30 January 2018

Mark Glukhovsky: Let’s Discuss Deeds, Not Words

RCF Execute Director answers Vladimir Barsky's questions

– The election of the RCF President has caused quite a stir, but curiously enough: two weeks before the Congress, one of the main candidates for the post goes to Africa of all places to campaign! How serious is everything that is happening?

– A remarkable feature of this election is that almost none of the candidates is interested in the post for which they are competing. The right to run the Russian Chess Federation is above all the right to replenish its budget, which far exceeds the budget of other non-Olympic sports. Andrey Filatov asked me not to mention any figures, so I will confine myself to percentages: about 7 percent of the Russian Chess Federation’s budget is “covered” by the Ministry of Sport, about 40 percent comes from sponsors, and more than half is personally from the RCF president. For obvious reasons, the “battle” for this post since the early nineties has been about persuading some influential and reputable person to lead the federation. But it hasn’t always worked out this way. Chess players remember well how at the turn of the century they desperately tried to get rid of then president of the Russian Chess Federation Andrey Selivanov. Alexander Zhukov was finally persuaded to take over the RCF, after which chess life in Russia has significantly changed for the better. A lot of useful things were initially done by the team of Alexander Zhukov and Alexander Bakh, and then the team of Arkady Dvorkovich and Ilya Levitov. I would like to hope that the efforts made by Andrey Filatov and his team also brought about some benefits.

The position of the RCF President had always been vacant, and suddenly it became unusually interesting. I view the situation as such: there is one candidate – the current president Filatov, who is ready to stand for one more term, and there is a certain “collective” candidate. However, there are officially seven candidates for this post. Of course, Andrey Selivanov, who is positioning himself as a “specialist on working with regions”, failed to agree on his nomination with any of the 67 accredited chess federations in our country. In this connection, the Supervisory Board is now deciding whether it can clear his candidacy for voting (according to the RCF Charter, this is the Supervisory Board’s duty). In any case, seven or six candidates are a lot.

– Why are there so many candidates? And some of them are new people who are unknown in the chess world?

– With the exception of Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the other candidates do not represent any independent interest. In their interviews, they repeat the same points and praise each other. The main actors, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and partly Sergey Nesterov, who remain behind the scenes for now, are not talking about their programmes, ideas, and goals.

As for the initiator of the process, the Russian Chess Federation is of no interest to him: this is my value judgment, as they say. It’s no coincidence that Kirsan is going Africa ten days before the Russian Chess Federation election. For him, the election in Russia is utilitarian in nature and serves as a springboard in the battle for the opportunity to once again be nominated for the post of FIDE president. Of course, this is insulting and humiliating for such a serious intrinsically valuable organization as the Russian Chess Federation. It should not be used as a kind of “political currency”. I know that this view is shared by RCF President Andrey Filatov as well as our sponsors and members of the RCF Board of Trustees and Supervisory Board.

– A logical question arises: why has the RCF, which had supported Kirsan for several years in FIDE, now refused to support him?

– I don’t think this is the proper way to pose the question. Kirsan Ilyumzhinov’s merits in the chess world are well known and nobody is disputing them. But there is an objective reality: his last term in FIDE has been and remains a very challenging one. Since 2015, FIDE has faced a series of problems: first Ilyumzhinov transferred some of his powers to Georgios Macropoulos, then unsuccessfully tried to get them back. Almost every FIDE Presidential Board has been rocked by scandals. Finally, the recent FIDE Executive Board meeting in Antalya asked Ilyumzhinov not to run for the next term. Kirsan was unable to attend the opening of the world championship in New York and the world championship in Tbilisi – this is all well known. It’s quite sad to see to watch this, considering that Kirsan has done a lot to develop chess. But in this situation it’s simply impossible to talk about absolute and unconditional support. At the very least, we have to analyse the results of the cycle and understand which other potential Russian candidates are willing to participate in the battle for this post. Who has a chance to get elected? There are a lot of worthy people in our country: former Russian chess leaders Alexander Zhukov and Arkady Dvorkovich, and world champions Anatoly Karpov and Vladimir Kramnik.

