“I consider myself to be a positional player”
Interview by Ingemar Falk
You don´t play so many classical tournaments anymore. What made you decide to play in TePe Sigeman & Co Chess Tournament?
”I have never been to Sweden and I still like to play small classical round robin events”.
Your peak rating was world number 2 in 2008, but only two years later you barely played a tournament game. What happened? Was it because of lost inspiration?
”Sometimes we all need a break, and the other top players had it too. I was back in 2011, refreshed, and showed a good and stable results.”
What is your goal as a chess player nowadays?
”I stopped playing professional chess at the beginning of 2015, so as a chess player, I have no goals. As a chess master I still have goals and duties – to share my knowledge to raise my students, to contribute to the popularization of chess all over the world. As well as with the other board games.”
You still have a huge fan base – in what way do you feel the big support?
”If you mean the number of viewers of my blitz games vs Carlsen on Youtube – I still believe it has much more to do with the name Carlsen, rather to my small efforts. Therefore, the mentioned “huge fan base” remains a bit of mystery to me, and I almost never were in contact with them.”
You are famous for your unorthodox playing style. Shall we prepare for that also in TePe Sigeman & Co Chess Tournament?
”Popular opinion about my play, but strangely enough, I always considered myself to be a classical and positional player. Maybe the Tepe Sigeman & Co Chess Tournament will give us an answer?”
You turned 40 this summer. Did you have any special feelings for your birthday, or do you see 40 only as a number?
“It was special in a way that everybody told me that its strictly forbidden to celebrate it, so apart from very modest boat trip, I almost did nothing that day. Feeling wise it’s not as awful as I thought – half way-half done – with the point being to be on the brighter side of this ’half’”
You have had a great chess career. Which achievement do you rank as number 1 so far?
“I still remain an interesting person to people from very different social classes, and still able to create an auditorium on topics absolutely not related to chess. That’s clearly something I am very proud of about my professional chess career.”
You have the ranking of 2 kyu in Go, and you beat Tiger Hillarp Persson in a Go game in 2016. How much Go do you play nowadays?
“That match in 2016 was really something historical and I am happy to be part of it. I am also very grateful for Tiger for making it possible, hope that despite the result he enjoyed it too. Recently I moved even to the 1 national dan but overall Go is my hobby and I was never very serious about it. It’s just another brilliant and very deep game which I can compare with chess. I did play lots of small tournament in Russia for the last 1,5 years but in 2018 I have another calendar with almost no Go events, and with bridge and archery tournaments most likely to come.
And here is my question to the organizers: Will you bring a Game board to Malmoe when Tepe Sigeman Chess Tournament begins?”
What was your favourite chess opening when you were twelve years old?
“Alekhine defence, especially from the white side.”
And your preferred chess opening nowadays?
“Albin counter-gambit, even though this objectively loses.”
What’s your best tip to more easily fall asleep at nights during a chess tournament?
“To have nice company around you.”
Do you have any superstitions when you sit down at the chess board before a tournament game?
“I still have a couple remaining, but it’s a question of maturity to work them out.”
Who was your first chess trainer?
My parents and life in the USSR were my two, and still the best, trainers
How much chess do you study an average day?
During my professional chess career it was very regular with the peaks of 12 hours 12 days in a row when I was forcing my preparations for top events. Nowadays I am on my leisure time.
Who is your best chess fan?
“Tatiana Bogumil, in case if you know her.”
Footnote: Tatiana Bogumil is a strong Russian chess player. She won women’s world 50+ championships in 2016 and earned the title WGM.
When you think of Sweden, which three things pop up first in your mind?
1. It’s somewhere in Scandinavia and at school I was threatened with some “Vikings”
2. Stockholm has nothing to do with a stock market…
3. Abba, Roxette, Ace of base – these strange names contributed a lot to my first chess successes when I was still in my teens.