Initiating a conversation with him is like hitting your head against the wall. You only get one reply, “Nyet, nyet, nyet! (No, no, no)!” But there is something about this International Master that makes one want to speak to him. Meet 75-year-old Boris Arkhangelsky, the oldest player at the Parsvnath Chess Tournament.
Though a writer himself, Boris refrains from speaking to journalists. If you give in, the game is over. But if you persevere, you are directed to Eremeevich Arkadi Vul, a grandmaster and Boris’s fast friend.
A language problem makes GM Alexander Zubarev of Ukraine party to the conversation. While Vul tries to give an insight into his friend’s personality, Zubarev attempts to bridge the language barrier in the best possible manner.
“Maybe, you can talk to him after the tournament. He is a very quiet person. He doesn’t like to talk and is always a little hassled after playing,” said the 57-year-old Vul.
Much as Boris loathes talking, Vul is fluent and loves to talk. “Boris used to be a chess trainer. But he doesn’t do it anymore. As age catches up, you have to stop doing certain things.
“With age, the desire to travel diminishes. Which is why, he has cut down on his travel. He mainly plays in European championships and that too not more than three,” says Vul.
Talking about their friendship, Vul says, “We live a few hours apart in Moscow and meet twice a week. On foreign tours, we are always roommates and mostly talk about the problems besetting our country. we are extremely upset with the state of affairs in our country. Russia is the worst country in the world. Alcoholism, corruption, drugs, Russia is riddled will all these problems,” rues Vul.
Their liking for India is all too apparent on their faces. “This is his second visit to India. It’s a pleasant country. But we haven’t seen much of it. We normally play and go back to our hotel room,” says a beaming Vul.
As Vul has a sore throat he cannot talk much. Even as Boris maintains a stoic silence, Vul had something to say about his senior counterpart’s personality, “Maybe, he finds his life too uninteresting to talk about.”