Sunday, November 9, 2008

Interview With Seattle Slugger FM Slava Mikhailuk


EV: So I have to start with a question about your incredible pawn ending against Kuljasevic in the last round 2 years ago. What an amazing game! Can you tell me a little bit about what you were thinking when you were playing it? How much you saw at the time? When you thought you were winning? Anything like that?

SM: Yes, that was a memorable game. I knew I had to win to give our team a chance to advance. Throughout the endgame I remained optimistic about my position, and kept looking for options. I found the way to trade the bishops, and it was obvious that at least I had good winning chances.

I saw some lines which were published later, not all of them, of course, but I just kept looking and knew that my opponent was under more pressure now that all the sudden the position changed and instead of moving the bishop he had to calculate a complex position.

EV: Did you realize 65...Ke7 was better than 65...Kd7 at the time? did you see 68... Ke8? That's impossible to see at the time, right?

SM: I didn't see all the lines obviously, but during the few seconds I had for the move I didn't see a clear win after either one. I kept looking though.

EV: And of course the follow-up question is about your endgame with Ginsburg 2 weeks ago. Have you always had this talent for winning drawn endings? Any thoughts about the game? When did you think you would win?

SM: It's kind of similar. I remained optimistic about my position throughout the game. There was one moment (he played a3) when I thought I would be in trouble, but I think he misplayed it and I got an edge

EV: You didn’t answer the bit about whether you usually win drawn endgames. Are you very good at that?

SM: I win my share.

EV: But I think you win more than your share. Agree or disagree?

SM: Probably I win more endgames than lose.

EV: You seem like an extremely clutch player, someone who comes through in time of desperate need. How sad are you not to be playing in the semi-finals? Do you think you might play in the finals?
And the follow-up question is "Are you furious with the team for their endless ingratitude?"


SM: I won and lost a share of clutch games, so I am not sure if I am a "clutch" player.

EV: Won and lost? Ok. What games did you lose? I could only think of this year and 2006: big games.

SM: I have been playing chess for awhile. Wins are, of course, more memorable. It just adds more value to the win, if you manage. I enjoy playing under pressure.

EV: Name an important match in which you lost and it made the difference. I bet you can't.

SM: lol. Not in team tournaments

EV: I’m awesome. Okay, you were talking about being sad about not playing?

SM: I enjoy playing, and playoff are special, so yes, I am sad about not playing. However, it's a team tourney, and our manager selects the team.

EV: Did you guys talk about it?

SM: A bit. Eddie made a case for the line up, and we went with that

EV: Secretly, you hate him? Just blink twice. I know you must.

SM: lol. Seriously though, the line up is good

EV: Talk me through your expectations for Monday…board one: GM Julio Becerra 2640 – GM Hikaru Nakamura 2742?

SM: I afraid I won't be too original. Hikaru is higher rated, and one of the strongest players in the world. He should have an advantage

EV: You're hilarious. 2?: FM Bruci Lopez: 2486 GM Gregory Serper: 2592
That Lopez is crazy strong?


SM: Serper is better. Our top boards are one of the strongest if not the strongest in the league.

EV: Okay 3: Perea is a scary Cuban: Michael Lee is a little boy?

SM: Well, bottom boards have not done too well this season, but I expect that to change. Michael should be the difference maker.

EV: What is that code for?

SM: Michael could win.

EV: What's your over under?

SM: For this game? 45% to a win, 25% to draw but don't tell anyone

EV: THIS IS AN INTERVIEW!!!. IT'S TO TELL EVERYONE!!!

SM: I know

EV: PLEASE

SM: ok

EV: You think Lee has a 45% chance of winning? You are insane.

SM: That's how I win those drawn positions.

EV: The relentless optimist?

SM: yes

EV: Okay , Matan Prilleltensky: 2116 Andy May: 2134-- the Jewish Cuban dude wins on name alone?

SM: I would give Andy a small edge, not as big as Michael

EV: So you guys crush Miami by what score?

SM: 2.5 : 1.5

EV: In the last couple years, you've been relatively inactive in OTB chess. How do you manage to do that and still be good?

SM: I teach chess. Most of my students are beginners, but there are several pretty strong kids, so I have to study to keep up with them.

EV: How strong are they?

SM: Currently my highest rated student is Dakota Dixon. His rating is about 1900. I hope he could join Sluggers within next few years.

EV: Nice. Can you tell us some general things about your life: your age, job, where you were born, how long you've lived in Seattle, who you live with, what else you do besides chess, your favorite book and movie?

SM: I am 37. Over the last 5 years I have been teaching chess full time. Before that, I worked at Microsoft for a few years. I moved to Seattle about 13 years ago. I am married. Have a 3-year old son. My favorite book/movie is Lord of the Rings.

EV: Who's your favorite character?

SM: Frodo.
I play poker a little. I like watching professional sports. My favorite is football nowadays. Before it was basketball, but I don't enjoy it much anymore.


EV: Why?

SM: I don't know. May be football is more like chess (turn-based)

EV: That's a great thing to say. Are you good friends with the rest of the Seattle team? Do you have any good team stories?

SM: I can't think of a good team story. Our team players are nice and friendly. We meet at the matches and support each other.

EV: Who's your favorite teammate?

SM: Serper. He is from former Soviet Union. I could relate to him more than to the other players.

EV: Where are you from?

SM: Russian Far East: Khabarovsk

EV: Let's talk about the news of the moment: Larry Kaufman winning the World Senior. How big of a deal do you think this is, and how big of a deal do you think people will make of it? Have you ever played Larry Kaufman, and if so what's your score against him? Also what chances would you give the you of 25 years from now in a 10 game match against the Larry Kaufman of today?

SM: It's a big deal for Larry to win the World Senior. We played once, and I won. That was quite a memorable game for me since it was one of the first games I played in the US against an IM. I was black and won a nice tactical game.

EV: You think he will get any credit for it?

SM: I don't know, but it's a big deal for him at least. He is the World Champion, and that's big. If I play him in the scenario you described, It would be a tough match since he is the world champion.

EV: but...?

SM: His rating now is, what, 2430? Same as mine NOW. They say it goes down with age... I have to pick him, 50-30-25.

EV: Wow! Ok, thank you, is there anything else you would you like to express to the USCL community?

SM: USCL is a great place for players like me to stay active and play competitive chess. Kudos to Greg and the sponsors for making this reality. I hope the league will flourish, and Seattle will become the champions.

1 comment:

Rastus the magnificent said...

Well Liz. That was a nice friendly interview for once! At least you didn't use the space to stir up controversy like usually do!