Interview with GM Oleg Romanishin

By Angelmann, courtesy of

The 1st Roseto International Chess Festival has just ended, and we settle down at the bar for a coffee with Oleg Mikhailovich Romanishin, it’s time for that interview that was promised to us. Romanishin speaks fluent English, as became evident during the magnificent coaching session held on Wednesday night. Luckily, the Scacchierando team is in full force, with LightKnight and Stefano Bellicampi who are far more proficient than me.

See the interview with GM Evgeny Sveshnikov, also performed in Roseto.

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For about twenty minutes of the interview the young Lorenzo Pescatore sits with us and listens, all along handling an icecream – a very special young man our Lorenzo, not only chess-wise! The conversation is very pleasant and cordial, we don’t start with a question, but just talk about the state of Italian chess in general.

Oleg Romanishin: Chess is definitely growing in Italy, as shown by the many tournaments held here. I have met many Italian players, I played against Mariotti in Leningrad, in 1977, a very creative player, many times with Godena, who is an interesting player, very solid, and with many more. I also had the opportunity of holding a brief training session with Vocaturo and Piscopo, which was organised by Nicola Pienabarca.

Scacchierando: What is your impression of Fabiano Caruana?

Oleg Romanishin: Caruana is clearly a talented young player, but I couldn’t say more without knowing him personally and playing and analysing with him.

Scacchierando: Here you played against Axel Rombaldoni.

Oleg Romanishin: Yes, I’d played him in Bratto before. I won both times, but he’s a quality player, with good potential. Maybe, at the moment, he tends to overpress. I played twice against his brother Denis as well.

Scacchierando: When was your first time in Italy?

Oleg Romanishin: In 1978 I came to Genoa, for a Festa dell’Unità, holding various simultaneous events. I came back in 1984, where I played other simultaneous matches in different cities. My first tournament was Reggio Emilia 1984/85. I have since come back to Italy many times and I’ve always enjoyed it, I like Italian food a lot, and I love the coffee. During the Frascati tournament in 2006 I had the chance to walk around Rome with my family, and have a coffee in Piazza di Spagna, I have very fond memories of that day. Before I leave (to a tournament in Heviz, Hungary, on lake Balaton) I want to spend a day walking around Rome again, I like that town very much.

Scacchierando: You learned to play chess when you were 5 …

Oleg Romanishin: Yes, with my father, who was a strong player, he was able to win the Lvov championship, our hometown. My father had a lot of books at home, and there was a nice “chess” atmosphere. I was the youngest in my family, my brothers also played but were less dedicated.

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Scacchierando: Chess was very popular in the Soviet Union, back then.

Oleg Romanishin: Yes, definitely, it was the sport with the most following after football! The government actively promoted the game, which was really very popular. Chess was talked about on mainstream media, not only on specialized publications, and there were radio shows. During the 1963 Botvinnik – Petrosjan match ( Romanishin was 11 at the time), there was a news bulletin every hour, and the moves played were given. My father and I used to follow these games with a chessboard, analyzing while waiting for the next moves.

Scacchierando: You then studied with Viktor Kart. Aside from being an excellent coach, was he also a strong player?

Oleg Romanishin: Not really, back then, he was a good Candidate Master (a Russian CM of the time was usually modern-day FM strength), in some way he developed as a player with us, his first group of students, which was myself, Alexander Beliavsky and Adrian Mikhalcisin. Stein’s successes, who was a good friend of Kart’s, boosted the chess scene in Lviv. In 1973 I won the Youth European championship, while Beliavsky won the World Championship. Viktor dedicated himself to us with passion and competence.

Scacchierando: Did you develop rapidly as a player?

Oleg Romanishin: Yes, I became Candidate master at 14 and Master at 16. I obtained my IM title when I won the European championship and I became GM in 1976 (by this time he had already taken part in two Soviet Championship finals, with a wonderful 2nd place in 1975 with Tal and Vaganjan, behind the winner Petrosjan).

