The 77th Chess Championship of Ukraine took place from December 2nd to 12th in the city of Poltava, located between Kharkiv and Kyiv in Ukraine. There were 26 participants, including 17 GMs. The top seed were Evgenij Miroshnichenko (2632), Yuriy Kryvoruchko (2627), Vladimir Baklan (2625), Yuriy Kuzubov (2622). Also taking part was the 12-year-old youngster Illya Nyzhnyk.
Top seed and new Ukrainian Champion GM Evgenij Miroshnichenko, 2627
Tied for first, lost on tiebreak points: GM Yuri Drozdowskiy, 2587
Third, half a point behind the leaders: GM Anton Korobov, 2605
Twelfth in the Ukrainian Championship was 12-year-old Illya Nyzhnyk
What it feels like: tournament winner Miroshnichenko, 2627,
needed 54 moves to beat Nyzhnyk in round five
Before the final round young Illya had a performance of 2633 – unfortunately the lad lost the final game and finished the event with a 2594 performance
The winners: Korobov, Miroshnichenko, Drozdowskiy
Group photo at the end of the 2008 Ukrainian Championship
GM Evgenij Miroshnichenko, 29 years old, from Donetsk, Ukraine, became the Ukrainian Champion this week. He is a strong and well-known grandmaster (best rating ever: 2671), and an interesting person with a keen sense of humor. In his interview he expresses his views about the Ukrainian Championship and his result, his attitude to Ukrainian youngsters, and also shows his way of bringing interest to chess.
Anastasiya Karlovich: In 2003 you assesed your first place in the Ukrainian Championship as the best result in your career. What does it mean for you to be a champion of Ukraine again five years later? Is it important for you to be the champion of your country?
Evgenij Miroshnichenko: No more euphoria this time. "Oops, I did it again" – that is what I said to myself after escaping from trouble against Drozdovskij in round seven. Somehow I felt I was going to win the tournament. Anyhow, it’s a pleasure to win, and it’s twice as pleasant when the tournament is the Championship of my country.
What do you think why were there no players from the national team? And do you have a guarantee to play for the national team as a champion?
Well, I’ve expected this kind of questions, which I can gladly readdress to the officials of Ukrainian Chess Federation. The absence of the Ukrainian Olympic team players is quite understandable – the Olympiad finished only few days before the Natioanl Championship was scheduled to start, and, besides, the prize fund was a bit lower then the team players could expect.
Many youngsters played in the tournament. Some of them you faced on the board. What can you say about their level? Don't you have a feeling that they came very close in level to the players of your generation?
I’m far enough from being “truly experienced”, and I don’t feel any right to give marks to somebody’s play. That’s why I would not say “outstanding talent”, even If I thought so. And if we talking about my generation… hmm… I still believe we’ve got something to teach these youngsters.
Aren't you afraid they will tell you the same in some years?
I won't be very surprised if it happens. Nowadays there is no difference in age when we play chess. I just have a feeling that they studied a different kind of chess then we did. But maybe they will also teach us something in the future.
How did you prepare for the tournament and games? I heard you didn't have a laptop with you? Is it still possible to win such a tournament without computer preparation?
I have no idea, I did nothing special. My tournament preparation was mental rather than theoretical, most of the time. You are right: one week before the championship my laptop broke down and it was impossible to repair it in time. Without the laptop I was walking on thin ice – it’s nearly impossible in the modern world to play a tournament and not to fall in a trap without using computer assistance. I have to share some of my success with maestro Kuzubov, who was so kind to show me some ideas before crucial games. Every game I was trying to convince myself to play another interesting game and to escape from the opponent’s preparation. And last but not least – coffee was another little help.
Perhaps my question should be not how did you prepare but how did you rest between the games?
Billiard in the evening and reading a book during the night – there is no better way to keep your brain fresh, instead of 3-4 hours of preparation with a chess engine. I wasn’t surprised when it worked out five years ago – those times computers were not that important for a chess player as they are now, but somehow I managed to prove it’s still possible nowadays.
Which game was the most important for you?
