Interview With GM Eltaj Safarli

Winner of the Chigorin Memorial interviewed by IM Alexander Ipatov

Alexander Ipatov – What are your highest achievements in chess?

Eltaj Safarli – I am many times Champion and medalist of the European and World Youth Chess Championships. I was also the winner of the international tournaments like Hoogeven 2007, shared Benasque 2010, Chigorin Memorial 2010. The Champion of the Higher League of Azerbaijan 2010.

A.I. – How do you prepare? Do you have sparring-partners, coaches? How many hours do you train daily?

E.S. – According to the intensive tournament schedule, I am not able to work on all components of chess play, but after finishing the Chigorin Memorial I will have more time for deeper study. My sparring partner and friend is Djakhangir Agaragimov.

Eltaj Safarli

Eltaj Safarli at the Chigorin Memorial

A.I. – What is chess for you? A profession, hobby, art or passion?

E.S. – For me chess is a profession and art.

A.I. – What is your opinion about the organization of the 2010 Chigorin Memorial?

E.S. – I’d like to say a “big thanks” to the organizers of the Chigorin Memorial, WGM Irina Sudakova and Mr.Vladimir Bykov. The organization of the event was on the top level.

A.I. – What are your next tournaments?

E.S. – In the forthcoming events, probably, I will take participation in Bansko Grand Chess Open 2010.

Eltaj Safarli

Eltaj Safarli at the tournament in India

A.I. – You are playing for one of the strongest European clubs – “Socar”. Can you give us insights about your club? What goals did the Board of Directors set in front of the players?

E.S. – The Chess Club “Socar” was formed earlier this year. My club was playing for the first time in the European Club Championship. “Socar” is very ambitious, and although we didn’t win this year’s ECC, I am certain that next time we will take a medal in that event. I am very grateful to the Vice-President of the Azerbaijan Chess Federation and the Manager of “Socar” Mr.Mahir Mamedov for establishing such a great club.

A.I. – At the recently finished Chess Olympiad in Khanty-Mansiysk you were playing for the National Team of Azerbaijan. Tell us about your and team’s performance there.

E.S. – In the Chess Olympiad our team and myself didn’t have enough luck but again I hope that on the next Olympiad we will be among the medalists.

Interview With GM Pablo Lafuente

by IM Alexander Ipatov

Interview with Argentinian Grandmaster Pablo Lafuente was performed during the Mikhail Chigorin Memorial, which recently concluded in St.Petersburg. GM Lafuente won the very strong 14th Int. Neckar-Open earlier this year.

Alexander Ipatov – Where were you born and where are you currently living?

Pablo Lafuente – I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, twenty five years ago. In 2008 I moved to Barcelona (Spain) where I am currently living.

A.I. – When and how did you start playing chess?

P.L. – I started playing chess when I was 5 years old, and it was thanks to my father, as he was the person who taught me how to play. And I immediately liked the game, surprisingly enough, considering that back at that time, I wouldn’t stay quiet for more than two seconds.

A.I. – How do you train yourself? Do you study with colleagues?

P.L. – Over the last few years, I have been mainly studying alone, and occasionally meeting with friends and colleagues. Probably (or should I say, almost certainly) that’s not the best way to train. It’s really hard for me to be my own boss, and I don’t always succeed in keeping my discipline.

Neckar Open

Pablo Lafuente during the Neckar-Open

A.I. – What is your opinion about the Chigorin Memorial?

P.L. – I like this tournament very much, and as a matter of fact, I was here in Saint Petersburg last year, as well, taking part in the same festival and I am glad to be here once again. It’s a pleasant tournament to play, and the kindness of the organizers also counts.

This year, however, my performance so far has unfortunately not been so good. I hope the last rounds will be better. But then, on the other hand, I must acknowledge that I had a very good performance in the strong rapid tournament that took place over the first two days, where I shared the first place.

And as for the city itself, although the tournament is demanding and we don’t have so much time left to visit the place, I enjoy walking around and taking the metro with its endless escalators. Nevertheless, my experience with Russian Cuisine must certainly be widened next time.

A.I. – What are you planning to do over the next months?

P.L. – I have been playing quite a lot lately, so I think I will take a rest after this tournament. I need to sit down and analyze a lot of my games. So, that’s one of my short-term aims, for the next two months, approximately. By late January, the Catalan League begins, and in 2011, I would also like to play in Moscow, the Moscow Open or Aeroflot, or maybe both…

A.I. – How many languages do you speak?

P.L. – I speak Spanish, English and Catalan, or “sort of” Catalan actually, because I can understand it, but I’m afraid I’m not fluent enough yet so as to speak it properly.

Pablo Lafuente

A.I. – What does chess mean to you?

P.L. – Chess started being ‘just a game’ for me, although I think that – as it happens to many others colleagues, too – ever since I was a child, I’ve had a ‘vocation for chess’. But many years ago, when I finished High School, I decided that chess was going to be my profession, my work. And it is difficult because I have many mixed feelings. I have been playing chess for almost my entire life and of course many of my personals goals are set down on chess, too. So, depending on how you look at it, chess is even more than a job for me.

A.I. – What do you do in your free time? Any hobbies?

P.L. – I like reading, and I try to be updated and well-informed by reading the newspapers.

Moreover, something that I discovered as I arrived in Catalunya, because I honestly didn’t know it existed before, but it soon became very appealing to me: Castells (literally, “human towers”), a historical and traditional activity in the region of Catalunya. So, once a week, I meet with my castells-mates to practice. It’s a very interesting experience and I really enjoy it.

And with regard to my physical training… ok, I can’t lie to you: I haven’t been doing much lately, but I would like to resume bike-riding and also go running.

