Interview with FIDE Deputy President Georgios Makropoulos – Part Two

About Global Chess and match Kamsky-Topalov

Part one of the interview with Mr. Georgios Makropoulos, where he talked about Women’s World Chess Championship and future Grand Prix

Q: There were some changes in the structure of Global Chess during this summer. Can you tell us what exactly happened?

A: At some point, Mr. David Kaplan, friend of FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, entered the world of chess and as a rich man he was interested to invest money in chess. We met him several times, he also attended FIDE Presidential Board and Executive Board, and it appears that he was seriously interested to invest. Next, there were meetings with Bessel Kok, Geoffrey Borg and Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, and the agreement was reached – Mr. Kaplan and Mr. Ilyumzhinov are now shareholders in Global Chess. I know that David Kaplan is already active in preparation of several projects. As long as all these proposals are coming to FIDE through Global Chess, we don’t have problems. The problem would occur only if Mr. Kaplan wants to push projects outside of Global Chess.

Of course, I have to say that it is unpleasant situation to start a co-operation with Global Chess, when we knew that Bessel Kok is Chairman and Geoffrey Borg is Executive Director, and then suddenly some changes are being made. But if this means that more money will be invested in different chess projects, then perhaps it all turns out well. So the question is if really Mr. Kaplan is ready to invest serious money. If he is, then FIDE is going to benefit, together with chess federations and players.

Negotiations with Anand and Kramnik were much easier

Q: And the question that most of us are interested in. Will match Kamsky-Topalov take place as planned?

A: You know that we have a sponsor. At least he claims that he wants to be a sponsor for this match to take place in Ukraine. He was supposed to send the money to FIDE many months ago. For the last few weeks we are hearing “tomorrow, tomorrow, the money is going to be transfered”. FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, who knows the sponsor, they are friends, is aware of the serious situation and that is why he personally guaranteed the prize fund. So even if the sponsor does not proceed with deposing the prize fund to FIDE bank account, because this is the key point, then Mr.Ilyumzhinov will find the solution.

Our problem, at the moment, is that as long as money is not on the FIDE bank account, we cannot even go to Ukraine and speak with the potential organizer. We cannot sign the final undertaking with the players before we know where are they going to play. On the other hand, up to this point, we could have had already discussed several details concerning this match.

In fact, to tell the truth, the side of Gata Kamsky is not very helpful. I invited the players to discuss technical details that do not depend on the playing venue. But the Kamsky team is waiting to see who is the organizer and where the match is going to take place and only then they want to arrange the details. In my opinion, this is not fair. One example, just to illustrate, I asked if there should be private rooms for the players or not. If the match takes place in Sofia, then no, if it is in Ukraine then we will have them. In my opinion, this should be solved irrespective of the organizers. Are there private rooms or not? There are many similar details that do not depend on where the match will actually take place. We should agree now on the private rooms, what kind of control, what kind of let’s say “anti-cheating” measures will be taken.

I have to say that negotiations with Anand and Kramnik, regarding their own match, were much easier than the situation that we are facing now.

Q: But the time is running out?

A: The time is running out. I think in the next few days, one or two weeks the most, we should know what is going on. I have time, by the end of September, to visit Ukraine and discuss the preparation, if we really have an organizer there. And once we know the specific city where the match is going to take place, then I can proceed negotiations with the players.

Thank you Mr. Makropoulos for accepting the interview

Interview with FIDE Deputy President Georgios Makropoulos

In part one – about Women’s World Chess Championship and future Grand Prix

Q: Mr. Makropoulos, you have arrived to Nalchik twelve days before the Championship start, in order to follow the preparations. What are your impressions, is everything set as expected?

A: Yes, I think that the organizers have made a great effort to have a very good Championship here. You can see it by yourself, as the conditions are in very high standard. I see that the players are also satisfied, by now nobody complained about anything.

What is a safe place

Q: How do you comment on the fact that five players, that have originally signed the Georgian letter, decided to come and play after all?

