Many thanks JoeBlack (Evgeny Atarov, http://www.joeblack.h1.ru/)
for his kind permission to publish the interview with Alexander Motyliov.
Chess has been always beautiful to me!
Probably Motyliov is the most unexpected Russia Champion for the last years.
Even more unexpected than Volkov was last year:
Sergei, when he sat in the prize car, had won already many
tournament victories, so he only verified his class by winning
the Russia Championship 2000. Now Alexander had simply no
outstanding achievements, or almost so. He showed decent results
several times in large opens and performed well at the Russia
Junior Championships several times (but he did not win
Two rounds before the finish of the championship he was
not regarded by anyone as the champion to be. Then, after he
defeated Malakhov in round eight, the guess appeared, what if he
wins, although Lastin and Kharlov still were considered more
probable candidates to win the champions crown. So it was
only when two central games of the final round were over that
Motyliov got the right to wave his hands happily, crying, I
did it, I am the Champion!
But he refrained. He went to the analysing board and spent
an hour and a half there moving pieces. From time to time his
face lit up with a happy smile
This expression of tired
satisfaction had kept long on the Champions face then, all
the time when he was accepting multiple congratulations, and when
the gold medal was glowing on his breast, and when he was
granting this interview at half to three in the night.
To be honest, I am glad for Alexander, even though during
the tournament I was rooting for another Alexander, Lastin. To
win the Russia Championship at 21 is something! In fact, for him
this victory is only a good basis for forthcoming, still more
important achievements, but also it is a reward for the great
work he did for the last years
Did you feel anything special when
you came to Elista, or was it an ordinary qualification
tournament for the Europe Championship for you?
I felt nothing special. There were many players
who came right after the Dubai Open, and my task was simply to
qualify for the Europe Championship. Of course I hoped to perform
well, but this well implied third place at best. I
never thought of winning the Championship
Was this because of your age and lack of experience?
Rather, I am simply not used to winning
tournaments. Such a strong Russia Championship, all the more! I
am glad I did it now, but I cant speak about the future. I
cant even realise this at the moment
In Dubai I
shared 1-8 places as well, so it was particularly unusual for me
to finish first again, I had never played well two times in a
If the tournament started anew
now, would you have expected yourself to win?
No, of course I wouldnt! It is a pure lottery.
Have you already accustomed
yourself to the Champions title? It did not take long from
Volkov last year
Its hard to tell. When I thought about this
for the very first time, it seemed to me Id jump high as
soon as the game was over, yet nothing of this sort happened.
Perhaps I have not yet realised this in full
I do understand well: Volkov was the Champion last year, I am
now, somebody else will come next year. I dont think I can
Do you consider yourself on the
same level with the players who were Russia Champions in previous
years? Svidler, Khalifman, Morozevich, Sakaev
I have not thought about this... The point is that there
are many young players now who have not entered the elite yet,
but I think soon we shall speak about Lastin or Najer as
respectfully as we speak about Svidler or Morozevich now! Take
Morozevich: when he won the Russia Championship three years ago
he was not the same as now. Well, he had an ELO of about 2600, he
had won several tournaments, but this was all. So everything
changes, and perhaps someone will be pleased to be listed on a
par with me in several years.
When did you feel that you were in
good form at this tournament, that everything went all right?
However strange this may seem, I cant tell I was
performing especially well in Elista, at least I did not feel so.
It was as usually. But this is my happy year: I played decently
in several tournaments in Spain, then in Dubai
I only began
to think about this after I defeated Malakhov with Black in round
eight. Before this I played as usually, without great plans,
without any thoughts about the final success.
But how about your brilliant
victory over one of the ELO favourites of the tournament, Shipov?
