Czech no. 1 David Navara played in the Spanish League inLinares last month despite trying to pull out over coronavirus concerns. Hefelt compelled to play since his team were unable to find a late replacement, with theexperience helping him to understand the dilemma with the once again postponed CandidatesTournament. David confesses that he suspects, if I was in charge of the processI would have made the same mistakes.
David Navara talked to Sergey Kim forChessPro about how the Czech Republic opened up for chess over the summerbut that now the only chess events are again online. Weve translated thesecond half of the interview:
Sergey Kim: Do you think chesslife will recover next year?
David Navara: In my view it should recover, but there will be less large-scaletournaments. Those will be difficult to plan, as its hard to predict thefuture I think that before the end of March there will be very fewtournaments, and only ones with a reduced number of players. In that curtailedseason it will be necessary to choose tournaments very carefully, particularlyin summer where to play, where to say no, in order not to miss someinteresting events. But Im a bad forecaster.
If were talkingabout the future, what can you say about the Candidates Tournament? Its becomea little strange, hasnt it?
Its easy to criticise. I have the suspicion that if I wasin charge of the process I would have made the same mistakes. Foreseeing allthe events at the start of March was very hard. I wouldnt say that it wasimpossible, but many politicians went wrong back then, and later as well Aweek before the start of the Candidates Tournament I thought that it should beheld, since it wasnt clear what would happen next, but then I began to realisethat it would last quite a long time and in that time a lot could change. Butthat in the course of a single day borders would close, as they did in theCzech Republic, was something I couldnt foresee. It was sudden, although therewere signs. I think it was necessary to stop the Candidates Tournament atprecisely the time when it was stopped, but now I havent even got a clue
I understand its not my business its all very tough! Iunderstand the point of view of FIDE and thepoint of view of Wang Hao It seems to me that when I was planning to playin the Spanish League I grasped a lot about how the Candidates Tournament playersmust feel. I also didnt want to play in that league and wrote to my team thatafter the Individual Spanish Championship many of the players ended up inquarantine, so sorry, but I dont want to play. The epidemiological conditionsare getting worse in the Czech Republic, and in Spain theyre not particularlygood. I listed a total of eight reasons, but the team decided that it wasalready too late and there was no replacement for me. I wrote a few moreletters like that, but they persuaded me to play.
It wasnt only that I could get ill the sanitary measures,by the way, were observed very strictly. The fear of getting ill at the leaguewasnt high, but the airline that I used paid less attention to safety measuresand they were pretty dubious. I was forced to stay in a packed bus for aroundfive minutes, waiting for it to leave. Of course if one of the passengers wasill then the risk of getting infected would have been quite serious. I was lessworried about getting ill than about getting stuck in quarantine for a longtime, that they could cancel a flight By the way, thats how it was at thestart, and I had to buy a second ticket.
As I said already: now, after the Spanish League, Iunderstand the participants in the Candidates Tournament better. The team gaveme support, but I wasnt in the right mood to play, and that told. Its hard tosay how much, perhaps I would have lost rating without those reasons as well,but most likely I would have played better. I dont know for sure.
The year hasnt beentoo rich in super-tournaments. Can you share your impressions of Stavanger?
Well, it hasnt been the only one, has it? At the start ofthe year the tournament in Wijk aan Zee happened as always, then there was thefirst half of the Candidates Tournament. By the way, in the Czech Republic weheld apretty decent round-robin tournament with an average rating over 2700. Itseems that was in February. So for a long time it remained the last completedsuper-tournament of the year perhaps not that strong, but a good grandmasterround-robin tournament.
I followed Stavanger, but not that frequently. In my view itwas good that the extra games (Armageddon) didnt have as much importance asthey had last year, but at times the tiredness of the players told. And a lackof time. From the point of view of the quality of play having Armageddon wasntthe best decision. On the other hand, Id like to note that all of theparticipants played very aggressive chess. In creative terms the tournament wasan undoubted success. There were many decisive games and few draws. It wasinteresting!
What can you sayabout Firouzjas play?
He plays well, particularly when he has the initiative. Hesvery dangerous, very talented, particularly in blitz, and far from only in blitz.Of course the tournament showed that he has flaws, but a lot of promise. Ithink that for him to make progress in classical chess it would be useful toreduce the number of blitz games, particularly bullet, where you playone-minute games. In a certain sense that can be harmful to classical chess.
And would you commita mistake like Firouzja did in a pawn endgame?
I think not, but you know, Ive played on the internet and made such mistakes that I cant say that with absolute certainty. I still think no. A terrible mistake! But if I recall the mistakes I made I blundered a queen, rook,knight in one move What happened to Firouzja can happen to anyone.
Many have talkedabout the champions play, but what can you say about the play of Aronian?
I liked how Levon played! He played creative chess. He played strongly! Hes always been a strong player, but lately people have simplybegun to talk more about other players, the Candidates Tournament and so on.But Levon played very well! Particularly in classical chess. It was a bit of apity that the Armageddons didnt go so well for him. Interesting games, but hecould have scored more points.
In the last round he beat the World Champion in a fightinggame. It was undoubtedly interesting to watch his games!
I try not topose questions about politics, but so many events have taken place in the worldHas chess study left some time to follow the events in Belarus and the conflictin Nagorno-Karabakh?
Im following, of course. In some places I understand thesituation better, in some places worse. I think I grasp whats happening now inBelarus better than whats taking place in Nagorno-Karabakh.
I hope that fair elections will take place in Belarus, andthat the political prisoners will be released from jail.
And less is knownabout whats happening in the Caucasus?
Theres information, but its simply not so easy to get agrip on it. You can understand and assess events in Belarus as an outsider, butin Karabakh Its no doubt possible to understand something, but from my pointof view its very far away, and I wouldnt like to express myself publicly onsomething I dont understand well. Im ready to admit that. Id like to believethat the war will end, and the casualties on both sides will end, because itsvery painful when friends and loved ones are dying And then its going to be very hard to reestablish good relations between the countries.
In Karabakh everything is totally unclear for me. On bothsides there are good, normal people. Therefore I want to believe that the warwill stop and Id like it to be as soon as possible. But its going to needsome time before everything normalises.
Youre again going tohave almost no over-the-board chess. What are you planning to do?
You recentlypublished a book of your selected games. Are you planning a continuation?
There is an idea of writing a continuation, but it will be alittle different. Im preparing a book where, based on examples from my games,teaching and training questions will be addressed. At times not whole games,but fragments. My co-author will be a Slovakian Grandmaster, my contemporary, agreat writer and simply a good person Jn Marko. But that book still needsto be written. Theres material, but theres a lot of work to do.
And the lastquestion. The virus has played a mainly negative role for many chess players,but lets be optimists. Some, on the contrary, have become a fount of ideasagainst the backdrop of the virus, coming up with beautiful games for instance,Daniil Dubov Has something interesting happened recently in theoretical terms?
Of course. Its interesting that players have left the mainlines (for example, the Berlin with a draw on move 30) in favour of more livelyvariations, side lines. In 3-minute internet games thats very noticeable,while in the Magnus Carlsen tournaments the man himself, for example, playedthe Sicilian Rossolimo with h7-h5 on move 3.
Even elite players have begun to allow themselves suchthings, without staking big claims on the opening. They show new, fresh ideas,which are perhaps not 100% correct, but which arent so easy to refute at theboard, particularly in rapid chess.
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