A: The problem is that after the unfortunate events in South Ossetia, the Georgian players really could not participate here. I mean, they could not get permission from their government. Because had they wanted to come, they would, of course, be allowed to play. They organizers would have arranged everything for Georgians to feel being in a secure environment. But I can understand. Because all this happened in the last moment, we really could not change the host of the Championship. Everybody were prepared to come here and play, the players have booked their tickets and hotels and it was not possible to cancel the Championship.

I also want to add that, before this crisis emerged, there were some speculations that Nalchik is not a safe place and some of the players were afraid to come. I am here for so many days already, I was here earlier to conduct an inspection, and I never had a slightest suspicion of danger. I hear that players share my opinion. You know that we are visiting restaurants, going downtown, walking on the streets, without having bodyguards or security.

So, unfortunately, sometimes I believe that we are exaggerating, mixing politics with sport, and the truth is that this is wrong. If we follow this idea, to randomly tag places as “unsafe”, then I don’t know where in the world we can be completely safe. United States are safe? We have seen what happened in many European countries. Why is Nalchik not safe? Because something happened few years ago? The same thing happened in Spain, England, in United States…

Women deserve better tournaments

Q: I understand that FIDE is planning to start Grand Prix series in women’s chess. How far did you advance after the initial idea?

A: You know very well that there are not many good tournaments around the world for the female players. Unfortunately, the organizers think that if they are making an open tournament, and provide one, two, three women prizes, that this is enough. It is not. And I have said many times that we should understand the difference between women’s and men’s chess. Unlike men, women cannot always compete for the top prizes in “mixed” events, so we also have to have high-profile tournaments for women. At the present, there are only few open tournaments with decent prizes for female players. In vast majority of other opens there are only few small prizes for women, and in case of good result, they are forced to choose the better between “special” and main prize. In my opinion, this is wrong. They should get both!

So our idea, with this Grand Prix, is to create a series of six tournaments, where every player can participate in four events, and provide women an opportunity to play in more good tournaments. At the same time, we will include the Grand Prix into the World Championship cycle. One year, we will have a Champion after the knockout competition, and the next year this Champion will play a match with the winner of Grand Prix. Thus, Women’s World Championship will be held every year.

I think that this new cycle will be very exciting, because, okay, we know that general opinion says that knockout is a very difficult system of play. It’s a guillotine sometimes. This is true. By providing another alternative, for players who prefer tournaments and match over the stressful knockout, I believe that the entire system becomes more balanced.

Atatürk chess tournament to be the first stage of the Women’s Grand Prix

Q: A couple of organizers have already expressed the interest to host Grand Prix events. For example, North Ural’s Cup (Krasnoturinsk) wouldn’t mind to join the cycle.

A: I know that people from Krasnoturinsk are interested to host one stage of the GP series. For sure we will have one in Istanbul. Several days ago I visited Istanbul and Ankara together with Mr. Ali Nihat Yazici, President of the Turkish Chess Federation, and we had several meetings with important sponsors. Grand Prix is guaranteed next March in Istanbul. The Atatürk chess tournament, that took place this spring, will grow into GP event in 2009.

You know very well that the hosts of the Women’s World Chess Championship have already offered to organize another tournament here in Nalchik. And as I understood from the conversations with the players, nobody is objecting the idea. In any case, with the GP cycle, a player can choose in which tournament he or she wants to play, so I believe there is a good chance that Nalchik will host a GP event next year.

In my opinion, there are many possibilities, and I am pretty sure that we will find six organizers to complete the GP for the next two years. Maybe, in the beginning, the prizes will not be that high, but we will have a good start and more sponsors will join us over the time. Anyway, tickets and hotels will be provided for all players, so that they don’t have to spend their own money, and ladies can solely concentrate on fight for the prizes.

Part two – about Global Chess and match Kamsky-Topalov

Interview with Lilit Mkrtchian

One of the quarter finalists in the Women’s World Chess Championship

The interview with Lilit Mkrtchian (Armenia, 2436) took place on Friday, September 5th, after her win in the second game against Harika Dronavalli.