Scacchierando: As a promising youngster, you were assisted by Tal.

Oleg Romanishin: No, that’s not correct. I was sent to play a tournament with Tal. Then, in 1975, we played together again and became good friends. We had three training sessions together. In 1977 we were joint-winners of the Leningrad tournament, ahead of Karpov, Smyslov, Vaganjan, Taimanov, Ribli, Balashov, Beliavsky … I have been very lucky, having had the opportunity of playing and working with great champions.

Scacchierando: Has your playing style been influenced by anyone in particular?

Oleg Romanishin: I wouldn’t say as much … You learn from everyone, from many different styles. It was the strength of the Soviet Union, back then, there were many very strong players, who cultivated many different ideas. I have always valued the insights that different points of view can give you. I have played with nearly every player, even with Leonid Stein (said with a smile, remembering the great Ukrainian champion, who died prematurely). Young players today work a lot with databases but have less opportunities to work with great champions. Chess has changed, it’s become quicker, maybe too much so, young players have the adequate energy for present-day Chess. After a 5-6 hour game I am exhausted, and let’s not even talk about double rounds …

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Oleg Romanishin in action in Roseto

Scacchierando: You are an attacking player, and an accomplished openings expert.

Oleg Romanishin: It was easier once, to try theoretical novelties, if you were willing to work at the chessboard. Today, you play a novelty and after afew hours it is known all over the world. I have always played for the win, without much consideration to tournament tactics. When I have played with caution I have not always fared well.

In 1975 I played a tournament in Olot, Spain. At one point I was leading with Csom and Filip, on 7.5. The following round I was paired with white against Csom, who used to play a kind of “hedgehog” formation. Before the game I came up with a novelty in the sequence 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 b6 4. e4 Bb7, playing Bd3 on my fifth move (the move had already been tried by Huebner against Johannessen in Oslo the previous year, but databases weren’t around at the time, and Romanishin didn’t know that game).

However, I didn’t want to take risks, I played a different move and lost badly. I was very unhappy about this, and I spent the whole night analysing the game and my new variation. At the end of the same year, in the Soviet Championship played in Yerevan, I played against Petrosian and this time went ahead with Bd3, winning a nice game!

The following day Lev Polugaevsky played the same way against Boris Gulko, and then it was taken up by Tal and many others. In that Championship I played another strong novelty against Geller. I remember Petrosian telling me that even if I could play two novelties per tournament, I then had to play all the other games as well!

There is a little curiosity – in 1996, 21 years later, during the Yerevan Chess Olympiad, I went to a chemist and the man behind the counter exclaimed: “I know you! You destroyed our great Petrosjan in the 1975 championship!”.

I found myself in a similar situation in the penultimate round of the Groningen tournament, in 1993, in a game where I had the black pieces against Beliavsky, which was decisive for qualification in the candidates tournament of the PCA. Two hours before the game I came up with a novelty in the Capablanca variation in the Nimzo-Indian, Qf5. (1.d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 d5 5. cxd5 Qxd5 6. Nf3 Qf5) This time, as opposed to what happened with Bd3, I played it and won! In the last round I played against Benjamin, I didn’t calculate, I played for a win and everything went well and I finished on 7 out of 11.

Scacchierando: You played against many World Champions.

Oleg Romanishin: Yes, many times. I am ahead on points with Tal, Petrosian and Spassky, and with Kasparov also, even if I only played him when he was very young, before he became World Champion. I have a very bad score against Karpov. Talking about varieties of approaches, Karpov has a very global view of the board. When analysing a position, he tends to consider what pieces to exchange, which to improve, and formulate a general play rather than calculating variations. At the other end there is Ivanchuk, with whom I spent some time in training. Ivanchuk relies on his exceptional memory and calculation, with very deep variations, sometimes even fifteen moves ahead!

Scacchierando: You won here in Roseto!

