Anastasiya Karlovich: You’ve been playing in Turkish league for so many years. In 2004 you were a member of Eczacibasi club which won the Turkish League three times and today you play on the first board of “Besiktas”. Can you please compare the Turkish League in the past and nowadays?
Shakhriyar Mamedyarov: In the beginning I would like to say that I like to play in Turkish League because I have so many friends here! Not long time ago I was invited to play in the ACP tournament in Amsterdam, very interesting event, but I wanted to play in Turkish League and confirmed my participation beforehand, so I didn’t change my decision.
I can say that the Turkish Isbank League became a very strong tournament. I remember when I played here in 2004 I won all 15 games. I could play in first board or change it for under 20 board. The funny thing is that Vugar Gashimov, who also participated there, took the second place in the first board even though he scored 13 out of 13!
I believe nowadays no one can repeat our success because the players are very strong. I’ve played 5 games here and the average elo is 2680. There are many players who have rating over 2700.
The problem is that it’s not enough to have strong players on the top boards, it’s important to have good players on the other boards as well. Many clubs could fight for the medals if they could play with first six boards or four as it used to be in Olympiad. In any case this League is very interesting.
Anastasiya Karlovich: Last year your name was on the roster of “Besiktas” but you didn’t participate. What did change this time?
Shakhriyar Mamedyarov: Last year “Besiktas” even had a chance to be eliminated from the first league as they didn’t get sponsorship and could not invite strong players. This year they found money and decided to call three foreign players and it changed the situation. As you can see Besiktas can fight for the medals today.
Anastasiya Karlovich: How is the tournament going for you so far?
Shakhriyar Mamedyarov: Until the moment I’ve played 5 games. I played very risky in the first ones. I can say that the game against Adams was very interesting but at the same time I don’t think it was a good decision to sacrifice a pawn, otherwise I could have had positional advantage and could have tried to fight for victory.
In the game against Malakhov my opponent was defending very well but probably I also helped him to defend better. At the very beginning I could have caused him the problems which were not so easy to solve. I underestimated his idea to sacrifice a pawn and get drawish position in the endgame.
The funny thing happened in the game against my compatriot Vasif Durarbayli. He proposed a draw in the opening and I refused, but after 3 moves I understood that my position is not that good any more. It was my turn to propose a draw and his turn to decline the proposal. So we played and in the end got a drawish variation. I believe it was the most interesting game in this tournament which I played.
Anastasiya Karlovich: What about the game with Ernesto Inarkiev which you succeeded to win?
Shakhriyar Mamedyarov: It was really funny! During the game I was certain I’m playing correctly in the opening. In fact I mixed the variation because I played too fast. I made a bad move in the opening which could lead to the position with advantage for black.
During the game Ernesto made a move which was new for me, so I thought his move should be a mistake and I needed to find the right way to get an advantage. Till the end of the game I was sure he made a mistake! (Laughs) I thought I knew the line but in fact I just mixed everything.
Computer shows that my opponent could sacrifice bishop in one moment and get unclear position with good chances. Later on we entered into the endgame where I played quite good and won.
Anastasiya Karlovich: You just came here from the World Rapid and Blitz championships. It was a really tough event, so have you had some time to recover?
Shakhriyar Mamedyarov: I’ve played 45 games in 5 days, so I had already felt very tired there. I was surprised with my good result in rapid chess because usually I play better in blitz. So it was clear I had no energy for blitz as in 5 out of 30 games I blundered queens in one move. I’m glad that my club gave me few days to rest here, so I managed to recover.
Anastasiya Karlovich: The head of your club Umut Atakisi is also a chess player. Is it easy to explain to the chess player that you need to have a rest?
Shakhriyar Mamedyarov: We have very good relations in the club, Umut is a very good friend of mine, so it’s easy to discuss anything and find the right decision. He saw I was doing something strange in the game against Adams, so he was the one who told me I need to have a break.
But actually every evening we used to play blitz with him here (laughs). This is our way to rest. He is very supportive, everyone is in the good mood and not bored, and this is the reason why I’m here.