Q: Hello Lilit, congratulations on qualifying to the next round. How does it feel to be among the eight best players in the world?

A: I am very happy! I still don’t know what to say, because yesterday (1st game Harika-Mkrtchian) I was in a very bad position and I thought I would lose. I was a pawn down with little time on the clock, and I thought, okay, what will I play in the next game. There were some chances as I was trying to trade the pawns, my opponent also made some mistakes, and the game was eventually drawn.

WWCC Lilit Mkrtchian

Lilit Mkrtchian

Q: Harika played very fast.

A: Yes! Yesterday actually, today no. Yesterday she played very fast and very strong! I thought, my God, what is happening? I play a move after a long calculation, and she just comes to the table, and bang, moves immediately.

- But today, I used a variation that I never play, and I think I surprised her, because she didn’t play the best moves in the opening and I seized the advantage. On two occasions, I have also missed better moves in the middlegame. At one point I moved, and the same moment I realized that I could have sacrificed the exchange to devastating effect.

- Okay, I was two pawns ahead, but my King was somewhat weak. Harika again started to move fast because I was in time trouble and committed more mistakes. The endgame was winning, I am two pawns ahead and her King is stuck.

Q: Yesterday I saw a discussion that you had with the arbiter about pieces color.

A: O, yes (laughing). I thought the player with higher rating changes her pieces color in the next round. I counted, Sebag didn’t come, so Gasik takes her color and I take this color from Gasik (it is complicated as it sounds – ed.note). I was preparing for White and then arrived to the playing hall to learn that I am Black.

- The problem is that, thinking that I am White, I prepared myself (clenching fists) to attack and play for a win. But with Black, that was shock, I had to switch my mood and play differently. Psychologically, this confusion reflected very bad on me.

WWCC Lilit and arbiter

The game about to start and Lilit learns that she mixed the colors

Q: And at what point have you decided to play Queen’s Gambit?

A: No, this is my regular opening. And for today, I didn’t have to prepare at all, I had all my lines worked out (laughing).

Q: You don’t have to play tiebreaks. How did you plan to use the rest day?

A: Oh, I will just rest and walk through those beautiful parks.

Q: But you will make sure to ask arbiter Zsuzsa Veroci about the colors?

A: (laughing) Definitely! I will ask two-three times, to make sure there are no mistakes.

Interview with Etienne Bacrot

Pierre Teisserenc talked to the new French Champion

Relaxed and happy after the prize awarding ceremony, Etienne Bacrot has agreed to answer our questions.

A historic title!

With this 6th trophy in the national Chess Championship (1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2008), Etienne equalizes the number of victories of Maurice Raizman (in the 30′s) and César Boutteville (in the 50-60′s)

At the age of 25, and therefore the whole future ahead of him, Etienne for us is Björn Borg of French Chess. He wins the national championships as the Swede was dominating the tennis on his favourite surface.

According to the Live Top List, maintained by Hans Arild Runde, Etienne is now ranked as 30th player in the World with 2705,7 points.

Etienne Bacrot square 3

Etienne Bacrot

Q: Hello Etienne, we will start with personal questions to help our readers know you. What is your principal quality?

A: I am a Fighter. Defeat increases my enthusiasm!

Q: And your principal defect?

A: I make too many blunders in chess.

Q: When you do not play chess, what is your main occupation?

A: My family.

The greatest moments of his career

Q: Let us return to chess, what do you consider to be your best results?

A: French Championships in general and to have been in top-ten best players worldwide over the period of couple of years.

Q: Who are the strongest players against whom you’ve played?

A: I played against all the champions. I would mention my win against Vladimir Kramnik, in Dortmund 2005, but it is already old.

Q: Who are the players that you admire the most and why?

A: All the great Champions without exception. Each one has contributed something to the history of chess and the evolution of the game.

Etienne Bacrot square

Tournaments

Q: What are the chess tournaments that you prefer?

A: Ultimatelly, the French Championship and Biel Chess Festival.

Q: How did you progress through the French Championship?

A: At the beginning, I made some inaccuracies, but without many consequences. Then I had to raise my level of play to follow Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. My game against Laurent Fressinet was a turning point.

