What is your favorite part about being a Grandmaster? Traveling? Not having a ‘9 to 5’ job?
My favorite part about being a professional chess player (not a Grandmaster as plenty of them do work normal 9-5 jobs) is that I am my own boss and make my own schedule.
You also follow Napoli FC, a football club in the city of Naples, whose manager ideologically believes that the game is similar to chess in the aspect of exerting control from the center. How did you actually end up following the club?
My fiancé is Italian and lives in Naples. Therefore, I have been spending quite a lot of time there in the past year and a half. One day, I hope to meet Rafael Benitez!
How big of a role computers play in your chess life. How much and in what ways do you use them when studying chess? Do you ever play against them as practice? What do you think we can learn from computer chess and what can’t we?
Your question is very pertinent not only to my chess career but the very future of chess as well. I would say that nowadays, when I study, computers comprise 90% overall.
I do not play against computers anymore because it is severely depressing to lose every game without ever even having a chance!
I think mainly what can be learned from computers is a deeper understanding that almost all positions are ok with accurate play. In the past, many people assumed certain positions were automatically bad, but computers have shown that the rules and thought processes aren’t always accurate!
Do you think there will ever be a time in the future when Chess960 is a serious competitive chess format?
I think chess960 is great as it is simply pure intuition and understanding without theory or computers. In my opinion, a lot depends on the trends. For example, at the moment everyone is playing the Berlin Defense which has severely reduced the number of games with 1.e4. If this trend of attempting to “kill” the excitement continues, it is hard to believe 960 won’t take over at some point. However, if we start seeing a lot of deep preparation and exciting games in in the Najdorf or Dragon, then I think the scope of normal chess will continue for a very long time.
How do you think Fischer would do against top players like yourself, Carlsen, or Kasparov?
Fischer would almost certainly lose to all of us, but this is due to the fact that the game has so fundamentally changed. If Fischer had a few years to use computers, I think he would probably be on the same level.