Thursday, February 17, 2011

Special interview in Milan by Dario Pedini

Interview with Susan Polgar in Milan by Dario Pedini
Di Darkstorm (del 05/01/2011 @ 19:36:37)

D : Susan, let’s start with one of the most topical issues in the chess world at the moment : What do you think of the World Championship format and the forthcoming Candidate matches

S : I think that it is satisfactory as we are now back to a Classical format, much better than the knock out system used for the latest events.

D : Don’t you think that 4 games aren’t really enough to decide who deserves to go through to the next round, though?

S : Indeed, 4 games aren’t really enough , but you see, finding available dates for these events is a real problem , as is finding suitable sponsors who are able to finance matches that last as long as these.

D : Let’s talk about Carlsen. His withdrawal has raised more than one eyebrow, not to mention the disappointment to his fans. Any comments ?

S : It is definitely a blow for chess fans worldwide that Carlsen has decided not to take part in the World Championship cycle , which would have been a good opportunity for his career. However, he is still rather young and he will have plenty of opportunities to play for the title.

I’m not happy with the reply, so I pry a little more …

D: In my opinion Carlsen, as Adams, has done well to withdraw from the FIDE Grand Prix, a competition that has been riddled with problems , such as dates being cancelled, sites being changed, down to the whole event being included wholepiece in the modifications of the current World Championship cycle. However, I was not impressed with the explanation Magnus gave, which I found didn’t really adress the key issues. Do you think the sponsors might have played a part ? And what would your personal thoughts on the matter be?

S : ( smiling ) Written explanations aren’t always the whole of the matter. Magnus is young, and this year he has been busy elsewhere, such as his venture in fashion. These distractions take their toll and require time and energy from a professional player. However I think there might still be a way to convince him to play the 2011 matches.

D : Let’s talk about Italy. Caruana is now established as a 2700 player and is amongst the top 30 players in the world. Do you think his current trainers can take him to the Top 10 or does he need new coaches ? As a case in point, Karjakin has recently changed his sporting allegiance and moved to the Russian Chess Federation for economic reasons, but also to make sure that he could work with that federation’s trainers with the result that he has improved considerably in the last few months, and could be one to watch this year.

S : ( Glowing ) Yes, Fabiano has moved to Switzerland, after spending some time in Budapest. He has often been able to work with excellent trainers and if he carries on training as he has always done, he will be able to set his sights on even higher goals. As you know, Fabiano started out in my club back in the USA.

D : Susan, your site’s motto, which I take also holds true for you as a player, goes “ win with grace, lose with dignity ! “ . Do you think overall sportmanship is well represented amongst today’s top players ?

S : The most recent World Champions, Anand and Kramnik, are true gentlemen, and are extremely fair players. They are excellent role models for our kids and have much to teach on fair play, apart from everything else.

D : Their Italian counter-part could be Michele Godena. Speaking of him, Reggio Emilia will shortly hold the annual New Year’s event,( editor’s note - the interview was held shortly before the event ) with many top players, including Morozevich, a truly great player , who has probably been invited at the perfect time for him. I feel he stands out somewhat from the other 2700-rated players, and has a long history with the Russian national team.

S : Yes, Reggio Emilia 2011 will be a fantastic event and Morozevich definitely adds to the overall standing of the tournament. He has often threatened to retire from active chess, however he has been playing quite regularly these last few years. I think it’s great that he is there and he will add to the tournament’s prestige, he’s definitely one of the most important players around today.

D : You have come to Italy for a conference, which was held today. Can you tell us a bit about that ?

S : I have been invited to take part in the “ Conferenza della Fondazione 21 di Paoletti “. It was a very interesting event which I was glad to take part in as a speaker, but which I enjoyed attending as a spectator also. I was amongst the 21 guests, the line up being made up of Nobel prize winners and Olympic champions, and each speaker had to talk for 21 minutes on how he or she managed to become succesful in their chosen field.

Susan asked me if we had finished the interview as she had a dinner event to attend, and I asked if I could impose on her for a few more quick questions, to which she kindly relented. I felt a bit guilty , but I soldiered on for a few more minutes … and had to think on my feet to keep the interview going.

D : Italy’s chess scene has witnessed a steady improvement in these last few years, and many people are doing a lot of work to achieve something worthwhile locally, however, it has been decades since we have hosted an event with world class players, and by that I mean players in the Top 5 playing each other . Do you think that Italy will be able to hold such an event, or some other important FIDE event ?

S : Why not ? Italy is a beautiful country, and maybe something might happen in the next few years. There has been a lot of talk of hosting big events in Italy, but nothing has gone beyond the initial stages yet.

D : Susan , have you ever played in Italy in your career ?

Susan looks both surprised and intrigued by the question. She takes a long moment to ponder over the matter, holding herself in her arms in a typical reflexive stance, and lays back on her chair. After a while she confesses :

S : You know, I really don’t think so. I’ve been on holiday to Rome and Florence and have passed through Milan, but I don’t think I’ve ever played a tournament at classical time controls. How curious !

D : Do you think there will be a chance to see you play in Italy ?

S : I no longer play in tournaments, I could definitely come here for a Chess related event, but I don’t think I’ll come to play serious chess, it’s really no longer on the cards at present.

At this I couldn’t resist a cheeky riposte :

D : OK, so this is the perfect moment. Let’s set up a board here in the bar and play ! ( all the while I’m miming moving chess pieces with my hand, to underline my point )

Susan doesn’t quite know what to make of this, and can’t work out wether I’m kidding or not. To be honest, I didn’t know the answer to that myself, but I really couldn’t resist proposing a game, and to be honest I wouldn’t have minded at all if she had agreed to one, but in the end I settle for taking some pictures for future memories before saying our good-byes …

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