A.I. – What Chess Websites do you often use?

P.L. – I usually visit “Twic Website”, Chessbase (both in Spanish and in English), Chessvibes, Europe-Echecs, Fide Website, Chesscafe.
I became aware of the existence of the Chessdom Website relatively recently, but since then, I’ve been reading it periodically.

A.I. – Who is your favorite player?

P.L. – Well, actually, I don’t have a favorite player. Instead, I try to take from each player what I consider to be his/her most interesting and positive traits.

Interview with IM Mikhail Mozharov

Mikhail Mozharov in conversation with Alexander Ipatov during Chigorin Memorial


Alexander Ipatov : Here we are with IM Mikhail Mozharov, one of the most
talented juniors in Russia, who is participating at the Chigorin Memorial. At which age did you start playing chess and what are your main achievements in chess?

Mikhail Mozharov : I started playing chess at the age of 7. My main successes were: the 2nd place in Russian Rapid Chess Championship U16 in 2006, the 3rd in Russian Rapid Chess Championship U18
in 2008, winner of the Children Team Champion of Russia 2006 with the team of Nizhni
Novgorod,the 1st board, shared the 3rd place in the World School Championship
U16 in 2005 in Greece. In non-junior chess I don’t have so many achievements like in
children competitions, but I have performed well in some of them, like sharing 1-2 place in Vladimir
open 2010 (the Stage of Russia Cup).

Alexander Ipatov : Quite an impressive run so for. For which club are you playing now?

Mikhail Mozharov : I finished the Petrosian chess school (famous graduates of this club are
Alexander Morozevich and Sergei Grigoriants). Now I’m playing for Chess
Club “Mephi”. I will be trying to help the club in Russian High League in Dagomys 2011. The
manager of “Mephi” is Mr. Vladimir Kravchenko, he is making a lot for the development
of our club.

Alexander Ipatov : How are you working on chess? Who are your seconds and coaches?

Mikhail Mozharov : I am working on chess with Nikolay Chepel (my best
friend) and GM Ivan Popov. My consultant is the famous chess coach Alexander
Nikitin (ex-trainer of Karpov, Kasparov, etc).

Alexander Ipatov : What do you think about the organization of the Chigorin Memorial?

Mikhail Mozharov : I’m playing in the Chigorin Memorial the first time.The
Organization Committee has offered three options with accommodation:
Hotel “Moscow”, Hotel “Saint-Petersburg”, and Hotel “FINEC”, all of them are
very good. In general, my friend Nikolay Chepel (in the first round he brought a
sensation beating GM Kryakvin) and me want to say a big “thanks” to WGM Irina
for the excellent conditions that she has provided.We are enjoying the

Alexander Ipatov : What are your following tournaments?

Mikhail Mozharov : My next tournament will be the Final Cup of Russia in Belgorod. It will start
immediately after the Chigorin Memorial.

Interview with WGM Irina Sudakova

Irina Sudakova is organizer of Chigorin Memorial

WGM Irina Sudakova

WGM Irina Sudakova

Alexander Ipatov: Here we are at the Chigorin Memorial with one of the organizers – WGM Irina Sudakova. Thank you very much for giving the interview for Chessdom. How did you manage to organize such strong tournament as the Chigorin Memorial? It literally collects hundreds of titled players!

Irina Sudakova: Hello, Alexander. It might seem surprising, but there are not so many big international tournaments in Russia. “International” often means that there only are players from former Soviet Union republics – which is not the case for Chigorin Memorial. Of course, we invite the high rated grandmasters, but many people just come to take part in the strong tournament, see the city and enjoy their time here.

Alexander Ipatov: The Director of the Chigorin Memorial is Mr.Vladimir Bykov. Can you tell us more about him?

Irina Sudakova: Vladimir is a lecturer at St.Petersburg University of Economics and Finance. About 10 years ago he started organizing the University team for local events like city universities championship and similar – and at some point it was decided to try with a professional team. In 2002 the Finec team appeared and took part in Russian women’s club cup. Then it went on and on, and now our team is silver medalist of European Clup Cup in Plovdiv, and Vladimir is St.Petersburg chess federation’s vice-president and director of M.Chigorin Memorial.

Alexander Ipatov: As far as I know the last year the tournament took place in another hotel? What is the reason for the change this year?

Irina Sudakova: Yes, last year the tournament was held in Holiday Inn hotel. It opened only few months before the event, and for this reason it was possible to get great discounts. This year their prices went higher (which is normal for a high class hotel) and we had to move as it’s important for us to keep the prices for accommodation at the level acceptable for the Russian chess players.

Alexander Ipatov: Who is the sponsor of the festival?

Irina Sudakova: Two years ago the C.E.O. of Gazpromtransgaz St.Petersburg Mr. Georgy Fokin became the president of our city chess federation and since then Gazprom is our sponsor. The traditional M. Chigorin Memorial was brought up to new standard.

Alexander Ipatov: On which media the Chigorin Memorial is covered?

Irina Sudakova: It’s not easy to get their attention – everybody is too much interested in FC Zenit :) The tournament is covered on NTV, radio Mayak and others, our own website, and the biggest European chess sites, like Chessdom.

Alexander Ipatov: Are you going to organize the Chigorin Memorial the next year?

Irina Sudakova: Yes – if we have money for it, of course!

Alexander Ipatov: Tell us more about yourself. What is chess for you: a profession, a hobby, a passion?

Irina Sudakova: I used to be a chess player for a long time. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to make a living only by playing tournaments being a female grandmaster. So 2 years ago I decided to quit and now I work in St.Petersburg chess federation. Chess is like a disease that can’t be completely healed, so I still play once in a while mostly some rapid or blitz, but I don’t depend on my results anymore.