Thursday, December 10, 2009

Chess World Cup Final: it's all about redemption for Ponomariov

Game 1 of the Boris Gelfand versus Ruslan Ponomariov begins today. Ruslan Ponomariov is gunning for his first "true" championship title since winning the FIDE world chess championship in 2002, making him the youngest champion in the history of chess. Live games with GM commentary is being provided by Chessdom.

To learn more about Ruslan Ponomariov, the interview conducted by last year remains one of the most strikingly intelligent, witty and entertaining piece of interview we've ever read from an elite chess players in years. The conversation skills of Pono shows most beautifully here. The best English translation of the interview must be the Chessbase version. Below are some of the quotes from the interview but don't miss the full article. I've read it a couple of times already and I should say the interview with Super Mario was nothing short of literary excellency. The interview is a must read for chess player and even non chess player alike! Love it!

"Probably I became world champion too early", recollects Ruslan Ponomariov, sitting in a café where we met, near his home of Poznyak, Kiev. “People expected too much from me, and I did my best to live up to this new status. But it was not so simple. Today, chess does not have a single dominant player, even if he is world champion, as was the case in the days of Karpov or Kasparov. Even the slightest details are important, and if something goes wrong, your rivals will pounce on it. Yes, nowadays, I am in the shadow a bit, but chess is my profession. I still work a lot at it. After all, you know yourself that if you don’t train and stay at your best, you can't achieve anything.

Q: A lot of celebrities not only visit gyms, but also go to beauticians and hairdressers, etc. What about you?

A: Just after I became world champion, I decided that I should start looking the part. I went to a Moscow salon called “Dolores”, the female proprietor of which is a “world champion hairdresser”. I paid about 100 dollars just for an ordinary haircut. Then I went back to my hotel, went to bed, and next morning, it all needed doing again – my hair was all over the place. Ever since, I have stuck to an ordinary barber.

Q: And how would you prefer to spend your hard-earned cash?

A: I have a dream – to travel around the Mongolian steppes on horseback. One of my friends at the institute of physical culture travelled in the Antarctic and brought me back a souvenir coin. Listening to his stories of the ice and penguins, I also yearned to see the Antarctic. I have already found out that this pleasure would cost me about 10,000 Euros.

Q: You would not be frightened of freezing to death out there?

A: Cold is nothing to be frightened of. Last December, I got some frostbite on my ear. The doctor said I would have to rest for a month and take antibiotics. But just then I went to a Christening and some friends persuaded me to go down an ice-hole with them.

Q: No! What happened?

A: Up to then, I had never tried swimming in winter. Of course, I was a bit nervous. But when the priest blessed this ice-hole, in the shape of a cross, I got into the water with the others. It was great, and the next day, my ear had recovered completely. A month later, I was in Spain. Of course, there it is much warmer than in Kiev, but even so, it was quite cold, but I did not deprive myself of the pleasure of bathing in the Atlantic Ocean.

Q: And how do you keep fit?

A: Ten years ago I took up football, but I soon decided that it was too violent – I broke my leg, so that was the end of that. Jogging has always struck me as boring, so I bought a bike. But after going round all the districts of Kiev, I got bored with that too. Besides, our capital is not very cyclist-friendly, in the way other European cities are – there are no dedicated cycle lanes, so you have to spend your whole time trying to avoid ending up beneath the wheels of a car. Therefore, nowadays I go to the gym and swimming pool, and do exercises with 5 kg weights every day.

Continue reading from Chessbase

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