by Alexander Kruglikov for Sankt-Petersburg Vedomosty
The European Individual Chess Championship in Rijeka was not only to determine the best chess players of the continent, they are Russia’s Ian Nepomniachtchi and Sweden’s Pia Cramling, but also to distribute tickets for the World Cup 2011 and the Women’s World Championship.
Among those who qualified for the World Cup is Evgeny Alekseev, 24-year-old grandmaster from St. Petersburg, who talked with “Sankt-Petersburg Vedomosty” correspondent Alexander Kruglikov.
Kruglikov: Evgeny, how was your tournament in Rijeka?
Alekseev: I wanted to fight for a high place, but in this competition pairings (Swiss system) are very important. Frankly, in Rijeka I did not get much with white pieces and was restricted to minimum objective – the ticket for the World Cup.
Kruglikov: But you still had to play the tie-break?
Alekseev: It happened that a large group of players, who all scored “plus-four”, finished tied on the places that lead to World Cup. Tiebreaks were imminent. I played a mini-match with fellow Russian Ernesto Inarkiev – one win, the second ended in a draw. Tiebreaks were important only for the seats in the World Cup, and the places at the European Championships have remained the same, I was in the group of players who shared the 11-40th place.
Kruglikov: How do you assess the overall performance of Russian players at the European Championship?
Alekseev: In my opinion, we played brilliantly. Ian Nepomniachtchi is the Champion, Artyom Timofeev took the third place. Six Grandmasters have qualified for the World Cup 2011.
Kruglikov: You played with Nepomniachtchi in the past. Tell us more about him.
Alekseev: Ian is very talented and promising player, creative, strictly follows the usual tactical plans, but at the same time he is very unstable, unpredictable. Ian can win the tournament brilliantly, as it happened now in Rijeka or at the 2008 “Aeroflot Open”, but he can also falter and play poorly. In Rijeka Nepomniachtchi was great. It’s hard to explain how he can beat strong players and spend only half an hour for the game. It’s fantastic. Ian improved greatly in the past few years. When we played in the 2006 Russian Championship Superfinal, he didn’t make much of an impression. But then he was only fifteen years old.