The Best Player on the Armenian Team

00:24, 12 June, 2006

The national chess team of Armenia has for the first time in history won the world chess Olympiad. The gold medals of the 37th Chess Olympiad in Turin were awarded to grand masters Levon Aronyan, Vladimir Akopyan, Karen Asryan, Smbat Lputyan, Gabriel Sargsyan, Artashes Minasyan and coaches Arshak Petrosyan and Tigran Nalbandyan.

The best result in our team was produced by Gabriel Sargsyan at Board #4, who played all thirteen matches and earned ten points with seven wins, six draws and no losses. Only one chess player - G rand Master Wang Yue from China had a better result (ten points, but out of twelve matches). With this result Sargsyan has raised his rating by 21 points.

Gabriel, you were the only member of our team who had played all 13 games and you had the second best result in the tournament. How would you assess your performance?

Of course, I'm pleased with the result, since our team won first place. We have never achieved such success. My standing was the best in my career and the most important. I hope that in the future I will have even better results.

This was your fourth Olympiad. What parallels would you draw between this Olympiad and the other three?

This time we set ourselves the task of taking first place. If in previous Olympiads we had the goal of getting into the top three and we successfully handled that this time, I think, third place would have been a normal result for us.

Which match that you played do you value the most?

From the chess point of view, I highly appreciate the match against Grand Master Erwin L'Ami from the Netherlands. But, in general, the most important match was with Alexander Morozevich.

Who were your hardest and easiest opponents?

The hardest opponent was Morozevich. As for the easy opponents, in accordance with the regulations, we met with them only in the initial rounds.

Before the Olympiad, bookmakers set odds for betting on Armenia at 10, whereas odds for Russia were 1.48. And, in general, there was a lot of talk about the Russian "dream team". Did that have a psychological impact on our national team?

I, personally, only learned about these odds at the end of the tournament. Indeed, Russia is a very strong team; the ratings of its players are very high, but that's not enough for team competitions. Our desire to win and purposefulness were greater. Individually, they are stronger and I'm sure that as a team, we're no worse.

What were your feelings during the match with Morozevich, when our team was losing 1-2 and everything depended on your performance?

I got sad for a moment, when Lyova [Levon Aronyan] lost, but I had a better position and was confident that I would win. My win made up for Lyova's loss. The most important thing was not to lose to the Russians in order to keep them from leaving us far behind.

Was it for tactical reasons that our team ended its last two matches against France and Hungary in a draw?

Our duel with the French was very tense, perhaps, the most tense one in the tournament. When one feels that the objective is very close, one begins to get nervous and at this moment anything is possible. But we ended the match in a draw, which was a perfectly good result. There was no struggle with the Hungarians; we quickly agreed to a draw since this result would secure the championship. It's to our credit that we left our competitors so far behind that a draw in the last round was enough to win the tournament.

Had you ever thought about winning the Olympic gold medal?

I thought and dreamed about that a lot. This prize has great value, because it's not only ours-it's our country's as well.

Are you thinking about a team or individual world championship title?

I am sure we will become the world team champion. As for the individual championship, at this moment I'm thinking about Lyova's championship title [this fall Levon Aronyan will take part in the struggle for the world chess crown].

Are you going to continue to play in the German Bundesliga?

Yes. I am very close to Levon Aronyan, who lives in Germany, and it often happens that I go to Germany not to play chess but to visit Lyova. It happens that I also play at the same time. Most likely I'll play in Wattenscheid this year, too.