I hold Shipov in high respect both as a grandmaster and a
chess player. Although he was obviously out of form at this
tournament, my victory over him was very inspiring for me, it was
a different level of chess! His class is really very close to the
What was your purpose in the last
game with Kharlov: did you want to hold on simply or maybe you
were ready for a tough struggle to vindicate your right to be the
Of course there was a temptation to make
a draw and avoid excessive emotions, yet, on the other hand, I
wanted to vindicate something too... Indeed, it depended mainly
on the game Najer - Lastin. That is, I was ready for a draw from
the very beginning since it meant great winning chances to me,
if Lastin had won, then Id have made every effort
to win as well!
So if he had won and you
hadnt, then you would have been very upset because of this
missed chance, wouldnt you?
Of course, I would. My chances were so high, and I
did not want to miss this opportunity! Now I can say I am content
that Ive played a tough and sharp game with Kharlov. It
would be quite unpleasant to finish with a dull draw
Are you satisfied with the quality
of your play at the Championship?
There were only two games I did not play really,
with Lastin and with Chernyshov. All the rest were in struggle
from first till last move. Generally, I am satisfied with my
Try to estimate yourself from the
chess point of view: how far have you advanced for the last
years? I remember the time when a score a little higher than 50%
in Swiss Opens of the Russia Cup was considered a real
achievement for you...
Yes, at the Russia Championship 1998 in St.Petersburg I
was 57th out of 61 players with 3 points out of nine.
But for the last years my results have grown considerably, quite
unexpectedly even for myself
Perhaps I gained confidence at
last! I can't point out at what moment it happened, but for the
last years the number of incontestable authorities with whom I'd
agree to draw in any situation decreased to nought for me
pose now a concrete task to myself and try to fulfil it, not
fearing anybody, ready to fight.
Do these changes have
psychological or purely chess grounds?
I worked on my opening repertoire to extend it and escape
narrowness. I used to play the Queen's Indian and the Dragon for
Now I simply can't imagine how one can play such
openings. I devoted much time to this work lately.
As for the psychological aspect
I happened to play with Adams. It was so unusual to oppose to a
player with ELO over 2755, I hesitated very long what opening to
choose. As the result, I refused to play 'my' variation because
of a game Kasparov - Adams in which he gained a good
Being nervous, I forgot the order of moves, got a
worse position with White and lost without fight - then I
realised how important psychology is in chess! You must be
confident of yourself, of the stuff you play, of your ability to
do your best, regardless your opponent's person.
Then I'll ask you about your own
confidence concerning the decisions you take over the board.
It's hard to tell what is going on during the
game. But after the game is over I try to be as impartial as
possible. I don't keep to the rule that if I played something
once, I have to play it forever
I am very glad when I feel
was following the rules of the chess harmony in some game, and a
series of moves brought to the consistent result. It's a great
pleasure to do this
However it happens not often,
Can you state your chess creed?
What is your purpose when you sit over the board?
Well, chess became my profession, so this should be the
starting point here. I've mentioned already that to play a
strategically consistent game is a great pleasure for me. It's
the same, whether it was full of tactics or subordinate to a
single strategic plan. Consistency is my aim at present
However struggle is very important for me as well, the strain of
fight, even when it is not faultless. It's hard to separate one
thing from the other, the same as regarding art and sport in
I wonder which of these
constituents is closer to you?
I believe I am closer to sport. At last, points do
when analysing my games, I am very glad to see
Approximately a year ago I had an
interesting discussion with Valery Popov. He explained the
drawing result in your blitz match with him by the fact that you
both are Spieler's, that is ready to play practically any
It's very interesting to hear Valery's opinion. Yes, we
played a match with 3 min control, but I somehow did not think
about our play in this aspect. Generally, blitz is mainly fun for
me. I can't play seriously outside of a tournament...
As for the opinion that I could 'play any position'
know. For example, I don't like playing positions which I
consider equal or slightly worse - playing for a victory, I mean.
It's quite unnatural to me, I have to force myself
it was the same, but now it's hard for me, so I offer draws
frequently in such positions. To me, when the position is equal,
a draw is the consistent result, so I don't worry about this.
