Photo by http://chess-news.ru/
Russian-Latvian Grandmaster Evgeny Sveshnikov passed away at the age of 71. He was born in Chelyabinsk, east of the Ural mountains in Russia, in 1950.
Sveshnikov, although being a talented youngster, wasn't able to properly focus on chess until he was over 20.
He graduated in 1972 and worked as a research engineer in the Department of Internal Combustion Engines. When he started to compete in important tournaments, his talent was immediately on display: he won the All-Union Tournaments of Young Masters in 1973 and 1976 and the All-Union Tournament in 1975. He tied for first place with GM Sergey Makarychev in the 1983 Moscow Championship.
Then he went on winning a lot of international tournaments, such as Sochi (1976, 1985), Le Havre (1977), Marina Romeo (1977), Cienfuegos (1979), and Hastings (1984/1985).
Yet, the late GM is primarily famous for his contribution to the Opening theory. Every chess player knows the Sicilian Sveshnikov, a variation used at every level, from the amateur to Magnus Carlsen.
GM Sveshnikov was a frank person. When he was asked about the naming of the important variation of the Sicilian defense, he said that it was not only the particular variation that was important but mainly the whole "way of thinking" he had created. It was what he called the Sveshnikov System, considering it to be revolutionary.
Ten years ago, his "system" got fully approved to be sound and solid when Boris Gelfand used it in his World Championship Match against Vishy Anand. Later in 2018, the great Magnus Carlsen used the Sveshnikov during his match against Fabiano Caruana.
The Sveshnikov was not the only opening variation he worked on, as he was a devoted player of the Alapin and the French Advance variation.
Sveshnikov published two books about these openings.
Photo by http://chess-news.ru/
Evgeny Sveshnikov was an outspoken and somewhat controversial influencer in the chess world. Almost everyone today agrees on the fact that chess and mathematics are not correlated. Chess is a form of art, and only a few people in the world can create masterpieces. It implies talent, first of all, and then - obviously - an incredible amount of study. Nonetheless, Sveshnikov, in one of his famous statements, affirmed:
"Chess is an exact mathematical problem. The solution comes from two sides: the opening and the endgame. The middlegame does not exist. The middlegame is a well-studied opening. An opening should result in an endgame. Give me five years, good assistants and modern computers, and I will trace all variations from the opening towards tablebases and 'close' chess. I feel that power."
But the Russian Grandmaster didn't spare critics towards the chess engines. In a 2015 interview, Sveshnikov said:
"I critically look at the computer Houdini, who is a trainer for all. I look at its assessments and evaluations and think they are simply awful! As they say, one's ears burn when one looks at these evaluations! Both in the opening and the endgame too. And after combinations. I can cite hundreds of examples where the assessment is completely wrong, just absolutely! Well, in the opening on the first moves, the computer does not understand anything. Even on the fifth, tenth move, there are a lot of errors. And all the young people think that the computer is infallible. This is not true."
Sveshnikov left us way too early.
We've lost an important and biting voice of our 8x8 bidimensional world.
IN 2013, after Carlsen's victory at the 75th Tata Steel, Sveshnikov said: "You should outplay Carlsen in the Opening, but his opponents play h7-h5..."
After his match vs. Shirov in 2014 (which Sveshnikov lost 0.5/5.5), he said:
"Neither Kasparov nor Carlsen can Refute My Openings."
Photo by russiachess.org
And that defines the man.
We will miss him.