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Games Commentary

Pavel Eljanov: “Chess is a sport for gentlemen”
Friday, 28 May 2010
The Ukrainian grandmaster Pavel Eljanov sensationally won the Astrakhan stage of the FIDE Grand Prix. Eljanov, despite being 9th in the current FIDE rating list, has never won any tournaments of this level. The winner happily shared his impressions about the event after the final game.
280510_eljanov.jpg– My motivation at this Grand Prix stage was very strong, – started Pavel. – I wanted to show my best and prove to everyone including myself that I can beat the best. I didn’t have to contend for the candidates matches, therefore I was relaxed, played creatively, and won many games, while other participants played cautiously and made many draws.
– Are you happy now?

– I was a happy man before the tournament, and I am certainly happy now!
– When you started to feel that you play at the same level as other elite players?
– Only after this tournament I can safely say that I am one of the best players in the world. Before that I never had any serious tournament achievements, and ratings are very relative: today I am in the top 10, and tomorrow I can be far, far away. However, I try to develop my skill gradually, constantly analyze my game and look for improvements. In Astrakhan I just tried to do everything that depends on me.
– Did your opponents in this tournament underestimate you?

– No. After all, I was the second seed here according to the rating. And we live in a quite closed world, and know each other well.
– Did you feel two weeks ago that you can achieve something special?
– No, not really. Generally I do not rely on feelings and try to control my emotions. Sometimes it doesn’t work, though.
– Is there a link between one’s psychological state and his quality of play?
– Of course! Everything you do at the board directly depends on your psychological state. If you are in a bad mood before the game, everything can go wrong. Sometimes you have a bad day and simply cannot concentrate properly. Fortunately, I had almost no such days in Astrakhan.
280510_eljanov-big.jpg– You were also quite lucky...
– One can’t win such tournaments without some luck. I was very lucky against Wang Yue, for example. But generally there isn’t much luck involved in chess. In my opinion, players’ skill determines the outcome for like 99%.
– Marcel Duchamps determines chess as “bloody sport”. Do you agree with him?
– It is certainly true for some players, but I don’t like it. Most chess players I know are nice people. I think the competitiveness must be limited to a certain extent. You should not knock people out and crush them. I would even say that chess is a sport for gentlemen.
– Sport, not art?
– My chess is a sport – tournament preparation, analyzing my game, competing at the board, etc. However, chess composition is an art, like music. Chess has many facets.
– What do you like to do aside from chess?
– Swimming, working out, playing football. I also have a Labrador dog, she is 4 years old. Alas, I don’t have enough time to train her. I only trained her for a couple of month, but I wish I could give her more.
– What can you wish those kids who are choosing their sports?
– If somebody develops sincere interest to a certain sport and is ready to sacrifice something for it, let him or her do it. Chess, football, or tennis – it doesn’t matter. For those who want to study chess, I wish to enjoy the games of famous players as well as their own games.
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