Yan Nepomnyaschy: "Maybe I Will Buy a Telescope"

Время публикации: 12.04.2015 13:19 | Последнее обновление: 13.04.2015 17:18
Evgeny Surov spoke to Aeroflot Open winner, Yan Nepomnyaschy, about various chess matters, including the world championship, Fischerrandomchess, openings and... telescopes. We present Part One.
SUROV: Good evening. I can hear at once that you have a bad throat?
NEPOMNYASCHY: Yes, I think I have a bit of a cold.
SUROV: The Moscow climate making itself felt? 
SUROV: I will say at once to listeners that questions can be posted on our site or sent via Twitter or VKontakte. But I will start with a question from Alexei Nikolov: How do you explain winning the Aeroflot, after rather a difficult time at the European Championship? There is a big difference between first place and 27th. 
NEPOMNYASCHY: I think the reason is probably that I played well at the Aeroflot. I am not looking for the reason. But at the end of the European, I could have played better if I had had more strength left. I would have had good chances at least to finish in the top three. 
SUROV: What happened?
NEPOMNYASCHY: I scored half out of the last three. That ruined everything! I started playing badly, my head stopped working and my mood changed. Of course, this was quite unpleasant, because one can't achieve anything with such a finish. But I tried to draw conclusions about what went wrong and somewhat changed my approach at the Aeroflot. 
SUROV: Did you try to keep a clear head?
NEPOMNYASCHY: Yes. My whole preparation centred on keeping my head working and not letting anything interfere with this. 
SUROV: Does 27th place get you in the World Cup? 
NEPOMNYASCHY: I think it will, because some of those above me have already qualified or will get in on rating, such as Navara and Elyanov. I think even 28th and 29th will get through to the World Cup. And I should get in on rating anyway, at least as 3rd of 4th reserve. 
SUROV: And winning the Aeroflot gets you into the A group at Dortmund. Which is your priority?
NEPOMNYASCHY: In the European Championship, I would rather have played for 1st place, played as well as possible. The Aeroflot was also like this, but there only first place mattered. And there was nothing to stop me, except my own play. If you play well, then anything is possible…
SUROV: Is it harder to fight yourself?
NEPOMNYASCHY: One could say so. If everything goes well, you can count on a high place in any tournament. 
SUROV: Igor Ashfranyanov asks: What will you spend your Aeroflot prize money on? 
NEPOMNYASCHY: First I need to get it, then worry what to spend it on. But I will think of something.
SUROV: Maybe a present for someone?
NEPOMNYASCHY: I was thinking during the event: maybe buy myself a telescope. I don't know why, but I'd like one. 
SUROV: A telescope?!
NEPOMNYASCHY: Why not? It is a toy which has some sense.
SUROV: In Moscow, one can rarely see the stars.
NEPOMNYASHY: Yes, that is very sad.
SUROV: Maybe you could move somewhere else? Have you considered changing your residence? Not just for the sake of the telescope.
NEPOMNYASCHY: I am not very attached to where I live. I am used to Moscow, but in principle, anywhere with a decent transport system, not too far from the airport, would suit me. So this would not be a problem. It would not require much planning or work, my hands are free. Anywhere suits me at the moment. 
SUROV: Ivan Seniukov writes: "In my young years, I regularly played with your father. And your grandfather used to take him. How is your grandfather these days?".
NEPOMNYASCHY: Probably Ivan from Bryansk? If so, he is slightly mixed up, probably he played with my uncle. He was a good player, a master. He is aging gradually. Thanks for asking!
SUROV: I put this question early on, because I want to ask about your family generally. So we can learn more about you.
NEPOMNYASCHY: OK. I am from a family of teachers, my grandparents both worked as teachers all their lives. My mother is also a maths teacher and my uncle of Russian language and literature. My father is from a different background, engineering. I don't know what else to say. 
SUROV: How come a chessplayer appeared from such a family?
NEPOMNYASHY: I don't think this is especially strange or unexpected. Chess was a popular game, especially in Soviet times. In my family, all the men played chess, at least as a relaxation. And my grandfather played at first category strength in his youth, whilst my uncle was a candidate master. So I had some teachers. 
SUROV: Regarding the Russian team. Konstantin asked on Vkontakte: "What do you think of the selection process? Do you think it is time to turn to some newer players?" 
NEPOMNYASCHY: It seems simple to me. There are about 8-10 players over 2800, who are permanently in contention, but since there are only 5 players, it becomes something like a children's party game, musical chairs. I think the team is picked in the same way as everywhere, on the basis of results and ratings. These are objective factors, but it is impossible to come up with an ideal system. The big factor is that those who are selected play well and prepare properly. 
SUROV: Another question: How do you react to the fanatics who support you? Did this help in the Aeroflot? 
