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Konstantin Sakaev,
International Grandmaster

The Results of the Year

- Konstantin, what do you still remember in the past 2003? What competitions had you occasion to participate in?

- That year was notable for nothing in particular. I played chess sometimes well, sometimes not. But I performed in the most important ones successfully. It was a championship of Europe, the main tournament of the year. I was selected out of it into a world championship while it was unfortunately virtual. And I became still a member of the team of Bremen in the German Bundesleague. I managed to play reliably under its flag. I made three draws with known chessplayers, winning one. One of the draws was a game with V.Anand. Before I had no luck to meet chessplayers of such level. It is still a lot of such games ahead. In truth, feeling of shyness was present in playing with the Indian Grandmaster. Having a perspective position, I forced a drawn game though I could "press more". I think it will pass with time. These are the most memorable events of the year. I hope that I shall play for that team still more longer years.

- And who else comes out for the Bremen team?

- One of them you know. He is our former fellow countryman, Eugene Agrest. Etienne Bacrot plays on the second board after me. There still act for us K.Landa, J.Hjartarson, A.Baburin, etc. For the present we go on the third place. Such a task is put before us, and we cope with it. It will be difficult to rise higher.

- You did not manage to take part in strong circular tournaments, did you?

- The last circular one was played in 1997 in St. Petersburg. I cannot "have the heart" to participate in openly weak tournaments and I am not invited to play in stronger ones. That is why I try to play more in team competitions. Managers of the teams are always interested in inviting strong chessplayers, and there are no problems here. A pair of years ago I got into a combined team of Russia. I expect that having shown a good play I shall come back to the team!

- Yes, the last team championship of Europe passed without your participation...

- I don't consider myself strongly offended, all was fair.

- Have you a manager, an expert who could promote your interests, let's say so, at the chess market?

- I'm the manager for myself. One should be advertised and promoted from young years. As in its time they "made" P.Leko, Polgar family, quite recently T.Radzhabov. Now the years have already gone. One needs a powerful break through, needs to strengthen oneself greatly. When one is 30 years old, it is more difficult to do this than at 20. It is an objective reality. But, say, Peter Svidler has made a phenomenal jump for the last year. If a year ago he was simply a very strong Grandmaster, today he enters as a minimum into the five of the best chessplayers of the world! In all tournaments in which he took part last year Peter played brilliantly!

- Probably the secret is here that Peter became a happy father of two twin-boys and at he has a skilful manager, hasn't he?

- I don't know, the question is rather to him, however, a favourable turn in his private life his played the role undoubtedly. The manager, too, is interested in dealing with young talent...

- But you're also not a chess-veteran!

- It's true. But there are guys who at 15-17 play perfectly... And I'm nearly 30 already.

- Do you play in the Internet, had you any successes?

- I play little there and don't take it very seriously...

- Have you an idea to create your site? It is known, that many Grandmasters, and not only they, have taken "step with the time".

- Well, I don't know. When a person is so popular already, may be it is useful in addition...

- What are you doing on a literary "front"? In short, what book are you now working at?

- Now I finish writing a book on Grunfeld Defence, and before this a book on accepted Queen's Gambit has been published together with S.Semkov. It is all in English in the Publishing House "Chess Stars". And before this, there was a Russian book "Linares - 2002".

- It is difficult to be original and I'll put a question about the plans for the nearest future.

- I'll continue a Bundesleague season. It is up to the end of spring. Well, it is a standard gentleman's set: "Aeroflot - Open", team clubs championship of Russia... Probably I'll play in some Open more. Usually I play in three Swiss rounds a year: "Aeroflot" in Moscow, another in Dubai, the third somewhere else.

- Let's proceed now to chess politics. How do you estimate a present condition of the Association of Professional Chessplayers?

- There appeared a person finally, whose validity of desires I'm sure of. It's Joel Lothieu. I haven't just entered the lines of that association, however, at the first positive results of its work I'll think in earnest to do it! And it is not clear yet, why the officials in particular the Russian Chess Federation are silent. They might render public support to its work. For example, I didn't hear that President of our chess Federation Alexander Zhukov would react towards those disgraces which exist in FIDE. It would be desirable that he solved not only internal problems of our chessplayers but paid his attention to the world-wide scale problems which concern not only our Grandmasters... Or even he displayed his attitude towards everything what takes place...

- And whether does he solve any problems of Russian chess and chessplayers which nobody has solved for many long years?

- No, he doesn't, but in any case one should express one's solidarity, one's position. Very much depends on such people...

- Do you have in view financing?

Yes, I do. This depends on him in Russian tournaments. But he could take initiative in conducting, for example, a Championship of Europe... Recently A.Zhukov has handed over the "Oscar" to Kasparov...

- But it has been a political action!

- Why not to conduct another action, if it in the interests of chessplayers?!

- He has obviously a hot time now. One election has passed, another follows soon. Tell me, please, somewhat of your attitude towards spirituality and faith. What part do they take in your life?

-I wouldn't speak about it, especially for the press. I'm a believer, but not religious very much.

- Well, do you believe in your destiny, your predestination and now much do you follow it?

