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Interview with GM Adrian Michalchishin

Adrian Michalcishin: "Nobody expected that it was possible to make such big progress in such short time"

Some time ago, TCF Press Officer Özgur Akman had an interview with GM Adrian Bogdanovich Michalhchishin who was in Turker for trainer seminars and playing for TED Kolejliler in İş Bankası Chess League.  The Turkish version of the interview had already been published in Turkish version of TCF web site and it is now available in English. It was about Michalchishin himself, chess in Turkey, trainers in Turkey and problems of development of a young chess player in general. Click on the link below to read all of the interview.

Özgür Akman: Would you give some information to us about your chess career as a player?

Adrian Michalchisin: I started played playing in very famous Ukranian city of Lviv, in the border of Poland.  This school was very old, famous school.  Very famous player Leonid Stein was our leading player and we all had some example in him and his friend Viktor Immanuel Kart started Chess Trainers and Chess School and this school started to produce enormous quantity of young talented players.  It started to produce some players like the famous grandmaster and my friend since we have been together in this school, 4 times Soviet champion (1974,1980, 1987, 1990 Akman) Alexander Beliavsky, Oleg Romanishin, Iozif(Jozif) Dorfman, Vassily Ivanchuk, Marta Litinskaya and many other GMs of younger generation. So, with this school Ukraine became a strong part of Soviet Chess Union. Our national team won matches over Russia and Moscow in Soviet Team Championship so because of Lvov Chess School, Ukraine became the strongest team in Soviet Union.  I was many times member of Ukranian Youth Team in the same strong team like Beliavsky, Romanishin, Dorfman winning Soviet Team Championships. Then I became young masters soviet champion and I became grandmaster when I was 23 years old, it was in 1978, the beginning, so I was one of the youngest grandmasters that time, now times are changing, there is now thirteen years old grandmasters and GMs are becoming younger. I immediately became member of Soviet National Team. I played in Soviet National Youth Team which won world youth championships 2 times in Mexico. Then I became playing in Soviet Individual Championships. My best result was 4th place, but OK, I was a bit upset since did not make the championship title but in Soviet Union but 4th place is already a high result.  Then I started to make my trainer’s work.  I was always interested in training.  I was interested in how to do work with young trainers, pupils, my fantastic experience was training with Maia Chiburdanidze before her first world championship matches. I was heavily successful with it.

Akman: Wasn’t Chiburdanidze also working with Eduard Gufeld?

Michalchishin: You know, Gufeld was in a very tense situation.  He was training with Chiburdanidze all the year but before the world championship matches he always quarreled with Maia.  Then Maia took other trainers with her.  And then after the match Maia returned back to Gufeld.  This was repeated in every world championship match later on.  So, Gufeld was never training Chiburdanidze during the world championship matches.  But he was very nice trainer, very powerful in means of transposing his knowledge, his energy and he was a very nice person. Then I was in the group of Anatoly Karpov between 1982-1985. It was a highly valuable experience for me.  Then I was trainer of Soviet National team for 2 years, during the World Championship in Lucerne and European Championship in Haifa. Then I trained Polgar family, all of them.  I trained them for three years.  I trained especially with Zsusa most of all.  She became World Champion later.  Then I worked in Former Yugoslavia to train a lot.  I was the captain of Agrouniverzal Belgrad which was fighting for the title of best team in Europe.  Our best result was second place.  In the time when I were training them, in my team Kramnik and Anand played.  It was always a problem that who should play on the first board.  It was back in 2000-2001.  And then after that, of course for many times I played in the Slovenian national team, in Olympiads, European Team Championships and Slovenian team was always highly successful during those times.  We were three times fourth in the European Championship.  For a small country like Slovenia, it was a huge success.  I have schools that, I still run them.  I have few talented young players, which took my place in the national team now.  Pavasovic, Borisek, Lenic who was world champion under 14.

Akman: Which other countries did you work in?

Mihalchishin:  I worked in Poland, I worked with the national team as advisor many teams and I worked individually with Mateusz Bartel, the Poland champion last year.  And I worked with Dutch women and youth team.  I gave them consultations and I trained personally with European Champions Peng Zhaoqin and Tea-Lanchava.  I was trainer in the Dutch team during the European Championship in Kuşadası this year.

Akman: What do you think about the relationship between chess coaching and playing strength?

Michalchishin: Coaching, every coach needs to have his or her own chess experience.  Otherwise, it is very difficult to help, explain for the youngsters.  It is extremely important to have your own experience.  Of course it is not necessary to be experienced on the level of world championship.  Some players tend to think that they can hire a very high rated player so he can teach a lot.  To be able to play high level chess and transferring your knowledge to the pupil are different things.  So, there are many strong players who cannot simply do this training work.  Some weaker players are able to transpose their knowledge better to young players.  It needs special training in some way and special knowledge of some psychological and methodological part of chess training.  The problem in many other countries except Soviet Union there was special sports universities and special trainers were trainers.  But in the world, there are no more such training system and for this reason it is always a problem in some other countries to create trainers from the beginning.  To build trainers as some kind. Somebody can make private lesson with others, to make a systematic instructor education system is a problem everywhere.