NEPOMNYASCHY: I am aware that I have some supporters, of course. But fanatics…Not sure that is the right word. But a great thank you to all who support me! I am very grateful. 
SUROV: Did you feel anyone's support in particular during the tournament?
NEPOMNYASCHY: Not really, but it is always nice to feel the backing of people. 
SUROV: Many have asked the same question: how many hours a day do you spend on chess? 
NEPOMNYASCHY: I don't like keeping count, so that is hard to answer.  The truth is I study relatively little, but try to do it constantly. Previously, I had periods when I did not touch chess for days on end. Now I try to do a little every day.
SUROV: Another question from Twitter: You are rated 33rd at classical, 7th in rapid and 9th at blitz. Are you an impatient person? 
NEPOMNYASHY: I am strong at blitz right now, and think I have improved. But no, I am quite patient. It is just that in the classical events I play in, you have to play well all the time to improve your rating. Setbacks are felt harder and are more difficult to recover from.
SUROV: And in rapid and blitz?
NEPOMNYASCHY: It is much easier. For example, I gained 100 points in a blitz event in Dubai, and then lost 100 back in the Tal Memorial in Sochi. Now I have just gained 50 more somewhere. And even without considering ratings, it is rather easier to play rapid and blitz. Certain purely chess qualities matter more than in classical. Classical is harder and more multi-faceted. 
SUROV: Do you think the future of chess lies in rapid? 
NEPOMNYASCHY: It is hard to say. This came up at the Aeroflot, which is one of the few big events to retain the 7-hour time control. 
SUROV: Does this suit you or not? 
NEPOMNYASHY: Well, the result does not give me anything to complain about. But in Bergamo recently, I played with the old time control of 40 in two and a half hours, with no increment. This felt pretty strange and I did not really adapt to it. This was not the only reason I did badly, but it was definitely a factor. 
SUROV: A question from Vitaly Skorotenko: What do you think of Fischerrandom chess? And if classical chess were Fischerrandom, how would the top 10 change and would Carlsen be champion?  
NEPOMNYASCHY: I don't think the top 10 would change much. Because no matter how well you prepare the openings, games are not usually decided in the first 10-20 moves. I daresay more games would be decisive, because there would be no Berlin Wall endgame, QGD or Grunfeld, which are so solid nowadays. … Playing on your own from the start would favour certain players, especially Magnus, it seems to me. Caruana, on the other hand, very much bases his game around the opening, although this still does not mean that he would much weaker if he always reached unknown positions. That would be a quite unjustified conclusion. 
SUROV: You mention the plusses with Fischerrandom, and I have not heard of any minuses. So is it better than standard chess? 
NEPOMNYASCHY: I don't think so. The fact that the starting position is symmetrical is a good thing, not just in terms of white and black facing each other, but the pieces within each side's camp. I think this is both pretty and makes sense.
Fischerrandom is a somewhat different game, albeit with the same basic rules. There are problems with this chess, especially Chess960 form. But if you eliminate the positions which are too favourable for White, and get to 10-20 really interesting positions, then that could be good. 
SUROV: And how many years to you think Carlsen will remain champion? 
NEPOMNYASCHY: A very difficult question, because I don't see a big difference in strength between Carlsen and those close to him in rating. Much depends on who wins the Candidates. Frankly, I did not expect Anand to put up a really serious fight, although in fact he did. But if we get a challenger who is young, energetic and has a good personal score against Magnus, such as Caruana or Giri (Nakamura less so, because of his terrible personal score against Carlsen)…Or maybe someone else, like Aronian or Grischuk. I am far from sure what would happen…There is just not the gap that existed between, say, Kasparov and his rivals. 
SUROV: Are there any main openings you believe are not sound? 
NEPOMNYASCHY: It's hard to say. But for example, I don't think the Chigorin Defence is quite correct. White has simple play to get a nice plus. The Budapest Gambit is similar. But in the vast majority of openings, especially with the computer's help in preparation, we have found quite clear and strong lines for White, but at the same time, the enormous defensive resources mean that even quite bad positions can often be held. Apart from really ridiculous openings, there are not many where Black is losing at once. You can play e4-b6 or а6-b5 and not be losing immediately – Black gets a passive position, with less space, obviously worse, but that does not mean he is lost. There is a difference that one needs to understand between bad positions and lost ones.
SUROV: Do you have any "difficult" opponents? 
NEPOMNYASCHY: Not at all. There are a few against whom I have an inferior score in classical, such as Vachier-Lagrave. 
SUROV: But it seems to me that you are "difficult" for many players.  
NEPOMNYASCHY: Well, That's good if so, although "many" may be an exaggeration. 
[To be continued]


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