Electronic Chess Alchemy

by ChessBase
6/25/2003 – "I find ideas?" said GM Evgeny Bareev in CBM 82 video interview. "No, Fritz finds the ideas. I don't. Because I simply don't have the time." That may have been a bit tongue-in-cheek, but Tim McGrew explains how to actually prepare openings novelties systematically using Fritz, in this important Chess Cafe article. Here is the memorable Bareev interview.

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Bareev speaks his mind
A multimedia interview in CBM 82 by Frederic Friedel
July 2001

Please note that the multimedia report in this online version contains no videos.
On the CBM CD there over 600 Mbytes of video files.

He's a perennial who has been one of the world's top grandmasters for longer than many young chess upstarts can remember. At 34 Evgeny Bareev (pronounced Ba-RAY-yev) can already look back on a distinguished career, one that probably has not even peaked yet.

Evgeny plays in the German Bundesliga, and very successfully at that. This year his team, Lübeck, actually took the title outright. On the penultimate Bundesliga weekend he visited ChessBase in Hamburg and took time to talk with us in front of the camera. Evgeny is unassuming, almost shy. You will never hear a superfluous word from him, never a hackneyed remark. And his sense of humour is legendary. One is never sure if he means what he says or whether he is being wry. Mostly he does mean it though -- it is just his views that are so unconventional and direct.

When Evgeny came to Hamburg we were working with our star correspondent Almira Skripchenko-Lautier, digitising videos for ChessBase Magazine. Almira started by showing him some of the fruits of her labour.

Video Bareev1 (1 min 39 sec)

Evgeny has not seen Almira's report on CBM 80 (the Olympiad in Istanbul) and thoroughly enjoys the section entitled "Girls, girls, girls". Almira thoroughly enjoys showing it to him. He also gets a sneak preview of her behind-the-scenes videos on how Vladimir Kramnik won the BGN world championship (to be included in a future ChessBase Magazine). As part of the Kramnik team Evgeny plays a role in the Almira's report.

At the end of the above sequence Almira tells Evgeny about Michael (Mig) Greengard's famous article in which he pokes fun at Peter Leko's proclivity for draws. Mig has suggested that "leko" should replace the word "draw" in chess vernacular (as in "Did he offer you a leko?"). He also listed a number of book titles for future works of the Hungarian GM. Sample: "Drawing Fundamentals", "Decelerated Dragons" or "Warmth on Board" (reminiscent of Shirov's "Fire on Board").

Video Bareev2 (5 min 43 sec)

Evgeny tells us why he is in Hamburg, how his team is doing, why he worked on Kramnik's team in London, how tough it was and how much he suffered. His explanation for Vladimir's success: mainly luck, man. Here's an excerpt from the video:

Question: Tell me what was it like, why did you become his second?

Bareev: I'm a material guy. I thought Kramnik will win this match and I'll get much money. That was my main motivation.

Q: How did you help him, what was your role in the team?

Bareev: Huge. I tried to defend this Berlin defence. I suffered. Because I tried to find any possible positive ideas in this disgusting variation. That is deep suffering. I stopped sleeping at all, the last week.

Q: How did Vladimir win the match?

Bareev: He was extremely lucky, because everything worked for him. I don't mean variations, every detail worked for him. I think this is the only point in which Kasparov was right, when he described the match and the result of the match, and said that he had been unlucky. But let me keep it a secret, because Vlady may be playing another match, and I don't want to help anybody.

Q: Will you be there the next time?

Bareev: I hope not. After the match for the next two, three months I was completely exhausted, emotionally, physically. If I'm dying of hunger then I'll come to Vlady and say "Vlady, give me this job." But if I'm not, then I'll go to the organisers and tell them to allow me to spend a day next to Julian Hodgeson commenting the match, Anand-Kramnik or Kramnik-Kasparov.

Video Bareev3 (13 min 43 sec)

More, much much more about the match, with Almira corroborating some of his remarks. He also talks about the openings problems Kasparov had in the match, and puts these into perspective. Don't miss the second half of the sequence, where Evgeny says that there are three players in the world who have a higher understanding of the game -- and what he thinks of the players below them. He also ventures to speculate on some of the reasons that sets the three apart. Sample from the video:

Question: What happened? Kasparov usually out-prepares his opponents, and this time he was completely helpless.

Bareev: Was he? He pressed in every game. He played c4, d4, he tried everything. He could only get a slight advantage, or a big advantage. But that was not enough - look at the 15th game. He needed a completely winning, straight position, but he didn't get that.

Q: Kasparov said he sat at the board and had no openings. What did he mean?