Oleg Romanishin: Oh yes, I did, but my opponents were quite helpful!

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The Roseto prize giving ceremony with the city councillor, Dr. Antonio Porrini

Scacchierando: You have won many tournaments, do you remember how many?

Oleg Romanishin: No, not at all! You then have to distinguish between different tournaments. A second or third place in a world class tournament is of considerable importance. I have won important tournaments, like Odessa 1974, Hastings 1976, the aforementioned Leningrad 1977, Jumala 1983, Moscow 1985, but I also remember with pleasure, for example, my second place in Tilburg 1979, half a point behind Karpov and ahead of many great players, such as Portisch, Larsen, Spassky, Timman, Smyslov, Huebner, Hort, Sax, Sosonko and Kavalek … an extremely hard tournament!

Scacchierando: Is there a game you are especially attached to?

Oleg Romanishin: All of them! Maybe I am especially proud of some of them, like the one against Tibor Karolyi, in Tbilisi in 1986, with a nice sacrifice, an incredible game. Even the one against Amador Rodriguez, in 1977, a particularly interesting game, with many consecutive pawn moves, and, most definitely, my win against Spassky in Tilburg and the games against Petrosjan and Beliavsky we already talked about.

Scacchierando: You have played in the Chess Olympiads with both the Soviet Union and the Ukraine.

Oleg Romanishin: In 1978, in Buenos Aires, I was selected since Karpov was playing his match with Korchnoi. I have been close to being selected on other occasions, but that was my only chance at the Olympics with the USSR , while in the European Championships I won 6 gold medals. With the Ukraine I have won two silver medals and two bronze. I don’t think much of the current team-point system.

I am especially against FIDE’s “zero tolerance” rule, which I consider to be absolutely idiotic, particularly in a tournament like the Olympiad, with thousands of people in the playing hall. All you need is a little inconvenience to be late. It is a nonsensical rule for chess. In tennis, and tennis has great TV obligations, you are allowed up to a quarter of an hour! And in tennis, and in many other sports, the warm-up is held on the pitch, while in chess that isn’t the case. At Wijk aan Zee you have to pay a penalty if you are late, the highest being in the A tournament. I think it’s a good compromise.

Scacchierando: You have been playing Chess for 50 years, do you still harbour the same passion for the game?

Oleg Romanishin: When I was younger I was more motivated, I was very ambitious. Today I make a living with chess, but yes, I still love them very much to this day.

Scacchierando: Is there a champion of the past you particularly admire?

Oleg Romanishin: All of them! As I mentioned about the Soviet School, the plurality of views and styles is an asset. I am sorry I was never able to play with Keres, he played his last Soviet Championship in 1973, while I played my first in 1974, but I still had the chance to get to know him! (Said with a smile which was similar to the one he had remembering Stein, a sign of respect and fondness for the memory).

Here the interview, which lasted over two hours, comes to an end, but not our afternoon with Oleg! We offer to give him a lift to the prize-giving, which will be held in the town’s main square. While waiting for the ceremony to begin, we adjourn to a chessboard in the analysis room where Stefano asks Romanishin’s opinion about a few side-variations in the Nimzo-Indian. The result is a move order inversion which will of course remain secret! We go to the prize-giving and we then walk Romanishin to buy his bus ticket, and checking with the hotel that he could get a lift to the station, and we are joined by IM Misa Pap.

We had a chance for further talks, and not only about chess. We talk about Rome, and it is immediately obvious the interest a chess tournament in Rome could entail. Romanishin finds a common interest with Stefano in tennis, a sport that he discovered late in his life but that he likes a lot. Oleg has a 16-years old daughter who is a rather promising player, and is already playing in international youth tournaments. After the tournament in Balaton, Romanishin will play an Open in Germany, and his agenda is already fully booked well into September, but no further tournaments in Italy are planned for the moment.

