EICC 2012

European Individual Chess Championship 2012

‘Probably I have become world champion too soon’

Ruslan Ponomariov was born on October 11, 1983 in Ukraine. At the age of fourteen he became the youngest player in history to achieve the Grandmaster title. In 2002, at age 18, he defeated his compatriot Vassily Ivanchuk and won the FIDE World Championship. The duel for the world title against Garry Kasparov, initially planned for the following year, was finally suspended. In this interview you can read, as Ponomariov found hair across the bed after a visit to the “champion world of hairdressing salon”, as a few Chilblains bathing in icy water and that their dream would traverse the steppes of Mongolia on horseback were cured him.

Ruslan Ponomariov: “probably became world champion too soon”

On October 11, the first and so far only Ukrainian world champion, served 25 years. Here are excerpts from an interview with him, made by GM Dmitry Komarov for the Russian magazine “Sobytiya”.

When I lost my father, almost went I wanted to hit him

“Probably got world champion too soon”, recalled Ruslan Ponomariov, sitting in the cafeteria where we find it, near his home in Poznyak, Kiev. “People expected too much of my and tried to do the best which was able to comply with this new status.” But it wasn’t easy. Today, there is no any key player, even if it is champion of the world, as in the case of Kasparov or Karpov. They are important to the smallest details, and if something goes wrong, our rivals will take advantage of it without mercy. Yes, it is true that I have lately disappeared a little in the shadow, but chess is still my profession. I’m still working hard on it. Finally, you know if you don’t train you and act as best you can, you can achieve anything.

Question: How did you you crowned champion?

Response: I started to play with my father when just he was seven years old. At the beginning I used to lose much and angry me terribly. They almost went I feel like beating my father. When he realized it began offering me tables and more forward began to beat him. The thing became less interesting. But then appeared a chess coach in our school and a group was formed. I started to go and little by little I began to study the theory. Then we play competitions in neighbouring regions and then also in other cities. It was then that arose the desire to become a professional chess player.

Q: I know that for a period of six years, since you won the Championship, you have managed to get two higher degrees of vocational training.

A: Since the times of the era of the Soviet Union, in our society there was the opinion that one should have a university education. So I chose the Institute of law that was not far from my house in Kramatorsk, whereupon it could study without that would conflict with other aspects of my life. My thesis with the title “Challenges and prospects for legislation improved in international competitions” was dedicated to the analysis of the contract of my mourning suspended against Garry Kasparov. My top sports training was obtained rather by chance. After a long interval, the State University of physical education in Kiev offered specialization in chess and I decided to not only support my friends, gaining new students giving them a personal example, but also to develop my own knowledge. This summer I finished my thesis on analysis of chess software. I was invited to stay in high school, but I didn’t. We already have enough teachers.

Q: how profitable is your profession?

A: Chess is not a sport to earn much money, especially compared with soccer, tennis or golf. The fact that chess is not Olympic sport has effects on its prestige and popularity. The other day I called the finance authorities.Apparently he had read in the press that I won lots of money [for his victory in the World Championship, Ruslan took some 380,000 USD, clean – D.K.]. I had them to explain that newspapers do not always publish certain facts. By the way, I paid all my own pocket training sessions. And sometimes that even came out against me. I hired Veselin Topalov to be my coach when I was preparing for the duel against Kasparov, and paid him an amount amount of money. But as it became obvious, he won more than such cooperation. It is now at the top of the list of FIDE and I’m in position 22.


Sergey Karjakin, Ruslan Ponomariov and Veselin Topalov in Bilbao 2005

Q: Pay you a State salary?

A: The pay for being a member of the national team of Ukraine are two thousand hryvnia [around 350 USD] per month. But I rejected it. I want that chess be respected and paid properly. At one point, an athlete’s career ends. Four years ago, wrote frankly on “Facts” that the chess Olympiad Winners [the State paid ten thousand hryvnia for this success] should receive recognition similar to that the winners of the gold medals received at the Olympics. Since then it has not changed anything and why I’ve never returned to play in the national team over the past three years. Before, when I was a kid, it was interesting to play for the team. At one point I left out, due to various intrigues. But in 1998, we won the bronze medal and I managed to win the decisive point.Then I won the gold both in the World Championship and the Olympics. In this way I have shown that I am professional and now les officials demonstrate the same thing.

Q: Would you not wanted to play in a traditional as the forums Super-tournament?

A: I know, some of the participants, including some foreigners, received money to participate, in addition to the awards. The first time I played free, but I now insist that the conditions should be more or less the same level as other major international tournaments. Why Ukrainians, and not just the players, must earn less than residents in European countries?

Q: Have you ever thought why money is important?

