Elsewhere on the Web : 2005 FIDE World Cup - Quotes II

Saturday December 17, 2005

Here are more excerpts from interviews with the players at the 2005 FIDE World Cup, Khanty-Mansiysk (Siberia), Russia. See the official site (linked after the excerpts) for the full interviews.

Zurab Azmaiparashvili (seeded no. 32, GM, GEO, rated 2658 before the event, FIDE Vice President) • Q: At what age should one begin to play chess? A: The earlier the better, certainly before school. During the chess lessons a child is becoming a person! How is it going in everyday life? A child first does, then thinks. In chess we have another picture: first you think, and then you do. Then everything is easy, because he knows how to solve problems. It doesn't matter if he will be a great chess player in the future; if he played chess he would find his sphere of successful life!

Etienne Bacrot (no.2, GM, FRA, 2725) • Q: Are you surprised by the composition of the [semifinal]? You are all four 22-23 years old! A: I don't see anything surprising in it. All the opponents are very strong -- Aronian, Grischuk, and Ponomariov -- we have known each other since we were 10 years old. We always participated for some titles. We are all doing our best to win : it won't be an easy fight! It is interesting that we didn't meet last year, and over the last 5 years we didn't meet very often. I hope we will meet often in future.

Evgeny Bareev (no.17, GM, RUS, 2675, Chairman of the Russian Chess Federation Youth Committee) • Q: Have you invented some new methods to work with young talents? A: There aren't any problems to train a strong player. We have a problem to grow real stars. There is no system which can make a bad player become an outstanding one. For example, Carlsen is 15 now; he became a chess player when he was 12, and he started to work with trainers, themselves strong players, much earlier. If you cannot recognize a talent early in school, he will have fewer chances in the future. We have to visit schools, to choose. And when we find someone, we should help him to reach the top, because it is very hard to do it alone, it is just impossible. Look how much help was given to Radjabov, Ponomariov, now being given to Carlsen.

Viorel Bologan (no.14, GM, MDA, 2682) • Q: Is it hard for the favorites to play when the matches are so short? A: I think it is hard for everyone to play tie-breaks. There is an extra nervous feeling, and it disturbs you. You are trying to play more safely, not for three good results, but for two. It automatically influences the game: favorites just don't show how can they play, and outsiders have nothing to lose. This is a psychological trap.

Joel Lautier (no.15, GM, FRA, 2679, President of the Association of Chess Professionals) • Q: Are you going to run again for Presidency at ACP? A: No, it is a moral question. It is wrong to be an organizer and a player at the same time. There can be a situation when these two personalities will conflict with each other. That is why I decided to resign. The association is going great, and new management will work OK without me. I have been doing a lot about organization of tournaments recently. Last year I was in charge of the Kramnik - Leko match; this year I organized the "Golden Blitz" tournament in Moscow. That tournament was very successful and was shown live on NTV plus channel during 15 hours. Work at such business projects takes a lot of time; it is hard to combine it with professional performances.

Alexander Motylev (no.56, GM, RUS, 2632) • Q: Can you tell as at what stage of your career are you now? A: This is a provocative question. I want to think that my career continues to develop. I am reading a book by Victor Korchnoi 'Chess Is Merciless', where the author thinks about the age when a chess player reaches the top of his professional development. For Victor Lvovich it was at age 50. Chess players are getting younger these days. There are a lot of young chess players like Carlsen Magnus, who have great success when they are young. But I think that this top professional age should be when you are 25. The author of the book, an old school supporter, considers that this age is about 40-45. I think the truth is somewhere between; I want to improve my chess when I am 30.

Evgeniy Najer (no.47, GM, RUS, 2641) • Q: What is more important to you: the Super Final of the Russian Championship or the World Cup? A: Honestly speaking I never compared these two serious tournaments. It is hard to say which is more important. They are both important. I don't have a preference; all tournaments are important to me. It is clear that the tournament where I can show my professional skills will be the Super Final. Here at the World Cup, it is much more about rapid chess, so it is like participating in a rapid chess championship. More than a half of matches in all rounds finish with tie-breaks.

Ruslan Ponomariov (no.9, GM, UKR, 2704, Former FIDE World Champion) • Q: Not too long ago you were a World Champion, and now you are playing for a chance to participate in Candidates Matches on equal conditions with other players. Do you think destiny was bad for you; you didn't lose a single game but lost the Champion title. A: Yes, I have lost my title without even playing. But my most important discovery is that life is not over after that! I am still a young chess player, I am only 22, I will aim for new results. I am not going to give up chess like Gata Kamsky because they didn't give me a chance to become a World Champion. My trainer always told me that chess is a very difficult kind of sport. He liked to test me: 'Maybe it is not yours. Maybe you should go and study to be a programmer'. But I wanted to go further. And I have reached my aim. When I became World Champion, for some time I didn't play at all. I was training to play against Kasparov, and solved some private problems. Now I am trying to do my best. I participate in all tournaments, even if they are in a row. I hope my best results wait for me in the future.

Sergei Rublevskiy (no. 39, GM, RUS, 2652) • Q: Can you tell us, do you feel the pressure of a big prize? A: Yes, but much less than at the first FIDE knockout tournaments. Last year we studied how not to think about money. Otherwise you can just become mad.

Alexei Shirov (no. 6, GM, ESP, 2710) • Q: For many years you were acknowledged as one of the strongest chess players in the world. But using your talent you could be better. What is wrong with that? A: I actually don't know why people think this way. There are a lot more younger and more talented chess players than me. I don't think I have achieved everything I can. But taking into consideration the results of my performance today it is strange to talk about being advanced. Due to my rating I will be able to take part in [the Candidate Matches]. But I came here not for the rating but for the World Cup.

Uriy Shulman (no.100, GM, USA, 2565, 'a former citizen of Minsk who now lives in Chicago' • Q: Is there an interest to chess among children in the USA? A: In my opinion chess is more popular at the school level in the USA than in Russia. There is only one thing, if we consider chess a sport and that pupils are always expected to have some results, then in the USA chess is a process of education. Children enjoy it and at the same time develop logical ways of thinking. I think both systems should exist.

Ilia Smirin (no.20, GM, ISR, 2673) • Q: Is chess popular in Israel? How many kids are playing? A: I have been living in Prague half a year already. But I consider Israel my resident country. In my opinion the interest for chess in the whole world has declined recently. Yes, there are some distinguished countries like China, the USA and India. But there are not many kids playing chess : I mean playing chess professionally. I see that there are a lot of talented kids in Israel, who win Junior Championships, but they usually give up when they are 16-18. Of course not everybody gives up.

Antoaneta Stefanova (no.118, GM, BUL, 2491, FIDE Women's World Champion) • Q: Last year you won a chess crown, this year Topalov [also a Bulgarian] became a World Champion. How can you explain the Bulgarian revolution? A: Topalov and I have been playing chess for a long time. Bulgaria has good chess traditions. I don't know if you can call this a revolution! I can say only that it will be harder for young Bulgarian chess players to get to the top, than it was for me or Veselin. There are fewer tournaments, and less attention to chess. When I started to play there were 20-30 open tournaments to choose. Now you have to go abroad, and you need money for that. But there are a lot of talented chess players in Bulgaria.

For more information on this event, see the World Chess Cup 2005 official site, and our ChessChrono : 2005 FIDE World Cup.

Index of all World Championship blog posts