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Katherine Rohonyan: was born in Abkhazia, lived in the Ukraine, plays for the U.S.
September 3, 2008

Katherine Rohonyan rated 52nd by FIDE is called the main surprise-maker of the first round of the Women's World Chess Championship in Nalchik. She beat Natalia Zhukova rated 13th. Five years ago Katia Rohonyan lived in a Ukranian city of Nikolaev and played for the youth team. At that time  Natalia Zhukova was already a famous chess player on the chess arena and was one of the best chess players of Russia. "How do you feel about winning against Zhukova" - was the question she was asked at the press conference after the first round. "This fact pleases my ambition" said the girl smiling.

Then speaking about the strongest contestants she noted:

- Zhukova's rating is not so high comparing to Koneru's rating. Though I don't deny that Natalia Zhukova is an eminent chess player and I am happy I won.

- Do you often manage to beat strong competitors?
- I happened to beat the strongest and lose to the weakest. Everything depends on your psychological condition. It is more interesting for me to play against strong competitors, I get more motivated.

- You must be a venturesome person.
- Yes, I think I am rather subjected to it. I have been to a casino in Las Vegas recently and understood I'd better not go there because I sometimes fail to control the situation and go too far.

- You play for the USA. What can you say about your life in the USA?
- I am from Nikolaev. My farther is an Armenian. He was born in Abkhazia. I tried to make myself comfortable in the Ukraine but it was rather difficult to do. Sadly, chances for self-realization are limited there. I entered an American University and stayed there. I am working for the Microsoft Company as a programmer. I have played chess very little all this time and participated only in one or two tournaments. Professional players do not lead such a life.

- Do you mean to say that chess is a kind of hobby for you?
- I regret that I don't have opportunity now to spend as much time on chess as I would like to. I have to earn money. I wouldn't like to think about money I am going to get while playing at tournaments. It is difficult for me to play when I must play. It is important for me to be creative. I never play for money. It doesn't refer to the rewards any sportsman gets for his or her victories.

- But for the majority of the participants of the championship chess is their main job.
- Yes, some of them perform some other chess activities such as simultaneous exhibition, teaching children to play, etc. I think of writing a chess program thus combining what I can do (programming) with what I like to do (to play chess).

- Who taught you to play chess?
- My dad. I was 6. I got ill and he decided to amuse me with some game. He brought chess and taught me to play. Now I cannot stop it (laughs).

- When I asked you for an interview you said that you couldn't spare a minute before the game they start at 3 p.m. though. How do you psychologically set on the game? Have you got any secrets or superstitions?
- I don't have any superstitions. I got rid of all this stuff. Being a kid, I had a lot of rituals and amulets. Now I think believing in all this is a sign of weakness. The main thing for me right now is to have a good sleep, pull myself together in order to come to the playing hall ready to think about chess only and to perform a good playing.

- What is your attitude to the knockout system of this Championship?
- It's a really tough system giving preferences to younger and physically stronger people. It is my first knockout tournament. It takes the players too much nerves and physical efforts to go through at least tiebreaks. It's quite a different system that requires quite a different preparation. I plan to get the maximum benefit from this Championship independently of how far I will advance.

- Do you know the reasons of Georgian players' refusal to come? What is your attitude to it?
- Truly speaking I am far from politics. As far as the Russian-Georgian conflict is concerned... The American version of the matter is quite different from the Russian one. In this situation it is pretty hard to shape your own grounded opinion. I try not to get deep into political problems, I just feel sorry for all those innocent people who suffer from the conflict.

- Is this your first visit to Nalchik?
- Yes, but I hope not the last. I liked being here very much. The Championship is organized on the highest level; best conditions are created for the participants. I really appreciate Antemirkan Kanokov who warmly attended our delegation. I think he is a very bright example of his people, a very wise and literate man. Thanks to him we managed to see the beauties of Nalchik and taste some national dishes of Kabardians and Balkarians. Sadly, I didn't have time to see your mountains though I like mountains very much, but I am leaving tomorrow.

Katherine Tolasova

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