We return to the village and after dinner we part ways. On our drive back to Rome, Stefano and I look back on the nice days in Roseto and the wonderful afternoon. It really has been a great pleasure to get to know Oleg Mikhailovich Romanishin!

Interview with Jorge Vega

Candidate for Continental President of America 2010 – 2014

Jorge Vega

Mr. Jorge Vega is Candidate for Continental President of America 2010 – 2014. He gave an extensive interview on the elections situation in America and in FIDE and also announced his ticket for the presidency.

IA Jorge Vega – Guatemala – Continental President

GM Darcy Lima – Brazil – Deputy President

Arch. Russell Smith – Trinidad & Tobago – General Secretary

Eng. Allan Herbert – Barbados – Treasurer

GM Silvino Garcia – Cuba – Member

Eng. Alfonso Naranjo – Colombia – Member

Arch. Eduardo Mieles – Ecuador – Member

For FIDE Executive Board are proposed Pfr. Uvencio Blanco, Venezuela; GM Silvino Garcia, Cuba; Mrs. Margaret Murphy, USVI and Dr. Milton Iturry, Peru.

Q: What are the elections in the International Chess Federation? Who will face in the presidency of FIDE? How do you see the possibilities of each one?

Jorge Vega: Every four years coinciding with the World Chess Olympiad there are ratified or rectified the Nominees or Candidates for the Presidential Board and consequently, the Continental Bureaus of the four areas comprising the FIDE.

The Presidential Board puts into play the Presidency, Deputy President, two Vice Presidents, one of which must correspond to a woman, the General Secretary and the Treasurer and on the Continents the Presidency, Deputy Presidency, General Secretary, Treasurer and three members.

So far there are two candidates, the current President, Mr. Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and the aspiring GM Anatoly Karpov.

Q: How do you see the possibilities of each one?

JV: Although there are left three months to the election it is shaping up as a decisive victory for Mr. Ilumzjinov, at the time being 50 Federations openly support Mr. Ilumzjinov and only 22 Mr. Karpov

The experience gained in the conduct of the National European Federations has always been anti-Ilyumzhinov, therefore, it is expected that Karpov will win at a rate of 4-3, but in Asia, Africa and America there the domain of Ilyumzhinov will be 3-1, enough to win a total of about 100 votes of 174 national federations members of FIDE.

Q: Do candidates form teams for the election campaign?

JV: Of course, Mr. Ilyumzhinov’s is composed by members of his ticket, Turkey and the four Continental Presidents and GM Karpov’s is composed by Mr. Richard Conn, GM Garry Kasparov and the Presidents of the Federations of Nicaragua and El Salvador, as far as I know.

Q: But the alliance Karpov-Kasparov seems formidable

JV: No, you have to differentiate the history of both as players, which is undeniable, from their political activity that has large gaps. The campaign in itself is difficult for them because they have to fight what was been done by Ilyumzhinov while they only make campaign promises hard to fulfill.

Q: How do you see the specific situation in America?

JV: Very difficult for Karpov although his team has concentrated on promoting his candidacy in the area, its convening power to date has been virtually invalid, they organized recently a meeting in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where they invited Presidents of the Federations of the Caribbean but no one attended, they also called a meeting in Lima where it was supposed to be attended by the Presidents of South America, result nobody came and moreover after the meeting the Peru Federation came openly on Ilyumzhinov´s favour; according to this fact we are seeing a sign of how things will turn out.

At present, 15 National Federations have expressed open support for Ilyumzhinov while only four have done it for Karpov. The first has virtually done any campaign in America while Karpov has done his best here without result. This is also an indication of what will happen.

Q: Central America was an Ilyumzhinov stronghold and now it is divided.

JV: It does not influence and also enters on the campaign’s predictions, since his election it was well known that the President of El Salvador was very hostile to Ilyumzhinov and on Nicaragua there were serious doubts, the only surprise was Honduras who switched sides after expressing his support to Ilyumzhinov in written form, but this is compensated by the support of Federations that in 2006 backed up the candidacy of Bessel Kok

Q: When did you decide to seek reelection to the Presidency of America?

