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Walking is my secret, says Gibraltar chess champ

The young man who beat his hero in the Gibraltar chess masters believes walking a few kilometres each day was key to taking the biggest win of his life.

Grand Master Vladislav Artemiev, who is ranked in the 41st in the world, pulled off his shock victory with a record 8 and a half points from a possible ten at the Gibraltar International Chess Festival.

“It helps to be healthy and sleep well while twice a day I would walk to my hotel in Spain which was good for my mind,” he said. “I try to have a little more time on the clock than my opponent and always play my strongest move.

“This is the biggest result of my career,” he told The Gibraltar Independent after winning the £25,000 first prize. “I have never won in a classical tournament such as this before. There were very many top players such as Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Levon Aronian and Hikaru Nakamura so it was not easy.

“I really love chess but before this tournament I didn’t have a very easy time because I was studying in university. This meant I didn’t have very much time to train my game so this makes it even more satisfying.”

“But if you have a talent is not so hard to handle the pressure but it is important to work on your chess for at least six days a week. It also helps to have someone to help you like a good coach and be strong physically too.”

Women’s first prize winner, Tan Zhongyi

Inspiration

Born in Siberia, Artemiev now lives in Kazan, capital of the semi-autonomous Tatarstan Republic, on the Volga River. At 20-years-old the Grand Master has been three times Russian Blitz (five minute game) champion and European Rapid Chess Champion.

Artemiev said he did not have enough time to see the monkeys because “when you are a professional player you don’t have much free time”. Defying the stereotype he said he does not like vodka but instead prefers “maybe a glass of red wine when I am celebrating”.

Instead of a splashing out the young Russian – who married two months ago – said he would use the £25,000 prize to have a more “a comfortable life” and maybe take his wife for “a good dinner”.

When asked about Kasparov he was hesitant because of the political views the man who ruled chess for a decade now has. He called Kasparov “a great champion for more than ten years” but said he preferred the two World Champions who preceded him, Anatoly Karpov and Bob Fischer.

Artemiev beat his idol Nakamura

From the current crop of players Nakamura is one of Artermiev’s favourites so he said he was “happy” to beat the former US Champion on the way to his big Gibraltar win. “I am planning to return to defend my title,” he confirmed. “It won’t be easy but I will try!”

Tribute

The highest placed Brit saluted Artemiev and tipped him to become a great in the sport. In another great performance, the English number three David Howell also went on to beat one of his heroes.

“He is an amazing player who in a few years will probably conquer the world,” said GM Howell, came in joint third at the end of the Gibraltar Chess Masters. “This is my favourite tournament of the year and I always seem to do better than normal here. I love the people, love the place and I always play better when I am by the sea.

“However, this year I had a really tough start but I came back and ended on a high note by beating one of my chess idols, Levon Aronian. I think it is one of the best wins of my whole career and it is really only just starting to sink in.”

Finally, 12-year-old who only played chess for five years before becoming International Master, gave an insight into the chess mind few adults would be able to come up with. “I like the complexities,” Gukesh Dommaraja said, but then proved he is very much like other children. “Apart from chess I like sports like cricket and badminton.”

The junior prize-winner did very well in the tournament coming in joint fifth overall. He said beating older players “gives me confidence” and said that in five years he wanted to see himself as World Champion. Gukesh even called the Chief Minister “very humble” saying he was “happy” to meet him. He should see him in Parliament!

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