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Evgeny Sveshnikov: This tournament for women is a gift from our lucky stars
Thursday, 06 May 2010
050510_sveshnikov-int.jpgInvited to the capital of Kabardino-Balkaria to work as a commentator, eminent grandmaster and chess researcher Evgeny Sveshnikov has shared his impressions about the Nalchik round of FIDE Grand Prix series.

- Evgeny, have you ever worked as a chess commentator at women’s tournaments before?
- Formerly I was related to women’s chess mostly through being a coach. I have had ten students or more. I worked with Nana Ioseliani, Elena Fatalibekova, Alexandra Kosteniuk. This is the first time I’ve ever worked as a commentator.
This Grand Prix tournament appeals to me a lot – it has got its viewers and coverage in the press. I don’t remember such a contest ever being held in the old days. In fact, there was a system where women played together with men and only received special prizes. It’s totally different now. If this tendency is maintained, I wouldn’t be surprised to see women catch up with men, as far as the playing quality goes, in just a few years.

- What do you think is so special about women’s chess?
- Compared to men’s, women’s chess has a few distinguishing advantages. First of all, they are characterized by a strong competitive spirit. Female players combat like there’s no tomorrow. And that fascinates the viewers. With women, there’s even no need for a rule forbidding offering a draw. It’s already there, and they observe it.
Women are playing better and better every day. We’ve got a new additional coach now – the computer which helps them improves their playing in openings and middlegames.
050510_sveshnikov-int-2.jpgAs for drawbacks, I would say one of the major ones is weak endgames. It probably has a lot to do with women’s key shortcoming – rather unsure play under time pressure because, as a rule, that’s how endgames are played nowadays.
It is interesting enough that a game may be almost equal even with a 400 point gap in rating between the opponents. That’s impossible in men’s chess.

- Which of the players do you think stands out the most at this tournament?
- No doubt, Tatiana Kosintseva is the one. She plays excellently in endgames: she doesn’t get under time pressure, and copes with the lack of time better than others. I can’t say she’s better that her opponents in openings but she carries them out really well. She scores her points usually in the fourth hour of the game.
Hou Yifan is also very good. She knows the Spanish game well and is not afraid of difficult positions. If she hadn’t lost the game against Kosintseva in the first round, she might be a likely contender for victory. She really overindulged in her desire to win that game.
Pia Cramling is a very purposeful player. She’s older than her opponents but that doesn’t seem to be a problem because she is totally committed and forceful in each game. She always plays right till the end and often outplays her opponents in endgames. Pia uses her high class to win all the stages of the game. She practically gains no bad positions. Maybe sometimes she’s not energetic enough but still her level is very high.
050510_sveshnikov-int-zal.jpgI can see a lot of work done by Lilit Mkrtchian to improve her opening. It’s clear that she studies systematically with strong grandmasters. All she lacks is a little bit of self-confidence. With that problem solved, she can greatly improve her results.
Baira Kovanova, although not quite a well-known player, was a pleasant surprise. She struggles with eminent grandmasters almost on equal terms, and there are flashes of brilliance in some of her games.

- What do you do now? Do you still play at tournaments?
- I haven’t quit playing yet. I’m at such an age now as allows me to try and win some titles in senior’s championships. I’ve got ninety-three wins of international tournaments in my record, and I would like to score a hundred.
I hope FIDE and all the players will come to think about the professional chess-player’s status and how he can earn money not only for the number of points scored at different tournaments but also for selling it works, i.e. chess games. Millions of chess fans use them for their studies.
I still coach too. In Latvia and at home in Chelyabinsk, I work with the strongest juniors and travel around the world reading lectures. I also write books about openings. When the time comes I will write a chess textbook, that’s my primary goal.

Interviewed by Eldar Mukhametov
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