easier to work at chess when a real adversary sits opposite!’ - Viorel Bologan
GM Viorel Bologan
Interview by GM Mikhail Golubev
GM Viorel Bologan was born in Kishinev on 14 December 1971.
He began playing chess at the age of 7 and reached the level of candidate
master in 1984. Ion Solonar was his first coach. Later Viorel studied
chess under the guidance of Vyacheslav Chebanenko, Zigurds Lanka and Mark
Viorel Bologan commenced his professional
chess career in 1991 when he fulfilled the GM norm four times during the year
and took seventh place in the last USSR
championship. In 1993 he graduated from the Moscow Physical Culture and Sports
Institute. In May 1996 he received a PhD, successfully defending the thesis
entitled, Structure of special
preparation of high-level chess players, at the Chair of Chess of the Russian Academy of Physical Culture.
During the 1990s Viorel Bologan achieved
victories in about twenty international tournaments, including the New York
Open 1997. Bologan is the permanent leader of Moldova chess team. In 2001 he
entered the world top twenty chess players' list and won the 14th category
tournament in Pamplona, 15th category tournament in Poikovsky and the 16th
category event in Shanghai.
In August 2002 Bologan won the Ordix-Open
organized within the frame of the Chess Classic Festival. Final standings: 1. V.Bologan (2631) 9.5; 2-5. P.Svidler (2690),
R.Vaganian (2664), E.Agrest (2599) and I.Glek (2590) 9.0 (altogether 494
participants took part in the event.)
Mikhail Golubev (MG): Viorel, first let me extend our congratulations to you. What does a tournament winner feel like
having out distanced 493 other players?
Viorel Bologan (VB): Frankly, my first feeling was "is it
me who did it?!". You see, I was rather close to success in Fischer chess,
however, lately I have suffered from a "last game
MG: Was it hard for
you to win?
VB: It was not a simple task even from a
physical viewpoint. Twenty two rapid chess games in four days – that's really
MG: How do the organisers manage to invite so many strong players to
play in the Ordix-open every year? Ordinarily, you cannot find the chess
players with ratings much higher than
2600 in such tournaments.
VB: There is a small trick here: first, this
is rapid chess which always attracts grandmasters as they don't risk much.
Second, the organisers guarantee high ELO chess players to cover travel
expenses and accommodation in a five-star hotel.
MG: Why does the Chess Classical Festival not
conduct competitions using the classical time control, which usually means
something like 2hrs/40 moves.
VB: The Festival's organiser said that
next year, in the big match we
will probably see games where the classical time control will be used.
MG: Being the winner of an open tournament, are you entitled to
participate next year in any match of the champions or something like that?
VB: Nobody promised anything to the winner
either before the tournament or after it. It might be that Petr Svidler, as the
winner of the Fischer-Random tournament, may play a random chess match with
MG: What impressions do you have of the Fischer-Random tournament
(960-chess)? Has such play any perspective?
VB: On the whole, my apprehension is
positive. I'll say more: such chess extends the horizons for a chess player. At
the same time it is very important for us all to preserve and defend the
classic chess and exclude a possibility of reducing its importance for the world.
Fischer-Random chess has a future but its promotion needs such outstanding
Schmitt ("Chess Classic" organiser – M.G.).
MG: Coming back to common chess, how did it happen that you as a child, got interested in this domain of
VB: My father taught me to play. Then I liked
the taste of victory.
MG: You used to study chess from really good coaches. Regrettably,
Chebanenko was famous in the USSR for a long time only as the man who sent
Petrosian a letter containing a novelty that the latter used afterwards against
Fischer. Please, tell us how you started
your work with Vyacheslav Andreevich.
VB: Everything was rather prosaic. It started
in the now distant December of 1986 after the Lazo Memorial. Chebanenko
accepted me as one of his pupils without any conditions and communicated to me
everything he could.
MG: Chebanenko was one of those few coaches who created his own
school. Everybody can look through the games of leading Moldova chess players
and see that all of them were brought up actually on the same openings. In
Odessa there was Kotlerman who prepared more professionals alone than the whole
generation of coaches who replaced him. There's also the eminent Kart, who
worked in Lviv. And, certainly, Dvoretsky, who is, probably, the most famous
coach in the world. I could mention several other names as well. How can you describe the secret that coaches have? What do great
coaches have in common?
We should include also Vladimir Yurievich Yurkov. I believe, such coaches possess, above all,
the knowledge of the play. This may sound trivial, but it
is just this knowledge that they impart to their
MG: What is the situation with the Chebanenko's Memorial? I recollect
that a good tournament where Morozevich participated was organized in 1997,
however, no more tournaments followed
VB: This tournament took place in 1998. Unfortunately, all efforts to maintain the
tradition turned out to be futile.
