Francisco Vallejo Pons: “Rybka” is my only idol”

Spanish men's national team gave a press-conference in the Olympiad Press Center The 2nd board Francisco Vallejo Pons, reserve player Daniel Alsina and the team leader, its captain Jesus De la Villa Garcia, shared their impressions on the Olympiad with us.

D.A.: As for the results, the captain evaluates them highly enough, though, says that it is rather hard for us.

F.V.: Speaking about our main goals at this Olympiad – we are planning to be in the Top 10.

– Why are your goals so modest –only in the Top 10?

F.V.: Our team was number16 in the start list, so it would be a good achievement to go six positions up.

– Tell us about the popularity of chess in Spain. Is mass media interested in tournaments and chess players and do they cover this Olympiad?

F.V.: Chess is not as popular in Spain as in Russia. There is one of the few sport newspapers interested in chess; it is called «Marca».

– Francisco, you are one of the strongest chess players in Spain, do people recognize you in the streets?

F.V.: I can’t say that everybody knows me in my country. It happens that I come across fans sometimes, but most of the time it happens in my hometown.

– Despite the fact that you have such a number of chess tournaments in Spain including the famous one in Linares, chess does not attract very much attention. Is it logical?

F.V.: I agree – Linares is a famous tournament. I just don’t understand why its organizers don’t invite Spanish players to participate. As for me, I played only once in it when my rating was above 2700 and at the time I was young and popular. They don’t even invite Shirov!

– Does your team have any traditions and customs?

F.V.: I cannot recall on anything specific. We are always together – it may be  kind of a tradition... I think the most important is our unity.

– How do you feel yourself in Khanty-Mansiysk?

F.V.: Before coming here we were a little bit afraid of cold, the weather turned out to be mild than frosty here. The only problem that we faced was in the hotel: I did not like my room and the organizers let me change it for another one. I've already been twice in Khanty-Mansiysk and always spent very good time here. I miss Spanish sun that I am very used to.

– Do you have any idols among the Grandmasters?

D.A.: Since I was a child I admired the Hungarian Grandmaster Peter Leko. I even tried to repeat his openings. Magnus Carlsen deserves to be an idol now, because he is number one in the FIDE Rating List.

H.V-G.: Garry Kasparov was the idol at my time. As for today, I follow the games of Vassily Ivanchuk now.

F.V.: I wouldn’t not say that I have an idol, my attitude towards it is too subjective. In the past several years I have met almost all famous chess players of our time. They are more opponents for me than idols. I can say that the only idol for me is Rybka (the strongest computer program in the world).