- A man must believe in something, but everyone chooses it himself.

- In the light of last data having been received on the "Absolut" channel, it became known that, for example, Alekhine and Kasparov, Schlechter and Spassky* are the same soles who lived their lives in the physical bodies of different chessplayers.

- Whether do you want to write down the second "Master and Margarita"? (Laughs). Who I was in my former life and whom I shall be in the following, to tell the truth, I didn't reflect...

- But is there a question which you himself would like to ask, may be you want to make some statement. And it is in general interesting, what questions do excite the chess - professional?

- Unfortunately the situation in Petersburg chess federation has worsened. There is nobody to revive the former championships which were conducted, say, in the period of 1995 - 1997. All the best city chessplayers participated in them, nowadays one can only dream of it! It remains to hope that the existing "Petersburg Kings" will keep and strengthen their ranks.

- You believe that the federation works inefficiently, don't you?

- To organize interesting tournaments a task, in general, is not out of the easiest. Once B.M.Khropov had enough strength for this. However, even now there is a leading group. Some Open is nevertheless conducted. One wants it would be stronger. Even the team has losses. Khalifman and Svidler are absent already...

- Probably they didn't accept financial conditions of the contract; did they?

- We have not such a madam in Petersburg as in France. (Laughs). In truth, there is the other in a post of the Governor, but I doubt that she is familiar with the wisdom of chess play.

- Impression is formed that high level Grandmasters have fenced off artificially from chess amateurs, thereby the connection of generations is broken, isn't it?

- Understand, please. I cannot not only on financial conditions, but also on composition of participants, take part in the championship of the city where half of them are Master candidates. Somebody is probably interested how many points I score in such a tournament. However, I'm a professional and it is important for me to play with equal contenders or somewhat yielding me in class.

- It is clear, but you must not play seriously...

- Do you mean meetings, lectures, simultaneous games?

- Yes, why not. At the period of popular bloom of chess in our country all Masters and Grandmasters were busy with it!

- I'm not invited any where, there are no enthusiasts who would organize creative chess parties. In my mind, now it is not needed to anybody, not interesting. And the thing is quite not even in the fees!

- There is an impression that professionalism and commerce in chess have not done it good, its mass character and popularity have fallen.

- Why haven't they done good, chessplayers should earn somehow for life. For example, I have no other income than from chess activities. I am not enlisted and don't get salary at any office, say, as an engineer or trainer, as it were in the former time. Returning to your previous question, I think that creative chess meetings, simultaneous games are interesting only to the old generation who still remember M. Botvinnik... But it is not interesting to the youth of up to 30. Chess actually has lost its popularity. At the city level, even at larger scale of the country, there is not a manager who could promote interests of chess and chessplayers. Chess can be presented as a sweet! One may advertise and promote everything at one's heart content! Chess exists not the first year, it has a rich history. Now what only they do not play. They show jumps in bags on the "Eurosports" channel! By the way, it is looked on rather interestingly! Every month there appear new kinds of sports which win popularity on the spot, are advanced with rapid strides, in order to become Olympic kinds of sports. Unfortunately one cannot say it so of chess. There was an idea, but it was neglected.

- May be managers do not come into chess field because they see that chessplayers are egoistic people, corporate interests are alien to them, and everyone is thinking only of himself do they?

- Whatever great Pete Sampras were, he started ATR series tournaments with the first round, his popularity did not drop because of that. Thereby he earned decently. Well, he left sometimes and went from a distance. It is sports. I do not know why it has developed so that there are no managers who would be engaged in promoting our kind of sports. There are only individual projects which arise, here or there. There are traditional and large tournaments. But the last are not enough already. Thanks to Kasparov giant sponsors of Intel, IBM type was involved in its time, but in view of his rough activities they, judging by everything, went out of chess...

- And still some steps to unify two systems of conducting World Championship were made. Inflow of corporate money resources was coupled with them. And now it has taken place...

- It has happened that on the one hand Einstein has broken match of Kramnik against Leco, on the other hand Ponomarev has broken match with Kasparov in Yalta...

- Politics has played its role, hasn't it?

- I think, he has listened to other advices. I believe, if Ponomarev would lose the match against Kasparov there were nothing shameful in it! But he preferred not to play.

- He didn't want probably to get a psychological knockdown, did he?

- For any chessplayer to play a match with Kasparov, it is a good school, decent money... But to seek an occasion to break the match is simply silly.

- Nevertheless FIDE has maintained his title of World Champion!

- He will lose it at the next championship... FIDE championships of the world in accord with knock-out system gave the chess world three World champions. And if A.Khalifman and V.Anand played at the highest level for a long time and won the recognition of chess world, R.Ponomarev "flow up" during a year, and having won the chess championship he has not such authority as they do. Therefore to demand any conditions, in my opinion, is not serious. I think, he was in search for an occasion to break the match and found it. He achieved nothing by it either for himself or the chess world. But it does not stand to lose optimisms!

- My thanks to you for the interesting interview. I think your opinion will be heard! I wish you sports and creative chess successes!

*In more detail you may read a book "Jesus Christ. A history of chess and life in the Universe"

На верхupdate 04-03-2004 

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