That was Alexander Grischuk’s view after the third game of the Candidates Final ended in a 14-move draw. In a press conference that mirrored the game – it was short but packed with memorable incident – Gelfand also explained how his first encounter with grandmasters ended in failure.
Below I’ve translated the quotes from the press conference that were included in Vladimir Barsky’s round-three report for the Russian Chess Federation website. Even if you don’t know Russian it’s worth having a look at for the photos.
There’s a saying: God created men different, but Colt made them equal. I think you can say more or less the same about the Queen’s Gambit.
This was my ninth Queen’s Gambit here in Kazan. Well, what can I say? 9…b5 is a very interesting novelty. It was a little unexpected, as after all the pawn’s under attack twice. In principle, however, it’s no wonder there’s such a possibility – after all, White first gave up the bishop for a knight, and then started jumping around with the queen: 7. Qb3, 8. Qxc4. And then Black has something dynamic and tactical like that. It wasn’t a great surprise for me.
I think after that move White has quite a lot of ways of losing by force, as some lines are extremely dangerous. For example, 10. Qd3 (apparently a safe move), but then 10…Bb7 11. Bg2 Nc6, and it’s no longer clear how you can save the pawn. It’s clear that analysis will be able to find various normal ways of playing as White, in particular the way I played. I think Borya made an accurate move 13…a5, as otherwise Black might still have problems. And in the final position Black has a very strong initiative for the pawn, more than enough for a draw. On the other hand, White also shouldn’t lose, of course.
Black got full compensation for the pawn. It seems to me White played correctly, posing certain problems, but 13…a5, in my view, is an accurate move that completely equalises. And in the final position neither side can try to play for a win: the pressure on the open files and the dark-squared bishop compensate for the pawn, but Black can’t achieve anything more, and White also has to play accurately.
At this point Vladimir Barsky reminded Grischuk of his promise (in the press conference after the semifinals) to answer a question on how spending time with great chess players had influenced him. The question’s based on this interview with Vassily Ivanchuk, who had his illusions about great chess players shattered.
Yes, I thought about it a little. Overall, when children or adolescents are growing up, they’re under the illusion that famous people are all great, that they only think about higher matters. While in fact, of course, when you get to know people it turns out that everyone’s thoughts are approximately the same – banal. I wouldn’t describe that as a disappointment, but a natural process. It’s possible to agree with Ivanchuk that it gets rid of illusions. In general, a person initially has a lot of illusions, but unfortunately life dispels the majority of them.
I can add to that by telling a story. It was the first time I was playing in a tournament with grandmasters in my home town. I was thinking about a move and noticed the grandmasters standing over my board, looking at me. I thought: “No doubt they’re amazed such an amateur has been allowed into the tournament, someone who can’t play at all!” Well, I made some sort of move in a panic, got up, and the grandmasters approached me and asked: “Do you know that blonde in the fifth row?”
Well, and did you?
No, I didn’t know her, and I didn’t manage to establish a bond with the grandmasters. Frustration all round!