CROSSROADS OF OPINIONS. PETR SVIDLER: “FOR THE SAKE OF JUSTICE”
The grandmaster surpassed me before I had time to turn on the dictaphone and to ask him:
First of all, I would like to stress that we are guilty of our failure in Turin ourselves. It is impossible to shift the blame onto anybody else. I scored +1 and lost two games. This result seems to be poor indeed. We had to play better.
FIFA World Cup has recently come to the end and many people note the head coaches played a large part in this competition. Do you share this opinion? Or do you think that the strength of the players is a deciding factor?
As to football, I am not ready to speak about it because I am not a specialist in this line. It is evident that the trainer’s role is large indeed. As for chess, our team consists of strong and powerful chessplayers. To my mind, the right mood, good relationships with the members of the team and mutual credence are required of the head coach. Moreover, he must be sure in his chessplayers so that not to give cause for conflicts.
You are the fivefold winner of the World Chess Olympiads. You have played for the national team of Russian for twelve years. Please, try to describe all the trainers with whom you have worked.
It is clear that Boris Postovsky will always be a person who held the records that would not be broken by anyone. Our national team won all competitions when he was the head coach. Of course, it is also so because Postovsky’s work as a trainer fell on the time of total superiority of Russian team. Alexander Grischuk offered an interesting analogy. In his opinion, it is more correct to compare Russian chess team with football team of Brazil than with chess team of USSR of 80-90 years. Of course, Brazilians are the favorites of any tournament in which they take part but the fact is that every team can become gold medal winner. It is necessary to give Boris Postovsky his due. Everyone trusted him without reserve. He has never tried to take more decisions upon himself than it was necessary. Moreover, he always listened to the chessplayers and tried to understand them indeed. Boris Naumovich Postovsky is also a great optimist! He was always sure that if something went wrong the present day then it would change for the better the next day. This quality is very important because if the head coach doesn’t believe that the chessplayers can overcome the course of events, this uncertainty is communicated to all members of the team.
Naum Rashkovsky and Boris Postovsky seem to be very different persons. But in my point of view, they are similar to each other. Rashkovsky sheds the same never-ending optimism and mass of energy. That’s why the members of the team always were in good spirits when he was the head coach.
As to Sergey Dolmatov, it is wrong to mix him as a person and a trainer. Everyone treat him kindly. All members of the team are respectful to him. Nobody have any doubts that he always gives all he has got. But the problem is that he is not optimistic enough and he doesn’t manage to make contact with the chessplayers. Sergey always tries to define a person who will play bad. He does it at the beginning of the tournament. Then he decides that this person will not go on playing. It seems to me that it is absolutely wrong. Other chessplayers have to play more games and if one of them will break at the middle of the tournament it can be a disaster because it is impossible to return those who haven’t played for a whole week.
But we remember our bright victory at the World Team Championship in Israel.
It was clear that the relationships didn’t become better after Beer-Sheva. It is possible to give some examples from the World Championship. For example, Sergey Rublevsky played only two games in Israel. But it is even more important that the trainer and the chessplayers couldn’t understand each other. That’s why one began speaking about the change of the head coach. When Alexander Grigorievich Bach called me at the end of November 2005, we had a very long conversation. I told him that the change of the trainer would be helpful for the team. I produced weighty arguments but Alexander Grigorievich used only one phrase of mine. In fact, I agreed that if Sergey thought that everything was ok, the change of the head coach after the victory of the World Championship would seem strange. So Bach decided to use these words in his interview to the chess magazine “64 Chess Review”.
Then what is the main problem of the present trainer of Russian team?
There are some people who wait for the changes for the worse when everything is good. Dolmatov is one of such people and it is certainly his main problem. This waiting influences the team badly. Sergey also lost the contact with the chessplayers. Other members of the team have already said it and I don’t want to repeat. I would like to note that Sergey Rublevsky didn’t think out anything. It was even possible to say harder.
Why didn’t you talk to Dolmatov about it during the Olympiad?
It is necessary to remember that Sergey broke off his leg. He came to Turin in spite of the pain because he thought that he would help the team. Moreover, it was late to tell something in Turin. The open conflict wouldn’t have been helpful.
Dolmatov said that it was necessary to take other chessplayer to play at the Olympiad instead of the traitor Bareev.
These words surprised me. He considers that our failure is the result of the plot of one person. This is not the case. Let me repeat, all chessplayers treat him kindly. He is one of the most respectable persons in the chess world. But the fact is that many chessplayers thought that other trainer would achieve better result. Well, was it necessary to take other players? I don’t think so.
What is your attitude to the system of contracts with the chessplayers of national team?
The contract system was discussed a lot. I can say that the contracts would become useful for the young chessplayers because they would feel themselves to be potential members of the national team. Thisfeelingisveryimportant. As for several leading chessplayers, I agree with Mark Dvoretsky – it is difficult to imagine that the contract will surpass participation in the supertournaments.
Then tell us about the reserved chessplayers of the national team.
Let me start from “unlucky” Rublevsky. Every time after poor results in the team competitions he wins serious tournaments: Russian Superfinal after World Team Championship in Beer-Sheva; tournament in Phoros after World Chess Olympiad in Turin. There are no doubts about his strength. It is a pity that the head coach doesn’t trust him and it tells on him indeed. There are also some strong reserved chessplayers: Malakhov, Jakovenko, Zvjaginsev, Motylev, Timofeev, Inarkiev, etc. There are some hopeful young chessplayers from the next generation. It is necessary to take them in the system of trainings. Almost the same chessplayers have played for Russia for the last six years. But the point is that other teams grow younger. It is one of the reasons of the success of Ukraine in 2004 and Armenia in 2006 (young players took initiative on themselves). So we have to give chance to the young chessplayers right now. Otherwise it will happen forcedly.
And the last question: what are your plans for the nearest future?
I will take part in the tournament in Dortmund at the end of July. After it I will play Fischer’s chess match against Aronian for the title of the World Champion.
Thank you very much!
Interviewer – Alexander Kentler