GM Andrey Zontakh – the coach of the European & World Junior Chess Champion, Russian Champion the 15-year old Sanan Syugirov, who recently received the GM title as well. Andrey Zontakh is 38 years old, he is from Ukraine. He has been working as a coach for 5 years in Lipezk. This is his first time in Kalmykia.
- Andrey Rudolfovich, How long are you working as a coach?
Already 10 years. Because of this, I play in tournaments very seldom.
- How old were you when you became a GM?
- I became a GM at 26 in Kiev. I graduated from the Institute of Physical Training, the chess department in Kiev.
- Sanan is commenting the games on this tournament. What are you doing here? May be you are helping some of the participants?
- I am watching the grandmasters’ games, examining Sanan’s future opponents, who will soon enter to the world chess elite without any doubt. I am learning a lot here, in particular, I am watching how the brilliant chess commentator Sergey Shipov works. I will stay in Elista till the end of the tournament.
- In your opinion, when will Syugirov start to play in strong tournaments?
- It is difficult to say, he is only 15. Rarely one can succeed to become a GM at this age. Sanan has a talent and I have no doubt that he will keep doing well. Now every year is very important for him. It depends on his willingness to work hard and other factors. I believe that Sanan can manage to burst into the elite world of chess and get the highest title. But when it happens I don’t want to take a long shot.
- In what way are you training in Lipezk?
- Between tournaments where Sanan plays, we conduct the gatherings within 10-12 days or two weeks. During this time I come to his place every day and we spend plenty of time analyzing the opening theory, the games we have played, some concrete or typical positions. While preparing for the next tournaments we are training on the PC and learning chess literature. Sometimes Sanan goes to Samara or Tolyati where the famous coach and GM, Yury Yakovich’s games are taking place.
- You have told that you are taking part at the tournaments very rare. Have you got any successful tournaments so far?
- Now I am not taking part in the strong tournaments. I was a winner at the international tournament in Lipezk, where Sanan was playing as well. Also I shared the 1-2 place in the Independence Cup which was taken place since 1991. At the Chigorin Memorial in Saint Petersburg I took the fifth place and Sanan was higher. Together with Sanan we are playing for the Lipezk team ‘Perspektiva’ at the Russian Team Championship.
- You are working in Lipezk more that 4 years. How often do you visit your motherland, Ukraine?
- Twice a year.
- During recent years the Ukrainian town – Kramatorsk – gave to the world a lot of talented chess players, for example, Sergey Karyakin, Katerina Lahno, Yuri Kuzubov etc. Is the chess school still functioning there?
- No, unfortunately, it doesn’t work any more. As per the grandmasters mentioned before, I know that Karyakin lives in Simferopol, Crimea; Lahno moved to Chelyabinsk, Russia. In the Ukraine the chess cities are Foros, Odessa, where every year the traditional international tournaments are taking place with participation of the leading world grandmasters. The capital of the country Kiev, unfortunately, could not boast of such chess traditions, although, men and women teams of Ukraine show good result at the Olympiads. The women’s team even won the gold in Turin, 2006. Our country , as is known, gave many brilliant chess players to the world – Vasily Ivanchuk, Ruslan Ponomaryev, Sergey Karyakin and etc.
- As they say, may be one of the tournaments of the FIDE Grand Prix series will be in Kiev…
- It would be wonderful if such a tournament will be in the capital of Ukraine.