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Faik Gasanov: chess needs Government support to be popular
Saturday, 25 April 2009
250409_gasanov.jpgOne of the representatives of the elder generation in chess, the vice-president of the Chess Federation of Azerbaijan, an international arbiter, the deputy of the chief arbiter at the IV FIDE Grand Prix series tournament Faik Gasanov gave an exclusive interview for us.

Can you tell us how long have you been refereeing chess tournaments? May be you can point out the most memorable and favorite ones?
I have been refereeing the tournaments for forty five years already. The first international tournament I refereed took place in Baku in 1964. I also refereed sports contest between the USSR peoples. I have been an international arbiter for about thirty years, since 1980. I used to referee World and European Championships, Olympiads, the World team championship. I have been refereeing the tournament in Linarese for twenty years. I was also the chief arbiter of the first FIDE Grand Prix tournament in Baku.
What is the difference between the FIDE Grand Prix competition and the traditional round robin tournament?

The difference is that here it is an official selection for the World championship. And super tournaments are specific: the participants are playing for great prizes, for rating and prestige.  A lot of distinctive features can be pointed. The matter is different at the World championship and the official World Cup. Each participant is playing with all ones strength. It is not the first tournament. I was the chief arbiter at the first period of the Grand Prix series in Baku. I noticed that they are going off rather intently. Short draws are forbidden here. And in fact, there is nobody who tries to finish the games peacefully. For example this tournament can’t be compared with the World Cup. It has quiet another system. The participants play one by one. They prepare themselves for each game, they know the succession in which they will with each other. They also know whom they will play with further if they manage to pass to the next round. And here there are definite preparations for playing with thirteen participants, it is a must.

We would like to touch upon Azerbaijan. What is the secret of the last successes of the Azerbaijan chess players?

First of all, the secret is in the players themselves. A lot of talented young chess players appeared at once. There are five of them: Teimur Radjabov, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Vugar Gashimov, Rauf Mamedov and Gadir Guseinov. There is a certain period in every country when several chess players appear at the same time.
There was the same situation in Lvov, when a group of chess players such as – Belyavsky, Mihalchishin, Romanishin appeared suddenly and at the same time.
We are lucky to have such a good and talented players. When 1-2 strong players appear - other ones try to reach them, and it is a kind of a competition which stimulates the development. Besides it is important that government of the republic pays much attention to the development of chess. The president of the country is at the same time the president of the Olympic committee. And before that, his father Geidar Aliev used to help Radjabov, Gashimov and Gadir Guseinov when they were just capable boys of  9-10 years. Shakhriyar didn’t get in then, not because of his age, he is elder than that boys. The thing is that his ascent was a little unusual. Usually, children show their results at the young age, from 9-10 years, but Shakhriyar began to grow dramatically after 14 years.

Tell us please about the planning match of Azerbaijan against the rest world, which is supposed to take place in May of this year.

We hold the President`s Cup to honour Geidar Alievich on his birthday, on the 10th of May. We hold different activities every year. Now we have a new idea. We think that our chess players can force with the rest world. Not every country have chess players who can play with the combined team of the world. So we decided to take the match of quick chess. We have already started negotiations with the FIDE. The chess players also liked the idea. We decided to choose one representative from each country. The staff is already known: Vishvanatan Anand, Vladimir Kramnik, Alexei Shirov and Sergey Karyakin will represent the combined team of the world. This match will surely contribute to the popularization of chess in Azerbaijan and in the whole world. The interest is great, so we will see what it will be like.

Do you think that the chess players can get back the popularity they used to have in the 60-70s of the previous century?

The system is different nowadays. However, the interest to chess didn’t weaken in the countries where people are fond of the play. For example in our country, chess has become even more popular than it used to be at that time. Of course, it is connected with the government support of chess. It is also important to have talented people. Young people will go in for chess. After Azerbaijan started taking part in the World and European Children Championships, there was not a year when our sportsmen did not get any medals. Besides I have been presenting a chess program on the Azerbaijan television for 40 years already. The Russian television stopped the showing of the program “The chess school”, which was presented by Averbakh and Belavenets. We have such program and it is shown four times a month. This fact also proves that the interest to chess in our republic is great. I wish the same interest was in other countries of the former Soviet Union.
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