Akman: What about different training schools in the world, apart from Soviet School, there are now Dutch and Indian Chess Schools? Would you explain the differences between them? Is it possible to prepare some specific programmes for our case, the Turkish case?

Michalchishin: Of course, it’s possible. It is necessary because trainers need to have some special kdge to transfer to their pupils.  In Soviet Chess School, trainers were prepared on wide basis.  So, trainers have to know methodological things, pedagogical knowledge, and psychological things.  In Netherlands, it is more concentrated on chess abilities, the reason is its system is OK but it also needs some more comprehensive.  I can still say that the former Soviet system is more efficient since we can see from the results of the countries that apply this system.  Considering the Indian case, Indians first used Soviet trainers.  They collected knowledge from the Soviet trainers.  But, it is still the same with Indians.  They don’t have enough specialists.  Because grandmasters don’t have pedagogical and psychological background in their case, generally.  So, they need to have some professors who should give courses on this subject.

Akman:  What are your opinions about Turkish chess in general?

Michalchishin: Developments are quite fantastic, marvelous.  Nobody expected that it was possible to make such big progress in such short time.  Especially, this progress can be seen first of all in organizational level.  Organizing this number of high-level organization demands a specific organization which should work extremely professionally.  Another thing is working with Turkish youth. The result of winning European Team Championship U18 and Kübra’s triumph, winning U16 European title are results of a huge work at the end of the work of Turkish Chess Federation and of course chess trainers which did a lot of good things.

Akman: What do you think about Turkish chess trainers; the participants for this seminar and the others you know personally?

Michalchishin: Their attitude is fantastic because they are hungry for knowledge and work.  On the other hand, they need to increase their knowledge but they really want to educate themselves and want to learn more.

Akman: What do you think about the efficiency of this seminar in particular?

Michalchishin: I think it was quite efficient.  Of course, it was extremely hard because we work from 9.30 to 17.30 every day with one hour break.  Afterwards, we worked with the trainers of national youth team trainers (i.e., AYGEG).  They ask me about the specific problems of training the young pupils.

Akman: We know that, expecially in some moderately strong countries in chess have several leading grandmasters which become examples for the rest, especially the youngsters who would like to become professional grandmasters themselves.  In this sense, do you think Gurevich and Atalık’s experience are inspiring for the rest?

Michalchishin: Of course, their presence is extremely important.  Not just their presence but also presence of Suat’s wife, Katya Atalık who became European Champion this year.  OK, she became a Europan Champion too early after she arrived in Turkey, I suppose just in seven months.  Of course, it is possible to explain her result with the influence of Russian school but coming to Turkey had a psychological affect on her.  Because, in Russia she was not able to develop her chess career to the fullest extent and it was extremely important for her to start a new career in Turkey with the help of Turkish Chess Federation.  Her brand new start gave her fantastic results immediately.  And she is in a big way fantastic example for the girls.  Girls had better results than the men’s team in the Olympiad.  Of course, this is very nice and it is some kind of men’s team would be necessary to prove their abilities.  It would become an inspiration for them, too.  They would compete to show that they are having better results which can be very good.  The presence of Katya Atalık’s presence is very influential for the girl’s team I believe.  Girls’ team could develop into one of Europe’s best team in Europe in the future.

Akman: What do you think about TCF’ President Ali Nihat Yazici’s claim to become an Olympic champion in 2014 with the women’s team and having a world-class women team by 2012 in the press conference given during Garry Kasparov's visit to Turkey?

Michalchishin: It is good to have high expectations you would have good results.  It is necessary to put high results and try to achieve it.  This young Turkish team can try to do the best.  During the Turkish National Team Championship, I observed some very talented youngsters.  It still demands a huge amount of work on the side of the youngsters and their trainers.  But, they want to work, these talented ones.  I believe them there will be more names.  I watched them playing, I analyzed a few games with them.  I see a fantastic perspective for the Turkish chess.  Because, there is a lot of young talented girls and boys are on their way to the top.

Akman: Another question referring to a controversy in Turkish chess.  Although you were born in Ukraine, you are now playing for the Slovenian national team.  There are two players in Turkey like you: Michail Gurevich, Ekaterina Atalık.  What do you think about playing for another country but not the country you were born in?

Michalchishin: It is controversial everywhere, also in Slovenia too. When Beliavsky and I came to Slovenia to take part in Slovenian national team, many players.  They did disapprove our presence.  But after, team started to play better, taking fourth place to times in European team championship and chess developed in the country, they started to play.  After 10 years, they concluded that my and Beliavsky’s arrival to Slovenia did improve the Slovenian chess a lot.  On the other hand, what we did for Ukraine, we played there for 25 years, and we were present in Soviet Championships and in Europan Championships.  We made a way for young players.  So, we gave our way to young generation who were World and Olympic champions.  Our function in Slovenia was not just teaching but also training other players and enabling them to develop.  So, I think there will be a similar influence in Turkey.  I believe that there is nothing wrong and nothing strange.  It will be useful for Turkish chess. 1-2 players is going to be useful but not all the team like in football where the it is pushing for the national teams.