JV: What convinced me was the statement of modifying the scheme of votes in FIDE announced by Ilyumzhinov’s opponents by giving preference to strong federations on discrimination marked towards small Federations, after checking the negative effect of this statement, Karpov’s group tried to amend it but the letters remain. Another decisive factor is the personal investment made by Ilyumzhinov in favor of chess while the others have not done anything concrete, just mere promises.

Q: Do you think the recent announcement of Mr. Ilyumzhinov to establish over a five-year cycle, an event designed to promote talent in the CACDEC American Federations, and a Latin-American Cup with an annual contribution of USD 100,000 financed personally by him will influence the outcome of the vote?

JV: You have to analyze it from two points, the first since the technical side is an initiative which undoubtedly will promote chess in the continent and especially in Central America and the Caribbean, it will also create an opportunity in Latin America to have a stable event of high-level chess players. The second point, the political aspect, it is a hard blow to the campaign promises of opponents, who have never offered anything like this. We should just simply compare the “I do” with the “I’m going to do.” The initiative of Memorial Campomanes in Asia and events in Latin America, speaking in boxing terms would imply “a count of protection” for Ilyumzhinov opponents.

Q: Turning to the election in America you have won twice the presidency by acclamation, do you expect an opponent this time?

JV: It’s boring wining by default, not worth for rating as well, so I hope and desire it would be an opponent, but so far there is nothing concrete, just rumors.

Q: But it is mentioned that Mr. Marvin Guevara from El Salvador will face you with the support of Karpov.

JV: We shall see, but I do not think so, I imagine that Karpov´s team will try to find a leading candidate, not with the idea of victory but to distract my time in America and so to prevent me to go to Africa to support Ilyumzhinov, Guevara would leave me free hands with his inexperience, his null international activity and the cancellation of the Absolute Continental that he made in 2009 which badly affected all Central America, thus it affects his sport reputation and credibility.

Interview with GM Evgeny Sveshnikov

By Angelmann, courtesy of

I had hoped to interview Sveshnikov back in 2008, at the Cesenatico tournament, but I knew that the great player and theoretician didn’t speak English very well, (neither do I, in any case…) and my Russian isn’t particularly fluent … :o ) Here in Roseto, I was lucky to be helped out by Sandra, a beautiful Lithuanian girl. Sveshnikov agreed to the interview immediately, especially as he learned that I represent, an amateur blog, whose only goal is the promotion of our game.

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Scacchierando: You were born in Cheliabinsk, and currently live in Riga.

Evgeny Sveshnikov: Yes, I was born in Cheliabinsk, in 1950, I am 60 years old but I can’t really say that I feel my age! My mirror reflects an image that I have a hard time recognizing … (Sveshnikov smiles broadly throughout the interview, sometimes with sly, playful humour, with an intelligent look in his eyes, the look of someone who is passionately interested in every aspect of life). I divide my time between Cheliabinsk, where my two daughters live, and Riga, where my two boys are. I got married twice: when I was 33 I had a very serious illness, and during that time my first marriage broke down; two Russian women, a brunette and a blonde (said with the smile of someone who has always admired women).

Scacchierando: At what age did you learn the game?

Evgeny Sveshnikov: When I was two I used to play with checkers! When I was five my father taught me the rules of chess. I played with him and my grandfather, and soon enough I was able to beat them both, even if chess was still only a family pastime. Things changed when I was 8; I went to a summer camp, with kids of all ages, and competed in the chess tournament, which I won! I consider it the first of the 93 tournaments I have won so far. The prize consisted in a wooden plaque with “The Winner” written on it, and I still have it! I hope I will be able to reach the 100 mark sometime.

Scacchierando: You then played in the Pioneer palaces, did you have any teachers?

