Arkadij Naiditsch, what was it like
for you to play the top board for Germany in Turin during the Chess
Naiditsch: We certainly did not play very
well in Turin. We were seeded 14th and in the end we landed on the 15th
place. I think we missed some chances to score more points to reach the
top ten. I think I played pretty well in Turin. Before my second loss I
had an ELO performance of 2780, in the end my performance was just over
Your score was even excellent on the top board with a score of 6/10. You
drew against former world champions Anand and Kazimdzhanov, and you only
lost two games, against world champion Kramnik and against 15-year old
Magnus Carlsen from Norway, who once again won against you.
Naiditsch: In the game against Carlsen, I
had an off-day. In Wijk aan Zee, earlier this year, I lost a dramatic
game, although I was an exchange up. And in Sarajevo I had similar
problems: in the first encounter I had a completely winning position,
but finally I let him escape with a draw.
Is the extraordinary tactical strength of the young Mozart of Chess the
reason for your problems against him in these games?
Naiditsch: You know, everybody has
opponents that he likes to play against. Obviously, I have difficulties
with Carlsen, but on the other hand, I love to play against Sergey
Karjakin. I have scored an incredibly 5.5/6 against him, which is not a
normal score. He just does not show his best chess in his games against
me. He does not play poorly, he just makes a few unlucky decisions, I
So you have an equal score against these two young stars. Let’s return
to the performance of the German team in Turin. I get the impression
that you are still disappointed about the shared 11th place.
Naiditsch: Of course I am, I had hoped
that we would get into the top ten with our team.
Why didn’t you manage to achieve a better score, what was the reason for
not reaching that goal?
Naiditsch: We simply do not have enough
professional players in our team. The other players in our team did not
score really well. For that reason it is almost impossible to get to the
absolute top. On the other hand, one must understand the fact that the
players in our team must work hard to earn a good salary.
Although you have been living in Dortmund for ten years, it took a very
long time before you started playing for Germany. Why did it take so
long? There have been some problems with the German Chess Federation, I
Naiditsch: First of all one needs a German
passport, to be able to play for Germany. I received that document
rather late, I had to wait eight years, which was a bit unfortunate. The
German Chess Federation should have done more to speed up my
naturalization, but unfortunately they did not contribute much in that
That can be done much quicker in other sports.
Naiditsch: You are right, in other sports
it seems to be not such a big problem to speed up the process.
Anyway, that problem seems to be resolved. Are you looking forward to
play in the German team in the near future and what are the goals you
want to achieve?
Naiditsch: I am looking forward to playing
in the next Chess Olympiad in Dresden 2008! I hope that a few young
players manage to join our team, so that we will have a fair chance to
achieve a good result. It makes no sense to send a team to Dresden that
hardly has a chance to play for a win, and just plays for the Olympic
|Arkadij Naiditsch (links) gegen
Levon Aronian (rechts)
The outlook for the German team would be much better if Levon Aronian
would play for Germany. For a short period of time, he was registered
with the German Chess Federation. Anything could have happened if he had
played for Germany, in a team with you – but Aronian won the gold medal
with his native country Armenia.
Naiditsch: With him we would have played a
completely different tournament and we would have scored a much better
result. Levon is a good guy and he definitely wanted to play for
Germany. I think a lot of things went wrong.
Aronian was attacked during the Olymiad by Daniel Gormally. Shouldn´t he
has attacked you instead? You were the one that accompanied Arianne
Caoili to the Bermuda party, didn´t you?
Naiditsch (smiles): Yes, I was a bit
surprised as well, because I did not only go to the party with Arianne,
but I was with her during the whole tournament. There was no need for
Gormally to attack Levon at all. He behaved like a drunken football
hooligan in a football stadium. He could have attacked anyone that
evening, but poor Levon was the victim in the end. Gormally made a good
decision not to attack me, though – I have been practicing karate during the last five years.
For chess-loving Germany one question is still interesting: does our
best player have a love affair with this beautiful Australian girl?
Naiditsch: We often met during various
chess world championships in the past ten years. We already met in Bad
Wiessee, when I was thirteen and she was twelve. We like each other and
there is a certain mutual sympathy, of course.
Didn´t Arianne Caoili wanted to come to Germany to start studying?
Naiditsch: Yes, in Frankfurt – but she has
a lot of plans.
Let’s get back to the chessboard. During the Chess Classic Mainz you
will play against Pentala Harikrishna on 15th and 16th August in the
Chess960-Junior-World Championship. Are you optimistic about your
chances in this eight-game match?