A: Economic independence means freedom and choice. One can accept some and reject others. For example, if Ukraine were rich, we would be able to make our own policy, but as things stand, there are other countries that decide what should be the fate of the Ukrainians.

P : And how would you like to spend your hard-earned cash?

R: I have a dream. I would like to travel the steppes of Mongolia on horseback. One of my friends from the Institute of physical education has traveled to Antarctica and has brought me a coin as a souvenir. When I am listening to their stories about the ice and penguins it makes me want to see also the Antarctic. Already I’ve heard of that pleasure would cost me around $ 10,000.

P : You would not have fear of dying you cold there out?

A: You don’t have to be afraid to cold. Last December I had Chilblains in my ear. The doctor told me to take antibiotics and that one month I get in bed. But just then I went to a baptism and my friends persuaded me to put me in a hole in the ice with them.

P : Go! what happened?

R: until then had never tried to swim in winter. Of course, I was a little nervous. But when the priest blessed the hole in ice, in the form of a cross, I got into the water with the other. It was wonderful, and the next day my ear had completely healed. A month later I was in Spain. Course, it’s much less cold than in Kiev, but still was pretty cold and I could not resist to swim in the Atlantic.

P : And how you keep in shape?

A: Ten years ago I started to play football but I soon decided that I thought it was a too violent sport, broke my leg and with that left him. Jogging always seemed boring, so I bought a bike. But when all the districts of Kiev had travel me, I also started to bore me. In addition, our capital is not exactly friendly with cyclists. There are no bike lanes so you spend all the time on the verge of being run over by a car. So now I go to the gym and pool; I do exercises with weights of 5 kg daily.

P : Many famous people not only tend to go to the gym but it also go to beauty salons, hairdressers, etc. do you also?

To: when I coroné me world champion, decided that it should start to worry about my appearance. I approached me a room in Moscow’s name “Dolores”. The owner is the “champion of the world of hairdressing”. I paid about $100 for a normal haircut. I went back to the hotel, went to bed and when I woke up the next morning, my hair was all over the pillow. Since I usually go to the normal Barber.

P : Do you usually go to the field often?

R: to my I love to train me in some areas of the field in Ukraine. What I especially like is to catch carp in the Lakes. Once we went fishing at a lake that was partitioned into sectors with barriers and fail to catch anything.Then the owner of the resort where we were staying took us to an old man. It turned out to be very nice and allowed us not only to fish in their particular Lake but that he also shared with us some delicatessen as rabbit liver and a brandy that was distilled illegally.

P : Do you like singing?

R: actually, I love to sing. Different thing is that I have no talent whatsoever. In changing my sister Yes. She is ending her violin studies and is preparing to go to the Conservatoire. I remember when I went to a karaoke bar for the first time in my life in Lausanne and I was scared of it rather than sang customers. They had no Russian songs in the Repertoire, but still I got up, I waited my turn and I even clapped a little. Now I’d like to find a similar site in Kiev.


Ruslan with her younger sister, Ludmilla, who wants to be a professional violinist

P : What are the most amazing memories that you’ve taken your travel?

R: once I was invited to a dacha in Barvikha, near the famous Rublevo-Uspenscom Shosse, where they live all those Russian millionaires. My friend had a relatively modest two-room wooden house, but up to that house cost him three million rubles. I peeked through the door to breathe some fresh air in the morning and saw something like a luxury spa and on the side there was a church. I thought: what a beautiful, after a relaxing treatment one can go directly to pray a little. I told my friend and this burst of laughter because it turned out that this was not a spa but the dacha of one of the new Russian millionaires.

And last year I travelled for the first time to the Czech Republic, to play in the tournament in Karlovy Vary. I thought I could familiarize myself with Czech culture and meet some Czechs of the place. But it turned out that the local language was Russian and that almost everyone was from Russia or Ukraine.

Last year, met his girlfriend Ines Ruslan Ponomariov in the “League of Champions” tournament in the Basque country (Spain) Inés is 21 years old and studying Philology. Ruslan not revealed many details of his relationship with his girlfriend, but Agnes published some photos of your vacation with Ruslan in his blog. This year, Ruslan visited her several times and in June Ines returned the visit to Kiev.

R: No, have no plans to marry. Due to the many trips that we do, and why not say it, our selfish characters, chess players tend to have a high Divorce in Arizona, AZ rate.

P : Of course, your colleague Alexei Shirov, recently, divorced by third time. you give sentence?

To: why I should be worth? Perhaps one should rejoice over it (laughs). Once a relationship is broken, do to what extend it? One always should look at the positive side of things and move forward. The case is that it should be able to earn reasonable money to support his four children. Seriously, the key to resolving the problems of everyday life is avoiding conflicts with the closest and most beloved people and focus on what matters most. And the most important thing for myself now is chess.