Natalia Pogonina: I felt comfortable playing with other Russians

The Russian player shared her impressions about her match with Alexandra Kosteniuk.

– Congratulations, Natalia! Tell us about the second game.

– I did not review this variation before the game because I didn’t expect it to happen. I even forgot the correct move order early in the game, and wasted a lot of time trying to remember the variations I have in my computer, but failed. Then we reached a very strange position. Computer evaluation would definitely help, but I think it was about even. Neither Black nor White risked much, and Black has sufficient initiative for the sacrificed pawns.

– How did you get an advantage?

– We moved back and forth for a long time, and at some point she probably made a mistake, because after I put the knight on c4, my position suddenly became dominating. All I needed was a timely pawn break.

– And what about the first game, did you have any advantage?

– Yes, I had a large advantage. We played the Ruy Lopez, and my opponent went for 6.d3, which she never plays. I reacted poorly and got a worse position. Alexandra’s 19.Bb2 was a mistake: before this move my position was very passive, but after I replied with 19…Qc6, my pieces began to work. But I missed so many promising opportunities! The resulting queen ending was probably drawish. I planned to play solidly to reach the time control, but went over the top with it.

– What was the most interesting moment of your match with Svetlana Matveeva?

– It was a very tense match. In the second game I made a mistake and stood worse. But then I found an interesting counterplay idea, and Sveta used too much time and failed to find the best reply in the time trouble, so the game ended in a draw.

The tie-break was very tough. I blundered a mate in two in a winning position, but Svetlana didn’t notice it. The funny thing about my blunder is that I saw the mating idea, just did not consider an obvious move transposition. In the second game I also had a bad position, thanks to a couple of poor moves, but I was more practical with my time management, and in the end Svetlana started making mistakes under time pressure. Generally I felt that Svetlana was little rusty, but nevertheless she could win this match.

– In both matches you faced other Russian players. Is it difficult to play with your friends psychologically?

– It was a pleasure to play with both Alexandra and Svetlana. Psychologically I was absolutely comfortable. When two Russians are paired with each other, at least one will advance to the next stage! The only downside of it is that the number of Russians at the championship decreases. Now Gunina lost to Galliamova and has to return home. I would be happier to meet Alexandra at a later stage of the championship, she is a very strong player and had chances to win our match.

– Who will be your next opponent?

– The winner of the match Muzychuk-Ushenina, as far as I understand. Their match will be decided on tie-breaks.

– Will you follow their match?

– No, I’ll just relax, I really wanted to have a day off. The struggle is very tough in every round, and it doesn’t really matter who is your opponent. Advancing to the third round is a good achievement for me – this is the first time I went this far. And every next match is a gift for me!

– You little son didn’t travel with you to Khanty-Mansiysk, you probably call him often?

– Yes, I call him quite often, he shows crafts he made, etc. I also have many other supports, and I do not want to let them down.

Official website: http://chess2012.ugrasport.com

Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
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