21 responses to ““Chess punished the whole team” – Russian views on the Chess Olympiad”

  1. Thank you again for a great article !

  2. Excellent job, Mishanp!
    I was waiting for these stream of comments.
    The very fact that journalists, commentators and players don’t stop talking about Nepomniachtchi only indicates he should have been included.
    Saying that criticism after the facts is incorrect is a strange soviet-style of reasoning because in sport 99% of criticism comes after the facts and results.
    The results (often) show whether the right strategy and decisions were taken, all of which should be discussed openly and without hesitation of course.
    Also, can you imagine this criticism (Nepo being a better choice than Malakhov) would have come loud and clearly before the tournament : this would have completely destroyed the already” mentally-not-up-to-his task” Malakhov.
    I don’t agree that Nepomniachtchi is “unstable” as Shipov puts it; he used to be as a kid but this year (European championship,Cuba,Russian Higher League) he was very stable. With the Olympiad included, he lost only 1 game (against the immortal Ivanchuk) in these 4 difficult tournaments.
    His last somewhat less stable performance dates from the Aeroflot Open.

    But ultimately this non-victory comes down to psychological weakness and lack of motivation of many russian top players (also in other sports by the way).

    Kramnik : Only plays in olympiads (not in European or World team championships).

    Morozevich : Must be the most unstable player in the top 500 or so. Withdraws often at the last moment from individual and team events.
    I think he suffers from manic-depressive disorder. His explanations (“i don’t have the energy”) seem to be code words to hide his real state of mind.

    Grischuk : almost disappeared from chess a few years ago because he was too busy with poker. I saw a video interview with him 2 years ago during a Grand Prix tournament where he literally said that he had no ambition whatsoever in classical time control chess and that he never prepares himself before these tournaments (only during the tournament ?!).
    This may explain his continuous heavy time trouble in classical chess (as an excellent blitz player !).

    Svidler : Chess not the most important thing in his life ? Must be cricket then… Opening preparation and advantages ? Who cares ? Just counting on his abilities as a practical player.

    And now we can add Malakhov to this list, Malakhov who was “psychologically unprepared for the tournament”.

    I’m starting to like Bareev, who is very critical of others but also of himself and at least he’s honest.

  3. Thanks mishanp!

    Regarding Nepomniachtchi vs. Malakhov, Bareev says what I suspected myself – he was meant to strengthen the second team (and two medals would be better than one, but his teammates let him down). And if Kramnik is right that Nepo wanted to play on the second team (and first board!?), then who’s to blame? Nepomniachtchi himself!!?

    Regarding Svidler, at least the rest of the team didn’t let him down (“Grischuk and Karjakin rushed to Svidler.”) That’s different from Turin 2006 when Rublevsky was the scapegoat, and reportedly his teammates really let him know and made him feel it.
    “Chess not the most important thing in his life ? Must be cricket then… ” Maybe it’s his wife and kids, just saying … .

    BTW, the Europe Echecs videos cover the end of Svidler-Salgado – more so in the French one, but the English version has Svidler walking away as described by Zangalis.
    The French version logically first focuses on the French team. Off-topic but Olympiad-related and giving me a chance to show (off) my knowledge of French, the team captain said “Vachier-Lagrave was really tired and collapsed completely in the end. I kept asking him how he felt, he always said ‘I am OK’ (ca va rather than ca va bien – I am fine) but his play lacked juice in the final rounds. If only Bacrot had played, I could have given Maxime some rest” – apparently noone in the French camp knows why Bacrot stayed at home.

  4. Thank you very much for this, Mishanp. If I could offer one observation – and understand that one of my two trades is copy-editor – it would be that the translation is sometimes choppy, with some sentence fragments separated by a period. An example would be “Deciding on the line-up is the trainers’ job. So it’s hard for me to discuss it.” Better is ‘Deciding on the line-up is the trainers’ job, so it’s hard for me to discuss it.’ This is a minor change, but it flows better, and I thought that awareness might help in future. Otherwise very readable and interesting!

  5. Wow, what a bunch of scapegoating and Monday morning quarterbacking! Fortunately Shipov and Kramnik keep their cool.

    Maybe the real problem is Bareev; maybe the team would have done better under a captain who was a bit more encouraging, and much less eager to repeatedly and publicly point the finger of blame.

  6. On the Malahkov-Nepomniachtchi choice:

    1st: Malakhow had the higher rating, that’s always a strong point;
    2nd: Malakhov’s latest results were very good too, if not as good as Nepo’s last performances;
    3rd: We can’t claim that half-year of good results makes a player “stable”; I call it a streak. In that sense, Ivanchuk is a great example, to name only one. I’m not saying Nepo isn’t stable, only that we still don’t have enough data to access that;
    And finally: I totally agree with Shipov; we can’t really analyse that after the events, we would be completely ignoring the butterfly effect. And only ’cause the whole world does it, it doesn’t mean it’s right. Certain things can (and should) be “measured” after, but analyse the difference between 2 equally good and acceptable choice of players is impossible. Also, people would be all praises in case Russia had won the gold with Malakhov…

  7. I like Bareev. This is one of Russia’s best result in recent years, and they were stronger favorites in previous years on paper. I think that the way it turned out seemed right; It’s not like Russia blew many positions and Ukraine saved many positions. Ukraine objectively did play the strongest. Ukraine also had the strongest team they’ve ever had, as they have had a hard time fielding everyone in the past. The 2700+ club is only expanding and in future years even more countries will be posing challenges to these traditional powerhouses and more excuses/reasons will be necessary.