Bareev: It means he doesn't tell the truth. If you analyse his last tournaments you will find he wins games just because of openings. He has winning positions with both colours. But there in London he wanted to have the same, the same winning positions, where he comes and has an easy win. But in London he just had better positions, not winning positions. That's the simple difference. It's very difficult to beat Kramnik. When he had a winning position it was after 30 moves. He was tired, under time pressure, and he made mistakes.

Q: So how can he perform so spectacularly in Wijk aan Zee and Linares?

Bareev: People cannot play chess at all. Look at them, look at these players. Come on. These players, Shirov, Polgar, they can beat players like me, my level. But when they play Anand, Kramnik and Kasparov what can they do? Nothing. It is very easy to beat Bareev, Topalov and Timman. That's why Shirov won five games in Wijk against weak opponents, but when he faced really strong players he lost three games. There is a very small group of grandmasters - you want names? I told you, three strong players, Kasparov, Kramnik and Anand. Then there is a big gap. Adams is sometimes close to them, Morozevich is not bad, with white Leko is incredibly strong, and of course Ivanchuk. But the three, and Ivanchuk, understand chess at a higher level and are better prepared. But Kasparov is better prepared than the others.

Q: How does he do that, how can he be so well prepared?

Bareev: Because of ChessBase, of course.

Q: The others are using ChessBase as well...

Bareev: But I think ChessBase was created to help Garry to be number one in the world. He started first, he created the camp earlier, he worked hard for the last five or seven years. For young players it is very difficult to catch up.

Q: So it is computers which are helping him?

Bareev: No, not only. He produces a lot of ideas, and then people and computers help him a lot. He also loves chess and works a lot. Everything together. And his talent is incredible. Kramnik and Anand have a different kind of talent. Calculating, calculating, that is Kasparov. If Kramnik tries to compete in messy positions he will lose. But if he finds other positions he can survive, he can compete and beat Kasparov. But this only applies to Kramnik and Anand, because they have strong points. Kasparov's talent is calculating, calculating, calculating, working, working, working. Kramnik's talent is wider. Vishy also calculate very fast and deep, and he is a very intuitive player. He is extremely talented, the only thing he lacks is "character", fighting spirit. There he is much weaker than Kasparov, that is why Kasparov will beat him all the time. Vladimir has great talent and confidence, and he is a hard worker. Maybe he is a chess maniac, he works much more than most players.

Video Bareev4 (2 min 42 sec)

Question: What is going to happen now? Vlady has taken the title from Kasparov, Anand has become FIDE world champion.

Bareev: Well, maybe they have to go to Kirsan Nikolaievich and play another boring match with many draws.

Q: So what would you like to see?

Bareev: I wait for young players to come, Ponomariov, Grischuk, etc., this generation. There are others who are 13, 15, they are coming, we will hear about them later. People say Radjabov is quite strong.

Video Bareev5 (5 min 55 sec)

Question: How have computers changed chess at your level?

Bareev: Well, we don't work at chess anymore. We just look at the stupid computer, we follow the latest games and find small improvements. We have lost depth.

Q: When you work with computers do you ASK the computer to find ideas for you??

Bareev: Always. The only thing I do. I switch Fritz on and then wait, for the first line, the second line, and follow this.

Q: You are just being funny! But seriously: you find ideas and check them with Fritz...

Bareev: I find ideas? No, FRITZ finds the ideas. I don't. Because we don't have time. We seriously have to follow all these games and we simply don't have enough time. Simply too much information.

Q: This information is now available to all chess players. Is that a bad thing?

Bareev: It's reality. Not good, not bad, just reality.

Q: What do you think is the future of chess with the machines becoming stronger and stronger?

Bareev: This depends not on the machines but on people. People must change, but in fact I don't see any possibility to change people. So I have no positive ideas about the future of chess.

Q: What will happen if computers reach 3100 Elo?

Bareev: Nothing serious is going to happen, because computers are strong enough already. They don't understand chess, but they are strong, their traps and calculations are very good. But I'm not worried about them destroying chess.

Q: Do you enjoy chess?

Bareev: Chess without computers, yes! With computers no.

Q: Would you play a match against a computer?

Bareev: If I'm dying.

Thank you, Evgeny, for this unforgettable interview.

Video Almira1 (5 min 55 sec)

Almira also plays in the German Bundesliga, both in a men's and a women's team. She came to Hamburg from a weekend match that had been very traumatic for herself and her colleagues. She explains in graphic detail what had transpired. Why is it that we are reminded of the Seinfeld crowd buying soup in Manhattan?

This issue of ChessBase Magazine 82 is currently out of stock.

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