– Victor, you just returned from Kazan from the Women's Candidates Tournament. What are your impressions from this new event?
– All new is well overlooked old. In the past, women had candidates tournaments and candidates matches as well. However, let us not dig too deeply into the history.
A year ago, during the elections campaign, Arkady Dvorkovich and his team promised to improve the prestige of women's events and bring it to the next level. We are working hard to make it more comparable to men's chess in all aspects – prize money, recognition, prestige, etc. The tournament in Kazan is a carbon copy of men's candidates tournaments, which are known and loved for being the most exciting chess events of the past decade. The candidates tournaments always provide the thrill! Just recall those finishing round battles by Carlsen, Kramnik, Karjakin, Caruana... The stress and tension are always enormous! Frankly speaking, following candidates tournaments is more thrilling than following championship matches, although the matches are very important on their own.
From the competitive perspective this is the most exciting and just format of picking a title challenger. I would also like to mention the first place prize – 50,000 Euro. Such a juicy prize fund! This is something unheard of in women's events. In the recent history, only a championship match could brag about this kind of prize money! And this is only a qualification event! As you can see, the team of Dvorkovich upholds the promises.
We are very grateful to the Republic of Tatarstan for supporting this project. Initially we planned to carry out this event in Mexico. I negotiated with representatives of this country, however, eventually they realized that the expenses are too high for them at the moment and allowed Kazan to step in.
During the opening ceremony, I had a chance to talk with Mintimer Shaimiev, the first President of Tatarstan and a big chess fan. It was nice to see that despite his age he remains in great shape and is genuinely interested in all that's happening. He is an attentive listener of the game commentary.