National team of Ukraine: “We all have been waiting for this success”

The men’s team of Ukraine tore the victory from their main opponent – Russian team. The President of the Ukrainian Chess Federation Viktor Kapustin, the team’s captain Vladimir Tukmakov and players Pavel Eljanov, Zahar Efimenko and Alexander Moiseenko told us about how it feels to be the new Olympiad gold medalists.

– Did you expect that the team would perform so brilliantly?

V.K.: I was expecting the victory and I was preparing for it. It is obvious that such a strong team wins. It does not make sense to play in tournaments if you are not aimed at the final successful result. Now we are riding high. We were waiting for this success impatiently…

– Vladimir, were you too nervous before the last round?

V.Т.: If they told me before the start of the tournament that in the last round the fate of our team would depend only on us – I would have agreed without hesitating.

 – Did you have time to watch the games of Russia and Spain?

P.E.: I had a rather difficult game. I did not even notice when Peter Svidler lost. To my mind took the right decision having agreed for a draw in that case. It is not time to calculate ratings and be ambitious now. The most important for me at ths moment is our Olympic gold.

– Do you feel anything special now?

Z.Е.: We are happy. It is my first Olympiad and my first gold. You don’t become Olympic Champion every year.

A.M.: I am very happy for the team. I remember when we won the Olympiad in Calvia, everything was going very smoothly, here it is there was more tension – the result of the tournament was clear at the last moment.

– Vladimir, what was the most nervous moment for you at this Olympiad?

V.T.: I would say that it was our decisive match with Russia – 1 that was very difficult. After the moment when Eljanov lost his game to Karjakin, we were very close to the loss. Only thanks to the heroic play of Zahar the match was saved and we regained our favorable position. It was a decisive moment of the Olympiad for us.

Viktor, was the President of Ukraine interested in your success?

V.К.: There were no direct questions from the head of the state. Of course, Ukrainian people were worried for us. It is a very important victory for our country. You see, our team is the top of the whole pyramid. If we do not take a good care of the bottom of this pyramid, it will break down. Our success will promote the development of chess in Ukraine.

Vassily Ivanchuk and Ruslan Ponomariov are not here with us. What was their contribution to the victory?

V.Т.: I don’t want to say that Vassily was performing as in his best times, because he has everything ahead of him. He was performing brilliantly at the Olympiad and it was mainly thanks to great playing. Ruslan’s objective was slightly different. Even if he won only once, he did not give in any of his games. He had to handle the blow. The tactic was to perform well on the first two boards and to win destructively on the third and the fourth ones. The plan proved itself for 100 %.

Pavel, you are in the list of Top-10 leading chess players. How did you feel about playing on the third board?

P.E.: I am used to play behind Ivanchuk and Ponomariov and I feel myself very well (smiling). As for Rating – these are figures and they are relative. I said to my coach that I am ready to play on any board.

– Was the match against Russia difficult for you?

Z.E.: Personally I worried as everyone else. After the start of the match it became clear that Karjakin is playing fast and confidently without taking much time to think. The rest also had worse positions. Actually I realized that I was the only one to have chances to win and my game was decisive for the result of the match.

– There were not many changes either in the life of chess players or in the chess life of your country after the victory of your team in Spain. Do you think that there will be any changes after your brilliant victory here in Khanty-Mansiysk?

V.Т.: I agree with you that nothing changed in the chess life of Ukraine, however we expected more than that. As for us, gold medals in Calvia changed the life of Sergey Karjakin and Pavel Eljanov, because, their professional career started from that time on.

V.К.: As the President of the Ukrainian Chess Federation I will not develop this issue now, because this is a very wide question and we cannot speak about it in two words. The thing is that we need a serious background for the development of chess. Besides, we have to work on the popularization of the chess game. It concerns Ukraine as well as other countries. Except for the result itself this victory is also important for us because it opens many opportunities. The main goal was to win and they have achieved it brilliantly. As for the national federation, it should be aimed at creating conditions for chess players and coaches to improve their professionalism.

Viktor, would you promise anything to your champions? “Aston Martin” for example?

 V.К.: I think that this is not the way to motivate players to win. It is great, I would not argue. As for presenting the keys from “Austin Martin” to the players in the presence of many people, it is worth doing maybe only for PR reasons. This is not what we need for the development of chess in the future. It is not about such presents, but a team’s spirit that gave us strength and lad to this result.