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Monika Socko and Hou Yifan visited the press-center and answered the questions about their match.

– Monika, tell us please about the course of the games you won today.

– I am very happy to defeat the World Champion, but I didn’t think about such possibility during the first game. My position was slightly worse, and after I played 28…d5, we reached the ending with bishop versus knight. Here I recalled the game Vallejo-Carlsen, they had a somewhat similar structure: Black sacrificed the bishop on f3, and the h-pawn advanced. I employed this plan and won. In the second game I played for a draw. After the game I was told that I could won quicker by 30.Nxe6 and then 31.Qe5+. I actually felt the win is near after playing 29.Nf4, perhaps I should have taken more time at that point, as I had five minutes left. I missed this line, the struggle continued, but I still managed to win it.

– Hou, the beginning of the match was very promising for you – you won the first game with Black pieces. What went wrong after that?

– Maybe my cold is the reason. I started to blunder in the second classical game. This climate does not suit me very well, and it probably affected the outcome.

– In the second classical game you were content with a draw, but you still wanted to play for a win. Could this uncertainty affect your performance? 

– I played as usual, but it just didn’t work out. Sometimes it happens when you are not feeling well.

– Monika, you were in a similar situation during the tie-break. Your pawn sacrifice 20.d6 – did you play for a win or for a draw?

– First of all I wanted to play a good and interesting game. After my opponent played 20…Nxd6, I realized that she has a dangerous plan – g5, f5, Kh8 and g4. I didn’t want to allow any counterplay, and I needed the initiative in this game, so I tried to seize the d5-square.

– Hou, you play the main Sicilian so well, and your theoretical knowledge is excellent. Why did you chose to play sidelines in this match?

– I cannot really answer this question, I have no idea myself. Sometimes I go for sidelines, but there is nothing wrong with them, they also lead to playable positions. I lost because I blundered a lot.

– Monika, Russian is a very difficult language, how did you learn to speak it so well?

– At the chess tournaments, of course! I have many friends here, including Anna Zatonskih. I am rooting for her so much right now! (Anna Zatonskih also played a tie-break, but lost to Ju Wenjun and was eliminated from the championship – editor’s note.)

– As far as we know, everyone in your family plays chess. Could you tell a little about it? 

– My husband Bartosz is also a chess player, he is one of the best grandmasters in Poland. We have three children, and they all play chess. Our elder daughter is 12 now, she tied for 10-13th places in the national championship. My father also plays chess, and he was my first chess teacher.

– Hou, you don’t seem to be fascinated about the local climate. At the opening ceremony Kirsan Ilyumzhinov said that Khanty-Mansiysk is a chess capital, and will host many major tournaments, including women’s championships. Will you come here again?

– Frankly speaking, I got used to playing in better climatic conditions. Unfortunately I feel uncomfortable when it’s freezing, plus I have a cold, which influences my play. However, I think I would feel better here in a different season.

– How often emotions overtake logic in women’s chess?

Hou Yifan: Women are indeed more emotional, and sometimes we prefer emotions to logic when making decisions.

Monika: I agree with Hou Yifan, but it really depends on a tournament. In this championship I managed to defeat Almira Skripchenko, and after that match didn’t feel any tension. Today I didn’t have better positions, but I had a psychological advantage. One has to be prepared to cope with emotions.

Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
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