Exclusive interview with GM Vassily Ivanchuk
Note that this exclusive interview with GM Vassily Ivanchuk was taken one day before he became the Jermuk Grand Prix Champion. Congratulations GM Ivanchuk!
The enigmatic and spectacular Vassily Ivanchuk was kind enough to grant an interview during the tournament, something he understandably prefers not to do. Lilit Mkrtchian sat down with the chess superstar over dinner, in a friendly atmosphere, accompanied by his second: IM Manuel Leon Hoyos.
-GM Ivanchuk, how did start your cooperation with IM Hoyos?
-It is an interesting story. I was invited to Mexico in 2007 to play in some simultaneous games and give lectures. And I thought I would go there, relax, enjoy my time and take it easy. I didn’t take even my computer. Meanwhile, the Morelia-Linares tournament was to be taking place at the same time. And if you remember, Radjabov refused to play at the last minute and the organizers invited me to take part in the tournament. I couldn’t reject such an offer, and frantically began searching for a second, someone who could be of help with computer analysis. As such, I started working with IM Hoyos and happily our cooperation has continued. He has accompanied me to several tournaments, and likewise he is here with me in Jermuk.
-You play seemingly constantly, without any breaks going from tournament to tournament. Isn’t that exhausting?
Of course it is difficult and I get tired. But I love the game of chess. It plays a central role in my life. If there are no tournaments to play in, then I study chess.
-Have you ever considered quitting chess?
Never seriously. But of course, after a badly played game or tournament, in the wake of such defeats or disappointments, I have thought to myself, ‘Enough is enough, let me give this up.’ But these are emotional feelings coming from the heat of the moment. Once the emotions subside, I return back to my profession and my work.
-What would you liken your emotions to, after winning a beautiful victory?
Of course I feel a big wave of satisfaction. I would liken it to a faultless or perfect painting – when people look at it in amazement.
- Do you paint?
No, but whenever I have the opportunity, I enjoy visiting museums and galleries.
-Do you make time for physical activity or sports?
Lately, seldom. I understand that this is necessary, but my time doesn’t permit me as my tournament schedule is so full. After this tournament, I have about one month free so maybe this will be the time.
- How do you spend you free time here in Jermuk?
The nature and scenery here is beautiful. I love taking walks and relaxing. I also play lots of backgammon with my second. I know that backgammon is another popular game here in Armenia.
-You have achieved so many accomplishments in the chess world. What else are you striving for?
I think that if you feel content with your past accomplishments, you will not feel the hunger for achieving more. I try to forget the successes of the past in an effort to have more achievements in the future.
-I would think that there are frequent episodes in your life where interesting chess ideas are born in your mind.
Yes it happens. From the poignant words from the Russian song: Love comes when you least expect it. Like in love, the same in chess. These ideas, they can even come to us in our dreams.
-What interesting such episodes can you recall?
The following experience has stuck with me: I was getting prepared for the Dortmund tournament and I decided that I would play the Botvinnik variation against Kramnik. For days on end, I was analyzing this line. And all of the sudden, one night, I dreamed that the game was a Meran variation instead, and I am saddled with problems. I didn’t give the dream much importance, as Kramnik doesn’t play this line much. And would you believe that when the time came to play, my opponent selects exactly this Meran line? I lost the game, which lasted only 19 moves, and from that point onward I take such dreams seriously. To make matters worse, my opponent had been present during the post-game analysis of a game which had been previous played between Khalifman and Bareev, where the same bad move that I played had been discussed.
-Do you rely on computers often for your analysis?
I use computers primarily for information. In addition, there are situations when I don’t feel like analyzing on my own and I instead turn to the computer to see what the engines have to say.
-What are your thoughts on the Anand-Topalov match? You have played against each many times. What weaknesses might you identify in their games?
Either one could emerge as the winner. And of course, each has weaknesses – no one is unbeatable.
-And finally, your thoughts on the Jermuk tournament. How is it going for you?
It goes without saying that the participants in this tournament are very strong. The majority of the parties are played in a tense manner. Some of the games have lasted as long as 6 or 7 hours. It is good to play in tournament where the organizers have taken care of everything, where the conditions are very good. The great conditions can be attributed partly to the organizers themselves, and partly to the enticing nature surrounding us here in Jermuk. The scenic beauty here is stunning.
Thank you for your time and best wishes to you.