12.07.2005 Women's chess - Valentina Gunina's opinion

Judit Polgar is the only woman who plays at the level of the best world players, she is preeminent among the other women. What is the secret of her achievements?

Judit Polgar is my favorite chessplayer. She is talented and hard-working; she started training early and grew up in the chess family... However, many people can boast of this set of qualities, but nevertheless, Judit plays stronger than others. I think the secret of her success lies in her strong will and purposefulness.

Why does Alexandra Kosteniuk successfully manage to combine her career of a chessplayer with shootings for advertising and fashion magazines, in your opinion?

All participants of the championship in Samara were photographed for the calendar. Do you know how many grit and endurance one should display for it?! You have to endure a photographer setting the light, long make-up session, all sorts of things, and then you have to come to a culminating moment of shooting at the peak of form. Thus Alexandra develops the qualities, which are valuable for chess, even during shootings!

If we talk seriously, I do not know why this occupation should hinder from something in chess. I think everybody chooses the occupation to his liking.

I was not acquainted with Alexandra before the championship, and I had a bit wrong idea about her. But we communicated a lot in Samara, and I had a really good impression.

Is there a difference between women's and men's chess?

Of course, there is a difference, and these distinctions can be explained by the distinctions between men's and women's psychology. You can feel it very clearly at the board. Men are very patient; they can "sit you out", they play very tense and very safely. Women are more emotional, disposed to an improvisation. These cause damages to the game integrity, we make many mistakes, but such a play is very interesting. For example, it is more interesting for me to watch women's encounters instead of men's. We discussed all these differences at the Superfinal in Samara...

And women's chess is very fighting. Besides, it also happens for the psychological difference. I think, men are more afraid of loosing, than women are.

Whose games do you like, both among women and men?

Among women Judit is beyond comparison, and among men... Morozevich plays very interestingly. And he always fights! And Alexander's annotations to his own games in the "64" magazine are also very interesting...

I like games of Fischer, too. I like the fact that he always aims at winning. Working alone, without a coach, he nevertheless became the world's best opening expert. I also don't have a trainer, and the opening is my weakest point... (laughing) I think, if you ask me after the game what I was doing at the board, I will answer: "I was trying to get out of the opening!"

And how do you manage to become world champion, European champion etc. with such openings?..

It happens the following way: I get a bad position, my opponent wants to defeat me and blunders something (laughing)! I think it is my advantage – not to get lost and desperate in difficult positions. For example, when I played as White with Svetlana Matveeva in the Superfinal, I had almost a hopeless position by the 20th move, but I kept fighting and finally managed to make a draw...

Perhaps, the early games of Korchnoi are sympathetic to you? He often received difficult positions as well, but defended them inventively and often had an upper hand in the end.

(Valentina begins to think, her father joins the conversation, a bit confusedly) I think she has not seen the games of Korchnoi...

(Valentina again) I mostly look through the games published in the "64" magazine. I really like this magazine! I don't like the games without annotations, I mean, without words. You can find only the variations in a computer database, and it is not interesting to study them alone.

And with computer?

Yes, sometimes I have to analyze with computer... And then people say that I play like a computer (laughs)!

Is it possible that women's chess becomes a professional sport? Are you going to try to become a chess professional?

(Pause) I even do not know what to say. I didn't think about it. It is hard for me to judge, whether I will be able to earn money by playing. Next year I will graduate from school and enter the university. Perhaps, in Moscow. There will be more opportunities to play and train; so, we shall see what we shall see.

Questions were asked by Misha Savinov.

This article is published with permission of Association of Chess Professionals

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