Yerevan Euro chess championship: 1-on-1 with super GM Anton Korobov
By Elina Kazaryan and David Kerans

YEREVAN (VR)— Three rounds in, the European Individual Chess Championship in Yerevan is taking shape, and the wizard we chosen to follow right from the opening ceremonies, Baadur Jobava, has not disappointed. He sits on 2-1/2 points after 3 rounds. Radio VR’s Elina Kazaryan, who is on the scene in Yerevan, will publish a revealing discussion with Jobava tomorrow, including reflections on his play from peers. Elina also caught up with one of the most personable super Grandmasters, 28 year-old Anton Korobov, who was raised in the Urals, but has lived in eastern Ukraine for many years.

Korobov, chess fans may recall, dropped chess as a young adult before returning to it a few years ago. As he admitted during a big run of success during the World Cup last year in Tromso, Norway, he regrets having come back. He said the stress of tournament play is very hard on him, and one wonders how long he will continue competing if he doesn’t find ways to cope with it. Korobov comes across at first as a brooding man given to a degree of pessimism. But if you pay attention you’ll see a witty, benevolent, imaginative, and inordinately modest man. Elina Kazaryan found Anton after his 3rd round victory over young Armenian master Ashot Parvanyan.

Kazaryan: Well, you’ve made it through today’s match with a win. How was your mood during the game?

Korobov: Well today I played against a kid who’s about 5 years old, probably, or maybe 7 {Korobov exaggerates, his opponent Parvanyan is 12}. So today’s game wasn’t all that tough. I was down in the last playing hall, on the lower boards, but I improved my tournament standing with the win. Now I have 1-1/2 points out of 3. So it’s all still in front of me, all the suffering is yet to come.

Kazaryan: The first game, I know you didn’t fare so well…

Korobov: In the first game, right, and in the second I played reasonably well, but I’d prefer to have done better. I always want to do better.

Kazaryan: What lay behind the defeat? I know it’s always more pleasant to talk about a victory than a defeat, but what has gone wrong?

Korobov: There isn’t anything mysterious in it, really. My opponents played very well in the first two rounds. I can tell you I was impressed yesterday {against Grigor Dilanyan, in the 2nd round}. He found an inventive idea to hold the game, and I couldn’t do anything about it, notwithstanding my significant material advantage. In the technical stage he was solid. In the first round I played against a talented young player {16 year-old Kirill Alekseenko} who is making fast progress, and it’s time for me to die off already—as a chess player, I mean. And for him the future is opening up, and the promising player beat the established one, which is logical enough. Knowing myself, the results don’t surprise me.

Kazaryan: Looking forward from here, how is your mood?

Korobov: After starting the way I have I don’t set myself any high goal. I just have to play every game at a strong level. That’s it.

Kazaryan: What is your impression of the organization of the EICC in Yerevan?

Korobov: It’s hard for me to say much about the organization. I would say only that it was too warm in the playing hall the first day. But that was in the hall with the top boards, the top 50. But that problem is already solved for me. I won’t be back in that hall, so, {chuckling} the problem solved itself.

Kazaryan: Is this your first time in Armenia?

Korobov: Yes, my first time, genuinely.

Kazaryan: Any impressions you have to share?

Korobov: Well so far I haven’t seen anything, except Mount Ararat was visible when we drove from the airport. I’ve seen the Hotel Europe and the tournament grounds, that’s it. I haven’t seen any of the sights. But maybe on the off day {March 9} I can. I read that they’ve organized an excursion, to a museum and some other spots in the UNESCO list. After that I can offer more detailed impressions.

Kazaryan: I think the excursion will be to the Garni Temple {the famous pagan temple in Armenia}. What did you know about Armenia before you came here?

Korobov: What did I know about Armenia? Well, what a fellow who went to school in the Soviet Union would know. I knew that the capital is Yerevan, for example. {chuckling} Already not bad, right? Lake Sevan, right? And of course Ararat Cognac, that’s the most important. If you ask around among men, I think they’ll agree with me. {laughing} Good quality!

Kazaryan: Soon the Candidates Tournament will get underway in Khanty-Mansiisk. If it’s not a secret, have any of the participants asked you to work with them as a second?

Korobov: Well, someone probably has, yes.

Kazaryan: But you won’t specify who?

Korobov: No, I won’t say who. {by the way, Korobov serves as second to Anna Ushenina in her Women’s World Championship match with Hou Yifan}

Kazaryan: In one of your interviews, from Norway, when you were advancing deep into the World Cup tournament last year, you said you regretted having come back to high-level tournament chess after having dropped it. You said the stress was a big burden for you, it was hard for you to take.Have you found any way to fight this, or not?

Korobov: You know, you can’t fight stress. You set up one defense against it that might look promising, and the stress slams you from the other side, so to speak. Stress is a permanent condition for a chessplayer. And depression, well, you live with it, you accept it, and okay, it’s all good.

Kazaryan: Let me wish you success.

Korobov: Thank you very much.


Below is an interview I did with GM Korobov at the 2013 World Cup

Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
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