GM Boris Chatalbashev is the winner of the Basel chess open 2018. He is a man on fire at the moment, winning a lot of tournaments last 12 months. GM Chatalbashev spoke with Chessdom’s new editor GM Marian Petrov on his recent success and the string of victories.
You recently won the strong Basel open. Can you tell us more about the victory there.
Basel is a well-organized tournament and I can recommend it to people who like playing chess in a nice place with a comfortable playing conditions. As for this year’s event – I won it with great piece of luck. Not only I had bad positions in several games, but at the end managed to take 1st from GM Andreas Heimann by the slightest of margins – 3rd tie-break rule. Actually it was the young and talented German who played by far the best chess in Basel.
You had a fantastic year of 2017, winning many tournaments and now you are starting 2018 with yet another win. Congratulations!
Actually I consider last three years as fantastic. In that period I have won 13 tournaments (either as clear first or on better tie-break) and finished 2nd a total of 8 times.There were some huge disappointments also, but I try not to focus on them too much. First because chess is like this – you never know… and second – well, I am not really an elite player – so it is normal :)
To be honest, I try not to focus on the good results also. As the famous song goes “Whatever happens, I’ll leave it all to chance”. It is very easy for a player who has achieved something to start to believe that suddenly he has become strong or that he has done something great. This might not be the right mental attitude for the challenges ahead. Once Agassi said something like “the most important rally is the next one, the most important match – the next one”.
These victories surely do not come by chance. With so many years of experience and titles, how would you best define your chess style?
I cannot say that I play sharp chess, I am simply not that brave :) Generally I try to play what I think is necessary in every concrete position. If I consider that the best is to play an ending – I do it. If the best seems to be going into some murky waters – I do it. But yes, given a choice or when I am in doubt – surely I like keeping more pieces on the board. Maybe that’s why I have a higher number of decisive games. I can define my style as “positionally aggressive”.
Do you work with a coach or on your own?
Of course nowadays I do not have a trainer. But I am grateful to all people who have worked with me when I was young, especially GM Spiridonov. Now I am a trainer myself, lucky to work with some very talented juniors these days. But only when I have time – still being a player and having a family…
As a coach what would you say, how important is opening preparation?
Opening preparation is important of course. When checking the games of the opponent I also try to understand what is his style and what he likes. Such knowledge proves to be quite useful during the game. However, let me note something more important than even openings. You must love chess – it is a beautiful game! And you must strive to win every game, with fighting spirit. If you do not try to win every tournament – then better play chess only for fun. No matter if you participate in Wijk aan Zee A group or the championship of your village – you must try to do your best.