Special Interview

Only several weeks ago hardly anybody could imagine that a small town in the North of Sverdlovsk region will attract attention of millions of people from all over the world and that annually for several days Krasnoturinsk will be the centre of world women chess. However the time showed that actually it is true. On the 26th of July the sixth international women chess supertournament “North Urals Cup” is beginning. On the eve of this event we talk to one of the organizers of this chess festival in the North Ural Vice-President of FIDE and Honorary President of the Russian Chess Federation Andrey Selivanov.

Will the “North Urals Cup 2008” be different from tournaments of previous years?

From year to year the level of the tournament is higher and higher. This year eight participants from eight countries take part in it. They are: the participant with the highest rating and the winner of “North Urals Cup – 2005” Humpy Koneru (India), world champion 2004 Antoaneta Stefanova (Bulgaria), Europe champion 2003 Pia Cramling (Sweden), champion of France Marie Sebag (France), Olympic champion in the Ukrainian team Anna Ushenina (Ukraine), the winner of “Moscow – Open 2008” Anna Muzychuk (Slovenia), international grandmaster Natalya Pogonina (Russia) and current world champion Xu Yuhua (China) who gained this title in Yekaterinburg in 2006.

The average rating of participants of the tournament is 2522, that corresponds to the 19 FIDE category. There was no women tournament of such category before. Of course all of us are waiting for bright games.

How do the organizers of the tournament manage to gather such strong participants?

In 2003 when we held the first “North Urals Cup” in Krasnoturinsk this competition became a real breakthrough for women chess. There was no systematic women chess tournament in the world before. Many chess admirers heard about Dortmund, Linares, Veik-an-See but with the connection of men chess.

In 2003 the idea of holding of the women chess supertournament in Krasnoturinsk was supported by A. Sysoev who was the General Director of Bogoslovsky Aluminium Smelter at that time and sponsored all following tournaments. It is symbolic that this year A. Sysoev as the President of Sverdlovsk Chess Federation is the main organizer of the tournament and he is also the Head of the group of companies “SAVIAK” which is the General sponsor of the competition.

Today the tournament is so popular that almost all chess players dream to take part in it. The experience of Krasnoturinsk was adopted in other countries and now we can speak about the so called competition among tournaments. Similar tournaments are held in Azerbaijan and Turkey, the women tournament that is held in the framework of “Moscow Open” became a separate competition. By the way, this year the winner of “Moscow Open – 2008” Anna Muzychuk is going to play in Krasnoturinsk.

Is it possible to say that the “North Urals Cup” contributed to the development of chess in Sverdlovsk region?

The tournament is included into the official calendar of the Russian Chess Federation. It is held under the support of the Governor of Sverdlovsk region E. Rossel and regional Ministry of Physical Culture, Sport and Tourism. There are a lot of mass tournaments held during the Cup, chess players from different cities of the region take part in them. Traditionally honorary guests visit the tournament, their presence also contribute to the chess popularization. Owing to the “North Urals Cup” repeated world champion Nona Gaprindashvili, the 10th and 11th world champions Boris Spassky and Anatoly Karpov, a famous grandmaster, coach and journalist Yury Averbakh visited Krasnoturinsk. A five-time world champion Maya Chiburdanidze was cordially welcomed in the North Ural. Many chess fans specially came to Krasnoturinsk to look at this legendary person.

Also today we can surely say that the tournament gave a definite impulse to the chess development in our region. Of course it happened to a large extent owing to people who support the tournament and like chess very much. The head of the Administration of the Governor of Sverdlovk region A. Levin and the Head of Northern Administrative District I. Gramatik who supports the chess development in the North of Sverdlovsk region are among them.

Taking into account the great experience of organizing Krasnoturinsk tournament the decision of holding two world championships (individual and team) in Sverdlovsk region was made. They were held at the highest level in Yekaterinburg. On the initiative of the Governor of Sverdlovsk region E. Rossel the building of Chess Academy was started. It must become the centre of chess popularization and development in Sverdlovsk region and the whole Ural. Today many heads of cities understand that this kind of sport should be paid attention to. Last year a new chess club was opened in Serov under the support of the Head of the city V. Anisimov. The head of Krasnoturinsk V. Mikhel also intends to actively support chess players and find the building for city chess club. And on behalf of FIDE and the Russian Chess Federation I express the appreciation of the these people’s great contribution to chess development.

Now I can already say one thing that must be a very good news for chess admirers. International Chess Federation (FIDE) made the decision that women Grand Prix will be organized since 2009, it will consist of 6 tournaments. And most probably the tournament in Krasnoturinsk will be one of its rounds.

WIM Anna Burtasova
Press-attache of women chess super-tournament ‘North Urals Cup 2008’

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