30 August 2015

Alexandra Goriachkina: "It's Easier for Me to Play in Round Robins"

Eteri Kublashvili interviews the new Russian champion.

– Alexandra, congratulations on your outstanding performance! How did the tournament go?

– Thank you. The tournament began as usual. As has become a tradition by now, I played with Valentina Gunina in the first round.

– For the second or the third time already?

– This is my third Superfinal, and for the third time in a row I played versus Valentina with Black in the first round. The first time she beat me, then I beat her twice. After the game I was rejoiced that I played successfully with one of the rating favorites, and with Black at that. Then I defeated Ekaterina Kovalevskaya; in that game, I prepared well in the opening and got a major edge fairly quickly. In the third round, I had a peaceful encounter with Alina Kashlinskaya, although considering that she had started the tournament with two losses, I wasn't very pleased with the draw, but I played as Black after all.

In a word, the play went well from the outset, the tournament started well and ended decently. Granted, there was one bad moment when in a game with Anastasia Savina I got the opening a bit wrong, had a position that is not my type, and then lost without a chance. 

But in general, the tournament went more or less smoothly. Granted, at some point I didn't feel like playing the last game because it became clear after the time control that its result wasn't important (laughs). But then I wanted to show mettle, and I managed to get a draw. 

– Who worked at the Superfinal with you? You came here with your dad, but did you work with anyone else on Skype?

– At this tournament and before it, I prepared all by myself. I had a small disagreement with my coach Ruslan Shcherbakov shortly before the tournament.
Before the Superfinal, I prepared the openings specifically for my opponents for both colors for as long as two weeks. So, even without a coach, I guessed the opening right in many games and got very good positions.  

– Do you feel that you reached a completely new level?

– Not really, because it's always easier for me to play in round robins. You know in advance whom you play against, with what color, and what result and with whom you need. Besides, when you have intensive training during the two weeks before the tournament, you prepare specifically for your opponents, and it's always easier to play.

– How about your studies?

– After the ninth grade, I went to college, I study for a PE teacher's degree. This was done so that my studies do not get in the way of my chess work.

– What are your nearest plans, at what tournaments are you going to play?

– After the Superfinal I am having some rest at home, and then I am going to Khanty-Mansiysk. There will be a world under-20 championship there, and I will be playing in the boys' tournament.

– And how much time do you spend at home? I remember that about three years ago you said in an interview that you hardly ever stayed there.

– Three years ago, I couldn't determine yet where my home was (laughs). Now we are fully settled in Salekhard, and my mum moved there too. We stay there much more often, and when there's time between tournaments, we always go to Salekhard and spend enough time there. My younger sister manages to get on my nerves to the max (laughs).

– Is chess popular in Salekhard, or not really?

– Chess players get support. There are no "stars", but people do play chess. Almost every year, the region sends the Yamal team to play in the Russian team championship.

– Are there any local tournaments?

– Blitz tournaments are held on public holidays, for example.

– Let's get back to the Superfinal. Did you manage to walk around the city?

– This was almost the only tournament when I didn't get out of my room for a walk even once. Of course, the incident with the food poisoning put me off my stride a bit. If it had happened before the day off, it would have been OK, but the free day was over, I felt under the weather, but I had to play. I don't remember ever feeling so bad.

– But you still defeated Olga Girya!

– I did. But if I hadn't felt so bad, the outcome could have been quite different, because during the first forty moves I didn't calculate a single line, I made the moves very quickly.

– Did you just play by intuition?

– I felt so bad that I wanted to finish the game quickly and go home... I never play so quickly, but here my system told me, "Stop it, enough!" I wanted to have a draw, but seeing that Olga was playing for a win, I thought it would be a waste not to use it. And so I did.

–Do you read any chess news during a tournament, or do you zone out of everything?

– I read chess news, but not always. When I lose, I don't feel like visiting the website and reading something bad about myself. Which is why I just don't visit some websites, but when I am in a good mood, why not read how they praise me? (smiles).

Photos by Eteri Kublashvili