The experience of all previous FIDE elections indicates that this issue is usually resolved in April–May: the candidates and their tickets, programmes, and promises all become known by this time. None of this is in sight yet. Therefore, when the issue of the candidate for the FIDE presidency was raised at the RCF Supervisory Board meeting on 16 December 2017, Andrey Filatov proposed postponing a resolution on this issue until the Supervisory Board meeting in April–May 2018. The Supervisory Board decided to include the issue on the agenda of the congress. So we will discuss the issue at the congress: I won’t make a prediction on its resolution.

– Grandmaster Alexei Shirov wrote in a comment on Facebook: “Kirsan can be considered a pathological liar for probably five years now (and a lot more for many people). For some reason, it’s not even surprising that he found a common language with Danailov so easily”. Is such an accusation justified?

– Once again: no one denies his past merits to the chess world. But look: Kirsan just publicly announced that he was supported by 30 chess federations of Africa. And immediately after that the chess federations of Egypt, Botswana, and some other countries came out with statements saying that there had been no talk of any unconditional support. As if to say, first we need to see who the candidates will be and what programmes they put forward. That’s exactly the same thing I just said.

– So, in fact, because of the upcoming elections in FIDE, we are seeing a kind of kaleidoscope of candidates for the post of RCF President?

– Unfortunately, this is a common thing in chess. We all remember that not so long ago the main news in the chess world was not matches for the world championship, the Olympics, or tournaments among contenders, but for the post of FIDE President. We watched the struggle between Karpov and Ilyumzhinov in 2010 and the battle between Kasparov and Ilyumzhinov in 2014. The actual elections were much more important than the work that was going on between them. Kirsan has now brought this well-established practice to the RCF elections practice. I still hope that we will discuss deeds and not words: what has already been done at the RCF and what is planned for the next term if the delegates vote for the current team. I believe that the ideological struggle is important to the overwhelming majority of delegates and not the political, virtual, or economic battle.

– How will voting be organized from a purely technical standpoint?

– In accordance with the Statute, our main law. Voting is closed and requires a personal presence – no proxies. We utilize all the capabilities of modern technology to ensure that the competition is clean and transparent in order to completely rule out corruption or doubt concerning the voting results. The President of the Federation is a major businessman who owns a number of public companies, and he does not need the elections in which he participates to be associated with some dirty technologies. It will be categorically impossible to take a picture of the completed ballot papers, and any attempts to bribe or intimidate delegates will be recorded and severely suppressed.

Our “collective opponent” is trying to find faults with certain details of the Congress. Its transfer from the Radisson Slavyanskaya to the Central Chess Player House is supposedly unauthorized. However, in accordance with the RCF Statute, the issue of the congress venue falls within the competence of the executive directorate. Having a beautiful restored building on Gogolevsky Boulevard, we should we spend the funds of a public organization to rent a room in a hotel? In addition, chess delegates would probably be interested in coming to their own place, viewing the chess museum, and examining the photo exhibition and rare exhibits from Anatoly Karpov’s collection. After all, the congress takes place every four years, and for some delegates this is a rare opportunity to visit 14, Gogolevsky Boulevard.

– How many non-accredited federations do we have, and why can’t they be accredited?

– Regional chess federations don’t receive accreditation with the Russian Chess Federation, but with the regional branch of the Ministry of Sport. Our country has 67 accredited federations and 17 non-accredited federations, and some federations have not even submitted documents for an extension for a long time.

– Is it difficult to collect documents for accreditation?

– Not really. At any rate, most of the federations manage to deal with this. Only one paper is required from the RCF – an endorsement, and we send it upon request without any problems.

