GM Teimour Radjabov is one of the sporting heroes of the year. He once again has shown his ambitions to become World Champion when he took third place at the World Championship in Tripoli. However Teimour doesn't want to stop at that – he is looking forward. He gave Day.Az an exclusive interview, telling us about his play in 2004 and his plans for 2005.
Day.Az: How do you evaluate year 2004?
Teimour Radjabov: It was a lucky sport year for me. In the year's strongest tournament, Spanish Linares, I managed to retain favorable overall score against Kasparov. I won the European Champions Cup with the NAO Chess Club team – that's my second Cup by the way. The first one I won playing for team "Bosnia" from Sarajevo.
My best achievement in this year was a third place in Libya. I was in one step away from victory – but lost a semi-final match to Michael Adams. I think that was because of lack of physical strength. However the bronze medal in a World Championship is a very honorary trophy in any sport, and especially in chess.
Radjabov (with shades) against Adams in the semifinals of the FIDE world championship
What goals did you want to achieve in this year – and did you achieve them?
I wanted to have a better place in Europe Championship, and I wanted to play in World Championship final. I achieved some things and didn't achieve some things too. But at overall I am satisfied with this year results.
Silver, gold, bronze, bronze for Adams, Kasimdzhanov, Radjabov and Topalov in Libya
Did you improve your playing level this year?
We will see it in 2005. I feel a very good improvement in my playing strength. Let's see, if I would show it in 2005.
This year you played two games against Kasparov in Linares – both drawn. Can you tell that for now he is your main, principal opponent?
One of the ominous Kasparov-Radjabov encounters in Linares (2004)
As you maybe remember, a year earlier I scored 1.5:0.5 in my games against Kasparov in Linares. Until that moment his attitude towards me was very pleasant. But it changed a lot after this defeat. He stopped greeting me, he throws frightening looks my way. Apparently Kasparov has come to some conclusions regarding tournaments where we play together. He didn't manage to take first place even once. He always loses points playing against me. That's why he fights unfairly. He uses his name, his influence in the chess world to persuade tournaments' organizers not to invite me to play. Kasparov understands that the more I play in strong tournaments, than better I become. Kasparov has always wanted to remove competition as early as possible. Rustam Kamsky, the father of Gata Kamsky, told me about that in early childhood. Anyway, I believe that chess crown will return in Azerbaijan.
The other way around in the second half of the tournament
Don't you feel lack of playing practice now, after the World Championship and the Olympiad?
Yes, that's the problem. I hope to solve it by playing in tournaments.
You have said many times that you are still looking for your own playing style. Didn't you managed to find it in last season?
People say that a player's style is formed when he is 20 to 22 years old. But I feel already now that my style is becoming more and more concrete and defined.
Did you define your primary tasks for 2005?
They are same – the best possible results.
What would you wish to Day.Az and our readers?
I like your site very much. Being in other countries, I always check it. This site lets you know everything that happens in Azerbaijan at short intervals. Thank you very much for that. And to you and all your readers I wish that your every wish will be fulfilled in 2005.
Interview translated by Denis Markov