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Interview with Ekaterina Kovalevskaya
Sunday, 14 August 2011
IMG_7991.jpgAnastasia: Ekaterina, what do you think about the idea of Grand Prix and the fact that the first stage of this series is taking place in your native city Rostov-on-Don?

Ekaterina: When three years ago FIDE had this idea to organize this series, I was happy not only because I was qualified but also because the issue of women’s chess that I love so much was paid attention at. I remember my conversation with Kirsan Nikolaevich about 10 years ago when he was telling me about Men’s Grand Prix and said that the time would come when we will hold Women’s Grand Prix as well. I appreciate the fact that they have worked out a competent system of round tournaments where the best women chess players have an opportunity to face each other and it is wonderful that they can play a number of round tournaments instead of looking for some other events thus preparing for GP series, World Championship cycle and perform themselves.  

Surely, for me it was a surprise when I received a phone call from the President of the Chess Federation of Rostov Region Mr. Nesterov who told me that FIDE President had proposed to hold this Stage of Grand Prix here in Rostov-on-Don and that the federation was ready to undertake the organization. He also informed me that since I come from Rostov I was nominated to participate. It was a pleasant and at the same time shocking news, because at that moment my son turned only three months. I did not think much about chess, however, at the same time it was easy for me to take a decision.

Anastasia: What personal expectations do you have in respect of this tournament?

When I agreed to participate I had a positive determination and was ready to seriously prepare for the tournament and certainly I had to refuse to play in others. However, it turned out to be rather difficult to choose time and go for training, because I wanted to spare my time to my son who demands his mother’s attention as well as to my husband who needs his wife near him. (laughing) I am very glad that I have a wonderful family that supports me, but at the same time I am not used to the fact when I cannot afford myself to simply get my suitcase and leave for training and from that moment on I am not available for anyone for one month, because I live only in chess. I would like to perform well in Rostov-on-Don, but it is only the first stage and the next one is in China in one month. I would not say that it is a pleasure for me to resign every day and moreover being in good positions and of course I am very happy that I managed to so to say kick a goal of prestige by playing a rather good game with Koneru Humpy. It makes me happy that my return to the chess world is marked by such strong and prestigious tournaments that any chess player is dreaming to participate in. I do not have a heavy feeling; moreover, I have such an experience already. I recall when I lost 5 games in a row in the match with China and it was the result in any position. My coaches did not know what to do with me.

Anastasia: Is it hard for you to play against Chinese players?

Ekaterina: No, it doesn’t have anything to do with this fact. It can happen with any chess players and, unfortunately, I can arrange it myself with my own hands. We are very talented in this sphere (laughing).

Anastasia:  You had a son and you continue playing chess. Is it difficult to combine it and what would you recommend to the professional chess players?

Ekaterina: I am not the fist and not the last who went through this. Katya Lahno for example: her son is a bit older than mine and nevertheless she also came back to chess. Alisa Galliamova has two children however she has returned to chess with triumph. I think that it is ridiculous to justify oneself in such a situation. If you play you have to fight and continue in the same way. I would like to address the girls and say that chess is great and while you are young you have to play and struggle and family was not abolished as well and it is also great.

Anastasia: We got to know that the chess club named after Ekaterina Kovalevskaya was opened in Rostov-on-Don. What is the story?

Ekaterina: My friends had a better version (laughing), they named it a memorial plaque.

Anastasia: The chess world thought something happened to you?

Ekaterina: Yes, everyone worried and was rather kind to me (laughing). In fact, I had a good feeling about that because the club was opened in my native institute. They planned to open this club since long time ago, but the idea to attach my name to it did not appear at once. In the institute everyone likes and supports chess since many years. It is great that the word “chess” is back to the vocabulary of the rostovites. My dream today is (I underline that it is supported by the rector of my institute) to organize a match Rostov-Yerevan. Historically there has been a lot of Armenian settlements in Rostov and nowadays their Diaspora counts many people.

Anastasia: What do you do to relax after the games? Do you like to watch movies?

Ekaterina: It is usually not easy for me to relax, moreover, when you lose. Evening comes and tomorrow there is another game, therefore you try to somehow concentrate. The problem is not even in the tournament specifics: there are not weak opponents. IMG_8290.jpg
Most probably, I prefer some detective soap operas like   "She wrote a murder ". I can read something from time to time. I like when I have an opportunity t walk in the fresh air.

Anastasia: You are very sociable. I know that you have many friends in chess.

Ekaterina: Happily, this is truth band I am very glad to be able to speak about many chess players as of my friends. Of course If I play I strive to win. I always worry for both Russian teams for men’s as well as for women’s one. When boys lose I also consider it as a personal defeat.

Anastasia: Do you plan to come back to the national team?

Ekaterina: Yes, I do. It is very important that that Russian National team has a good reserve with many talented young chess players. If everything goes well and I start winning all the tournaments, I will think about coming back. It is just that I do not accept the fact of coming back there and losing all the time, for me the result of the team is more important than my personal result; because I think that playing weak for your team is not a good thing.

Anastasia: Ambitions in the air...

Ekaterina: I think it is not possible to avoid them. It is ridiculous to play having no ambitions and if one has no ambitions it is better to go and start your coach career.
As for friendship and playing chess, no matter how strong your friendship is, you have to play. I always give as example my game against my best friend in the World Championship as we had no choice. The first question that my father asked me was:”Are you going to talk to each other in the future?”  I answered that I hoped for it, but just in case did not call her for one month. (laughing). As a matter of fact we worry and follow each other’s games. I never had problems with that. I have another friend Nino Khurtsidze. We could spend the entire day shopping together and go to play a very serious game against each other after. That is why I think that the majority of girls share my opinion. This is our profession.

Anastasia: Thank you for the interview!        
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