20 December 2015

Alexandra Goriachkina: I Really Wanted a Double Victory!

The Russian Cup winner answers Dmitry Kryakvin's questions.

– Alexandra, congratulations on your victory! Could you tell us how the tournament went? 

– Knockouts are always difficult. Even if you win the first game and you feel in the next round that you are close to winning... But in fact, the fight still goes on!

– You probably found it hard to readjust after the European Team Championship, where you scored 7 points out of 8?

– I played on the fourth board there, and the level of my opponents was about the same, if not lower. To be honest, I didn't even realize that I gained so many points in Iceland. Team competitions didn't usually go so well for me before that. After the first draw, I thought that everything was as usual. And then the game got going! The coaches psyched us up very well, probably.

As for my trip to Khanty-Mansiysk, I just really wanted to win and become the Russian champion and the Cup holder at the same time!

– Is Sergei Rublevsky  a strict coach?

– That depends. When you play well, everything is fine, but when you play poorly... But our coaches prepare us very well for team championship games.

– I've read the interview you gave after you won the Superfinal. Are you still working alone?

– At this moment, yes. I prepare for games all by myself. It's not difficult for me to study alone. I like sitting in front of a computer and studying things. That's how it has been since my childhood.

More than ten coaches with master and grandmaster titles participated in my development as a player. I tried to get the most from each of them: expand my opening repertoire, improve my tactical and strategic skills, etc. At the same time, I have to mention the important role my father plays. Maybe he doesn't have the knowledge of prominent grandmasters, but at least he ensures a comfortable psychological atmosphere at tournaments, which has already helped me to perform better many times.   

On the other hand, if there is an opportunity to work with a good coach, why not?!

Alexandra and her father Yuri

– How do you train as the Russian champion among women, what do you pay more attention to?

– Recently, I've had to play at one tournament after another. That's why I mend my openings during the breaks ― that's necessary. As for choosing an opening... Sometimes a game is played in a strong tournament and ends with a beautiful win. I see this game and think ― wow, I want to play this too! I come home, note it down and start studying the variations.

– I was told that Vladislav Artemiev, a very strong grandmaster, had to withdraw from the Grand Prix finals because he had problems with school studies. His Russian language teacher made Vlad write a composition and get ready for the national unified school exams. How are you doing with your school studies?

– After the ninth grade I entered the Yamal multi-discipline college to become a PE teacher. My teachers and the college directors treat me with understanding, so I don’t have any issues playing at tournaments. Sometime I have to take some exams. I took state exams in the ninth grade, and then my dad said: “No, Alexandra, there is no point taking the unified school exams, so we will find another way!”

– Another question journalists love to ask: are men’s tournaments very different from women’s?

– The difference is really very big, and I can’t change gear at once when playing at a women’s tournament after a men’s one. I often keep preparing for the game stubbornly, even though I don’t really need this! I think that in men’s chess, if there is the objectively strongest move on the board, men go for it. And women make choices: this is not my style, and I don’t feel like counting that! And they often don’t make this strongest move. Men do, and women don’t. That’s the difference.

The final match: Goriachkina ― Bivol

– Do they often ask you why you play at the men's tournament in the Russian team championship? Don’t they invite you to the best women’s clubs?

– Yes, of course, they do invite me. There is a probability that I will play for a women’s team as soon as in 2016. It’s that our men’s team, Yamal, participates in the Russian championship premier league every year, and it would be a shame to miss the opportunity to play against Russia’s strongest male players. The players’ average rating simply goes through the roof. Where else will I get a chance to play in such a team?

– Did you happen to face any great chess players at the board? Can you take them on? And at what next tournaments are you going to play?

– Qatar Open at the end of the year, and then Gibraltar. At the Anatoly Karpov tournament, I happened to play with Karpov himself and with Vasily Ivanchuk. I can probably take them on, but for now it’s mostly to get the needed experience. 

– How do you assess the chances of the opponents in the match Muzytchuk ― Hou Yifan?

– I don’t want to predict anything, but Mariya Muzychuk has recently become much stronger: she seems to be working very hard. The match will be held in Ukraine, and this will give Muzychuk some advantages. But will it allow her to match Hou Yifan?

– What do you think about the current system of determining the world champion among women?

– Women’s chess is unpredictable. This system is fine for me because every player has chances to win the world crown, myself included. And if this was a match then you would have to classify for it and then win in this match. Now that I don’t participate in the next FIDE Grand Prix series, it’s too early for me to think about a match. But I could compete in a knockout tournament!

The chief arbiter awards the winner of the Cup of Russia