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.