“We were friends with Tigran Petrossian” Vasilevich

Azat Artsakh, Republic of Nagorno Karabakh
March 10 2004


– Boris Vasilevich, I want to greet you in the name of the staff of
the newspaper “Azat Artsakh” and the people of Artsakh. We are glad
to see you in Karabakh. What did you know about Karabakh before
coming here?
– Thank you for your warm returns and words. I am happy that I could
visit your highlands, breathe its clean air, meet with the people
living on this land. I think I will have time to get a closer
acquaintance with all this and evaluate what I have seen. I have
heard about Karabakh, I knew about the military actions in the
1990’s. You know war is tragedy. Let there only be peace in this

– In your opinion, to what extent has sport been transformed into
business today?
– I would say this is a process that started long ago. Sport is more
and more acquiring a commercial character. I cannot say for sure but
I think this also refers to chess. This tournament, however, has
nothing to do with it, it is free from being commercialized. And we
all are content with this. I should say that the tournaments for the
championship of the world are more of commercial nature. These have
always been connected with huge sums even before. In any way, I am
not the specialist to give an exact answer to the question.

– Are there differences in sport of your times and today?
– Again we will come to the problem of commercialization. Take
tennis, for example. Thirty years ago money had no role in this
sport, whereas today huge sums are circulated there. The same is with
any new sport. But this is not the case with the Olympic games.
Fortunately the prizes for world records have been increased. For
example, track and field athletics. Today, if I am not mistaken, the
winner of the 100-m sprint receives 53 thousand dollars. Although
this also may be considered little.

– What do you think, are there unfair games in chess?
– From my personal experience I cannot mention any. It is difficult
to say what happens with others. This should be known for sure. Many
people think there are unfair games. But I do not know why and how.

– Who was Tigran Petrossian for you? Were you just rivals or were you
in friendly relationships?
– Unfortunately the extracts we watched in the hall were very short.
Still in 1963 it became known that Tigran Petrossian bears a gigantic
chess power in himself. At that time it was not so easy for
Botvinnik. Although Botvinnik was not the chess-player number 1 in
the world. He was a king for a long time but he did not reign. Today
I recall the years 1966-69. I have lots of memories connected with
Tigran Petrossian. Despite the competition for the title of champion
we were good friends. The talent of Tigran Petrossian was unique.
With his sharp mind he saw a lot on the chessboard. He was very
strong in defence and felt the attack of his rival very quickly. It
happened that during the games with him the moment for him was a
matter of life and death. Whereas in such moments I was flying in the
clouds… I should say I was young then and had a devil-may-care
attitude. My main problem was to take a good sleep before the game.
It turns out Tigran Petrossian lived a difficult life. You know it
was not easy to be the champion of the world, the hero if his nation
during such a difficult period. At the same time Tigran Petrossian
was the editor-in-chief of the leading chess magazine published then.
That is to say, in this aspect too he was an important person in the
world of chess. Nevertheless, Petrossian was a very modest person. He
had a phenomenal unique talent, a fantastic sense of humour which the
other world champions did not have.

– Your returns to the people of Artsakh.
– Let them fight only on the chessboard. And nowhere else. This is
the most important.