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    16.12.2005   Francisco Vallejo Pons: None in Spain knows that I am playing here!

    It is amazing but true: the only “original” Spanish chess player taking part in the World Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk is Fransisco Vallejo Pons or Paco as he is called usually. Actually it was Spain that has recently presented the world a number of very interesting tournaments but … no chess player. Except Vallejo who became a real mascot of the country!

    – Is this your first visit to Khanty-Mansiysk? What are your impressions?

    FV: Yes, I am here for the first time. Siberia is too far from my country. I have been to Russia several times but only in Moscow. Departing I was a bit scared that it would be very cold. But when I arrived I was really surprised: a nice town, perfect organization (the only drawback is that the hotel is situated in the outskirts of the town), and the frosts turned out to be not that scary.

    – And you as a Spanish are not afraid to walk about the town when it is minus 30, are you?

    FV: Of course, we have no such weather. Taking into account that in Mallorca where I live it is normally plus 30 then the difference is almost 60 degrees! But I went to the sport shop and bought warm clothes, I told the salesmen that I would go to the mountains… I must tell you that last few days are much warmer and I go outside the hotel sometimes.

    – They say that people in Siberia don’t simply stand the frost they also use warmer clothes!

    FV: I have prepared well, I can be taken for a local. The only thing that I fail to do so far is to protect my face. But I cannot put on a mask…

    – What is the coldest place you have been to?

    FV: I was in Iceland before; it is snow there as well. But it is not that cold as here…

    - They say that at one moment in your second round against Aronian you could give him a mate in three moves and qualify for the quarterfinal. But finally you lost the match and now you compete only for 9-16 places. Are you very much disappointed?

    FV: It was a shame to lose the match with such a good position. Of course I had a bad position in the first round but I managed to make a draw. Then I had all the advantages: the forced victory in the second round, much better in the third, the 10 minutes advantage in the fourth and a promising position. Alas, the disappointment of the loss influenced even my next match. I realized very well that it would not be easy to proceed playing after such loss. But I must tell you that Aronian performed very well. He constantly found good moves and improved his position.

    – Who is the favorite of the Cup in your opinion?

    FV: Difficult question. All I can say is that the strongest will win. To my mind Bacrot had fair chances he showed very reliable performance. There are other players as well…

    – Different players behave in different ways during the game. You are the only one who is walking on the stage very near to the spectators. Is it convenient for you to reflect in such a way?

    FV: Everyone has his own style. If while playing I am in one and the same place I start getting nervous and thus I try to relax in such a way… I don’t think about it, I just do.

    – And during the tiebreak with Aronian you poured water from the glass on yourself…

    FV: This story started several years ago, I think in Linares during the game I suddenly felt hot. I had to go out and refresh my face. It seemed that I felt fresher afterwards. Yesterday I felt hot again but I had no chance to go to a toilet room and that is why I had to use the water from the glass…

    – Several of our press conferences turned into the discussion of the peculiarities of Levon’s style of play. You seem to be the first one to figure him out…

    FV: It is very difficult to tell about any drawbacks of the player who has ELO over 2700. I as my predecessors can only speak about his strong features. In a technical position even with the lack of time he can defend almost as good as Anand. Even having lost the game, he does not get lost and feel very confident. Of course, he has been playing in open tournaments so far and most probably has improved his opening. Without it one has no chances in Linares…

    – By the way, after the last tournament in Linares when Kasparov announced his retirement you came up to him and said that you were proud to play next to Garry…

    FV: I just expressed my feelings that I was lucky to play with the best player in the chess history! I felt sad not only because he was leaving but also because I would have no chance to win him anymore. Right before that tournament I even bet with my granny that I would win a game against him. Alas, now when he retired I lost the bet and I will have no other chance to make another one with her.

    – Fransisco, you have a rather high rating… but what tournaments have you won?

    FV: It had been before I was 18. Since that I increased my rating regularly – once for more than 100 points in a year, as for tournaments… I won the Capablanca Memorial in Havana, several open tournaments. The problem is that I don’t play much. And it is very difficult to win the super tournaments like Linares or Monaco that I usually participate in. Once I played in Biel but not very successfully. In order to win, to make my own record I need to play more. But I can say that I have many records of team results.

    – You consider yourself as one of the team leaders but alike Alexey Shirov you have not played for the Spanish team recently?

    – FV: Neither him nor me played in the European Team Championship in Gothenburg, our team took the 22nd place and that is a very bad result. Next team competition will be in Turin, but at prsent moment I know nothing about it. For example I don’t know whether I will participate in it at all? Or whether Shirov will take part?
    I have no normal working contacts with my National Federation and that is not only because of financial disagreements. The officials do not take any interest in our contracts, in our plans; I think that they may pay much more attention to us. For example, the following situation: I planned to play in the tournament that was to finish by the second round of the Olympiad in Calvia. But I was strongly recommended to start playing from the very first round. The President told me that I had to be here because my fans would get disappointed much if I did not play and so on. And at the same time lllescas arrived to Mallorca somewhere around the middle of the tournament only after the Kramnik-Leko Match was over. I find it weird that different players are treated differently.

    - And don’t you find strange that nowadays so many prominent chess players like Anand and Topalov live in Spain and you have no chess school of your own?

    FV: Yes, Anand and Topalov live in Spain but I see no big future for our kids. Unfortunately, our Federation functions too bad like amateurs. We lose prize places in tournaments, lose place in pereodic. For example, none except my mother knows that I am playing in Khanty-Mansiysk. I think that the situation in chess is pitiable in Spain. We used to organize plenty of tournaments and we used to be called Chess Klondike but those times passed long ago.

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