Evgeny Sveshnikov: Yes, I started playing more frequently. I had only one teacher, a candidate (a Russian candidate of the time is comparable in strength to a present-day FM or IM), Leonid Aronovitch Gratvol, who is 73 today and lives in Israel, we are still in touch. I was never a child prodigy. My growth as a player was slow and mostly due to the effort and passion I put in my studies.

Scacchierando: Apart from chess, were you able to complete your studies?

Evgeny Sveshnikov: Yes, I earned a degree in engineering when I was 22 and following that I started work. I hadn’t done my (compulsory) military service, and when I was 24 I was asked if I wanted to serve in the army or, since I was a Master, if I wanted to play chess. I chose chess, and I rapidly became IM at 24 and GM at 27. When I was a boy I loved geography and dreamed of seeing the whole world; chess has given me the opportunity of doing so and there’s very few places where I haven’t been!

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Evgeny Sveshnikov

Scacchierando: Did your interest in theory start early in your career? I read that you have worked a lot with Gennadi Timoshchenko.

Evgeny Sveshnikov: Not really. Timoshchenko also lived in Cheliabinsk and after one of our games, which I won, he asked about my idea and the strategic themes I was working on, so we ended up working together for a while. I have always been interested in theoretical work, and I started to teach very early in my career, when I was 30.

Scacchierando: I thought that as a Latvian, and being a great attacker, you had had ties with the great Riga school, but it seems this is not what happened …

Evgeny Sveshnikov: No, not at all. Gratvol was my only coach.

Scacchierando: What success in your chess career do you remember more fondly?

Evgeny Sveshnikov: I don’t think I have a favourite, as on the one hand I love the game on its whole, on the other hand I am more attached to single games, to creativity, nice combinations, to particular moments in a game. Botvinnik worked a lot to bring forth a scientific-mathematical view of chess, being, as he was, a pioneer on computer science research, which was a strong influence on the Russian school and the very development of chess. I have always preferred a more artistic and creative vision.

Scacchierando: Then you probably are an admirer of the great creative attackers, like Tal, Nezhmetdinov …

Evgeny Sveshnikov: Definitely. I knew Nezhmetdinov well, I shared a room with him during a one-month training session. An interesting and brilliant man, the only person I have known capable of excelling both in checkers and chess. With Tal I have a plus score, 4-3 in my favour, I believe.

Scacchierando: You have met many world champions …

Evgeny Sveshnikov: Many! My overall score against World Champions is nearly level, 22 – 23. Besides Tal, I have played with Smyslov, Petrosjan, Spassky, Karpov, Kasparov, Kramnik and Anand. I don’t consider the Fide knock-out tournament winners World Champions. As far as I’m concerned, the title went from Kasparov to Kramnik and then Anand.

Scacchierando: What are your memories of the Chess Olympiad in Turin?

Evgeny Sveshnikov: In general I don’t like Chess Olympiads very much. I have played in many team competitions, sometimes with flattering results. Concerning Turin, I particularly remember the playing hall, truly splendid. I have played many times in Italy , the first time in Marina Romea in 1977. I particularly like Sicily, where I won a tournament. I think I won 6 tournaments in Italy overall.

Scacchierando: Chess requires a lot of time and effort. Does it take more than it gives?

Evgeny Sveshnikov: Everyone is looking for something in Chess, and Chess has a lot to offer. I have always had a great passion for it, and I still find it wonderful.

Scacchierando: You support the idea that it should be necessary to introduce rules protecting the great players, giving them copyright of the games they play.

Evgeny Sveshnikov: Absolutely. Games are instantly available to anyone all over the world. It would be enough to introduce a small fee for watching live games to change things. Also, databases make playing and creating very difficult. It’s too easy to become a GM nowadays, and too many grandmasters limit themselves to “push pieces around”. The elbow room for creativity is far too small today.

Scacchierando: Could Chess 960, Fischer Random, be a new frontier?