Q: What are your future tournaments planned?

A: The Tal’s Blitz Cup in Moscow, if I get my visa Monday! (He wasn’t there, ed.note)

Q: And the Chess Olympiad in Dresden, in November 2008?

A: Yes, we have a good team.

Etienne Bacrot square 2

Secrets of the Champion

Q: What would you advice to our readers in order to progress in chess?

A: Personally, I have begun by playing a lot. Then I read all the books that exist!

Q: What is your approach to the game with white and with black pieces?

A: With white, I seek for the advantage, and with black, I now play more aggressive (since Biel) to fight for a win.

Q: Lastly, Etienne, what are your favorite books chess?

A: At the moment, I read “Chess Studies” of Kasparian. I appreciate all the books of John Nunn.

Q: Do you wish to add something to our interview?

A: I look sometimes at the Chess & Strategy website.

Thank you Etienne and congratulations for your 6th national title. We wish you all the best in your upcoming tournaments.

Interview conducted by Pierre Teisserenc, Chess & Strategy special reporter from Pau. Also thanks to Philippe Dornbusch.

World Women Chess Championship

bulletin round 1 and interviews

There is nothing worse in this world than big politics entering the everyday life, when the laws of common sense are
resigning in front of power, and destinies of people are sacrificed to fulfill someone’s ambitions. Especially it is not
pleasant when the politics interfere with sport as the sportsmen at all times were the messengers of peace and friendship.
Yet the Ancient Greeks were stopping the wars for the time of the Olympic Games establishing the sacred peace.
The Government of Georgia officially prohibited their representatives, who were the leaders of women’s chess for
dozens of years, to participate in the World Championship in Nalchik. The authorities of USA, France and some other
countries also “did not recommend” their citizens visiting Russia. Three of six Georgians who had the right to play in
this tournament, made their best to appear in Nalchik but could not get round the prohibition. Two brave Americans
despite all the recommendations made their flight over the ocean…
As a result, only 22 tables of starting 32 found their chairwomen, other ten distracting the eye by their emptiness…
Such an accident hasn’t ever happened on the World Championships. Seven players did not find anyone to fight with:
Antoaneta Stefanova, Anna Gasik, Thi Thanh An Nguyen, Elena Sedina, Claudia Amura, Anna Zatonskih and
Svetana Matveeva. On another two tables the clocks were even not started as both players were missing.
But despite all the problems, World Championship has started. It was opened by two presidents: Arsen Kanokov of
Kabardino-Balkaria and Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the head of Kalmykia and FIDE.

The first round is already finished and it could not proceed without sensations. First heroes and first eliminations
were established, even a small scandal found its way to appear and claim the attention of the Appeals Committee.
It is rare to see a real fight in the first round – usually the favorites easily crush the underdogs. But not in Nalchik!
Six pairs here reached the tie-breaks, three of them made it to the blitz stage and the destiny of the victory in the match
Socko – Foisor was even decided only after the serious overlook through the FIDE Handbook!
Exactly the half of the players is leaving home. Among them is Natalia Zhukova, who can be named the biggest upset
of the first round. Having lost the first game to the American Katerine Rohonyan, the Ukrainian managed to win back
in the second one, and after what she lost on the tie-break.
All the participants eliminated in the first round would get $3,750 on their account. The next step is $5,500. The
champion receives $60,000. However, the first thing every player thinks about is becoming a new queen of chess…

Press-conferences at the World Championship are held in a somewhat usual format – the pressofficer
of the tournament Peter Rajcsanyi invites several players instead of one. The first press conference
featured several players who were considered favorites before the start.
The guests of the first press conference are the highest-rated player in the championship Indian Humpy
Koneru, ex-European Champions Aleksandra Kosteniuk and Natalia Zhukova, and the strongest
Swedish player Pia Cramling.


– What are your impressions of the first day of the
Championship and what do you think about the knockout
system?