I should note that the law does not allow for having two accredited federations in the territory of a single constituent entity of the Russian Federation. We try to help non-accredited federations as well and try to sort out the few conflicts that exist. For example, there was a difficult situation in the Krasnodar Region, and two federations were feuding in the Sverdlovsk Region for many years. Ultimately, the federations have united, and now each of these regions has one strong federation.

– Who has the right to vote at the Congress?

– Accredited federations have one vote. In almost every region, chess players held a meeting, delegates were elected, and the minutes of the meetings were published. I would like to clarify one more technical aspect: why only 6 members of the Supervisory Board will have the right to vote at the Congress, specifically the president and 5 vice presidents. According to the charter, at least 75% of the delegates must be represented by accredited federations. But if all 32 members of the Supervisory Board have the right to vote, then there would be a different ratio, and our congress would become illegitimate. And if we were to allow, for example, 10 of the 32 members of the Supervisory Board to vote 32, how would they be selected so as not to offend anyone? In addition, it would turn out that some regions would have two votes and some would have only one, i.e. the important principle of equality among RCF members would be violated. Ultimately, the members of the Supervisory Board were initially nominated by the regions, and most of them are already represented at the congress as delegates. There is no reason to artificially inflate the number of voters. All these issues were discussed for almost an hour at the RCF Supervisory Board meeting on 16 December.

I will list five Vice Presidents of the RCF. They are Natalia Komarova, the Governor of the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous District-Yugra, whose merits to the chess world are enormous; Alexander Zhukov, president of the Russian Olympic Committee and former president of the Russian Chess Federation; 12-time world champion Anatoly Karpov; General Director of the Franco-Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Pavel Chinsky, who has done a lot to strengthen the Russian Chess Federation’s international relations. (We, in particular, are indebted to him for the fact that Renault Russia has become a regular sponsor of the Super Finals and the ‘White Rook’); and Andrey Selivanov, who was responsible for working with the regions. We already spoke about his successes in this area (0 of the 67 federations!), and I would rather not repeat myself. Virtually the same team along with Filatov is running for the new elections, with the exception of Selivanov. Andrey Guryev, head of the company PhosAgro, a major sponsor of the RCF, agreed to take the vacated seat. He is very active in the sports world and is a huge fan of chess. We conduct a substantial number of joint projects in all the regions where the company operates. All the PhosAgro schools have well-equipped chess classes.

Believe me, it’s not so easy to put together a strong team and persuade it to continue working for the benefit of chess. It’s curious that none of the candidates for the presidency of the RCF has yet to speak about his team with which he is going to implement grandiose changes in Russian chess.

– Let’s talk about what has been done in four years. With a focus on children’s chess, the national team, and work with the regions.

– I’m afraid my answers would be too long. Having said that, the delegates will have to resolve important issues at the congress, and the congress promises to be a difficult one. So you can use the vast Internet in order to talk in detail about the main results of our work.

Children’s chess is overseen by the coach of all Russian national teams Sergey Janovsky. He described what has been done in great detail in a recent interview. The main objective is to use the money allocated for children’s chess in the most effective way possible. Overall, the RCF’s expenses on children’s chess are constantly growing. Money is primarily spent on grandmaster centres and schools, and part of the money is allocated according to grants.

We consider our most important achievement to be the opening of the chess department at Sirius. It all began when I went to Sirius to pick up my oldest son, who studies mathematics, one day earlier than planned. The centre made a great impression on me! I managed to visit with Sirius Director Yelena Shmeleva and persuade her that the centre needs a chess department. She replied: “You know, I also feel that a chess department is a must, but this issue is decided by our Board of Trustees”. I asked: “Who heads your Board of Trustees?” And in reply I heard: “The President of the Russian Federation”.

We went to work. I want to express my profound gratitude to Arkady Dvorkovich, Dmitry Peskov, and Igor Levitin: without their involvement, we would not have achieved this result. A huge number of sports federations dream about getting into Sirius! But its ideology is that at Sirius people work in areas in which Russians are traditionally strong. For example, there is a department of classical music, but there is no jazz section. There is hockey, but there is no football. And so on ... Fortunately, chess is an area in which we are traditionally good, so we managed to get some “budget-funded openings” for us. Now this vast and substantial work is being conducted under the leadership of Vladimir Kramnik and Sergey Janovsky.

