Michael Khodarkovsky, Irina Krush: "The Way We Choose the Players For the Team Is Absolutely Democratic"

Время публикации: 15.03.2013 23:22 | Последнее обновление: 13.02.2015 02:55

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The talk was recorded at the WWTC which was held in Astana, Kazakhstan.

Evgeny Surov talked to the captain of the US team Michael Khodarkovsky and one of the leading players of the team Irina Krush.

E.SUROV: It seems to me the US team is one of the most controversial and unpredictable teams of the tournament. I mean it can defeat any other team, but at the same time it also can lose easily.

M.KHODARKOVSKY:  I will bring you a football example here as both of us Irina and I are originally from Odessa. There was a team Chernomorets – an average, undistinguished team which could actually beat such a team like Spartak, it could fight for Bronze, however, it never pretended to take the title. So, I guess this is a pretty good example.

I.KRUSH: That’s true. We are fifth by the rating here and we are not as professional as some other teams like Russia, Ukraine or Georgia… They prepare more seriously, they have some training sessions; we don’t do that in our team.

M.KHODARKOVSKY:  We don’t have such a concept as the training session, because everyone is just busy with his/her business. So, the team practically meets during the championship. Another thing is the so called jet lag, because the time differences are considerable especially at the start of the competition. I guess it had its effect in this championship too.

I.KRUSH: I would just add that it’s absolutely true – our team is able to defeat any team. We have proved that in different competitions and not once. That means we are a pretty dangerous team. Well, yes we can hardly beat Turkey or draw Kazakhstan, but we also can defeat Russia and that is not surprising at all. The US men’s team also has such a quality.

It’s absolutely true that we feel no pressure when we play.

M.KHODARKOVSKY:  There’s so to say a mathematical criteria of inviting a player to the team. It’s not the captain who chooses the players.  We don’t have the Trainers’ Council.

I.KRUSH: The players choose the captain…

M.KHODARKOVSKY: We have an absolutely objective, democratic way of choosing. It of course has advantages and disadvantages, but that’s how it works in US.

E.SUROV: How do you choose the captain?

I.KRUSH: Well, we don’t do anything special. Michael is our captain for a long time already and that suits us. Why so? He is a good organizer, he supports our team when it’s needed, he is good in representing out interests and he treats all the players kindly and honestly.

E. SUROV: How do you choose the players on the boards before the specific match?

M.KHODARKOVSKY: I consider the statistics and the shape of each player. First of all you should know your players - their shape, strong and weak sides, styles... In general that’s enough for organizing the team and I guess there weren’t any mistakes in team composition at this championship.

It’s really very democratic and objective in our team, so Irina was playing on the second board at this championship.  When she had higher ELO than Anna (Zatonskih) she was playing on Board 1. You will not have any conflicts neither in the team, nor outside it if following this rule. The captain has to be objective to his players and the team shouldn’t feel any pressure.

I.KRUSH: We never had such conflicts. I mean any misunderstandings connected to the boards and the composition of the team. That’s the strength of the players that matters – when you have such a composition of the team as the Russian team has you claim for something different than what the US team claims for, for instance.

E.SUROV: What does the federation do for the players of the national team?

M.KHODARKOVSKY: it sends them to the tournaments, continental championships and the Olympiad. The US chess federation as the other this kind of institutions is not supported by the government. US government doesn’t support any sport. The US Chess Federation lives by the donations of its members as well as by the different events (tournaments, competitions) organized by it. For example US Open, it’s not really profitable though. There also are some sponsors. That’s why the none-governmental organization is not profitable. It tries to arrange everything in order the team to play at some championship, but the salaries they can offer even with the help of the sponsors don’t correspond to the salaries or bonuses and award fees that Russian team gets.

I.KRUSH: The fee is normal though…

M.KHODARKOVSKY: It’s modest for the person who earns his/her living through chess. It’s prestigious to represent your country, but it’s not a way of earning money.


I.KRUSH: I usually play good in the team championships. Of course it is pleasant to defeat the former world champion Sasha Kosteniuk who is a real fighter. This is not a person who will resign easily, so it is pleasant to beat such an opponent.

E.SUROV: Does your federation give you any specific guidelines before the championship?

M.KHODARKOVSKY: No, they know that we come here to do our best…

I.KRUSH: To do what we can…

M.KHODARKOVSKY: Yes, there’s no pressure. The federation asked me what places we expect to get. I told them what I expected and we finished within those prognosis. It’s not like they can fire you because you didn’t win the medals. Captain is chosen by the team and only the team can fire you; or you leave when you feel tired.

I.KRUSH: It’s like even if the team finishes last, but your ELO will still be enough in the next list they prepare you will again be invited in the team.


As regards to team activities we had walks. Before the match against Russia Viktorija Ni and I had a walk and I tried to motivate her fighting mood saying everything can be achieved by those who believe. I told her she should believe that she can do that.  I managed to motivate her actually.

M.KHODARKOVSKY: Taking into account that she is a new member of the team it was very important.


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