21 Questions to the new
World Champion of CC Ivar Bern
1. At what age did
you learn to play chess, and who was your teacher?
I learnt chess from my brother when I was 8, but he didn’t
know all the rules!
2. Which three
chess books have been most important to you?
When I was a kid, my favourite book was “Solid Openings” by
Bent Larsen. My first decent opening repertoire was based on
that small book. “My System” by Aaron Nimzowich was
important in shaping my understanding of chess. But my
definite favourite is “Secrets of grandmaster play” by John
Nunn and Peter Griffiths. 24 of Nunn’s games with very
3. What do you
think were your best games and most interesting or difficult
games in the final?
The Kings-indian vs Lecroq is my favourite, but also the
wins vs. Gallinnis and Danek.
The most difficult and time-consuming games where the
4. How many hours
a day did you spend analysing the games?
In average, probably 10 hours a day for the first 1.5 years
of the final.
hardware/software did you use?
I had a rather slow PC, a Pentium III 1000Mhz. ”Normal” at
the time was Pentium IV 2000Mhz.
I used the standard software: ChessBase 7 + Fritz 8. My
database mainly consisted of games found on the internet.
6. Which engines
did you use for analysis?
I only used Fritz8 and his twin Fritz8 ( NoMMX ). Their
evaluations actually differ quite a lot in some positions.
7. Can you say
some more about how you work with Fritz?
In short, we both generate lines/analysis, and then we check
each other. Fritz generates suggestions most effectively in
tactical positions, using “infinite analysis” or “deep
position analysis”. In quiet positions, it’s more often up
to the human to come up with a plan and generate some
variations that can be “blunder checked”.
8. How did you
study the strengths and weaknesses of your opponents?
I didn’t! Unlike the ”Chess for tigers” approach “Play the
man, not the board”, I simply decided on my own playing
style – to fight for the initiative with both colours,
regardless of what my opponents had done in the past.
9. What can you
tell our readers about your methods of opening preparation
I use books, but I don’t trust them, so I check the
variations I consider playing thoroughly. When the final
started, I hadn’t studied opening theory for many years. So
after deciding on playing style I bought some recent books
on the openings I had chosen. I soon discovered that the
books could not be trusted, especially when it comes to
analysis dating from Fritz’ “childhood”. Even new opening
books can contain huge errors. The main reason for this is
that many writers simply quote/steal old analysis from the
Informant, without this being mentioned in their book.
10. Did you find
it useful to consult with other players, e.g in the
I asked other players in the opening phase of the games, but
after that I was faithful to my old buddy Fritz.
11. I know that
you are an IM in OTB chess. How do you see the relationship
between your CC and OTB activities?
I was stronger in OTB chess 10-20 years ago when this was my
main priority in life,
but I’ve spent a lot of time in the chessworld, so I still
have a decent understanding
of the game. This is definitely useful in CC.
I work a lot with the computer, and only to a lesser extent
with actual chess pieces.
I believe this can actually harm my OTB-strength. For
example, I remember opening
theory much better when I move pieces in the 3D physical
world, compared to
clicking on a 2D computer screen.
12. Is there a
difference between playing women and men chess?
With the risk of being taken for a
male-chauvinists-pig: my experience is that women are less
resilient to a mating attack! But in 1993 I lost in OTB
chess against the worlds strongest female correspondence
player, Olita Rause from Latvia (elo 2695 - ranked 9th in
the world), and in that game she attacked me!
13. Do you have
any plans for future events?
I just started in the 15th Olympiad Final. I’m on
board 1 for Norway, and meet the 16th Wch Tunc
Hamarat + the 18th Wch Joop van Oosterom and
several other high rated players. This is probably a much
tougher challenge than the Wch!
14. What is the
future for chess, and CC?
The future in chess I believe will be the duel between
Magnus Carlsen and Sergey Karjakin. From a Norwegian point
of view it’s always a pleasure watching Magnus, who produces
some spectacular games every time he plays a tournament.
future of CC is definitely play by server. The 15th Olympiad
is my first server-tournament. Finally everything that was
annoying in postal chess has been eliminated: slow mail,
lost cards and expensive repetitions, the possibility of
writing errors, “time-cheaters”…
15. What music do
you prefer to listen to?
I listen to a lot of really
different stuff. I guess the only thing I don’t listen to is
country and opera. Some of my favourites in the different
styles are: Can + Bo Hansson ( prog-rock ),
Soundgarden + Monster Magnet ( Rock ), Neurosis + Tool (
Metal ), Funkadelic + James Brown
( Funk ), MC Solaar + Eminem ( Hip Hop ), Chet Baker + Jaga Jazzist ( Jazz
), Rokia Traore + Ali Farka Toure ( from Mali ), Bebel
Gilberto ( Brazil ), Manu Chao…
I play guitar myself. At
you can find information about my current band Syv. 15 years
ago I played in a rock band called the Swamp Babies, who
just got a contract to release a double CD in September.
( PS: I’m not responsible for the “artwork”! ).
16. What is your
all-time favourite movie?
I’m not sure, but one that springs to mind is “Much ado
about nothing” by Kenneth Branagh.
17. Who is your favorite writer?
I don’t read much nowadays, but when I did, one of the last
things I ploughed through was 20 books in the Discworld-series
by Terry Pratchett. Fantasy of the most hilarious kind!
18. What is your
favourite kind of food/drink?
I’m a simple man when it comes to food, I’d probably go for
pizza and beer.
Fritz is no gourmet either.
19. What is your
best/worst character trait?
Tough question! To my knowledge, I’m an honest and
trustworthy guy, but I guess being a bachelor for most of my
life has made me develop certain household habits…
20. Has chess made
Oh yeah, but it has also made me
sad and angry and totally disgusted with my self!