Naiditsch: Last year I did not play very
well during the Chess Classic. This year I want to perform better and I
want to “up the tempo”. I have never played Harikrishna in a tournament
game. Although he is just a few places ahead of me on the word rating
list as number 25, I do not consider myself an outsider. I think the
chances are about even. He has improved enormously in the last years.
Is playing Chess960 good for you, or are you a player who likes to get a
slight advantage out of the opening?
Naiditsch: I think I have an advantage in
a chess game without using opening theory. Nowadays, a modern chess
player has to spend lots of time preparing openings, finding something
new and, let’s not forget, he has to recall it all over the board. That
is very difficult! In a Chess960 game you just sit down and play. I like
Chess960 a lot, although I think it is a completely different kind of
chess. It has nothing to do with poker in the casino, but to me Chess960
is a different game.
In one the other matches, Vlastimil Hort and Lajos Portisch play for the
senior Chess960 World Championship, Elisabeth Pähtz from Erfurt will
play against Alexandra Kosteniuk from Russia in the women´s section.
What do you expect from those Clerical Medical Chess960 world
Naiditsch: I think that Portisch will win
the match against Hort, who is not very active anymore, whereas Portisch
still plays tournaments. If you look at the ELO rating in the other
match, it is obvious that Kosteniuk is clearly better than Pähtz. But in
Chess960 she may have not such an advantage against Elizabeth.
After the matches you will play the FiNet Open (17-18 August) and the
Ordix Open (19-20 August). Last year you played pretty well in the Ordix!
Naiditsch: I had a very good start, with a
6/6 score. But then I lost a very important game against Aronian in
round seven, although I was a piece up. Because of the strength of the
other players it is difficult to even get amongst the top ten in Mainz!
My goal is to be in the top ten again this year. But because so many
strong players will come to Mainz, it will be a tough tournament.
19-year old Radjabov will play eight games in the GrenkeLeasing
Rapid-World Championship against Viswanathan Anand from August 17 to 20.
As the German number one, you were also on the shortlist to play against
Anand. Do you think that you would have a chance against him?
Naiditsch: To play against a living rapid
chess legend is something very special for every player. It would
have been a very special experience. I have asked
Vishy a while ago in Corsica if he had ever lost a rapid chess match.
After a short think he answered: „I am not sure“. It was very surprising
to see that he lost the final in Corsica against Vadim Milov. He is the
best rapid chess player in the world by far, it is almost impossible to
Is there still a big gap between you and Anand or other top ten players?
Naiditsch: I think that I played pretty
well last year and that my chess has improved. I did not play very well
in Sarajevo and in the Russian team championships, though. I try to do
my best to break the 2700-Elo barrier and I do train a lot to reach that
goal. When I reach that point, which I think should be possible by the
end of this year, I have to get invitations to top tournaments and try
to get a sponsor, to be able to get a personal trainer to improve even
Just before the Chess Classic Mainz, the Dortmunder Schachtage are
taking place. Last year you won the event ahead of such fabulous players
like Vladimir Kramnik, Vesselin Topalov, Peter Leko and Michael Adams.
Do you think that you can repeat that sensational victory this year?
Naiditsch (smiles): I will certainly not
be the clear favourite this year, since I have to play four games with
the black pieces, and only three with white. I still believe that I can
play a good tournament. I do play in Dortmund, my hometown, where I
really love to play. I can learn a lot in these kinds of events. I am
very happy that I have been given the opportunity to play in these
Kramnik seems to have recovered from his health problems. In the
Olympiad he showed some good games, including the game against you. Is
the six times Dortmund winner the clear favourite this year again?
Naiditsch: Let’s not forget that
Aronian is also playing in Dortmund, he is very strong and is able to
win every tournament that he is playing in. But in Dortmund everybody
can beat everybody else. Kramnik has good chances, but I think Aronian’s
chances to win Dortmund are at least as good.
Finally, let’s look at the next Bundesliga season. You will play for the
TSV Bindlach team with Grandmasters like Navara, Baklan, Bischoff,
Bezold and Baramidze. What do you expect from this team?
Naiditsch: We have a very good team, as
far as I can see, and we also a very good management team with
Klaus&Klaus, Klaus Steffan and Klaus Mühlnikel. I like to play for this
club. The team spirit is good and therefore I hope that we will be able
to reach a place amongst the top three.
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