  8. Regarding Kramnik’s and Anand’s Olympiad participations, olimpbase.org has such statistics easily accessible: Anand played twice in the last 15 years, 2004 and 2006 – so Kramnik was a bit wrong but not much. Which one did he forget? 2004 when Anand scored 8/11 on board 1, or 2006 when he had a mediocre 4.5/9?
    It is true that Anand played more Olympiads (now 7 vs. 6), simply because he is older: both started as teenagers, when 16-year old FM Kramnik had his debut in 1992, Anand already played his fifth Olympiad.

    About Carlsen, Kramnik may have been confused because Carlsen had cancelled his participation in the European Team Championship shortly before the event. Kramnik didn’t play either, but had said so well in advance arguing that younger players should get a chance – Russia has a couple of other strong GMs, Norway doesn’t. And, while he was wrong about Carlsen skipping the Olympiad, he is still right that he will be comparatively “fresh” in Bilbao: Shirov and Kramnik both played stronger opposition at the Olympiad, and may have faced more pressure. And their Shanghai qualifier was probably also more tiring than Carlsen’s exhibition game against the World … .

  9. Somebody mentioned Anand’s non(playing) the Olympiads. Well here it goes:

    Anand played in 1986, 1988, 1990 and 1992. Then he did not play in 1994, 1996, 1998, 2000 and 2002. He then played again in 2004 (scoring very well 5 wins, no losses and 6 draws) and in 2006 (bad performance, 1 win, loss 1 and 7 draws). After the again did not play 2008 and now 2010. So of the last 9 Olympiads Anand played in 2 of them.

  10. Thanks again for the invaluable translations mishanp! I feel badly for Svidler; he’s a great chess player and a great ambassador for the game, but things just didn’t go his way this tournament. I think Bareev was being a bit unkind in airing his beliefs about Svidler publically, even if he is correct.

  11. Extremely interesting reading! Thank you again and again, mishanp. As to Svidler, he seems to be a man of many interests: cricket, British culture, well, family too. Too many interests to focus his immense talents exclusively on chess. I hope the “accident” at the Olympiad will not signal the end of his top-twenty career. By all accounts he is a perfect gentleman and a joy to be with and – in my opinion – such people are needed close to the top of the hierarchy as role models even if they tend to perform worse than fierce fighters (no names, no names :)

  12. I think Kramnik’s statements about the training camp and sharing novelties etc. aren’t inconsistent with primarily individual preparation for the Olympiad – unless he said much more than what you summarized and paraphrased in your earlier item. The training camp – was it really just one day as Bareev seems to say? – seemed to be a mix of chess and other activities such as volleyball to boost the team spirit. At that occasion, players could still have shared their _earlier_ findings with each other.

    The trainer’s role seems to be more important for somewhat weaker teams – Dokhoian could really help the women, how helpful could Bareev be for the Russian men who are currently stronger than Bareev himself? But Kramnik’s “in men’s chess …” is probably too general – see what the Danish men’s coach wrote on his blog about his daily and nightly routine:
    10:00pm Short team meeting, determination of the lineup, brainstorming on opening preparation, taking homework assignments for the night
    midnight till open end: Analysing
    10:00am – 12:30pm: Going from room to room, discuss preparation, distribute opening notes
    2:30pm-5:00pm: Sleeping. “Of course it would be better to be present during the match. But there isn’t much for me to do, I think the nightly preparation is more important. And I have to catch some sleep.”
    [The Danish coach was Jan Gustafsson who didn’t play himself due to – well – problems with the German federation].

    Finally on the translation issue: I think in the given example it may well be consistent with how Kramnik may have _said_ it himself: “Deciding on the line-up is the trainers’ job. [period and pause] So it’s hard for me to discuss it.” So the translation sounds authentic to me, even if a copy-editor has style issues with it … not saying that kenhabeeb’s comment was altogether unwarranted.

  13. Good point made by Thomas, which in turn helped me to understand exactly what you meant, Mishanp! Perhaps I chose the wrong example!

  14. very sad to witness bareev’s mental health deteriorating so much in the past 15 years, he used to be a really pleasant fellow to hang around with…

  15. I’m a great Russian fan, I root most for Russian than us, Brazilian, in chess.

    One thing I tell, Russia had a well deserved loss…
    The mistakes: 1) Not to put Jakovenko in A team.
    2) Kramnik should have played against Hungary… And Grishuk against Judit polgar.
    3) Malakhov shouldn’t never, never be in the A team.

  16. I can’t explain why – but this article made a great impression on me. Its so different from the smooth, commercial websites like Chessvibes. Its has somehow the same quality as ‘From London to Elista’, how can it be said? Maybe its the love for chess that springs from these pages.
    “The question is his relationship to chess. Chess doesn’t forgive such a relationship. And didn’t forgive him”…

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