ALEXANDER KENTLER. CROSSROADS
All is well that end well. Having defeated the Chinese team with a slashing score, Russian chessplayers won the world championship – all honor to them. Especially important is that they won when they had so little chance to do this – they could not give a single point to the opponents. They all performed well (Peter Svidler, Alexey Dreev, Alexander Grischuk, Alexander Morozevich, Evgeny Bareev and Sergei Rublevsky) – those who played brilliantly, those who played not bad and those who tried, but did not manage to succeed. A special role in the success of the team played a trainer: when the team wins, the trainer is above praise! This championship required a large input of strength and nervous energy, and though Sergey Victorovich did not choose the best line-up and board arrangement, he finally set the control over a very difficult situation in the last rounds and, giving hope for success to his talented fosterlings, he came out of the affair with honor.
I will suggest that the future of Russian chess in many respects depends not only on showing that the Russian team took its proper first place, but also on a correct assessment of the performance in the chess authority’s corridors. As soon as euphoria starts it is as good as lost… I will ask to excuse the banality of the next statements in advance.
The first thing that is striking: in order to win, the team should consist of the strongest chessplayers during the most important world forums. In the absence of Kramnik three strongest players had a wonderful result in Beer Sheva. Had Grischuk played behind Morozevich, I’m sure that a total amount of the score points would have been even bigger.
Second: the sporting principle has to be followed. For example, Bareev had won the Russian Higher League recently, and he played very good for the team. However signing long-term contracts with team members (Kramnik's suggestion) is a dubious affair as a chessplayer can loose the form in this period, as happened with Dreev, a medal winner of the Russian championship superfinal.
Third: one should entrust more to the young. In this case it would be possible to try including in the team the younger superfinalists. We can judge by the team performance that Motylev and Jakovenko can be of benefit for the team.
And finally, I want to draw attention to the fact that opinions can differ, and one should not make enemies of those who think differently. Perhaps, the Russian team would have won the last Olympiad and the European championship, and the present win could have been obtained with lesser losses, if the mistakes had not been made. This victory is a tribute to strength and courage of the team, an indulgence for the trainer and the leadership of the team.
Perhaps, many of us for the first time for the recent years were enraptured with a win of the chess team. We, who for dozens of years used to take the chessplayers’ successes as something self-evident, alas, started getting used to the failures at individual and team world forums. The first title returned, I really want it not to be the last.