Cramling: Of course, I always want to take a good start from the beginning. However, rarely everything
goes as planned. The KO-tournaments give the
participants no right for mistakes: if you lose one game,
you are already very close to elimination. I played many
knock-out events and I like this system. It makes you
concentrated and forces to demonstrate your best game.
It’s a pity that by now the World Championship is the
only tournament played under this system. I would like
other tournaments to use it as well.

Kosteniuk: The World Championship is a very special
tournament but I disagree with Pia. Knock-out system
is interesting and provides the intrigue, but I don’t think
it is suitable for establishing the new World Champion.
This is the fourth time I participate in a knock-out
championship. The most successful was the first one in
Moscow in 2001, when I reached the final. I will try to
perform my best here, but because of the format of the
event it is very difficult to make any guesses.


– A question to Natalia Zhukova. Today you became the
author of probably the biggest sensation of the tournament
by losing with White in the first game and committing
yourself to huge problems with entering the second round.
Can you explain what happened?

Zhukova: Yes, my feelings now are not the nicest.
After the game and looked at the protocol I noticed that
I am almost the only favorite who lost to an underdog. It
is always pleasant to be the one and only, but surely not
in this case. How it happened? It is difficult to explain;
I was pressuring my opponent the whole game and had
a big advantage both on the board and on the clock.
The pieces of my opponent lacked coordination – it
seemed they were thrown here and there on the board.
All that I needed was to find a forced win, which was
there, as the post-mortem confirmed. The biggest pity
is that I saw the winning line at the board, but decided
to play another move. My position was still good but
not winning anymore, the time started to run out (we
both had about 2 minutes), she stroke back and I got
confused. In fact the loss was purely psychological: I still
had excellent drawing chances but failed to use them.


– Have you ever managed to win back in knock-outs
after losing the first game?

– Yes, I encountered similar situation at the
European Championship and I even had to retrieve
my losses twice: after I equalized the score, I lost the
first tie-break game again. The difference is that there I
had to strike back with White, while here I have to play
for a win as Black. By the way, I ended up winning that
European Championship.


– A question to Humpy Koneru. It is already the third
time that you start the World Championship as one of the
main favorites, but every time there is a player who stops
you one step off the final. What do you expect this year?

Koneru: Well, one can never be sure in winning a
knock-out event. And the World Championship is a
really difficult tournament. It is very important to gain
confidence about your game, and that’s what I did
today by winning the first game.


– How do you feel about the fact that after the first
round you will have three rest days?

– It is in some way unexpected for me. Early in the
tournament is not the best moment for relaxation. I
enjoy playing chess a lot and I feel pity about having
a bye in the second round. However, it can’t be
helped.


– A question to Aleksandra Kosteniuk. What do you
think about dividing chess into men’s and women’s, is it
the right thing to do, or maybe it offends you?

Kosteniuk: I have always looked at chess as sport. All
kinds of sports are divided into men’s and women’s.
Of course if we compare chess with athletics, women
have some kind of advantage as physical strength is
not the most important factor in chess, and we can
compete with men on equal basis. Why girls play
weaker is another question, but in my opinion the
division is absolutely legitimate and I don’t feel any
offence about it.

chessdom logo

Only young talents were presented on the second press conference: the winner of several strong women
open tournaments Anna Muzychuk, who represents Slovenia, the Russian champion and the highest
rated Russian player Tatiana Kosintseva, the first board of Hungarian national team Hoang Thanh
Trang
, Harika Dronavalli from India, and one of the strongest players from the «new wave» of Chinese
talents, Zhang Jilin.


– A question to Peter Rajcsanyi. We can understand
why the players from Georgia are not participating, or we
can consider the arguments of Irina Krush, Marie Sebag
and Tea Bosboom-Lanchava. But why some of the other
participants did not arrive? Was it the question of safety?

Rajcsanyi: The reasons why the players are declining
the participation are often private. Maybe they were
thinking that it is not safe here. But what is happening
now in Nalchik shows that chess players had no any
reason for anxiety. Personally I am very happy to see
here such a big amount of strong women who coped
with all the prejudice.


