9 December 2014

Igor Lysyj: I enjoyed all of my games, even the losing ones

The Russian champion answers the questions of Eteri Kublashvili

– Igor, congratulations on your win in the superfinal! How do you feel now, given that the tournament is over?

– My prime feeling – that is of substantial exhaustion. I almost crawled to the finish line, so to speak. Each day required enormous amounts of preparation, and I rarely managed to guess the openings.

– Did you prepare alone, or was there anyone helping?

– I had my right-hand man with me – Nikolay Sergeyevich Oglobin, who is my coach for the last 12 years. I’d like to thank him for all his help!

Of course, apart from tiredness, I feel a huge sense of satisfaction with my accomplishments. At the moment, the win in the superfinal is the greatest achievement of my career.

Igor with his coach Nikolay Oglobin

– How did you estimate your chances before the superfinal, or did you not give it much thought?

– I was set for battle in each game, but I didn’t think about my chances. It’s not my thing – evaluating anything before the tournament. I play game after game.

– Which of your games did you like best?

– I was happy with almost all my games, even the losing ones. If I had to base it on the quality of play, it seems I played quite well against Sergey Karjakin. I handled the Hedgehog as Black quite well, even though at one point during the time trouble Sergey could have regained the initiative. All in all, I sustained the game at a good level, creating problems for the opponent, and no wonder Sergey started to slip at some point. In general, I had the initiative throughout the game.


– How did you recover after tough games? By going out?

– It was rather too cold in Kazan to go out! I had a similar routine from day to day: I’d complete my game, analyzed it a little on my own, then I went to Nikolay Sergeyevich’s apartment and set him a task for the following day. Afterwards, we went for a dinner, then he would return home to work, and I would start repeating variations and preparing for the next day. From day to day, without exception. At least I had a day off!

– Did you simply rest during that day, you didn’t see sights?

 – I didn’t. I don’t go out during tournaments, I tried to recover during the day off. Of course, I dedicate some time for preparation. I noticed a while ago that if I go sightseeing the day before, I seem to lose the following day. When I corrected that, my results on the day after improved considerably.

– Were you impressed by the organization of the superfinal?

– It was my first time playing chess in a museum… Actually, perhaps not, I got to play in a Railway Museum in Riga this year. Of course, it is pleasant to play in such an environment, rather than in a sports hall or a dining room. There is a very special atmosphere here, and you have to perform accordingly. It is wonderful that the Elena and Gennady Timchenko Charitable Foundation took chess and particularly the superficial under its wing. This allowed the tournament to reach a whole new level pf organization. I would like to thank the Russian Chess Federation, the Timchenko Foundation and the local organisers, who arranged everything excellently.

Last year, we organised the Premier League competition in Yekaterinburg. Perhaps a tournament of a lower rank than the superfinal, however I can now imagine the extent of necessary work. The preparations in Kazan were performed at top level.


– There works of Nicolai Feshin – some very radiant, emotional pieces – were exhibited in the playing hall. Did they at all affect the game?

– When I’m playing, I immerse myself into my own world, everything else is simply the background.

– It is considered that Carlsen has influenced a change in approach to chess: there is less stress on the opening, basically any playable position will do. Would you agree that the significance of the opening is indeed diminishing?

– To some extent, I do agree. The opening is still crucial, but because of the influence of the computer it is difficult to achieve an advantage in the opening stages of the game. Therefore, the climax of the game shifts onto the middlegame. However, I wouldn’t associate this phenomenon with Carlsen.

– Did your coaching with the Russian National Team in Porto Carras help you? Particularly working with the strongest players in the country and seeing that ‘not God but man make pot and pan’, did that inspire you?

– I was most inspired by the 3rd round match in the World Cup 2011 against Dominguez. The match was entirely equal, despite the considerable discrepancy in the ratings of the players.

– Actually, let’s discuss the matches. Recently, the world championship match between Carlsen and Anand came to an end. What did you think of their playing?

– Undoubtedly, this year’s match was much more interesting than last year’s. Like many other fans of the sport, I wanted an intrigue, so I was supporting Anand as the underdog. I was hoping that the match would be more tense, more interesting, perhaps that it would reach a tie-break. In the end, the tragic misstep on both sides in the 6th game proved to be decisive of the result. Despite the disaster, Anand put up a considerable resistance. He perhaps didn’t have the energy, the strength of nerves for the 11th game. He ended up with a more desirable position as Black, and if he continued to play at calm, then he wouldn’t have risk defeat. Then the 12th game would have certainly taken place, where he would have played White. In conclusion, there was intrigue in the match, but it ended suddenly and abruptly. But essentially, Carlsen proved to be the stronger player.

– You are the author of a book on the Berlin defence. This opening was played frequently in the match. Are you planning to write anymore books?

– I haven’t planned anything yet. I’m still getting scorned by those who play 1.e4!

– What about the chances of the White? People are still banging their heads on the ‘Berlin Wall’, is there still much to discover?

– I think that the chances of the White in the Berlin defence are about the same as in the Queen’s Gambit.


– For several years, you were actively contributing to ChessPro, where you were analysing not only the openings, but every stage of the game. Would you say that this sort of work is beneficial for chess progress? Do you still study chess in this way?

– In general, I think it is beneficial. First of all, because the author is responsible for his analysis in front the online audience. At the moment, given that I constantly need to prepare myself for my own tournament, I don’t have the opportunity to work like that anymore. I am however extremely grateful to ChessPro and to Maxim Gennadievich Notkin, who taught me to do that.

– Did the argument between the two chess federations of the Sverdlov region ever reach a resolution?

– All in all, the situation remains unchanged. We and our opponents hold completely opposite views on all aspects of chess development in the region. Because it’s fairly obvious that a union of the two federation is impossible in the circumstances, it was decided at the RCF Board of Directors meeting that there will be an arranged committee to decide which regional federation should receive national accreditation. We are awaiting the committee’s verdict on the matter. On my part, I think that the sooner it happens, the better things would be for the development of chess in the Sverdlov region. At the moment, the situation is very difficult for regional chess: the absence of an accredited federation affects many aspects, for example it’s unclear who will be  arranging the calendar of 2015 events, who will be organising the tournaments. We can’t even give children their ranks! The current uncertain situation is the worst case for everyone.

I hope that the committee will function quickly; we discussed this with Mark Glukhovsky, who holds a similar view – that it’s crucial to resolve the situation as soon as possible.

Denis Khismatulin, Dmitry Jakovenko, Igor Lysyj

– What are you next plans?

– I hope to play in the European Championship in Wroclaw, in the rapid chess and blitz. The tournament begins soon, on 19th December. Towards the end of January, I’ll be playing in the Moscow Open.

– Igor, thank you and good luck!

– Thank you!