Let's talk about chess ... with Venkat Saravanan (Part I)

by ChessBase
12/31/2020 – In his last podcast of the year Eric van Reem had an extensive talk with the renowned trainer and writer IM Venkatchalam Saravanan from India. In part I of the podcast they talk about the chess year 2020, the online chess boom in India, the upcoming Anand biopic, the Candidates Tournament, and a few other topics. | Photo: Amruta Mokal

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Eric van Reem and Venkat Saravanan talk about chess

In this episode, part 1 of a long interview, Eric talks to IM Venkatchalam Saravanan from Chennai, India. He is an International Master and has been an active chess player in the Indian circuit, and has been consistently writing on chess since late 1980s. He turned complete chess professional in 2012, actively playing and being a second and mentor to a handful of Indian players. Saravanan is Secretary of Chess Players Forum (India). He reports on chess tournaments, occasionally being a correspondent to national newspapers and news channels. In this episode, he talks with Eric about the Chess Year 2020, with the highlights being the Candidates Tournament, Online Chess, stand-up comedian Samay Raina, the Online Chess Olympiad, the upcoming Vishy Anand biopic and much more! In part 2 Eric and Saravanan talk about the best chess books of 2020! 

You can follow IM V. Saravanan @reachsvara on Twitter. He is also the Secretary of the Chess Players Forum (India)

There is an interesting interview in the BOMB magazine, in which Saravanan plays a chess game while discussing the art of the game and its history in India with film maker Amit Dutta.

Do not miss the two videos on You Tube, in which Saravanan shows his massive chess book collection: "Must read books to become a better chess player" and "How to read a chess book?"

Host       : Eric van Reem
Guest     : IM Venkatchalam Saravanan (IND)
Editor     : Dennis van Reem
Artwork  : Fränk Stiefel
Music     : Chess Pieces-Silent Partner

Feedback: talkingchess@gmail.com or tweet @ChessClassic

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chessbibliophile chessbibliophile 1/5/2021 04:11
@Minnesota Fats
I happened to see your comment only now. The factual errors that I pointed out are the more glaring of the lot. I refrained from commenting on his flawed approach to a number of books for reasons of space, not to mention time. Unfortunately, Saravanan did not update his knowledge of chess books at the time of YouTube Interviews. He depended more on his memory dating back to 1980s.Gushing praise of a book or its author tells us little about the work itself. You can read good reviews of books by authors like John Watson, Edward Winter and John Hartmann. You would find my reviews also here and elsewhere on the net. When comes to reading and writing of books, there are standards of excellence and I prefer to adhere to them.
In fairness to Saravanan he has done slightly better in the latest podcast, though even here his uncritical judgment makes its presence felt.
You need to read a lot more books and then we can continue this discussion. Till then of course you can express your opinion here. However, I would not be seeing them.
Minnesota Fats Minnesota Fats 1/4/2021 10:04
@chessbibliphile it's not all about facts facts facts. It's also about the person, his joy for chess and his enthousiasm. You sound like a computer responding to errors and correcting them . :)
Where is your list of top 10 chess books?
chessbibliophile chessbibliophile 1/3/2021 05:40
Part II of the interview also has issues of its own.
1) Saravanan thinks, the Frankenstein-Dracula Variation of the Vienna Game is refuted. It is not and modern GMS avoid the same as it happened in a game, Nakamura-Duda, 2019. The work on this variation has been done by CC players, and the writing by Tim Harding. The interviewer is also aware that Black has very good play here and mentions how once Kupreichik avoided it with White. This did happen in the game, Kupreichik- Markosian 2009 and it was drawn in 20 moves. However, his memory lets him down when he says, the Kupreichik game is mentioned in Irving Chernev’s book, ”The Most Instructive Games of Chess Ever played”. The trouble is that this book was published in 1965 and Chernev himself passed away in 1981. There was no way in which he would have seen this game played in 2009.
2)Saravanan thinks, Vukovic’s book, “The Art of Attack in Chess” was edited for the present day reader by Karsten Müller. In fact it was done by John Nunn. But what about Karsten Müller? He has edited a different classic, Rudolph Spielmann’s “The Art of Sacrifice in Chess”
3) Saravanan explains how he demonstrated the logical play of Karpov against Boris Spassky in the USSR Championship 1973. In fact this game was played in the USSR Team Championship 1973. However, Spassky almost had Karpov on the ropes in a tactical melee in the USSR Chess Championship, 1973:
chessbibliophile chessbibliophile 1/3/2021 05:38
More on errors of omission and commission from Part I of the interview:
1)Saravanan manages to get the name of the author wrong in one particular case.
‘How Fischer plays chess’ is written by David Levy, not by Amatzia Avni.
Incidentally, the best and the most comprehensive book on the American genius today is “Bobby Fischer and his world” by William John Donaldson.
2)He should not have commended “ Joys of Chess,” by Christian Hesse, one of the worst cases of plagiarism as pointed out by readers here time and again.
3)He wrongly compares Karpov’s style of weaving spider’s web against the opponent with a symphony. It applies to the harmonioius play of Smyslov whose style is more aesthetically pleasing than Karpov’s.
Perhaps he should check out the new book, “Vassily Smyslov: Early Years” by Andrey Terekhov
Similarly he overstates the case by claiming that Karpov is the only positional player who aims for an attack agains the king. This is arguable. Importantly the games of Rubinstein, Capablanca and smyslov feature many elegant displays of attack against the king.
chessbibliophile chessbibliophile 1/3/2021 05:36
There are quite a few issues with the Saravanan series on chess books:
Here are some from Part I of the Interview.
He quotes “The Test of Time” by Kasparov in which Garry recounts his victories with White against “Meran Botvinnik”. According to Saravan this happened in the USSR Championship 1983. Garry first beat Timoshenko and in the post-mortem that followed fellow grandmasters did not agree with his play at all and “big noise” was made by Gufeld on the feasibility of the whole line by White. As it happened, in the next round Kupreichik faced Kasparov. He took up the challenge as Black on behalf of every one else and played the same variation as Timoshenko did. The “improvement” did not work and he lost. Two rounds later Tal played that opening with Black and this time it was a draw.
Here the names of the dramatic personae and the dates need serious correction.
1)For starters, the USSR Championship was played in 1981 (not 1983). In the 13th round Garry was White and he beat Timoshenko in Botvinnik Slav (the term that is currently used) with a brilliant piece sacrifice.
2) Strong disagreement with Kasparov’s sacrifice was expressed by Dorfman and Sveshnikov. Gufeld was nowhere in the picture.
3)Kupreichik did not play this line at all with Kasparov .He played the Main Line Slav and it was a draw. So who played the Botvinnik Slav and took up the challenge with Kasparov? Dorfman did and lost.
After seeing Dorfman’s defeat Sveshnikov decided not to tempt fate and played a different line.
4)Tal did not play this opening “two rounds later” for the simple reason that he was not in this championship at all.
He did it two years later in USSR Spartakiad, (Chess Olympiad). That encounter Kasparov-Tal, a fighting draw is one of the greatest games ever played.
Minnesota Fats Minnesota Fats 1/2/2021 11:40
this guy is amazing, if am correct he posted a video on youtube on his favourite chess books!!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WLSPqJmEiTM (part 2)