Super GM 1-on-1: Motylev smokes EICC: “Mom wanted to name me Tigran”
By Elina Kazaryan and David Kerans

YEREVAN (VR)— In one of the most spectacular chess tournament victories in recent years, Russia’s Alexander Motylev steamrollered an enormous field of grandmasters to win the European Individual Chess Championship (EICC) with a run of 7 victories and only 4 draws. Motylev was the 33rd highest rated player in the EICC, contested in Yerevan from March 3-14, but the 34 year-old from Ekaterinburg in the Urals laid down a rating performance worthy of Magnus Carlsen at his best: 2872.

Motylev unexpectedly won the Russian Championship in 2001, and a very strong tournament in Poikovsky (Russia) in 2009, so he is certainly not unpedigreed. In recent years his training of other players has made more news than his own competitive results. But his definitive triumph in Yerevan puts his career in a new and very bright light.

Radio VR’s Elina Kazaryan found Motylev at the closing ceremonies in Yerevan, for a lengthy interview that went well beyond celebration of his tournament victory. Most exotic, perhaps, is Motylev’s revelation that his mother wanted to name him after world champion Tigran Petrosian, to whose memory this year’s EICC was dedicated.

Kazaryan: Alexander, I have to begin by congratulating you on winning the championship.

Motylev: Thank you.

Kazaryan: Looking back on it now that you have done it, did it come easily?

Motylev: No tournament victory comes easily, especially one of such a high level, with such a strong field. Honestly, if someone had told me before the tournament that this would happen, I would not have believed them. Even now I can’t entirely believe that this happened. I wasn’t even sure if I should make the trip to the European Championship. I’m focusing nowadays more on training, I’m the number two trainer for the Russian national team, plus I’m assisting Sergei Karjakin, who is playing in the Candidates Tournament now. So I was thinking I could skip this tournament. But some things came together, I made the trip, and I’m really happy I did. Even in my most daring dreams I didn’t envision this result. Now that I’ve won it I’m really happy, for my children first of all. Now when I come home my son won’t have to ask me “Dad, you’re not playing well nowadays, what is the matter?” This time I can share a European Championship with them.

Center of attention at the closing ceremonies Photo credit: Elina Kazaryan, VR

Kazaryan: Do your children like chess?

Motylev: My daughter is too young, she’s just two and half. My son is nine, and he plays some, but he likes to do lots of things. I wouldn’t want to push him into it. He should choose what he wants to do.

Kazaryan: What would you say helped you achieve this victory?

Motylev: I could think of quite a few things. A variety of friends have helped me, in all sorts of important ways. But, by the way, I think it is symbolic for me that this tournament was dedicated to the memory of world champion Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian, because I was born on his 50th birthday, and my mother even wanted to name me Tigran. {chuckles} Chess was popular back then. So it’s symbolic to a degree that I was able to win this one

Kazaryan: Which game in the tournament was the most memorable one for you?

Motylev: I played a lot of strong opponents here, so it’s hard for me to single one game as the critical one. Maybe I would choose my game against Pavel Eljanov. He was in with a real chance to win the tournament, and it was a very combative game.

It certainly was combative. Motylev threw a bomb with 12.e5!? (see diagram) Chess engines say Black can take the pawn, but Eljanov didn’t like the look of it, and declined with 12…Nd5.



Here, after Eljanov’s 18…exf5, Motylev throws a bigger bomb: 19.e6!? Chess engines don’t declare White winning, but putting up a perfect defense is extremely difficult.



And now, after Motylev’s 24.Qe2, White is set to crash into Black’s King. Eljanov didn’t last long.



Kazaryan: How do you cope with losses, which are inevitable, and manage to fight on thereafter in tournaments? I think a lot of younger players would be interested to hear your thoughts on that.

Motylev: All losses wound you. Whenever and wherever they come, they hurt. I made it through this tournament without a loss, so I don’t have any secrets to reveal in this case, I didn’t have a loss. But in general, well, I try to tell myself that losses are inevitable. You are going to win every game. At the same time, you mustn’t just ignore losses like they don’t matter. Losing is bad, for sure. But keep an even keel. It’s key to get a good sleep. The hardest thing to do after a loss, it seems to me, is to fall asleep.

Kazaryan: Do you have your own way of combating stress?

Motylev: Walking. I tried to walk more during this tournament. But I’m not sure I have any special methods to deal with stress, nothing novel. I can’t think of anything. But I didn’t have any huge stress here. I didn’t lose any game. But every game adds something. Before today’s final round the outcome of the tournament was almost decided. I had 8-1/2 points out of 10, it was already a super result, but I hadn’t clinched the title. If I had lost the last game, and lost first place, well {pause} If someone had offered me second place before the tournament had started I would have taken it without hesitation, naturally. But once I’d already made it to first place all by myself before the last round, it would have been a huge disappointment not to take it, of course.

Kazaryan: In an interview in 2005 you told journalist Mikhail Savinov that the continuous losses of nervous energy in competitive chess could not be beneficial to a person. I’d like to ask how you feel about those thoughts now, after nine years?

Motylev: That is interesting, really, because, to be honest, I had forgotten I said that. On the one hand, I stand by what I said, to be sure. But on the other hand, as years have gone by, I’m calmer about chess. Chess does not dominate my whole life. It plays a big role, but it is far from being my whole life. So I am calmer about it. And maybe now it distresses me less. I see it as my favorite thing to do, I try very hard, it’s something I try to do well. But if it doesn’t work out just right, well, what can I do? I get less distressed, I’m less nervous about it.

Kazaryan: Following on then from what you are saying, could it be that your triumph here in Yerevan would prompt you to leave the world of chess? Have you felt on occasion that it is time for you to develop yourself along other lines, and maybe build a different profession?

Motylev: Well, if chess were not my favorite thing to do, then perhaps so. Sometimes I do think about doing something else professionally. But since I like it {pauses}. I have interests that neighbor tournament chess. I train others, which is interesting for me. And I enjoy photography, primarily photography of chess players. I like that. So I have some hobbies. But chess is my favorite preoccupation, so I don’t see a reason to walk away from it. I will play some more. The victory here will put more wind in my sails actually. Sometimes I have thought about dropping it, not as in right away, but thinking that I might not keep on too much longer. Now, though, I am looking forward to playing.

Kazaryan: What plans do you have now?

Motylev: Now I’ll return to Moscow and work as a second for Sergei Karjakin, who is playing in the Candidates Tournament in Khanty-Mansiisk. So I won’t have a true vacation, unfortunately, I’ll be helping him. Apart from that, some big tournaments are on the schedule, as always, like the Russian Team Championship, and in Baku, Azerbaidjan, I’ll play in a tournament dedicated to the memory of Vugar Gashimov, a chess player who passed away recently. Then there is a strong tournament in Poikovsky. All the tournaments are strong, I’ll want to prepare seriously for them, if I have time. For this championship in Europe I did good preparatory work together with Sergei Karjakin. I hope it helped him too. If so, we can do some more.

Kazaryan: Let me congratulate you again on this victory, and wish you success in the tournaments coming up.

Motylev: Thank you very much.


Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
Tags: , , ,