A talk with 19-year-old GM Sanan Sjugirov

by ChessBase
11/22/2012 – He was born in Elista 19 years ago and has been World Champion U10 and U14, 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, recently held in Barcelona. Here is an interview by Ana Matnadze.

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A talk with 19-year-old GM Sanan Sjugirov

By Ana Matnadze

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 brandnew title to his extensive curriculum: he won the famous Magistral Casino Round Robin tournament, held in Barcelona between October 23-31.

Ana Matnazde – 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 engine do you use?

Sanan Sjugirov

Sanan Sjugirov – Thank you so much for your congratulations! My preparation for the tournament wasn't any different from my routine: I studied my opening systems and analyzed my opponents' games. I use Houdini as my chess engine and ChessBase as my database program.

Who did you expecting to be the most difficult opponent? Are you happy with the quality of your games here?

All the players were strong and I was quite aware of it. However, the most difficult opponent "in situ" for me was Alvar Alonso. The game did not develop well for me and it was only with the help of luck I was able to draw. In all other games I had better positions and I am quite satisfied with my performance and play quality here.

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 what was quite a new position to me and at quite a good level. My worst game was, as I mentioned above, against Alonso.

Sjugirov playing in Barcelona

Had you been to Barcelona before? Do 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.

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.

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.

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

My daily schedule is like this – from 8 AM to 2 PM I have university classes, then from 4 PM until 8 PM I work on my chess. Sometimes after 8 PM I do some chess self-research.

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 traveling. I travel with no problem at all because maybe I'm young and simply love it!?

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.

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, 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.

I see... What do you think about the "short draws" phenomenon? What would be the method to avoid them?

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

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.

What do you think about World Championship cycle and matches?

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

About the time controls you think that…

That's a good one. Personally I think the ideal is one hour and a half plus 30 minutes after the 40th move with an extra 30 seconds per move. I think this time control is best.

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 to just concentrate hard.

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 play less video games. It is essential to read books of renowned grandmasters. I also advise analyzing one's own games as well.

Very good advice indeed, and especially from someone as young as your 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 Grischuk. 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 Grischuk. I value grand masters of the past as well, such as Garry Kasparov, Bobby Fischer and Jose Raul Capablanca.

And now, your plans for the future?

In my future I would like to enter the world 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.

About the author

Ana Matnadze is an International Master born in Georgia, but currently residing in Barcelona, a love affair with the city that started four years ago. She was the PR and press officer at the 2012 International Chess tournament ESCACS held in Barcelona.

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