Chess Ronaldo

Время публикации: 23.06.2012 22:40 | Последнее обновление: 19.07.2018 12:39

I historically sympathised with the Czech football team. One of the heroes of my first 'conscious' World Cup-1990 was Tomas Skuhravy, a brilliant striker of then the Czechoslovakian team, who stood out not just with his play, but with the hairstyle as well.

Tomas spoiled his hairstyle three times against Costa Rica in the 1/8 final: he scored headers against his opponents precisely that many times. The fans of statistics should be able to advise whether anyone else has been able to do the same since Skuhravy. If I remember the excitement of the commentators correctly, no one had done it before him.

I remember, as if it was now, the finest hour of the Czech team that reached the finals of the Euro-1996. While I walked from the place of the match between Navara and Svidler to the Old Town Square, I struggled to count up how many years have passed since. Sixteen?? It's not possible!

If back then, in 1996, someone told me that in about fifteen years I wouldn't be able to remember the last time I watched a football match from start to finish - from the first to the last minute, without looking away from the screen - I would have laughed in that person's face.

But the fact remains: I honeslty can't remember the last time when I 'really' watched football. I decided that I would do it at the grand square in the centre of Prague, since the chance presented itself. There, the quarter-final between the Czech and Portugal teams of the current Euro-2012 was shown on a big screen.

But even here I wasn't in time for the start. By the middle of the first half, all places on the ground were taken.

I don't know the current Czech team at all, not a single player. I supported Portugal since Costa-Figo times, but it didn't matter now: I firmly decided that I would support the Czech team this evening. First of all, it so happened historically that in any sport my sympathies are with the weaker side. Secondly, how could I miss an opportunity to feel united with the Czechs for one evening?

Every time this guy appeared on the screen, the square became noisy. It goes without saying that the number of worried shouts significantly exceeded emotions from attacks by own team. The fans sighed in relief a couple of times when Cristiano smashed Cech's left post and then brushed it with the ball again.

It's 0-0 at the end of the first half; now it's half-time.

At some point towards the end of the match the prospect of surviving until overtime seemed quite real. Even though the Czechs didn't create anything while attacking, they defended quite confidently. How could they lose to Russia 0-4 is a mystery.

But the guy who was whistled at, nevertheless, said the last word... 

And the most important thing, he did it just in time - ten minutes before the end.

While the Czechs came round and figured out how to change their game, there came the last minutes of the match. It's a corner! The last chance. Cech ran towards the Portugal's penalty box.

The whole of Prague and the whole football world at this moment realised that if Cech doesn't save them, then nothing can save the Czechs.

After the corner kick, the ball didn't even reach the goalkeeper...

Prague left the square disappointedly, but quite calmly and peacefully. The championship is over.

* * *

Next day was filled with another 'hello from the 90-s': a game of chess. Peter Svidler and David Navara gave simultaneous displays and your correspondent signed up to that.

Why do I play chess from time to time if, due to complete absence of preparation, my results are miserable? There are several reasons for that. The first and the main one is that the game allows me to come down to earth. During tournaments I am, as a chess journalist, sometimes visited by 'a Nadezhda Smyslova thought', "I don't play chess, but I understand the position". So it's sometimes useful to sit down at the board myself, to realise the difference between "understanding" and playing for real. There's a big difference.

The second reason is this. My almost main hobby has always been to study people. And I continue to insist that there's no better way to get to know a person than to sit down with him at a chess board.

To be honest, results of my 'investigations' often led to not the most optimistic conclusion: there are just so many f...... in the word.

This time everything was different: it was that rare occasion when even a loss was enjoyable. Thanks to Peter Svidler.

At the start of the simul Peter told us that if a position is really difficult, he could allow to miss a move (think for another 'round'), as long as that didn't happen too often and not twice in a row. The grandmaster wished luck to all the opponents before making his move on the first of the 22 boards.

The interest with which Svidler played against amateurs was striking. He didn't just make moves. He talked, joked, encouraged his opponents and told stories... My experience in simuls isn't that big, but this is the first time I've seen someone give a simul in that way.

Petr Boleslav, who won against Anand in a simul a year ago, had a chance to upset his titled namesake. But everything ended up with the grandmaster quoting to him Grischuk's opinion, "Svidler's chess is simple: he plays quickly, confidently and sets small traps". (Do you find any similarity with Ronaldo?)

Peter didn't refuse express analysis to anyone at the end of their games. Everyone enjoyed it. The final score was 22-0.

What can I say about my game? I didn't curb my excitement in the opening and mixed up at least two plans together. When I thought that everything wasn't as bad as it could have been, the opponent used a psychological attack by informing me that my position was almost identical to the one he had with Black in the Super Final 2009 against Sjugirov. He lost that game in 22 moves. Getting scared, I immediately pushed c6-c5 and it turned out that I was still surviving. However, some relief at the board served me badly: I feel nothing apart from shame for my further play, which lasted only a few moves.

[Event "Simul, Prague"] [Date "2012.06.22"] [Round "?"] [White "Svidler, Petr"] [Black "Surov, Evgeny"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B12"] [PlyCount "49"] [EventDate "2007.04.03"] [EventType "swiss"] [EventRounds "11"] [EventCountry "GER"] [Source "ChessBase"] [SourceDate "2007.05.31"] 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 Bf5 4. Nf3 e6 5. Be2 Nd7 6. O-O h6 7. Nbd2 Bh7 8. Nb3 a5 9. a4 Ne7 10. Bd2 Nf5 11. Bd3 Be7 12. Qe2 h5 13. g3 Kf8 14. h4 c5 15. dxc5 Nxc5 16. Nxc5 Bxc5 17. Kg2 Ne7 18. Bxh7 Rxh7 19. c4 Rh8 20. cxd5 Nxd5 21. Rac1 Bb6 22. Ng5 g6 23. Ne4 Kg7 24. Bg5 Qb8 25. Bf6+ 1-0 

And the game Svidler - Sjugirov, 2009 is, indeed, very similar. At some point the structure, excluding the moves a2-a4 and a7-a5, is identical.


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