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Interview

09.04.2008
Sergei Kurov, the winner of the classical chess tournament
Sergei Kurov,
the winner of the classical chess tournament
Miron: Dear Chess_man, let me on behalf of the Battle Chess portal congratulate you on your win in the first online classical chess tournament dedicated to the 90th anniversary of the first Motherland Defenders' day celebration! Please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about yourself. How long have you been playing chess?

Chess_man: Thanks for congratulations, my name is Sergey Kurov. I was born in the city of Saratov. I am in the military, and I serve in Moscow oblast. I am married with two kids. At the moment I and 36 and I have been playing chess for 31 years.

Miron: This is very symbolic that a military person won this tournament that is dedicated to the Motherland Defenders' day. So you have been playing since you were 5. Can you tell me who taught you and what results you have achieved since then?

Chess_man: I was taught to play by my father, but I mostly played with my granddad when I was a kid. He was playing at a very good level for an amateur player, he even defeated chess players who had the first grade degree in sports. This was because he read a lot of chess book and he taught me to do so. I have a large chess library. I never attended chess clubs, one can say I learned to play on my own. I often played postal card chess. It's when you send cards with your moves over a regular post and a tournament might last one and a half years. I was awarded a Candidate in Masters of Sport degree in postal card chess, but I have not been playing for a long time now.

Miron: What can you say about Battle Chess? It is actually the primary dedication of our portal.

Chess_man: When I got to the Battle Chess portal I was very impressed what a creation of genius the Battle Chess idea was. I think Battle Chess has big future. Some of the very strong players try to get away from the question of chess setups and the theory. However, the Battle Chess theory will be there soon! They (the strong players) have the setup classifications for a long time now and know how to make the right one. They just don't want to share their knowledge with the others and this is understandable. Nobody wants to be defeated using their own weapon.

Miron: It seems like you have something to say on the Battle Chess setups issue. Would you mind if we ask you to write a small article about that?

Chess_man: Sure, I'll try to write what I think on the matter.

Miron: What do you think about the players who possibly use chess robots while playing? Can one distinguish those people precisely?

Chess_man: As for the chess robots usage, many people actually use them and I can see who those people are pretty quickly. For instance, we play a one-hour chess game, in a normal tempo. They usually ponder a lot on very straightforward situations like an exchange of two pieces. I took a piece and basically there are no options here - just take my piece and let's get over it, But they play as if there were thousands of possible options. Or a check, when you have nothing to cover the king, and you have only one move. If a player is playing on their own, they usually see that there is only one option and uses it. If there is a chess robot, one has to enter the move into the memory, wait until the software analyses it and only them make a move. Of course, you can say that people think for a long time because they play several games at once, but when I see that nobody plays with this guy in real time and still every time this gets repeated, it means that this is a robot for sure. I have a question though: what does this person do on the site? Sharpening robot's skills? I believe that if a person wants to sharpen the robot's skills, let them do it. I know how to defeat robots, even though they are very advanced now, but if a person has a lot of time, he could assess main options as deeply as the game ends, not only 20 moves forward. However, you should have a general game plan and the goals you should achieve to fulfill it. Robots don't have that, they just try to tackle the options one by one, but the number of options is enormous, you can't really go far with one-by one strategy even if you restrict the number. I play against robots from time to time. It is really interesting to see a robot, when it does not 'see' how a pawn turns into a queen, and then it suddenly recognizes that it happened, and that is where the assessment of the position suddenly changes to the opposite, from vary favorable for the one side to very favorable for the other side. This is the moments when the robot lovers really fail. However, during a blitz game such a 'pro' who uses a robot, will defeat anybody, the only hardship is to manage to enter the move into the memory and get the answer before the time expires. However, even here it is quite easy to recognize a robot: you cannot play blitz without mistakes. Even the champions of the world make mistakes, let alone us, lesser mortals. But even if you can recognize a robot, you cannot really prove it, because different programs suggest different moves and people can juggle them like a jongleur in a circus, or choose a good move though not the best one, for others not to think they are cheating. Furthermore, I saw how different robots 'think': they can suggest one move first and then change it several times during the analysis. So if you cannot eliminate it, don't forbid it. Anyway good players defeat robots if the time per move is long and they really want to win. There are good rules how to do it, which are invented by other people before me. For instance, read what Kasparov recommends. I'll tell you the basic things. If you are playing against the robot, always try to close your position. Lead pawns into queens even if this creates is some advantage on the robot's side. One chess article says that robots are made in such a way that they always try to keep the pawn shield before the king, which means that the robot will not move its pawns forward as it does not recognize that you are trying to turn your pawns into queens, while a strong player sees it much earlier. If you play the endgame as Jose Capablanca taught, thinking with patterns, then no robot can defeat you. There are other recommendations, but I won't tell you about it - they are pretty easy to find, if you are interested. I adore closed positions: if I see something wring in the game that makes me think I'm playing against a robot, I always turn on the anti0robot tactics. By the way, a good advantage of battle chess is that no robot can do a setup for the player, you need to think yourself or at least to pick one from the archive on the Battle Chess portal. But, again, you need to use it then, whether it is a good one or a bad one, and no computer can help you here! This is all for now. After the tournament I can reveal my tactics, if someone is interested. In fact, I have not lost a single game so far.

Miron: Thanks for an interesting interview. We know that you are now in the super final of the Battle Chess tournament Battle on the Ice 2008 and we hope to see your article on the setups classification when the tournament ends! We wish you and all the Battle Chess gamers to have e lot of new wins!

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