Dmitry Jakovenko: "I Want To Win the Olympiad With the Russian Team"

Время публикации: 02.04.2012 14:15 | Последнее обновление: 02.04.2012 16:58

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E.KLIMETS: Hello, this is Chess-News and we have here Dmitry Jakovenko - the European Chamipon. Describe your emotions at this moment, straight after the prize-giving.

D.JAKOVENKO: I don't really have special emotions any more. I had them when I won the last game because I knew that the win would give me the title.

E.KLIMETS: How did you manage to figure out that the win would give you the title?

D.JAKOVENKO: Performance ratings were known before the last round. I knew that I would get the first place if I won and probably second or third if I drew.

E.KLIMETS: So you knew what you were fighting for from the beginning... This is your first major achievement in individual competitions and it took you a while to get there. What do you feel once you've achieved your aim? Is it happiness or thoughts of "what's next"?

D.JAKOVENKO: I don't question myself "what's next". I want to win the Olympiad with the Russian team. At the moment I assess all of my tournaments from the perspective of whether I'll get in the team or not.

E.KLIMETS: Don't you think that your place in the team is no longer under question?

D.JAKOVENKO: I will play in two more tournaments before the Olympiad as a minimum, so anything can happen.

E.KLIMETS: I was very nicely surprised by your biography when I was preparing for this interview as you seem to be very versatile. You always say in your interviews that you like exact sciences - physics and mathematics. We are colleagues to some extent because I'm a mathematician too. I wanted to ask you, what exactly do you like about this subject? Which areas of mathematics did you like the most during your time at the university?

D.JAKOVENKO: I remember I really liked mathematical analysis in the first years at the university. I liked the beauty of theoretics. It's probably hard to understand for anyone who hasn't done it. For example, it's very beautiful how the theory of infinite amount of real numbers is derived from several simple axioms. I always liked to solve maths problems. I always got a lot of satisfaction from finding a solution after immersing myself into some maths problem. And I understand some areas of mathematics better than others. To be honest, modern maths is probably too complicated for me. I'm not even close to understanding what modern scientists are working on. However, the maths that I had in the early years at the university was very enjoyable.

E.KLIMETS: You said that you like solving problems. I guess they are logical problems?

D.JAKOVENKO: They are mainly proofs. It's not about solving an equation and finding an answer, but more to do with confirming some statement.

E.KLIMETS: Can you remember something simple for our readers to think about? We won't tell them the answer straight away.

D.JAKOVENKO: I remember some classical problems about weighing coins. Here is one quite difficult but interesting. There are 30 coins and a set of balance scales. It’s known that one of the coins has a different weight from all the other coins, but it’s not known whether it’s lighter or heavier. You have to find this coin within three tries of using the scales. It’s not trivial at all.

E.KLIMETS: I agree. Let’s give the readers a chance to think about this. You’ve won maths Olympiads in the past as well as chess tournaments, but what is harder?

D.JAKOVENKO: I don’t think there is a big connection there. A lot of chess players don’t understand maths. It all depends on preferences. Chess has many sides to it. It has a logical basis as well as mating attacks. The latter, in my view, give chess irrationality that makes chess closer to art. This is different from draughts, for example, which has no such thing as a checkmate. Some chess players are more interested in humanities and don’t like maths and physics that much, while others like me approach chess as a logical game.

E.KLIMETS: So do you keep the logical approach at the forefront while crazy attacks have less prominence?

D.JAKOVENKO: There is a reason why I like to exchange queens.

E.KLIMETS: By the way, you showed some colourful play in this tournament. Is it somewhat unlike you?

D.JAKOVENKO: I don’t know, I haven’t thought about it. I just try to make best moves. I sacrificed a piece only against Mikhail Kobalia, but even that was a standard sacrifice in that variation. I didn’t invent it. So I didn’t do anything special.

E.KLIMETS: At what moment did you feel that you may win the tournament?

D.JAKOVENKO: To be honest, I didn’t think about the title before the tournament. I just wanted to get “+5” or “+6”. I was only on “+3” after the eighth round and had only three rounds left. Of course, at that moment it didn’t seem like I was in the race for the title. I was lucky that Artyom Timofeev blundered an exchange in approximately equal position. And then I was upfloated twice into the leading group which forced me to play for a win with white. It’s possible that if I played with black in the last round against someone on the same score then I wouldn’t have tried very hard and agreed to a draw.

E.KLIMETS: What do you think about Laurent Fressinet’s performance in this tournament? He was leading before the last round and became the silver medalist, which wasn’t particularly expected judging by his previous results.

D.JAKOVENKO: The problem is that the chances of anyone in particular winning this Swiss tournament were fairly low. That’s because the top 10-15 players are all playing at roughly the same level. A lot depends on the parings, players’ form and successful guessing of openings. Anyone can win at the end. Has the rating favourite won the European Championship before?

E.KLIMETS: It’s an interesting question, probably not.

D.JAKOVENKO: It hasn’t happened in recent years for sure. Maybe it happened a long time ago. To be honest, I hadn’t studied Laurent’s games previously. I looked at all of his games when I was preparing for our game. I didn’t specifically concentrate on how he played in this tournament. Just like me, he was lucky in the 9th round when Anton Korobov declined a repetition with black, overpressed and lost. If Laurent didn’t have that result he may not have been the leader. It’s like my luck against Artyom Timofeev.

E.KLIMETS: You can’t get in the prizes without that.

D.JAKOVENKO: Of course.

