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.