I cannot help myself and will quote the New in Chess publishing house, which published the English version of the book My Methodology, which Mikhail Shereshevsky wrote based on an order from us. The announcement says that when Russian chess began to develop actively, the RCF invited Shereshevsky as an organizer and coach. And this is the truth. Everyone in chess knows Mikhail – from a first-ranked player to Carlsen. He is a brilliant methodologist and his experience and organizational skills have helped to create the base on which dozens of children now study annually at Sirius. Classes for them are completely free, and Sirius is pleased with our work because we produce numerous medals and demonstrate virtually the best results among all other sports. There are lectures for children by Vladimir Kramnik, European champions Evgeny Tomashevsky, Ernesto Inarkiev, and the famous grandmasters Sergey Rublevsky, Sergey Karyakin, and Alexandra Kosteniuk, while Konstantin Sakayev and Vladimir Belikov also work there on a permanent basis. This is a huge contribution to children’s chess, which will remain for the next generation, just like the Central Chess Player House that has been transformed. It’s a great investment in the future. We are investing decent money in paying coaches, and the Talent and Success Foundation is investing large amounts of money.

At the same time, work continues in all other areas because the RCF had very good practices with which it would be a pity to part and which are not mechanically transferred, for example, from the Togliatti grandmaster’s centre to Sirius. Some of the children study at the Siberian Federal Centre, and others at the North-West Centre. No Andrey Esipenko has emerged from these grandmaster centres. However, he was also taught at Sirius.

Another contribution to the future that I want to talk about is the Nutcracker, the new RCF calendar tournament, which is extremely important for us. We have been holding it for 4 years thanks to two sponsors of this process – Arkady Dvorkovich and Oleg Skvortsov. We have the opportunity to hold this tournament for our best young chess players, the future reserve of the national team. I won’t go on and on about it; surely everyone who follows chess knows about it.

Each year the number of stages of the Russian Cup increases among children, and we decided to hold the Russian Youth Cup final as a substantial additional contribution to children’s chess. We have been doing this for two years already! This is a serious tournament and there is a lot of competition to get into it.

Wrapping up the theme of professional children’s chess, I must talk about where we started, specifically with the maximum easing of financial conditions for the participants of Russian championships held in Loo. We have managed to keep prices for accommodation and food low for many years; in 2018 they are lower than they were in 2013! Accommodation with a good three meals a day costs RUB 1,150 per day per person!

At the same time, Loo has numerous events not only for children, but also for coaches. We conduct refresher courses and coaches receive additional certificates that help them increase their salaries. Our best specialists come here and share their experience. This is also very important: at the very start of his journey, Andrey Filatov identified one of the criteria for assessing the effectiveness of work as the demand for chess coaches. In Moscow, it is growing: the salary of a good coach who is not too lazy to walk a lot has doubled in four years.

The biggest shortage now is a good coach! And if the congress votes for Filatov, we intend to make the training of coaches one of the key issues for the second term.

– Now let’s talk about children’s mass chess.

– There are two projects that are closely related. The first one is Chess in Schools. Obviously, it is impossible to just come up with a new subject and introduce it. We aren’t the Ministry of Education. The joint project of the RCF and the Timchenko Foundation was launched solely for those who want to introduce chess in schools. Over four years, the project has grown immensely: it received investments of RUB 36 million, which went to ten regions of Russia. We started with the Pskov Region because we had someone to rely on: President of the Pskov Federation Dmitry Shakhov has been engaged in general education for several years. Now he has opened an entire resource centre in Opochka that works on this process.