In your present condition, do you
enjoy playing chess, or is it your work first of all?
It's hard to tell what I feel over the board. I don't know
if this could be called entertainment, I try to create something
over the board
It's closer to work or contest, what I feel.
Later, when analysing the result of my work, I may feel pleased,
but during the game it's hard to enjoy a move
What means the mood for you? Can
it influence your play?
As a rule, I try to distract from the state in which I
came to the game. The only problem is that it's hard for me to
play with all my strength against a friend of mine. So far it is
my hardest problem...
Do you manage to override
Fortunately, I happen to play against friends not often,
especially in crucial rounds. This time I avoided this problem
Let's talk about your friends
then. There are plenty of strong players now in Ekaterinburg, yet
I can't remember to have heard anything about your friendship
with any of them. Why so?
Yes, I don't comply with the fellows
there very well. It's hard to tell why it happened so
example, I stand on good terms with Vokarev, Ovechkin, Maxim
Sorokin, but they don't play in such tournaments. I don't know
why, we are simply different people, have different interests.
Somehow neither Shariyazdanov, nor Rashkovsky have became friends
Do you regret that your city
fellows did not support you in Elista and were not eager to
congratulate you on your victory?
No, I don't regret this, as well as I
don't feel my circle of acquaintance to be deficient. It is quite
large, by the way
I come to Moscow regularly. I don't have
many close friends, but who does? Besides, I have a lot of
Is friendship important for you in
the analytical work?
Lately I haven't worked with anybody. I've had
problems with this kind of collaboration always
So you are a player on yourown
Practically, I am. I have a trainer, of course,
Terentiev, but he hasn't taught me much lately. After a certain
moment, perhaps after I've left the school behind, it's hard for
him to give me something. Then, I spent once a week at a session
of the Dvoretsky school. I believe it was very helpful for my
Sometimes I meet Vokarev, but it happens quite
irregularly now. The reason is simple, I come home, to
Ekaterinburg, too seldom now.
So you really don't have any
contacts with other players, do you?
Oh, I've recalled! Not long ago I worked
a little with Rogozenko from Moldavia. And I feel it was helpful!
It looks as if you don't seek any
contacts yourself. Do you prefer working on your own?
I don't seek them, but I don't avoid them as well. If
there were more possibilities
I believe it is very good for
any player! A different line, a different look at the position.
Are you capable of working hard?
A very complex question. I do know how lazy I am!
Do you have any periods of
maniacal chess work when you start and can't stop for a week?
Sometimes I do have such times. But I am unable to
set a concrete task for myself: to do that much on that day. I
can loll about doing nothing or work for a week without
So I can't tell how much capable of working I am -
more or less so.
Do you feel sometimes you have not
done everything you could have done in a game?
But seldom. As I've told already, I am in process
of a serious reformation of my opening repertoire, so I work
mainly on openings. Of course, it's very important to know some
endgame positions, but for me studying endings is a sort of
You set it up, look at it, say, "Oh, it's
interesting!", and start analysing. With openings it's not
so easy, you have to know theory! First, it saves time, with the
new control it is very important how long it takes to make first
15-20 moves. Then, it helps you to get a fitting position. This
work is very important and takes many efforts, but I've got used
to it already! Of course, it's quite unpleasant to find out
during a game that you have been mistaken and have estimated a
position incorrectly. Then you have to work more on this
Do you regret that you did not
attend elite chess schools like Botvinnik&Kasparov or
Dvoretsky&Yussupov schools because you were too young when
the USSR collapsed and which they ceased working?
I don't regret anything. I am content with my life.
Perhaps it could have been nice to come there at some moment,
it did not happen. So what's the use of thinking about
Who were your chess idols when you were a boy?
I played always in the attacking, combinative
style, and in all my openings I performed a fianchetto of the
King's Indian bishop in one way or another. Until a certain
moment I simply knew nothing about strategic elements in
Naturally, my idols were Tal, Shirov. Sometimes I
managed to perform some combinations and was very pleased with
them. But the day came when I realised I couldn't play this way
any more. After a junior tournament I somehow revised
fundamentally my understanding of chess, my approach to it. I
realised I did not know the most elementary lows of chess.