Black against bronze medalist Korobov in round six. This guy is quite dangerous for me – he knocked me out twice in the Ukrainian championships 2004 and 2006. I managed to get a promising position right from the opening, but I felt tension untill the end.
What is more important for you: the result or the quality of the games? What about the creativity on the chessboard?
I think the quality of the a game is basic, because I believe it's impossible to have good results without it. I am not ready to abandon interesting ideas for fear of damaging good results. But it has happened in my games many times before. You know, ideas can be interesting and dangerous at the same time. Sometimes I go for them because I want to check what will happen. It doesn't bring too many points, but maybe some pleasure for the spectators. During the Ukrainian Championship I was trying to be more “quiet”, because the sportive result had a big meaning for me. Any way some games are supposed to be quite nice.
In a previous interview you said you are a moody person. Do emotions help or disturb you during the game?
Emotions, emotions… For me it's much more important to play with great emotional tension then to be quiet inside. All my good results came from such high tension. I know it's possible to read emotions on my face, but I don’t care if it's good or bad – that’s my way of playing chess. That’s why, by the way, spectators are so important – they are making the tension even higher. But for example after the tournament I felt emptiness instead of being glad, probably spent all my emotions before.
Which languages do you speak? You played for many years in German Bundesliga. Did you succeed in learning German?
I speak Russian, Ukrainian, English, Polish and Serbian. Somehow my English is good enough to speak with my colleagues from the Bundesliga team. So I wasn’t forced to learn German. But after playing few years in Germany I’m already able to answer almost any question in German with “Ich habe keine Ahnung” [I have no idea, not a clue]. Ok, kidding aside. I’ve learned couple of words connected with traveling and chess, but you can hardly call this “learned language”.
Some years ago you gave blindfold simultaneous exhibitions on 10-20 boards. The idea was to break the record of János Flesch. Could you please tell us about it? What prospects does this project have?
It needs some correction: the idea was to play on 64 boards (quite a symbole, isn’t it?). János Fleschplayed on 52 boards, but the world record holder is George Koltanowski with his unbelievable 56 boards performance. To be honest I still believe I can do that (or at least I'm going to try, even if I risk my life). You are asking about the prospects? Most probably I will go mad, but it is also possibile that I will bring some publicity to chess, to prove it’s not only a game of short draws and long thinking. Nobody from “out of chess world” going to be impressed with “GM X calculated Y moves to GM Z”. But with this blindfold chess we can show some skills unknown to the general public.
Which goals do you have? Are you going to be a chess player all your life?
Goal in my life? Thank you for your interest, but I cannot answer this hard question, even to myself. In chess it’s more or less clear – to play on and try to improve. What for? Well, that’s another question.
Don't you think it's very difficult for a professional chess player to make a family?
This question is too personal to be answered… I don't think it's really harder for a chess player compared to any other human who is addicted to his profession.
Do you have any desire to undertake some other chess activities, such as commenting for the press, coaching, book writing?
Well, I’ve written few articles and commented on a few games as I believe any other grandmaster has done. About the books… well, I have two projects, but I cannot predict how long it’s going to take to finish them. In one of them (for the moment it’s called “Chess as a martial art”) with help of my collaborator I’ll try to answer a rare question about chess: not “How to play” but “What to play chess for”. And the second one is too early to do – I’m not old enought to publish something like “My best games”.
It is difficult for non-Russian speaking people to pronounce you surname. That's why many people call you “Miro”. What is your attitude toward this?
I’ve considering using “Yours, Miro” instead of my normal signature. Actually I like this nickname, which is certainly better than “The-Ukrainian-Evgenij-with-the-horrible-surname”.
Anastasiya (Nastja) Karlovich was Ukrainian champion and vice-champion among girls under 16, 18 and 20. She was European Champion with the Ukrainian team in the Youth Team Championships. She is also a candidate officer in the National Law Academy “Yaroslav the Wise”; a member of the chess club “Law Academy”; a member of the German club Grosslehna; the organiser of the WGM and GM closed tournaments “Cup of Rector”; a Woman Grandmaster since 2003.