Interview with the European Chess Champion Evgeny Tomashevsky

by WGM Natalia Pogonina

The commentator WGM Natalia Pogonina interviewed the 2009 European Chess Champion Evgeny Tomashevsky in Saratov in the beginning of the month. GM Tomashevsky was happy to share the effects of becoming European Champion, commented on Karjakin’s change of citizenship, about the role of Russia and women in chess,and the coming match Anand – Topalov.

GM Tomashevsky also shared his favorite game and commented it for the readers.

What attracts you in chess? What place does it occupy in your life?

Chess is a very substantial part of my life. Of course, I have never been close to the iconic grandmaster-chess addict from novels, who lives in the 64-squares world. I try not to confine myself to the game only, but it’s hard for me to imagine myself without chess. It’s a hobby, a job, a favorite occupation… Chess is attractive in many ways. Game element, excitement of struggles, passion, art, beautiful interaction of pieces; also a chance to travel, meet a lot of interesting people; finally, to prove your worth, earn respect, fame, money – that is, naturally, also very important.

Since what age do you consider yourself a chess professional?

It’s hard to say. I have always been suspecting that chess in my life is “serious and for a long time”. But even a few months ago I couldn’t yet call myself a real chess professional since I have been studying in the Saratov Sociology-Economics University. Now that I have graduated and applied for a PhD, I will have a less tight schedule, which will allow me to concentrate on chess more than before.

Did anything change after you became European Champion? More attention from the media, advertisement contracts, new sponsors?

Initially, after my success at Individual European Chess Championship there was a lot of hype, especially in Saratov. Then, as expected, the storm in a teacup started to calm down, leaving just a tiny leftover – occasional calls from the media and 1-2 additional tournament invitations. Probably, the title will serve me good sometime, but its main value is in the sports and moral aspects, not image.

It’s well-known that it’s extremely hard to become a member of the Russian chess team. You, the European Chess Champion, aren’t invited. Does this competition serve as a motivator, or only makes you nervous? How do you evaluate your chances of playing for Russia in the nearest time?

Certainly doesn’t make me nervous, since it’s important not to forget that the European Chess Championship, no matter how good it is, is only a large open, the rating favorite of which is below 6-7 Russian grandmasters. To become a member of the Russian team, I will have to significantly improve my play, and regularly demonstrate excellent results. The backbone of our team consists of more experienced and stronger players than me. But I have a dream (and aim!) to play for Russia at the top events, while I will leave the opportunity to estimate my chances to others.

What do you think about Karjakin’s change of chess federation and citizenship? Your attitude towards player transfers in general?

I won’t be original here: it’s totally up to the person (and the accepting side) who is making the decision, be it Sergey Karjakin or someone else. And his right is not diminished even if we take into account that he’s a new competitor for membership in the Russian chess team, younger, stronger and even more experienced than me. It’s just the way life is – everyone is searching for better conditions. I don’t know all the details and reasons that motivated Sergey to take such a step, so my commentary will be rather banal.

Here is the full interview.

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