«You may go farther and fare worse!»
The Grand Master from Zheleznovodsk who dominated in Moscow Swiss tournaments during his studying in Russian State Academy of Physical Culture could not but win at Moscow Open at least once. He needed two tries to achieve it. At the very first tournament he was leading from start almost to the very end, but…he lost to Amonatov. But the next tournament was really his! Sasha’s superiority over his opponents was obvious in every game, and it is quite natural that Lastin was the one to get the Cup from Karpov and Bersenev. And he is full of ambitious plans now - especially after unexpected failure that happened last year…
– How significant was the victory in Moscow Open 2006 for you?
– It was pleasant as any other victory. But, in fact, it is hard to compare that tournament with the present one. Then the prize fund was much lower, and the participants were wicker. I didn’t not take this victory as some “stage” for me. Just an ordinary Swiss.
It I start recalling, at some moment I was just lucky with drawing of lots: in last rounds I could get Najer, Rychagov, but I played weaker opponents and beat them.
It was quite memorable more because that it was the only tournament that was held in Moscow for the first time during last years, but for Aeroflot-Open where it is not advantageous to play if you don’t fight your way towards the top…
– Can it be true that that tournament did not differ at all? And what about its format?!
– Ah, yes, of course. It is a cool idea to divide it into several parts! I don’t know who is its author but I liked the opportunity to choose whether to play classical chess, or rapid and classics, or to begin with two combined rounds. When I was choosing for myself – it was the first time, - a “seven day variant” seemed to be more attractive to me: you do not mix different chess and save two days. The majority of strong chess players chose to start with rapid chess: and if it’s no success, you can leave the tournament without losing rating points.
– What do you think, why other tournaments are not held according to this format?
– Probably the reason is inactivity of organizers. It would attract more players to their tournaments.
– Does Moscow Open have a chance to catch up and overtake Aeroflot Open?
– I am not sure about “catching up” - while they exist together in parallel realities. Aeroflot has more money so far, although, it is not a fact, if the prize fund of Moscow Open continues increasing as rapidly as today. On the other hand, this tournament has a number of advantages: instead of paying you get a reception yourself, daily allowance – absolutely different attitude!
– How important is it that the organizers of both tournaments cooperate with each other and match the time schedule in order to give an opportunity to play in both tournaments for all comers?
– Very important! Last year a “shift change” was too long – a week, and, say, people from Siberia had to spend almost the whole week traveling. Now the tournaments are separated by a few days, and it will attract more participants.
– Do the chances of Moscow Open participants decrease in Aeroflot Open?
– Why? I would say, vice versa, - they increase. They are well-trained when they start playing in Aeroflot Open. What weariness can you feel after just nine days?!
– How would you evaluate the level of Moscow Open organization?
– It is quite good. At least if you compare it with Aeroflot Open. I have already mentioned the reception, and as for the chess venue, it is just more pleasant to play in RSSU than in “Izmaylovo”. There is no hustle, everybody plays in his hall. It is more convenient for spectators as well as for players. Everything is perfect.
– What should change to attract top players to play here?
– Everything is easy: a prize fund increases – strong players come. It is already quite large so it will happen soon…The tournament lacks some promotion but in a year or two many players rated 2650 and over will probably play here.
Moscow Open is improving – it is enough to compare the players of this tournament that I won (not to mention the first one) and a current one. Day and night!
– What else attracts people to Moscow Open apart from size of the first prize?
– It is hard to imagine that anything else can attract people to the tournament apart from money: everybody wants to eat. And as for the prizes this “open” is definitely the second after Aeroflot.
– You are an old-timer of the tournament: you got the second prize in first Moscow open, the first one in second. You played last year. I suppose you are going to continue participating?
– Definitely, you may go farther and fare worse! Though I had just negative emotions from the last year tournament but it will be an extra incentive to prove that this miss was just an accidental episode. I can say that I am ready for a fight…