He was born in Elista 19 years ago and has been World Champion under 10 and 14, Russian Junior Champion, World Junior Vice – Champion and also European Rapid Vice – Champion, amongst others. Now Sanan Sjugirov has added a brand – new title to his extensive curriculum: he won the famous Magistral Casino Round Robin tournament, held in Barcelona between 23 – 31 October. The PR manager of the event Ana Matnadze interviewed him.

1) Hello Sanan, welcome to Barcelona and congratulations for winning the tournament! Could you please, describe to us your preparation process for the Magistral Casino? What chess analyzing program do you use?

Thank you so much for your congratulations! My preparation for the tournament wasn’t any different from my routine: I perused my opening systems, analyzed my opponents’ games. I use Houdini as playing module and ChessBase for games search.

2) Whom were you expecting to be the most difficult opponent? Are you happy with the quality of your games here?

All participants were strong and I was quite aware of it. However, the most difficult opponent “in situ” for me was Alvar Alonso. The game developed in not a very good way for me and with the help of luck I could lead it to a draw. In all other games I had better positions and I am quite  satisfied with my performance and playing quality here.

3) And which was the best and the worst game, and why?

I consider my best game here the one against Predrag Nikolic. I managed to play quite a new position for me at a quite good level. The worst my game was, as I mentioned above, against Alonso.

4) Had you been to Barcelona before? Did you plan any sightseeing now?

No, this was the first time I visited Barcelona. Unfortunately, I couldn’t do much sightseeing, since I was tied up with the tournament. But I did like the city and am really looking forward to visiting it again.

5) How were your first steps in chess? Who was your first trainer?

My father was my first chess teacher when I was just five ears old. I liked the game and my parents took me to a chess club where I met my first coach – Aleksey Karikov – with candidate to Master of Sport title.

6) Who is your trainer now?

Now I work under the supervision of the Ukrainian grandmaster Andrei Zontakh. We have been working together for five years now. My co-coach is the Russian grandmaster Yuri Yakovich. 

7) Tell us about your daily life, how is a normal day?

My daily schedule is like this – from 8 a.m. till 2 p.m. I have university classes and from 4 p.m. till 8 p.m. is what my chess work lasts. Sometimes after 8 p.m. I do some chess self-research.

8) Being a chess pro is tough. We are constantly traveling. What is your secret to deal with jet lag?

Yes, you are quite right. To be a chess pro is not easy at all. But guess what, I got used to a lot of travelling. I travel with no problem at all because maybe I’m young and simply love it!?

9) And your secret as to how to recover from a bitter loss?

There are no secrets. I just pull myself together and try to put up a good fight in every game no matter what the result of the previous game was.


10) What do you think would be necessary to do to make chess more popular? What would be your strategy or ideas to attract more Sponsors?

I think the key to chess popularity is television. What I mean is rapid chess format. But I don’t think that it would be easy. Yet another, and very important, step to chess popularization is the inclusion of it into the Olympic Games program, but again, it wouldn’t be an easy drive either.

11) I see… What do you think about the “short draws phenomenon”? What would be the mechanism to avoid them?

Well, I personally think that ruling of impossibility to offer a draw before the 40th move is very relevant.

12) What is your opinion about cheating? It is becoming a very serious problem.

Yes, cheating is a real problem. Unfortunately, it is not easy to fight against it. I guess in cases where the guilt is proved so to say beyond reasonable doubt, serious sanctions should be enforced, up to a life ban. 

13) What do you think about World Championship cycle and matches?

I am in no position to speak about it, partly because it is not about my schedule. But, I think the present system is fair enough.

14) About the time controls Mr. Sjugirov thinks that…

That’s a good one. My idea is 1 hour and a half plus 30 minutes after the 40’th move with extra 30 seconds for the move itself. I think this version is most apt.

15) How do you manage to control your nerves? Do you have any “secret” before, after or during the games?

Oh, no. No secrets at all. I simply try not to pay heed to surroundings and concentrate to a high degree.    

16) What would be your advice to young people (well, younger than yourself, I mean!)who are just starting to play chess and take it seriously?

Young chess players in my opinion should pay more attention to broadening their horizons, read more and ignore entertaining computers. It is essential to read books of renowned grandmasters. I would advise to analyze personal games as well. 

17) Very good advice indeed, and especially from a youngster like your good self… By the way, which opponent has impressed you the most both chesswise and in personality matters so far? Do you have any chess hero?

Among the opponents I played with, the most impressive one for me was Alexander Grishuk. I don’t idolize any player, but there are several masters whose manner of playing appeals to me. For instance Magnus Carlsen, Boris Gelfand, Alexander Grishuk. I value grand masters of the past as well, such as Garry Kasparov, Robert Fisher and Jose Raul Capablanca. 

18) And now, your plans for the future?

In my future I would like to make chess top ten.

Good luck then! And thank you very much, Sanan, for an extremely  interesting interview.

You’re welcome! And thanks too, for your hospitality and your nice wishes.

Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
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