10.06.2005 "Master makers". Yury Yakovich

Could one restate for chess a well-known football maxim: 'If you win, you are a good player, if you lose, you have a bad coach'?

It is better to divide this question into several parts.

In individual competitions the role of a trainer consists in psyching up his student for a struggle in the next round in the best way. The player must on no condition loose the confidence in his own powers. There are chessplayers, who need some outside factors to explain their failures. After the tournament they usually restore their objectivity, but in course of the competition they want to lay a part of the blame for the defeat on somebody else, including a trainer.

In case of team championships the role of a coach is a bit different. One must not take the blame for the defeat upon himself. The team is a complicated organism, and the trainer can react in various ways. He just must never loose the sight of the main purpose – to bring the team for the next round in an optimal state.

What kind of qualities does a chess trainer need?

It is impossible to list everything. First of all, the students ought to trust the trainer. There is no sense in something else without this. If we do not take into account the professional qualities – understanding of chess and of rules of the struggle, pedagogical and psychological knowledge – in my opinion, the coach should be an optimist by nature. The competitions last for a long time. There are always some critical situations, when it is necessary for a coach to keep not formal, but true, natural optimism to inspire his student or the whole team. A trainer pessimist can be useful before the tournament, during the preparation, but during the competition one needs a real optimist. Chessplayers need a positive energy.

Is it necessary for a chess trainer to maintain a shape by playing in tournaments?

From my subjective point of view it is really very important for a trainer to practice. When you switch to the trainer work, your playing form naturally degrades – because you work for someone else, you direct your efforts to other things. If a coach ceases to play, he starts losing a contact with reality. When you forget what it is to work over the board, to solve difficult problems, to be in Zeitnot, you begin to feel worse your students and consequently you are of less use...

Is it necessary to keep a distance between a trainer and a student? Do you think that it’s better to have friendly relationships?

For an individual trainer there is no common formula, all depends on the personality of a student, how important it is for him to see friend, colleague or teacher in his coach... When you work with a team, it is more appropriate to keep a small distance and behave equally with everybody. As distinct from the personal tournaments, in team there is always one problem – to decide who will play. Someone is eager to play, and another one, on the contrary, wants to have a rest. It is important to preserve an objectivity to use the potential of the team in an optimal way and in spite of the temporary resentments (he was applied to play instead of me, I was not given enough time to rest and so on) to maintain a positive microclimate in the team. Fortunately, in the Russian women team almost everyone is eager to play, however, a trainer is the one, who solves the problem of the line-up without making the girls responsible for it.

Do you think there is a certain age limit of starting to play seriously when one won’t achieve a serious success?

For each chessplayer there is a certain optimal age. Sometimes there are even several of them. Let us suppose the first ascent to be at the age of 20, then at the age of 26-27 and then at the age of 33-34... Further recession is also easy to explain. Although I think that there is no age, when a chessplayer cannot improve, provided contemporary commitments and control, the peak of the sportive achievements lies between the age of 20 and 30.

Is there ant relation between the age when a person started playing and the beginning of his competitive?

There is no relation. The earlier you start playing the more natural perception of chess you have. Chess becomes your mother tongue. It was noticed that those chessplayers who started playing late, make blunders more often than their colleagues who started playing earlier. Let’s remember such wunderkinds as Reshevsky and Capablanca – they started playing very early and showed a high level of play till the end...

In press we can often find the phrases like 'having seen some games of this player, I understood that he was very talented'. What can cause such an acknowledgment of high potential of a player?

It’s difficult for me to evaluate the potential of a young chessplayer. There are a lot of clever children? But it’s absolutely unclear how their talents will be developing, what will happen to their gift in the awkward age etc. Besides, I think that quite often the concepts of a talented and a well-trained player are mixed up ...

I do not remember that many young players of whose talent and a promising chess future there was no doubt. Young Kramnik, Ivanchuk, Leko, Shirov, Gelfand made a great impression. All of them had some common features – velocity of thought in grasping the idea of position, precise calculation of great number of variations, ability to evaluate the position in their own, not traditional, way. It’s difficult to determine a talent looking through the text of the game, it’s necessary to see the analysis of their own games, how they estimate a position on board, how they calculate, to see their fantasy – these are things that are necessary to draw attention to.

There are very talented children in our country, but I’d like to go without names now. First, because of the pedagogical reasons, second, I’m afraid to miss someone and thus offend him.

Could you tell whether a potential of our children could be compared to the one of their foreign coevals, if you don’t want to mention any names?

Certainly. Though, there has never been too many talented chessplayers, there are talented juniors who will be able to get to the world top ten players at least.

 Questions were asked by Misha Savinov.

This article is published with permission of Association of Chess Professionals

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