Sunday, 11 November 2012

Interview with GM Yannick Pelletier,winner of "Grand Prix CCAS"

1.       First of all, let me congratulate you with the win of the “Grand Prix CCAS”, in Cap d’Agde! I saw it was not the first time you came to Cap d’Agde. How did you like it there?

   Thanks a lot! There was plenty of luck involved of course. I shared 1st place with three other GMs and the tiebreak (buchholz) eventually turned out to be in my favour.
   This is my fourth participation overall in Cap d’Agde – the second time in the open after 2006. Besides that, I was lucky enough to be invited to the main event, the Rapid Trophy, in 2002 and 2010. I keep these two tournaments as some of the most memorable moments in my chess career. Playing in front of a cheering crowd is a unique feeling. Something a chess player is definitely not used to!
   It is clear that the organizers are doing a great job to stage this festival. Over 800 participants gathered this year in the vacation resort! It is hard to imagine the required infrastructure in order to make all this possible.

2.         If I’m not wrong, it’s your best result this year. Did you prepare somehow special for the tournament?

   To be honest, my rating performance was not really impressive! But winning a tournament always has a particular taste! And 2012 seems to be a good year, as I also finished first at an open on Martinique Island in May. But it was significantly less strong compared to Cap d’Agde.
   I actually never prepare specifically for open tournaments. I usually just solve some tactical exercises in order to try and warm up. Moreover, I played almost nonstop in October, as I took part in the European Club Cup in Israel, followed by the final rounds of the Swiss League.

3.        Which of your games from Cap d’Agde do you consider to be the best?

   Well, it has to be my win in the last round against Matthieu Cornette. Earlier in the tournament, I had made quick draws with two friends. It is not something I’m particularly proud of. But considering the  atmosphere of the whole event, I believe I should not be blamed too harshly! J I also know Matthieu well and appreciate him. But I had no choice but to try and win, as I was trailing the three leaders (him included) by half a point. In this game, he played quite nervously and made mistakes soon after the opening.
   Speaking merely about quality, my 5th-round draw against IM Pierre Bailet was very interesting. I put him under pressure by finding some nice resources, but he defended very well and managed to hold by a thread.

4.           When was the moment when  you felt that you could win the tournament?

   Only after the arbiter told me I had the best buchholz! J

5.       I was very surprised when you started to speak Russian. How does it come that you’ve learned it?

   I learnt the basics at high school by taking a facultative course. The level was not very high, because most other students were not motivated. But it proved useful enough to try and start talking at chess tournaments. Of course, practice is the most important if you want to improve at speaking a language! I had decided to learn it for chess, but also because I liked the “music” of the language.

6.          In which tournaments are you planning  to play in the near future?

   I’ll have a break until the end of the year. Then, I’ll take part in the Christmas Open in Zurich, followed by the Hilton Open in Basel. These are two traditional Swiss events which I’m fond of.

7.          Are you only playing or do you also train?

   I almost do not have students, as I got used to spending most of my time training and preparing for my own tournaments!
   Lately, however, I have tried diversifying my chess activity. Last year for instance, together with French GMs Hicham Hamdouchi and Emmanuel Bricard, we launched a website which is destined to teach chess by videos. The address is , if you allow me to make some publicity! J It is intended primarily for chess amateurs, starting with beginners and up to a level of about 2200. We’ve already released over 300 videos, but many things are still missing! Chess is a very rich game!
   At the start, speaking in front of the camera was quite difficult for me, and I did not feel at ease. But I got used to it and now definitely enjoy it! This work also helps me at some occasions, when I have to do live analysis. I sometimes do that on playchess and also provided live comments with my colleague Werner Hug during the match Kramnik-Aronian in Zurich this year. I kind of like doing this! Thus, as you can see, my chess activity does not only relate to taking part in tournaments!

8.       How did you start to play chess and when did you decide to do it professionally?

   I discovered chess by chance, when my father brought home a very small chess board and showed me how pieces move. I enjoyed it immediately, even though my parents do not play chess at all. I was about seven and soon went to the chess club in Biel, where I improved slowly (helloo, this is Switzerland!)
There never really came a moment when I decided to be a professional chess player. This was rather a long process which started as the ingenuous child’s dream to become a great champion. Of course, as time went by, the dream turned into a more realistic urge to spend my life playing chess!

9.       What do you like besides chess?

   Chess forms the most important part of my life, which means that it takes a lot of energy. But I also like doing other things in my scarce free time. Firstly, I find it important to compensate the long hours spent at the chess board and the computer by doing some sports. I regularly go jogging, and sometimes play badminton or squash. But I became more careful with these last two activities, as I started feeling back and nape pains some years ago. I sometimes have headaches during chess tournaments, which is obviously very unpleasant.         The real causes are not quite clear as of yet, but badminton could be one of them. Finally I also do some physical exercises at home.
   As concerns usual hobbies, I like watching movies and have a decent collection of DVDs. I listen to music, classical being my favourite style. But I also like more modern stuff.

10.   Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

   There has been quite a few changes in my life recently. I’m therefore totally unable to answer you more precisely than by saying that my life will certainly have something to do with chess!

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