Boris Spassky interviews nowadays always make a nice change of pace, though this one is particularly offbeat – given to a local journalist on the way from a provincial Russian train station to a waiting car (he was returning to the area he was evacuated to from Leningrad during WWII).
Originally posted here.
– My function now is that while I’m still alive I need, like a bee, to manage to fly around all the little chess flowers.
– You’re travelling to Korshik where you learnt to play chess when you were five… How did that happen and what attracted you to the game?
– I didn’t learn to play, I learnt a few chess moves. How did it happen? At first I watched others playing and then, when I was alone, I went up to the board, took away the black pawn and then ate up the whole white army with the black rook. That was the start of my career. And what attracted me – I’ve no idea. I liked that the rook moved in straight lines and ate everything. It was voracious. That’s all.
– In December last year in Elista there was a friendly match between you and Viktor Korchnoi. Tell us about it.
– What’s there to say? Two old men hurled themselves at each other, thrashed each other around and then quietened down with the score at 4:4.
– But you haven’t taken part in tournaments for a long time…
– In general I’ve given up chess, while Korchnoi continues to play…
– Nevertheless, those who watched the match noted that you were well prepared and you seemed to have a hunger for chess…
– No, I wasn’t particularly prepared. Even though Korchnoi accused me of being manfully and stubbornly trained by my friends – Yura Balashov and Viktor Kudreychik. While actually we spent all our time discussing which snack was best. I wanted sprats in tomato sauce, but they told me that you shouldn’t eat them now. So they didn’t give me any. But I broke out and secretly gobbled down two sprats… They were good. I’d be ready to eat them now, even if they try to convince me that sprats aren’t what they used to be.
– Korchnoi, they say, loves to provoke, and his style is attacking. What’s your style?
– I’m a sleepy bear but, when I wake up, I can be dangerous. I have great strength, but now I’ve got no desire at all to show that strength as I’ve lost my motivation. I’m no longer interested in winning. I’m played out. Enough. But Viktor still continues to fight.
– And what else, apart from Russian history, interests you…
– What else? I love fried mushrooms…