Golden Autumn of Russian women chess players

The women’s team Russia-1 in its complete composition with Tatiana Kosintseva, Nadezhda Kosintseva, Alexandra Kosteniuk, Alisa Galliamova and Valentina Gunina as well as their captain Yury Dohoyan and their coaches Alexey Korotylev and Alexander Chernin shared their impressions on the great Olympic victory with us.

– What do you feel now?

Т.К.: We are happy that we have finally managed to win the Olympiad. We have gotten tired for these past days but at the moment I am full of the most positive emotions. We all tried to do our best fighting for the victory and worrying for each match and round.

N.К.: The match is over and I am still thinking over some variations in my head. I do not realize yet that we are champions. You will be surprised but I am eager to analyze the game, have a rest and then I will be able to realize that we did it.

А.К.: I share the words of Tatiana and Nadezhda. We are really very happy. It was a long way to this victory.

V.G.: Only at the moment when people started congratulating us I began to realize that we have achieved something great.

– How come that the tournament had such an ideal scenario for your team? 10 victories in 10 rounds – did you expect it yourself?

Y.D.: I do not want to reveal our secret to give the opportunity to other teams to get closer to our result. The team demonstrated their outrageous desire to fight and strong performance one round before the end of the Olympiad: 10 victories out of 10 possible. Having no mercy neither on them nor on their opponents, the girls demonstrated their capacities. It concerns our coaches as well. I think we still have to continue improving.

А.К.: The girls turned out to be one head above their opponents thus having established a solid future as professionals. If the women’s team has limits than we do not know where they are. Our team has great perspectives. Some people may say that girls were lucky. Probably it was the case in some matches, but this is the consequence of their first-class performance and immense wish to fight. I would like to congratulate our girls on the victory – they have done their maximum and demonstrated that the Russian Chess School is very strong.

А.Ch.: For my 50-year experience I have not seen such a united team. It would have been strange if they did not win. I think that taking into consideration the tender age of the girls, the team has a future.

Can you think of the most outstanding and distressing moment for the whole period of your stay in Khanty-Mansiysk?

V.G.: As for me the most worrying moment was the match with Serbia that was not that smooth for us. Do you remember that Nadya did not have the best position? However, then she showed the best play and finally we won.

Т.К.: The brightest and the most anxious moment for me was the match against India. In one move Harika Dronavalli blundered her bishop and then we won the match. We faced such moments rather often during the tournament...

N.К.: In the match with Serbia I played my weakest game for the whole Olympiad. It seems that due to the fact that I was tired I could not show the descent play. My pieces were strained to the 8th horizontal from all sides and the fact that it is the team’s tournament saved me from resigning. Here the Fortune made me a present: my opponent blundered a very simple tactics. In all the matches we were fighting till the end and it enabled us to show the present result.

А.К.: When you play in such a tournament it is natural that you are nervous. Because if you play poorly, you let down not only yourself and your team aswell. I had two defeats in this tournament – in the matches against China and Serbia. Every time when I looked at the neighboring boards I realized that our team was leading. It is important to feel this support, reliable shoulder and a mutual help – it gives only positive results.

А.G.: Personally, all the games were difficult – I feel the lack of training. This was the reason that I was “sleeping” in the first two rounds. Then I said to myself – it is enough. I started playing strongly and faster and began scoring. The psychological tension was increasing because by the moment we had already played against the main opponents – China, Georgia and Ukraine. Having won these matches it seemed that it would be easier to play from that moment on because we were to play with weaker opponents. It was not the case! Every national team comes to the Olympiad only to win and fights till the end, but, as we know, only the strongest are lucky.

– The leadership of the Russian Chess Federation has been changed recently. Did it somehow influence the preparation of the team for the Olympiad?

Y.D.: I cannot say that it took us one day to compose the team, we started it under the previous leadership of the RCF and finalized under the present one. Accordingly, the preparation for the Olympiad was very thoroughly thought over. Ever since I am the chief coach in the women’s chess and a captain, we were choosing the players in the process of improving and achieving the maximum result. From the point of view of the training process, everything was done correctly.

I hope that after this Olympiad the Russian Chess Federation will pay more attention to women’s chess. This is because we all have witnessed that girls deserve to be supported financially.

– Will you let them go dancing tonight?

Y.D.: I think a professional does not come here to go out to such parties as “Bermuda”, but to show qualified performance. Therefore he does not have a right to waste his potential and emotions to entertain during the tournament. He is welcome to do that after it. However, I cannot forbid anything to the girls – they have already devoted their life to chess and they are responsible for their actions. I noticed that many strong players did not manage to perform decently in the next round after the fruitful relaxation at the “Bermuda party”.

As for tonight we have many plans. I think we will celebrate “gold” together with the management of the federation. They will have time to dance.

– Alexandra, is it difficult for you to have such a severe coach?

А.К.: His severe look does not frighten us at all, it makes our opponents fear. The Champion is supposed to frighten not only by its way of playing but also by its severe look (laughing). It is not the first time that we play in such a composition and we know somewhere deep in our hearts that our captain is very much worried for us.

Y.D.: This strict expression on my face is to keep the girls in a good shape. There was a moment when the psychological tension was especially strong however we managed to cope with it with minimum sacrifices. Yes, we are tired, but our team is the unification of the best criteria only – youth, maturity and experience. This is the reason we have won this Olympiad.

– How did you spend your first rest day?

V.G.: I had a chance to do some horse riding and I am very happy about that. Before I used to do it with my father – he was walking nearby and I was just sitting. This time they let me do it on my own and it was unforgettable.

Т.К.: It was the only day when I had time to go for a walk. We did not have a certain schedule and everyone was doing what she wanted to gain energy. During the whole tournament we got together every evening to have some tea. We always tried to spend free time together and I am confident that it also helped us to win.

N.K: Last Sunday I had a cultural shock having attended several events. I had a chance to see the concert in the Center of Arts for gifted children of the North, visited the Art Gallery and was in one of the most beautiful churches. I wanted to go to the cinema and to the concert of organ music, but I did not have enough energy to do that …

А.К.: We spent most of the time together. In general we were lucky to have such a fabulous golden autumn that brought us gold medals here in Khanty-Mansiysk.