Evgeny Sveshnikov: I don’t like Chess 960, many starting positions are too unnatural or unbalanced (we had some trouble communicating at this point, and we hope to have rendered Sveshnikov’s thoughts correctly, as our interpreter had no knowledge of Chess).

Scacchierando: A last question, which champion of the past have you loved the most?

Evgeny Sveshnikov: Well, loving chess, all of them! But I might add that I hold in great esteem not especially, or not only, the World Champions, but also the great innovators. The names of Paulsen, Chigorin, Nimzowitsch spring to mind. In a more modern setting, I would name Boleslavsky, Geller and Polugayevsky. These are men who have ventured to a deeper level of understanding, who have explored not only the practical, or competitive side of chess , but the game in its entirety. Maybe, like the great explorers of old, they are the true winners in the history of chess.

Here the interview came to a close, a one hour walk through history and the vision of a great such as Evgeny Sveshnikov. And talking about great innovators … Mark Taimanov described the Sveshnikov variation of the Sicilian Defence as the last great innovation in Openings theory.

Interview with Pavel Eljanov

Eljanov won the last FIDE Grand Prix


The Ukrainian grandmaster Pavel Eljanov sensationally won the Astrakhan stage of the FIDE Grand Prix. Eljanov, despite being 9th in the current FIDE rating list, has never won any tournaments of this level. The winner happily shared his impressions about the event after the final game.

– My motivation at this Grand Prix stage was very strong, – started Pavel. – I wanted to show my best and prove to everyone including myself that I can beat the best. I didn’t have to contend for the candidates matches, therefore I was relaxed, played creatively, and won many games, while other participants played cautiously and made many draws.

Eljanov wins last FIDE Grand Prix / Final standings of the FIDE Grand Prix

– Are you happy now?

– I was a happy man before the tournament, and I am certainly happy now!

– When you started to feel that you play at the same level as other elite players?

– Only after this tournament I can safely say that I am one of the best players in the world. Before that I never had any serious tournament achievements, and ratings are very relative: today I am in the top 10, and tomorrow I can be far, far away. However, I try to develop my skill gradually, constantly analyze my game and look for improvements. In Astrakhan I just tried to do everything that depends on me.

– Did your opponents in this tournament underestimate you?

– No. After all, I was the second seed here according to the rating. And we live in a quite closed world, and know each other well.

– Did you feel two weeks ago that you can achieve something special?

– No, not really. Generally I do not rely on feelings and try to control my emotions. Sometimes it doesn’t work, though.

– Is there a link between one’s psychological state and his quality of play?

– Of course! Everything you do at the board directly depends on your psychological state. If you are in a bad mood before the game, everything can go wrong. Sometimes you have a bad day and simply cannot concentrate properly. Fortunately, I had almost no such days in Astrakhan.

– You were also quite lucky…

– One can’t win such tournaments without some luck. I was very lucky against Wang Yue, for example. But generally there isn’t much luck involved in chess. In my opinion, players’ skill determines the outcome for like 99%.

– Marcel Duchamps determines chess as “bloody sport”. Do you agree with him?

– It is certainly true for some players, but I don’t like it. Most chess players I know are nice people. I think the competitiveness must be limited to a certain extent. You should not knock people out and crush them. I would even say that chess is a sport for gentlemen.

– Sport, not art?

– My chess is a sport – tournament preparation, analyzing my game, competing at the board, etc. However, chess composition is an art, like music. Chess has many facets.

– What do you like to do aside from chess?

– Swimming, working out, playing football. I also have a Labrador dog, she is 4 years old. Alas, I don’t have enough time to train her. I only trained her for a couple of month, but I wish I could give her more.

– What can you wish those kids who are choosing their sports?

– If somebody develops sincere interest to a certain sport and is ready to sacrifice something for it, let him or her do it. Chess, football, or tennis – it doesn’t matter. For those who want to study chess, I wish to enjoy the games of famous players as well as their own games.