Evgeny Miroshnichenko: The most interesting part lies ahead

Evgeny Miroshnichenko: The most interesting part lies ahead

The unalterable commentator of the chess battles in Ugra grandmaster Evgeny Miroshnichenko shares his impressions about the event and its organization and discusses the ideas about promoting chess.

– The tournament crosses its equator today. Does it meet the expectations of chess fans so far?

– This is the last stage of the Grand Prix, so some players already lost the incentive to fight for a win. Of course, nobody wants to lose and finish last, however, by the round 5 more than half of the players do not have even the slightest chance to qualify for the Candidates Tournament. Such situation does not exactly reward taking risks, so one could complain about lack of fighting spirit in some games. On the other hands, the favorites – Nakamura, Tomashevsky, and Caruana – are going to feel the growing pressure as the final rounds approach. I think the most interesting part lies ahead.

– It is true that for some players this tournament is their only chance to qualify for the Candidates?

– You know, we have two main qualifying criteria. One can rely on his high rating, but to absolutely guarantee participating in the Candidates one must succeed in the Grand Prix series or the World Cup. Prior to the series nobody considered Evgeny Tomashevsky a contender, and now he has good chances, although he clearly suffers from pressure and weight of responsibility, as he admitted at a press-conference.

– Evgeny, it is not the first time you are visiting the capital of Ugra. Many call Khanty-Mansiysk the chess capital of Russia. What are the advantages of our city in your opinion?

– Saying it is not the first time I am here is simply gross underestimation. I was here on multiple occasions in all possible roles. In 2005 I participated in the World Cup as a player, although it was not a very successful try. Later I came as a trainer a few times, and then started to comment games live… The Ugra Chess Academy is a wonderful place for tournaments with a small number of players. The level of organization here is very high, and the authorities of the region are clearly interested in promoting and developing chess. Answering your question, this is definitely one of the key factors.


– Does chess require innovations in order to become more exciting for general public?

– One one hand, we should not be too conservative. Only a few people get excited about deep grandmaster ideas, and most chess fans would prefer to see more dynamic games. On the other hand, in some countries chess became a school subject. It does not mean we will soon have a bunch of very strong players, but the new generations should have better understanding of chess culture and the game in general.

– Do you have an opinion about introducing chess into the Olympic program?

– I think it has both positive and negative consequences. I am not entirely convinced we should fight for it. Naturally, an Olympic sport becomes a priority and receives better funding. On the other hand, I hardly understand how we can fit in. Olympic Games are relatively short, and all serious chess events are lengthy. I do not have a strong opinion on the subject just yet.

– One famous football commentator said that commenting football is more fun than playing it. Is this true about chess as well?

– Most football commentators have never played football at any serious level. My situation is different, as I was in the world’s top 50 several times, and, as they say in Odessa, know a thing or two in this game. When you are taking your job seriously, it feels just as if you are playing the games yourself. It is a different kind of activity, but is by no means less fun. The main difference is that you don’t feel as serious pressure as when you actually play.

– Do you talk with the players in Khanty-Mansiysk after the games?

– After the games I usually talk with Hikaru, when I am in time to catch him. We often discuss games with Peter Svidler. Commentators sometimes notice things that players do not. Also, unlike other sports, the computer often gives us the objective truth. The engine can show the way to win, but it cannot explain anything – you need a human for that. In our commentary we are trying to demonstrate the thought process of a grandmaster. Sometimes we can see more than the players, and other times, listening to the press-conferences, we realize that we know nothing.