Sergey Karyakin: "Ilyumzhinov put chess in order"

- Sergey, could you tell us about your current life as far as chess is concerned: do you get ready for something new or are you going to have a well-deserved rest after the fight with Carlsen?

I became much more popular after the match with Carlsen. I always played pretty well but I became really well-known only after that match. Thus, I'm reaping the fruits of this glory now. I am invited to many meetings, various events, simultaneous games and lectures.

Therefore, I spend a lot of time on such, we can say, social and commercial activities. As for the purely chess aspect, I will not participate in strong sporting tournaments this year.
Nevertheless, there will be many significant commercial tournaments, for example, in Norwegian Stavanger. This will be one of the strongest tournaments that have ever been held: the ten world’s top ranking players will be participating; absolutely everyone will be there. In any case, you cannot relax. In the near future, I'm going to the training camps for training. It is impossible to win tournaments basing on a glory. Competition is very tough.
- There is a feeling that we are in a chess limbo. Yes, chess is a popular game and after your match with Carlsen they started talking about it, but it cannot be compared with the former popularity of chess like 30 years ago... Do you feel it?
To some extent, I do. But recently there have been really big changes and this was due to several factors. Firstly, if you plunge into history you can’t but notice the complete confusion in chess in the 90s: there were several world champions, a number of completely different prizes. According to one version, the champion was Garry Kasparov. And he decided to create his own system of drawings for the World Cup. That is, he simply broke down the system that had been working for a long time.
As a result, there was a complete mess in the chess world. Then, in 1995, Kirsan Nikolaevich Ilyumzhinov headed chess and he put chess in order in ten to twelve years. Now we have a perfect system of drawing for the World Cups, you always know who exactly the champion is. The unification match was played in 2006. Everything was transparent and clear, and thanks to this, sponsors were drawn to chess.
As for the Russian chess, there has also been a qualitative leap in the last few years. We now have a very powerful chess federation in Russia. Sergei Shoigu, Sergei Sobyanin, Dmitry Peskov and other outstanding people are members of the board of trustees. Therefore, chess is in great demand now. And I believe that history is unravelling before our very eyes: chess is changing its image; a game for geeks becomes super popular. It’s played by almost everyone including those at the highest level.
- Tell me, how do you prepare yourself for a chess tournament? Do you read or study?
Frankly, our training is mostly done by a computer. We are studying the games of the upcoming rivals, learn their mistakes and try to establish their weak spots. This is a very hard work and there are a lot of nuances. Also, we are working on our own weak points. Let's say that something went wrong in the endgame at the last tournament, which means you need to work hard to fix it so that the opponent would not be able to do the same trick. Of course, it is very important to have experienced trainers nearby: an independent opinion can help a lot.
- And to do this kind of work alone is simply impossible...
Yes; it is difficult and boring to do it alone. A trainer is necessary. I have a whole team of coaches. Naturally, the more important is the tournament, the more powerful team I'm trying to collect. For example, I was assisted by seven chess trainers before the match with Carlsen. And quite a number of people helped me with advices: different chess players, great champions Vladimir Kramnik and Anatoly Karpov ...
- How are you affected by the actions of an opponent?
- All professional chess players are taught how to deal with it from childhood. There is always someone who tries to drive you mad. And we all outgrew it, we are able to resist banal manipulations, we are too experienced in this regard. That's why it's very hard for me to lose my temper, I build self-control. This is elementary. The goal is to win the chess game, and nothing should make you go astray. Let the opponent go astray.
- Carlsen went mad during the match; he was fined for what he did at a press conference... Did you ever have such emotional outbursts?
I try to control myself. I can swear after the game. Although, it happens very rarely. I would never refuse to shake hands with my opponent after my defeat.
- In which mental state have you finished the match with Carlsen?
The defeat did not break me; it was more than a worthy match. Probably, I was not strong enough at the end... In any case, there is only one winner. His nerves were stronger, he managed to quickly switch over to blitz from classical chess. Also experience matters: it was the third match for the world championship for Magnus, while it was only the first one for me. Well, let's draw conclusions and move on.
- Sergey, what did you do first thing after the match?
I congratulated Magnus on his birthday.