Vladimir Tukmakov: “We will learn from Karjakin’s case”

After the 7th round of the Olympiad the Ukrainian team enjoys a sole lead in the open section. Their captain Vladimir Tukmakov and their reserve player Alexander Moiseenko visited the press-center a few days ago.

– What are your impressions on your team’s performance?

Vladimir Tukmakov: We played well in the first two rounds, winning all games in both matches, but slipped a little bit in the third one, drawing with Croatia. Then we continued playing against former Yugoslavia teams and defeated Slovenia 2,5-1,5 – three games were drawn, and Ivanchuk won a nice game. Generally, everything is in order.

– How big of a setback was the third round draw?

V.T.: There was nothing tragic about it. We are still capable of retaining the lead.

– Is it hard to manage the team with such stars as Vassily Ivanchuk and Ruslan Ponomariov?

V.T.: This is not an easy task of course. You have to be fair to everyone and be attentive to the players’ needs. Sometimes you also have to take tough decisions, because the captain always has the final word. Chess is a very individual game, and managing strong personalities is not easy. You must be capable to find a compromise and take tough decisions at the same time.

– How do you motivate your players?

V.T.: Ideally, you don’t have to motivate them – you feel somehow that everything will be fine, and let them play. When the team is in a good shape, the players know exactly what they have to do. So I try to keep silence (laughing)...

– In team sports managers often charge their players emotionally...

V.T.: Chess is not as open to emotions as football, hockey or basketball, but the players are also human beings and they are very emotional, especially in stressful situations. Obviously, the captain’s behavior should correspond to the atmosphere in the team.

– What are your main requirements to your players?

V.T.: First of all, they must play well. If they are perfect in it, you can forgive them a lot.

– Did you federation set you a goal?

V.T.: There were no strict goals. However, being such a strong team, we feel responsible to perform as good as possible. If you demanded a direct answer, I’d say that we would be satisfied with the rating position at the start of the Olympiad.

– Do you know how to defeat Russia-1?

V.T.: If someone knew the exact formula, to defeat Russia-1 as well as all other teams, there would be any need for competition... One would have awarded the 1st place to the one who knows more, who speaks better and who makes better prognosis. But this is sport! This is why following the Olympiad is so exciting for all of us.

There are no ideal teams or ideal players. I just want to wish my players luck, because they are already professionals.

– Your team could have been even stronger with Sergey Karjakin who is playing for Russia-1 here...

V.T.: Of course. Sergey is one of the strongest players in the world. I’d be happy to see him in the team, moreover, because he has friendly relations with all our players. However, with Karjakin we couldn’t have had Sasha Moiseenko... In any case I am glad for Russia, who had acquired such a strong grandmaster.

– Did the chess federation change its attitude towards the players after Karjakin had left the team?

V.T.: Karjakin’s case was a loss for Ukraine as well as a clear signal that there is something wrong with chess management in our country. The elections in spring gave us the new president and we already feel certain changes. It is too early to speak about global achievements, but I think we will learn from Karjakin’s case.

– Alexander, how does it feel to be a reserve player? Does it hurt your self-esteem?

A.M.: We have a great atmosphere in the team, and I don’t feel any discomfort. Playing for such a team is not only a great pleasure, but also a big responsibility. And since I am the only reserve player, I play a fair share of games, too.

– How do you like Khanty-Maniysk?

A.M.: It’s my fifth time here. When I prepared for my first visit, I expected to see a dull provincial town. However, I found modern infrastructure and nice buildings, and the most important – fantastically hospitable nothern people. Every time you come here you feel great care from the organizers and local people. As for the tournament organization it is almost perfect. The hosts worked hard – the construction of Olympic hotels the playing hall, organization etc. I would like to thank all the volunteers, who are contributing into the Olympiad organization.

V. T.: This is my first visit to Khanty-Mansiysk, and, to be honest, I haven’t seen much yet therefore I can not say much about it. As for the Olympiad organization, everything looks excellent to me. I also want to thank the organizers and volunteers for their efforts.