Francisco Vallejo Pons has come to play in Moscow Open for the first time. The Spanish Grandmaster told the correspondent of the official website about his interest for Russia and his game of the first round.
Q: At the same time with Moscow Open another chess festival in Gibraltar is being held. That place is closer to Spain so why did you choose to come to Moscow?
A: I’ve already played in Gibraltar many times and I know this place very well. So it’s not a big surprise for me to play there, but I’ve never been at Moscow Open before. Moreover, I’m trying to learn a little of the Russian language in Moscow.
Q: Why are you studying Russian?
A: I’m interested in this language, I think it’s one of the most interesting languages in the world and it’s highly widespread in chess. Many best chess players of the world speak Russian. Fischer did, so why not learn it? So I enjoy studying it and decided to spend some time here, to play a couple of important tournaments like Moscow Open and Aeroflot Open.
Q: I also saw your pictures with Sergey Karjakin in Moscow. Did you have a chess training or just a friends’ meeting?
A: We’ve been friends for a long time and we decided to play some blitz, so it’s not a very serious training. But it’s always good to play against a strong player like Sergey and I was happy to meet him, take pictures. Just for fun.
Q: Who are your other chess friends from Russia?
A: I know a lot of players. I’m a bit closer maybe to Svidler or Nepo. I mean I know all Russian grandmasters but I don’t meet them so often, only during the tournaments. But when I’m playing at a tournament I usually spend more time with Spanish people. But I like Russian people, they are very nice.
Q: What do you think of Moscow Open, of its organization?
A: Only one round has been played, I’ve never known this area before. I guess after few days I’ll have an opinion, but right now I don’t know what to tell you: I haven’t seen much around. But as far as there is good chess and good tournament I’m happy to be here.
I haven’t played much lately and I think that Moscow Open is a very challenging tournament before the European Chess Championship. I was very happy when a saw a starting list and myself as number 2 (laughing), but my competitors are very good players and few rating points don’t do a big deal. It’s going to be very tough and challenging.
A: I cannot say that I’m the same top player as Kramnik or Topalov, but thanks for the compliment! It’s nice to see strong people playing everywhere. I was also very surprised when I saw Topalov in Gibraltar.
Q: Maybe it happens so because the average level of chess players is much higher than before?
A: Chess is developing, getting tougher and tougher. There are a lot of young players, 15-year-old guys, I saw very many of them here and they are really tough already.
Nowadays it’s very difficult to be on the top.
Q: What happened in your today’s game?
A: I think I got some initiative from the opening, then I got a winning position and slowly converted my advantage into the victory. I don’t know whether my opponent had a chance but probably he did something wrong. Although he played very fast. He has some practical skills but I think he was playing a bit superficially in some very critical positions. Probably when I analyze it with computer I’ll see it’s all been very bad, but now I’m quite happy with the game.
Interview by Eteri Kublashvili