MG: It is high time now to recollect your own work as a coach. If I'm
not mistaken, your début was your work with Alexei Shirov?
is hardly possible to call coaching what was in fact co-operation between two
players of roughly the same age. I just seconded Alexei at several tournaments
and he played very successfully there.
MG: This year you
became responsible for Ruslan Ponomariov, the world champion. How do you work
VB: Though in this particular
case the age gap is greater, we still remain chess
partners, rather than coach and student. Perhaps only our work in Linares and,
to some extent, in Mainz, was different - there I seconded him.
MG: What is your impression of the
After the first
day one could hardly predict that the Indian would win. What did actually
VB: On the first playing
day Ruslan could decide the battle. But he lost a
half-point in the first game. Next day an utterly unsuccessful opening was
chosen in the fourth game and, consequentially, the match was decided in the
last game where the Indian's experience had told itself.
MG: Still, the openings of the major part of the games turned out to
be successful for Ruslan. Speaking generally – was it the fruit of your
joint work with Ruslan?
VB: Let's put it this way: there is not so much merit of mine in the
gained points by Ruslan.
MG: Tell us please,
who works with Anand now? Are there any grounds to believe that he is the
strongest rapid chess player in the
VB: In addition to his wife, another Indian –
Sasikiran – was noticed during the match. Apart of that, he probably works with
Ubilava as before. As regards rapid chess, I think it is high time to organise
a world championship and I consider Anand to be one of the major experts in it.
MG: It seems that
chess has become, in a sense, a team effort. Interestingly, what level can a
chess player reach nowadays, let us
say, the player of genius, if he does not exchange fresh ideas with his
VB: This situation has existed always – even
ancient china had a saying about ideas. I don't agree, though, with the team effort definition – it's just much
easier to work at chess when a real adversary sits opposite.
MG: The chess world has discussed certain issues that can hardly be
avoided. I'm talking about the open letter of GMs. You are one of the chess
players whose participation was
removed for more than a year as a result of the Prague agreements. Certainly,
you have good grounds for believing that your interests suffered. Still, do you
consider that there existed a better option? Were there any guarantees before
Prague that the FIDE championship
could be held with a usual prize fund?
VB: Bank guarantees might not be, but I
cannot recollect an instance when Ilyumzhinov failed to keep his word. In
Prague I tried to influence the decision through Yasser and it seemed that he
and Kramnik advocated the idea of general selection at the contemporary cycle.
It seems that the agreement in principle was negotiated even before the Prague
meeting and nobody wanted to change anything at the meeting itself. Now, we,
the rest players of the top hundred, are at a loss.
MG: One more topic – the recent case of GM Sveshnikov versus Chess
Assistant. Aren't you worried with the idea of a copyright for the chess game
VB: Everything that is associated with
reasonable laws should not worry a law abiding citizen. If such copyright is
adopted, the chess world will necessarily find the means to make the chess
games available to everybody.
MG: Some fifty years
ago White played 1.e2-e4 and Black answered, say, 1...d7-d6, afterwards it was
creative activity and no theory at all. Then, the era of the children of the Informator (our
generation) advanced, now we have the computer
generation (Ponomariov, Grishchuk, Radjabov generation). It would be
very interesting to know what you
forecast. Where are we headed?
trend is towards increasing the significance of memory in
MG: Could you tell us whether the leading world chess players read
chess books, let us say, the Informator? What is your perception?
VB:All of them read.
MG: I'll try to
depart a bit from a chess topic. What could you be if not a chess player?
VB: A diplomat or, at least, a journalist.
MG: Grandmasters are unlikely
to stay at one place for long. Are there any places in the world where you
would like to visit?
VB: The Grand Canyon in the USA and the
Andes. I would like to be more familiar with the Peruvian culture.
MG: If it is possible, tell me, please, what languages do you
speak fluently: Romanian, Russian,
Spanish, English, what else?
VB: You may add French.
MG: In conclusion:
can you share some brief information about your family? I've no doubt that
plenty female admirers of your talent
will read this interview.
VB: I am married. My daughter Katya is two
and a half months old. I love both dearly!
MG: Your admirers cannot but join my congratulations! In conclusion,
please tell us what tournaments you will play in the nearest future so that we
may wish you and Ruslan every luck.
VB: Ruslan will play against the Russian team
and I shall play at the European Clubs Cup.
MG: Much success to
you in the Cup and many thanks for the interview!
(The Russian team match against the Rest
of the World will take place from 8 to 11
September in Moscow. The European Club Cup will be in the same month in Greece