Monday, June 27, 2011

Boris Gelfand Provides Insight about his Victory in the Candidates Matches

I recently quoted from part one of a fascinating interview with 2012 World Chess Championship Challenger Boris Gelfand. The second part of that interview has just been published and can be found in its entirety here.

Two observations came to my mind after I read Gelfand's comments:

1) Gelfand's thoughts about his game three victory versus Shakhriyar Mamedyarov are very interesting; the final position featured a remarkable configuration in which Gelfand's seven pawns overwhelmed Mamedyarov's extra rook. Gelfand noted that in chess it is sometimes better not to force your opponent to play "only" moves because your opponent may be more likely to find the correct path than if the opponent had a menu of seemingly equally good moves from which to choose.

2) Elite chess players are capable of making amazing calculations and playing splendidly beautiful games but often games between such players are decided not by intellectual brilliance but rather by the ability to withstand tension both in one's mind and on the chess board; the tension in the mind can be created by hope, fear or other emotional factors, while the tension on the board can consist of positions that are so extremely complex and volatile that they cannot be solved by brute calculation: the player who is neither carried away by hope nor crippled by fear and who is able to maintain the tension on the board until the right moment comes to simplify matters is the player who will emerge victorious. Gelfand says, "One tries to disassociate oneself and play every game as a new game. It’s not easy, you can never be perfectly focused..."


Anonymous said...

I thought the last line was an amazing admission, "During my opponents moves I tend to check the line I chose and try to verify that I didn’t miss anything. Nowadays I try more to work on my opponent’s time – in the past I was wasting this time…"


David Friedman said...


Even very strong chess players may have a tendency to watch other games or let their minds wander somewhat during their opponent's time, particularly if their opponent sinks into a "big think," so Gelfand's comment in this regard is interesting but I don't think that it is an "amazing admission."