How do you assess the adequacy of the Higher League results in Kazan?

It is curious: it seemed that the chosen tournament format has serious deficiencies. First of all, accidental people can qualify when the distance is that short. Secondly, there can be many draws in the last round. But all of a sudden the tournament showed that the system is not that bad, and probably it is hard to invent something better. Because first of all only worthy players qualified. Experienced Bareev, Khalifman, young Tomashevsky did not qualify but his performance was very good too, Jakovenko…And in the last round both Bareev and Khalifman did not succumb to a short draw, but played, and it became clear that the one, who wants, can play and struggle for the first place.

I know that there is a suggestion to change the format and make four round-robins instead. So it is the return to the Soviet chess. It seems to me that such change has many deficiencies. At present I do not see any alternative to the united Higher League. I think the Superfinal is going to be very interesting. Zhenya Najer became much stronger from my point of view. He got some self-confidence, human, male confidence, and earlier he had complexes.

And how do you assess the results of the young players? Except for Tomashevsky, whom you have mentioned already.

To tell the truth, I hoped they would have played better. I am certainly very glad for Tomashevsky. But the problem is that we have only four players in the U20 world twenty: Inarkiev, Alekseev, Riazantsev, Timofeev. Starting from next year, none of them remains there, except for Tomashevsky maybe. It is not enough.

And what can you say about the way Khayrullin and Vitiugov played?

I liked Vitiugov very much. I watch him closely for a long time and I like his play. He performed good, but… Maybe we are spoilt: they played OK, but we wish more.

Were there any unpleasant surprises?

The word unpleasant does not suit. If it were possible to start the tournament once more, everything could be different. Kostya Sakaev could have played stronger. Inarkiev is capable to have better results. But I cannot say someone disappointed me. Strangely enough, this tournament had adequate results. But there is still the opinion that the system should be changed, although I do not agree with it.

What are the deficiencies of the round-robins?

There are many problems. It is hard to make 4 equal semi-finals. The drop off by a single player makes the division faulty, as it happened with Malakhov last year in Tomsk. And I think it creates financial problems, the number of rounds increases to 13, and the prize sums decrease. Here the first prize is $ 20 000, and it will be clearly smaller in the semi-finals. Of course there are certain merits, but nowadays in Russia there are almost no tournaments in which both young and experienced players take part. An ultimate challenge! This is very important. But it is a pity that those who qualified from the regional events do not struggle for the top places. If we increase the prize fund in regional championships, then there would be players with Elo 2570 and above and it would improve the situation. We have to invent something.

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