Was there any concrete reason for this?
Yes, my game with Malaniuk from the Russia Cup
1997. There was an ending with rooks and bishop vs. knight by
Vladimir. It was drawn with rooks, and lost after an exchange.
After the game Malaniuk asked me why I did not avoid the exchange
of the rooks. It was a revelation for me, to avoid the exchange.
I was sure that when my rook stood on an open file, and another
rook attacked it, I was simply unabel to retreat with it
What was the effect of this revelation?
First of all, I learned to get satisfaction not
from combinations only, but also from strategically consistent
play. Weak squares, bad pieces, etc. And this produced certain
You say you consider yourself a
professional chess player. Have you ever thought what your
ultimate dreams about your chess career are?
To be honest, I haven't yet set any high
achievements as an aim for myself, as well as I did not want to
finish, for example, third at the Russia Championship. If I am
content with my work after a tournament and can say to myself,
"I did my best or almost so", then it's OK. If not -
then this is my limit. So I must work as long as I can, I must
try to play better and better
So your own estimation is the
chief criterion for you, isn't it?
Of course it's important for me what other people think
about my play, but my own feeling is more important. Nobody else
can know how much I've given to it and how much more I can
When you play a game, do you play
it for yourself only or for those people who support you and root
for you as well?
When I come to a tournament, I see there are many people
to whom it's interesting, so I try to play better for them too. I
like people gather at my board, analyse my game
I don't see them when I play, my concentration is
In your home chess club in Ekaterinburg I saw a
stand with your photos and routes of your trips
Yes, it's so fine when there are people who are
not indifferent to you. You want to do your best for them!
When you were a beginner, did your
folks at home welcome this hobby or considered it something
temporary and insignificant?
My father is a strong amateur player, and my
grandfather plays chess as well
They tried to help me all
the time. At first I did not want to play chess!
Then, what did you want to do?
Like most boys, I liked active games, football,
for example. I was able to play football day and night. Until a
certain moment chess was something secondary for me, but then I
came to the local chess club Etude, there were excellent trainers
there who taught me to love chess
When did chess become the main
object of your thoughts?
At first I simply played, travelled to various
tournaments, it was interesting to see new places, to meet
people. It's hard to tell when I realised that chess would be my
profession. But for a series of good results, but for my own hope
for the future success
Could you have ceased playing?
Probably, I could. Although
no, I hardly would. Only
if I had played very badly, I'd have realised I should find some
other occupation. But my situation was absolutely different.
Can you compare your attitude
towards chess when you were a boy and now? Don't you feel you
love them less now?
I don't think so, chess has been always
beautiful to me! It is not victories that matter, although
winning is pleasant too, the harmony of chess is beautiful. Such
a diversity of positions
When looking on them, you can't
imagine they may get boring ever. This is a sign of happiness,
when you do what you like most of all!
The little - know episodes of Alexander Alekhine's creation by Victor Charushin
Playing chess for more mutual understanding in Europe. Press Release
Opening for White according to Kramnik" - II (English Opening)
Alexander Motyliov. "Chess has been always beautiful to me!"
Opening for Black according to Karpov.
Seagaard ChessReviews about "Mikhail Tal games 1949-1962".
Open letter of GM Valery Salov
Chess sites in Spanish
Valery Salov: Conversation with Alexander Khalifman
Valery Salov: Conversation with World Champion Xie Jun
Opening for White according to Kramnik
Gennady Nesis: The rich history of the ancient game
A. Khalifman. Opus 1, Opus 2
Puzzle (K. Mueller 2000, Original)
Bob Pawlak. CONFESSIONS OF A COMPUTER CHESS WIDOWER
Alexander Baburin: Launch of Two New Chess Web