Viktor Korchnoi interview: true to himself

2/18/2015 – Three years ago, one could easily speak to Viktor Korchnoi face to face, but today this interview would have been impossible without assistance: the legendary grandmaster has difficulty with his speech. It's thanks to Genna Sosonko that Korchnoi's thoughts were conveyed. One thing is clear though, Korchnoi's sharp tongue and wit have not lost their edge.

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Interview by Evgeny Surov (Chess-News.Ru)

Grandmaster, translator, and friend, Genna Sosonko helps us share in a bit of Viktor Korchnoi

This conversation took place shortly after Viktor Korchnoi had finished his match against Wolfgang Uhlmann and was about to return home to Wohlen, which lies about an hour by car from Zurich. 'Knight c2 to a1...' were the words Viktor Lvovich began our talk with. He was still absorbed by the games.

E. Surov: What do you think of the match in terms of chess?

V. Korchnoi: It was very weak. In the first game, he was only playing for a draw, just exchanging everything. The second game was horrible even though I won: he chose the King's Indian having no idea what he was doing. I was satisfied with the third game, although it seems he had some chances for a draw at the end. Earlier, he had compensation for a pawn.

E. Surov: How did you prepare for the match?

V. Korchnoi: Badly.

G. Sosonko: Why badly? You won the second game thanks to the opening, didn't you?

V. Korchnoi: Because he doesn't understand openings!

Wolfgang Uhlmann

G. Sosonko: What about your move 6...Ne7 in the third game? An overwhelming majority of people play 6...Nb6 in that position.

V. Korchnoi: Once, an American player played 6...Ne7 against me...

G. Sosonko: Which American? Wasn't his first name Bobby...?

V. Korchnoi: An American. I liked the idea, so I played it now.

E. Surov: Who among modern players has the best understanding of chess?
 
V. Korchnoi: Hard to say. I think everyone understands chess.

E. Surov: What about the World Champion, then? Is his understanding better compared to others as his rating superiority suggests?

V. Korchnoi: My opinion about the World Champion is not that high.
 
E. Surov: Well, then let's talk about Kasparov and Karpov. Who do you appreciate more as a chess player?
 
V. Korchnoi: Kasparov's chess is much better than Karpov's.

G. Sosonko: Better even than Fischer's?

V. Korchnoi: (smiling, with a characteristic smooth hand gesture) Fischer... Fischer is in a class by himself.

While Korchnoi's motor skills may be hampered, his brain is clearly not

E. Surov: Recently, Spassky said that he often talked to Fischer in his dreams. Does that happen to you as well? Or maybe you talk to Spassky in your dreams?

V. Korchnoi: It happens.

E. Surov: What do they say?

V. Korchnoi: I'm still curious how Spassky is able to read one's thoughts.

G. Sosonko: Your match vs Spassky in 1977 comes to mind at once. You were feeling something strange while playing, weren't you?

V. Korchnoi: Yes, I was feeling something. He won four games in a row.

E. Surov: Something supernatural?

V. Korchnoi: Yes.

A little dinner after the finish of the match. Uhlmann and Korchnoi are accompanied by their
wives, while Genna Sosonko is seated near Viktor.

E. Surov: What do you think of Kasparov's political views and of current political situation in the world?

V. Korchnoi: Kasparov and Karpov have something in common. They both want to become deputies of the Russian State Duma...
 
E. Surov: Karpov already is!

V. Korchnoi: Exactly.

E. Surov: Does Kasparov also have such ambitions?

V. Korchnoi: It turns out he does.

G. Sosonko: But he left Russia two years ago and won't come back because he is afraid of being detained!

V. Korchnoi: Right he is!

The interview could not have happened without Genna Sosonko's gentle assistance

Pictures by Evgeny Surov


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bagramian bagramian 7/13/2015 12:40
Hope this guy plays for another 30 years and never stops talking.
baddass baddass 2/20/2015 12:32
that was great interview. Korchnoi is funny and perceptive.
Offramp Offramp 2/19/2015 07:12
I shook hands with the hand that shook the world.
FAD FAD 2/18/2015 02:46
As far as Gary is concerned, if he wants to get in the Douma, all he has to do is ask the gatekeeper for permission to come in; I'm sure he will be welcome.
Politics is like chess, if you oppose, you meet opposition, if you play the game, you have a great time.
ulyssesganesh ulyssesganesh 2/18/2015 01:49
not insulting...... viktor is, true...provocative..... noted for his original, frank opinions...well, on almost every thing!..... look at carlsen.... no doubt, he is the triple world champion... a great fighter...for his age....wins tmt., after tmt., ....still he doesn't dominate games as kasparov did.... may be magnus' style is different..... also, caruana, aronian or naka are unable to meet him for the WCC so far....well, anand...great champion.....but he falters against carlsen....not for chess reasons.....purely psychological....overestimating his opponent and seriously underestimating himself! may be some one can.....the zurich or the american organizer can arrange a match/double round tmt., only among carlsen, caruana, aronian and nakamura!......well, what a line up that would be!
KrushonIrina KrushonIrina 2/18/2015 01:37
Glad to see Korchnoi still has the strength to insult everyone within earshot.
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