E.KLIMETS: What is it like for a player over 2700 to play in big Swisses like this? Are you scared that if you lose in the first round, then you’ll be playing against 2300 level players for the rest of the tournament? Or are you confident in your ability and just play?

D.JAKOVENKO: I lost unexpectedly in the first round last year and got “+5” at the end. I even gained some rating and didn’t fail the tournament.

E.KLIMETS: So are you not scared of Swiss tournaments?

D.JAKOVENKO: Usually, I play more successfully against slightly weaker players than against slightly stronger players. My best results are against weaker players. My performance is significantly higher against players below 2700 than against those who are above 2700.

E.KLIMETS: What is your attitude to chess? Is it work first of all or is it something for the soul that you do because you cannot live without it?

D.JAKOVENKO: I can certainly spend time not working on chess. My attitude to chess changed at different times. I really liked working on chess and playing during my childhood. I worked on chess with my friends during final years at the university, so I made a significant leap in my game. I liked working on chess then too. At some point I played a lot of chess, maybe more than a hundred games a year for about three years. I probably overdid it and ended up in something like a crisis. Now I play less. Overall, chess is a part of my life. I prepare, go to the game and play. I don’t think about the result, achievements and so on. My aim is to get to the board and do everything I can there. Whatever happens, happens.

E.KLIMETS: Do you like anything else apart from the beauty of exact sciences?

D.JAKOVENKO: I have very little knowledge of art. I really don't understand music, paintings and architecture. Art is not my cup of tea but I like literature. I probably just don’t understand art. If someone taught me about it since the childhood, then I might have understood it and liked it. But right now I don’t have the cultural background to understand it all. Modern art requires a lot of knowledge.

E.KLIMETS: What do you read when you have some free time? Is it fiction or popular science literature? Or maybe chess books?

D.JAKOVENKO: I like reading historical and modern literature. I’m less interested in the classical literature from 18th-19th century. I think it’s more logical to read about modern life.

E.KLIMETS: What do you prefer – books or films? Or music?

D.JAKOVENKO: It’s not music. I watch popular film releases, but I mainly watch them when they get on TV rather than in a cinema. I don’t download films from the internet. My wife and I lately started watching various television series in English.

E.KLIMETS: I’ve just remembered that I wanted to ask you something since the European Club Cup in Rogaska Slatina in the autumn. You had a very interesting game against Boris Gelfand who will soon be playing in the match. At some point you had two hours and twenty minutes on the clock. Boris said that he forgot what to play around the 30th move. How did you manage to outprepare the world crown’s challenger? How do you successfully guess the openings?

D.JAKOVENKO: It wasn’t the case of catching him out in that variation. He had to remember one more exact move and it would have been a draw. So, rather, I went for a drawing line. Maybe it’s not very flattering for me, I was just lucky. The only thing I’d like to say in my defence is that when I analysed that position for black, I found several false paths (I play that variation for black and analysed it before the well known games of Kramnik – Radjabov). There are variations that look like they lead to a draw but if you let a computer to think for a while… It’s impossible to rely on human assessment in that position but the computer calculates whose pawns promote first. A few times it looked like it’s a draw but when I started moving pieces I found that white wins at the end. So I thought that it’s theoretically possible for someone to have the same mistake in their analysis. Besides, I didn’t know if Boris analysed it a year or so ago when computers were a bit weaker and it was even more possible to make some mistake. On top of that, there were several promising continuations. It often happens that when someone is analysing they see several good continuations and choose one as the best. However, he can’t remember during the game which continuation he decided on as the best. He remembers that he analysed this and that but can’t remember which one is the best. That moment in the game can be important. I hoped for that since black’s moves were not forced in that position.

E.KLIMETS: So you gave him a chance to make a mistake.

D.JAKOVENKO: Especially since I was playing for the team, which requires safe play. I respect Boris very much and I wouldn’t necessarily have more chances to win if we were fighting it out from an equal position. Yes, to some extent I played that game without a risk of losing and had a small chance of winning. So that was acceptable.

E.KLIMETS: What do you like more – individual or team competitions? Or are they incomparable?

D.JAKOVENKO: This isn’t about what I like or don’t like. I think I suit team play better due to my playing style. I try to play safe so as to lose less. It often means fewer points in individual competitions as I don’t score lots of points but in team competitions it’s important not to lose.

E.KLIMETS: You mentioned your wife. There is a saying in chess that marriage causes a loss of 100 rating points. But it didn’t seem to affect you.

D.JAKOVENKO: Why not? My rating was 2760 and I was 5th on the rating list before I got married.

E.KLIMETS: I see. This just proves the point again.

D.JAKOVENKO: I got married a month after that. But I don’t think there is a major connection. There were several reasons which I’m not going to talk about. One of the main reasons was that my rating at the time didn’t reflect my real strength. I was very lucky in several tournaments in the row. I saved many bad positions and won many slightly better ones. It was obvious that it wouldn’t continue forever.

E.KLIMETS: So your rating had to adjust to reality.

D.JAKOVENKO: I either had to play better to justify my rating or lose it, which is what happened unfortunately.

E.KLIMETS: What does your wife do if it’s not a secret?

D.JAKOVENKO: She studied foreign languages and she taught English to children.

E.KLIMETS: So, of course, she supports you.


E.KLIMETS: Thank you. We had the European Champion - Dmitry Jakovenko. Many congratulations from all the readers and we await more of your successes.

D.JAKOVENKO: Thank you.


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