21 Questions to the new World Champion of CC
Ivar Bern

By Raymond Boger


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 instructive comments.


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 Sveshnikovs.


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.  


5. Which 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 and analysis?

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 chessclub?

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.

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.

The 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  http://www.myspace.com/autostradajazz  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 you happy?

Oh yeah, but it has also made me sad and angry and totally disgusted with my self!






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