Akman: In the next phase I will ask some general questions about chess development in general. How should the triangle of parents-coaches-players should be? How should parents approach to the successes and failures of their children?

Michalchishin:  First of all they should support their children in achieving the best result.  Second, they have to have a trainer to get information about the different psychological aspects of their child in different situations.  Therefore, trainers could be more alert in difficult situations in important tournaments such as world championships, European Championships, etc.  They have to support their trainer, too.  They should give only a specific support, a psychological support to their children during the event and should involve in the activities of the trainer who is the specialist about chess education. 

Akman: What do you thing about playing blitz both on board and on the Internet? Is it harmful to the development of the student?

Michalchishin:  Internet chess as every thing could be useful or harmful depending on the way it used and the purpose of this usage.  Some young players are playing 1-minute bullet on the Internet just moving the pieces and the time they spend is just a waste of time. But for some children who live in some distant cities to the tournaments or chess centers, Internet chess is extremely useful.  It is necessary to use high technology in the best possible way.

Akman: What do you think about playing correspondence chess and the development of the player? There is an increasing interest among Turkish players to the correspondence.  What is the difference between two and have you played any correspondence?

Michalcishin: Yes, it is quite useful a good school for analysis.  I played in many years ago.  I played in Ukranian team Championship when I was 18 I played in a team championship in my youth. One of the games I played was fantastic and I consider it as one of my best games.  But, in the modern times, it has some problems which are connected with the use of chess programs for analysis of the position.  I believe that it is very stupid to play against some play playing with a computer.  But on the level, computer are not useful since computer are not helping man in the analysis of some situations but they know how to work with the help of the computers.  So, top correspondence players improve the game considerably.  So, in this sense, it is becoming better.  On the other hand, interesting combinations are disappearing from the correspondence chess.  Because, computer in every moment warns the players about tactical mistakes and entering into combination.

Akman: So, what do you think of computer usage, using chess programes with respect to the development of a chess player?

Michalchishin: Database programmes are very useful when you prepare for something.  On the other hand, when they use databases for opening preparation since it is very difficult to understand the evaluation of the positions.  For young players, opening preparation is just useful for obtaining information about the opponent.  For studying openings, there are specific books which can be helpful.  Turkish Chess Federation library have a very good collection of opening books.  It is very important to understand the correct way of using the computers.  At some points, computers can be more useful than the books and there is also nothing wrong with that.

Akman: Do young students of chess should study modern games or prefer more classical ones? Is there any significant difference in terms of handling similar positions and strategical themes?

Michalchishin: Modern games can be utilized in different sense, for example for the opening point of view or conducting the opening plans by the modern players.  For young players, they be taught better on the older examples.  They are not detailed but they are in some way more clear examples than the examples of modern chess.  There are many elements fighting in modern chess, which may not be as instructive as the classical, older games in this sense.  For studying developing plans, typical plans and methods, it is useful to study older games.  Modern chess is a bit different.  For example, huge knowledge is becoming very big.  In times of Nimzowitsch there were just few examples of handling isolated pawns.  Then in the times of Botvinnik, new plans were developed.  Not just attacking the isolated pawns, it depends on the position.  Different plans have to be conducted in concrete situation.  I wrote myself a book about it and so there are different plans and modern approach is that modern plan has to be conducted in the concrete situations.  One, in another in that.  So, such recommendation of fighting against isolated pawns you have to block is not a modern approach.  In some cease you need to attack in some cases you have to block.  But again, the concrete approach means there are many plans when playing with or against the isolated d-pawn.  In every single situation, it is possible to find the best way of fighting against the isolated pawn.

Akman: How should be the relationship between the parents and the trainer?  For example, parents whose child does not achieve successful results immediately blame the coaches and change them.  What kind of relation should there be between them?

Michalchishin: Trainers and parents have to cooperate as much as possible.  What they both want to do is the best for the children.  Therefore, they want to do the best for the child.  An child is trying to achieve the best result or enjoy chess to the greatest extent after working with the coach.  So, parents have to help coach and in the same way try to do the best.  As I said before, cooperation is very important.  Nothing special, nothing more but it is not necessary to see the only result in trainers’ work.  It is much more complex in terms of developing a personality developing different abilities, logical thinking and taking decisions, so trainer’s work.  The trainer’s work should not just be evaluated with the results but the reaction of the child whether the child is improving, if child loves what he or she is doing and enjoying what s/he is dealing with there is no problem.

Akman: What is your general advice to the trainers who did not attend your seminar in Turkey, you know there are about 20,000 instructors in Turkey as being one of the best trainers in the world?

Michalchishin: First, absolutely trainers should love chess hundred per cent.  If the do not love chess, they would not work in this area.  They should like children.  I would advice them that they should always improve themselves, following the literature, finding new example positions, new knowledge and to try to treat every pupil individually.  Try to look and improve the child’s weak sides in terms of chess playing and behaviour, you know to give a wider point of view generally on chess as a game and an intellectualy thing.

Akman: Thank you the interview.