‘I think somehow everything instantly started working out well for me. For example, at age nine I was already the champion of Ukraine among juniors 13 and younger, and at age ten I won the European championship. As they say, that’s when things took off…
‘And now I want to give it all up, but somehow I’m unable to. It’s impossible to make a living from it, at least here…’
International master and world champion in rapid draughts among juniors 23 and younger
Q: You became world champion in the oldest non-adult age group, so your career among juniors is over. What’s next?
A: Word has it the leadership of the International Draughts Federation had plans to increase the junior bar to 26 years. Honestly, though, I’m not sure that I would even go to the tournaments even if that is the case. I had no plans to go to Bulgaria – when I was 21 or 22, I didn’t go to the junior tournaments either. Even back then it did not seem particularly interesting to me. I wanted to compete more among men. As it turned out, I went to Bulgaria and played, but there are no ‘flying kings’ there, it’s a ‘ply’. It’s not quite the same. There are no prospects in terms of training and it’s a bit boring to play.
Q: So why did you go then?
A: This year I devoted as much time as possible to junior tournaments – as a kind of farewell, so to speak.
Despite the tone of “a farewell to my youth”, Vladislav fared pretty well not only in the junior tournament, but also in the World Team Championship in Kranevo, where adults and highly respected grandmasters were competing. For instance, Vladislav defeated Yevgeny Kondrachenko, an international grandmaster from the Republic of Belarus.
‘Yevgeny probably wanted it more’, Vladislav says in comments on this subject. ‘But I lost the second game to him and I’m still upset about it: there were two options for a draw, but I screwed up. I saw that I could go one of two ways and decided to play fancier. We each had two kings in the end, but it turned out that my king had been caught! I messed up the math, ultimately…’
Today, Vladislav Mazur does not see himself on the threshold of his adult draughts career. As he says, it began for him eight years ago when at age 15 he competed in the World Mind Sports Games in Beijing and took eleventh place. Vladislav speaks with pride about this event: his rivals at the time included such respected grandmasters as Gennady Shapiro and Gavril Kolesov.
In 2010, the young draughts player finished fifth at the European Championship among adults in Bulgaria.
‘That was quite a shame because I didn’t lose a single matchup and starting from the third round I was consistently in third or fourth place (sometimes factoring in ratings and sometimes not), but during the last round my rating went down by a few points and I was overtaken by Nikolay Struchkov, who took third place, with Sergey Belosheyev finishing in fourth and me in fifth place’, Vladislav recalls.
The young champion’s immediate plans include the Ukrainian Championship final. As for more global plans, he says he does not have any for now.
‘Honestly, I would like to give it all up’, Vladislav says, ‘but somehow I’m unable to…’
Vladislav has been very busy the last two years. He graduated from Kharkov National University of Radio Electronics and works at the Ukrainian office of a Dutch company, where he handles e-commerce software. He has to take leave to travel to tournaments and, naturally, his mind needs to relax both while at work and in his free time. There is also his home life to consider: the young draughts player has a family and a young daughter.
‘It’s impossible to make a living from it, at least here…’ he concedes.
Q: Is your passion for draughts so strong that you would like to say the hell with everything else and focus solely on draughts?
A: No, that’s not the case. I really love draughts, but I understand that what you’re talking about is impossible.
Q: But it’s just that you don’t have enough time for draughts!
A: That’s precisely the problem. It’s only when I take leave…
Vladislav says that he hasn’t trained at all for draughts tournaments in a very long time. He simply does not have the time. However, he says that if draughts ultimately find a place in his life in the future, he would likely devote more time to training for tournaments.
‘Frankly, when I went to Kranevo, I thought I would play worse than I did. But what I had developed was enough for the time being’, he says.
Vladislav is particularly proud of taking part in the World Team Championship among adults, where he had four wins and three draws in seven rounds.
You could say the current world champion was introduced to draughts just like everybody else: he started playing with his grandpa at age five. That was back in the Kharkov Region city of Chuguev. Roughly a year later, the six-year-old Vlad joined a local draughts club that was taught by a coach with a third-class ranking. It was there that the boy learned some of the basics of draughts theory after which he started travelling to regional tournaments.
Once he finished in second place at which point his father met coach Oleg Shapunov and introduced him to young Vlad. Ever since then the current champion started to make serious progress in his sport.
‘I think somehow everything instantly started working out well for me. For example, at age nine I was already the champion of Ukraine among juniors 13 and younger, and at age ten I won the European championship. As they say, that’s when things took off’, Vladislav recalls.
Q: Do you plan to become a grandmaster, Vladislav?
A: In general, I would like to. I’m lacking one point for now, unfortunately. But I hope to play well this year at the Ukrainian Championship. If everything works out OK there, I will go to some other adult tournament and then I will become a grandmaster!
Q: So you’re not planning to forget about draughts altogether?
A: Probably not. I will try to make it to the World Cup stages. That’s not so problematic since I can take my family along. They will go for strolls and I’ll play a little bit…
Text: Lev Godovannik
Photos from Vladislav Mazur’s personal archive
Vladislav is a sixteen-time world champion among juniors, multi-time world championship medallist and a multi-time champion and medallist at European and Ukrainian youth championships in Russian and international draughts. He is ranked among the top 30 in the world and the top ten in Ukraine for men’s draughts-64. He holds the title of international master.
Vladislav Mazur was born on 29 July 1993 in the Kharkov Region city of Chuguev.
He began playing draughts in 1999 with coach Oleg Shapunov.
In 2002, he became champion of Ukraine among juniors 13 and younger in international draughts.
In 2003, he became champion of Europe among juniors 10 and younger in international draughts.
In 2004, he became world champion among juniors 13 and younger in Russian draughts.
In 2008, he finished eleventh at the First World Mind Sport Games in Beijing in draughts-64.
In 2010, he took fifth place at the European men’s championship in Russian draughts (classic programme).
In 2015, he finished sixth at the world men’s championship in draughts-64 (rapid programme).
In 2015, he graduated from Kharkov National University of Radio Electronics with a major in computer engineering and management.