– A question to Zhang Jilin. The Chinese team is
represented at this Championship with many players. Do
your have a special plan for this tournament as to make it
an open China Championship for instance?

Zhang Jilin: We were not even thinking about special
team tactic, especially as some of our girls will lay each
other already in the second round. It is doubtful that
this tournament can become some kind of an open
championship of our country, though we would all try
to get the maximum success. Let’s talk about it when
the event is over.


– Can you share with us the secret of such numerous
successes of Chinese players in recent years? What is the
reason for such a fantastic development? And every year
the number of strong players keeps growing.

– We don’t have any special secrets which we should
hide. We just consider chess being the main thing in
our lives; we dedicate all our time to it and constantly
improve our game. So our main secret is work, work and work!


– A question to Tatiana Kosintseva. What do you think
about the drawing of the tournament and the fact that you
are in the same part with Aleksandra Kosteniuk and other
top players?

Kosintseva: I guess it did not happen on purpose, it
is just a coincidence since the paring depends on the

tournament differs
from another.

ratings. The two strongest Russian players are facing
each other in the first half. Well, we’ll see who will go
further…


– How did you like the beginning of the tournament?
Did you find the playing shape?

– Yes, and it was very important for me because
before the Championship I had quite a long break. I
will not make any forecasts about the outcome of the
tournament, it has just started, let’s see what happens
later. In the next round I get much more serious
opponent than today – Anna Zatonskih, so we will see
how the games will go.
Tomorrow my sister and I want to go to the
excursion. When we just arrived, the organizers strongly
recommended visiting beautiful city surroundings.


– A question to everybody. All of you are young, talented,
real stars of your generation. What is more important in
this tournament – youth or experience?

Muzychuk: I think that there are some advantages of
both qualities as every match at this tournament differs
from another.

Kosintseva: Youth and experience have the meaning in
totality. Maybe we have more energy but elder participants
know what and how they should do things.

Hoang Thanh Trang: I think that it is not the age what
is so important, the main thing is to be in a good shape
and be able to seek a balance.

Dronavalli: In my opinion
one should pay more attention
to the preparation, physical
condition and in this I agree
with Hoang. The tournament
is very long so one should
be skilled to distribute the
energy.

Zhang Jilin: I think neither
youth nor experience is
important. The beauty of chess
is what matters! But on the other
hand, playing in tournaments
with different systems teaches
you different skills. Particularly,
in a knock-out one must be
ready to show all her strength
at any moment, and it is very
important to fight till the end in
every situation.


– Is there any difference between the World championship
and any other tournament in your opinion?

Muzychuk: Of course there is a big difference due
to the use of the knock-out formula. Every game is
extremely important.

Kosintseva: Indeed, it is the only KO tournament,
but the biggest difference is of course in responsibility.
You cannot become a World Champion in any other
event.

Hoang Thanh Trang: We are all trying to become first
whatever the system is because it is! Knock-out has
some similarities with other tournaments, but there are
many differences. The main of them is that we don’t
have the right for a mistake. One mistake, and you are
eliminated.

Dronavalli: From my point of view, knock-out
system is more complicated but at the same time more
interesting, maybe even more fair: if you win, you
continue. If you lose, you leave. In a Swiss tournament
one has to play with 9 players of more or less random
skill.

Zhang Jilin: I like the knock-out system, I think it is
the most sportive of all. And nobody would doubt the
achievement of the one who beats all the opponents!


– What do you think about those players who did not
come to Nalchik?

Muzychuk: I think that the strongest players are here,
and those who did not come made their choice.

Kosintseva: It’s a pity that this happened, I don’t
have any explanation to this.

Hoang Thanh Trang: It is a big pity that some players
did not arrive… but it did not affect the status of the
event. We are here and we play.

Dronavalli: I am sorry for this situation. It is their
choice. Those who wanted to play, have arrived.
As for those who didn’t want – well, it’s their
problem!

Zhang Jilin: Pity that some players did not arrive.
But on the other hand all the strongest are
participating. And let the strongest of all win!

For all the interviews and information download bulletin from the official website.