going to play?! I think we shall play seriously when the end comes.
- Mikhail, and the last traditional question: is it your first time in Khanty Mansyisk? How do you find it being here?
MG: It is beyond belief but it is my first visit to Siberia! I seem to have traveled through the whole Universe, and has never been here. By the way, reading the interviews of others I was thinking how I shall answer this question and prepared an answer: “I thought Paris is the best city in the World, and it turned out that it is not so.”