Scacchierando : You were born in Cheliabinsk, and currently live in Riga

Sveshnikov : Yes, I was born in Cheliabinsk , in 1950, I am 60 years old ( this was the wonderful article by chessbase to celebrate his 60th birthday ) but I can’t really say that I feel my age ! My mirror reflects an image that I have a hard time recognising … (Sveshnikov smiles broadly throughout the interview, sometimes with sly, playful humour, with an intelligent look in his eyes, the look of someone who is passionately interested in every aspect of life ) . I divide my time between Cheliabinsk, where my two daughters live, and Riga, where my two boys are. I have married twice : when I was 33 I had a very serious illness, and during that time my first marriage broke down ; Two Russian women, a brunette and a blonde ( said with the smile of someone who has always admired women ).

S : At what age did you learn the game ?

Sveshnikov : When I was two I used to play with checkers ! When I was five my father taught me the rules of chess. I played with him and my grandfather, and soon enough I was able to beat them , even if chess was still only a family pastime. Things changed when I was 8 ; I went to a summer camp, with kids of all ages, and competed in the chess tournament, which I won ! I consider it the first of the 93 tournaments I have won so far. The prize consisted in a wooden plaque with “ The Winner “ written on it, and I still have it ! I hope I will be able to reach the 100 mark sometime.

S : You then played in the Pioneer palaces, did you have any teachers ?

Sveshnikov : Yes, I started playing more frequently. I had only one teacher, a candidate ( a Russian candidate of the time is comparable in strength to a present-day FM or IM ) , Leonid Aronovitch Gratvol, who is 73 today and lives in , we are still in touch . I have never been a child prodigy. My growth as a player was slow and mostly due to the effort and passion I put in my studies.

S : You have met many world champions …

Sveshnikov : Many ! My overall score against World Champions is nearly level, 22 – 23. Besides Tal, I have played with Smyslov, Petrosjan, Spassky, Karpov, Kasparov, Kramnik and Anand. I don’t consider the Fide knock-out tournament winners World Champions. As far as I’m concerned, the title went from Kasparov to Kramnik and then Anand.

Here is the full interview.

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Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar