Ian Nepomniachtchi: “Do not overestimate my ability”

The Russia-2 national team is the 4th among all the national teams at the Olympiad according to the rating. What do our guests think about it: Vladimir Potkin, the captain of Russia-2 team, and Ian Nepomniachtchi, the first board of the team?

– Ian, what do you prefer: to be a leader of the second national team, or a reserve player in the first one?
Ian Nepomniachtchi.: In any case playing for the national team is big honor and responsibility. The fact that I am invited to play for the country means a lot to me.

– Tomorrow we'll publish the next bulletin in which you are considered among the favorites of the first board competition. What do you think about this prediction?
I. N.: I am pleased to be rated that high, but I am not that optimistic myself. Generally our task is more focused on overall team result rather than individual performances.
– Your ability to play extremely fast became legendary...
I. N.: I just try to choose simple and effective solutions and use the time sensibly – that's all.

– Vladimir, how do you feel being a captain of the national team, even if it's a second team?
Vladimir Potkin: It is a new and very special feeling. Already during the opening ceremony we all fully realized that this is not an ordinary event, but a true tournament of nations, where you can study geography of the whole world. Our team is young, we have good atmosphere, and I think we started quite well.

– Tell us more about the players.
V. P.: Ian plays on the first board, Evgeny Alekseev plays on the second one, followed by Nikita Vitiugov, Evgeny Tomashevsky, and Artyom Timofeev. The board distribution does not reflect the players' strength – they are very evenly matched. It has to do with the strategic plan I worked out, and hope it will bring us success.

– What are your goals for the tournament?
I. N.: The main goal of every team is to do its best. We are going to compete for the top places.
V. P.: We want to make our supporters happy – after all, this Olympiad is organized in Russia. I hope that people will enjoy our play and respect our team spirit.
– Russia is presented here by five teams – an unprecedented event at the Olympiads!
V. P.: It is great that our country has so many strong players who can compete at the highest level. I wish every host of the Olympiad could bring many good teams.
I. N.: This is indeed a unique case. In fact there are two junior teams consisting of fairly strong players. Playing for Russia at the Olympiad is a big step forward for them.
– Can you surpass the first Russian team?
V. P.: It is hard to say now – everything will be decided later. But I hope for the best, and if we manage to surpass Russia-1, it won't be bad.

– Did you feel any awkwardness playing against IBCA?
I. N.: This was certainly a non-standard situation. As for me, I played against Yury Meshkov, the player I know for many years. He used a standard board, so I didn't have any problems. For my teammates it was more difficult, because they had to pronounce every move. But it didn't affect our game...
V. P.: It is great that chess is open for all men regardless of their physical shape. We must be proud of these players, who can seriously compete with many national teams.

– Did you have time to explore Khanty-Mansiysk?
 I. N.: Our schedule is very strict – we arrived on September 20 and had to play on the next day already. It is pity that we didn't have time to rest after the flight in order to regain the optimal condition. However, as far as I know, we will have two rest days, so we should be able to do some sightseeing.