The project was then launched in Transbaikal. Then we started promoting it around the whole country, and now we are working in 10 regions. It has spread to roughly 750 schools in four years. As a result, about 50,000 students have completed the chess classes. The school receives equipment and literature free of charge. We have developed teaching materials purposely for the project, which includes two years of training. It has been certified in schools and is undergoing an expert examination in the Ministry of Education. And we hope that it will be included in the list of textbooks that the Ministry of Education recommends for teaching chess. We are also holding contests among teachers and the best of them receive prizes that motivate them to continue teaching chess.

The second part of this process is the ‘White Rook’ tournament. When we first started working on the ‘White Rook’, this tournament involved 15 regions. We managed to secure a sponsorship from two companies – the Timchenko Foundation and Renault Russia. And we managed to make this tournament an international one that does not exist anywhere else in the world. Now the ‘White Rook’ involves 80 regions of Russia and 17 countries. The next ‘White Rook’ will include even more countries because the ones that come stay and new ones are added. This tournament is directly attributable to the president of the Russian Chess Federation, who has a major soft spot for it, probably because he took part in it himself.

When we were thinking about the Chess in Schools project, we realized that one of the criteria for success should be the number of schools involved in the selection for the ‘White Rook’. Now the tournament’s prestige has grown significantly, particularly after the Russian President opened it in 2014.

Another important event for chess took place just one year ago: the Russian Minister of Education said that she plans to introduce regular chess lessons in schools. Of course, we are very pleased that our own efforts coincided with those of the Ministry of Education. It’s an enormous and perhaps the most important ministry in our country. And if our modest expertise will be useful for the Ministry of Education, we are always happy to participate and help. There is not even the slightest doubt that in four years we have invested more efforts and money in this than any other collective group that has ever dealt with it. Thanks to this project, we have managed more or less to saturate the regions with equipment, although this problem has not been completely solved since we have such a huge country. But we spent roughly RUB 15 million on equipment as part of the Chess in Schools project, and approximately RUB 15 million as part of the ‘Chess in Children’s Homes’ project. Many thanks for this goes to Alexander Zhukov: we received a grant from the Olympic Committee for RUB 5 million, bought equipment with this money, and sent it all over Russia.

In addition, we helped certain chess federations that were in a very bad situation. (Incidentally, we also helped the non-accredited Crimean Federation, which complains about a lack of attention.) If you have any examples of similar treatment of the regions or a similar amount of efforts invested in them, feel free to cite them. I don’t know of any such examples in Russia.

Just recently, we received a presidential grant to develop general chess education. For the record, obtaining a presidential grant is no easy task at all. It sounds great – they got a presidential grant, but it took a lot of effort. We applied for a presidential grant, did not receive it, applied again, and managed to nevertheless achieve the desired result. With the money from this grant, we are holding a competition among chess teachers in order to find out the most interesting practices of teaching chess. Then in Dagomys during the ‘White Rook’ we will hold a major national or even international conference of teachers. I would like to take this opportunity to invite all the presidents of the regional chess federations during the ‘White Rook’ to come along with their teams, see how it works, take part in the conference, and listen to how chess is taught in schools because you, my colleagues, will probably have to deal with this issue in the coming years. One way or another, chess education will be introduced in schools. If you don’t want your federations to get left behind in the process, then come to Dagomys! Root for their teams in the ‘White Rook’, take part in the tournament, and listen to the lectures. This would be extremely useful as part of work to make chess more popular. The Russian Chess Federation will be glad to see you, host you, and interact with you there. It will be a very eventful programme.

I believe that blame for neglecting the regions is unfair. This only goes to show that the “collective candidate” for the RCF president simply does not know what is happening in the country’s chess life, and made no effort to find out! The Russian Chess Federation has three projects that focus exclusively on the regions: ‘Chess in Schools’, ‘Chess in Children’s Homes’, and ‘Chess in Museums’.

– How is the ‘Chess in Museums’ project coming along?

– This is also a regional project and its goal is primarily to help regional museums. This is why tournaments were held in Chita, Novosibirsk, Kazan, Kaliningrad, and St. Petersburg. In general, the geography of the Superfinals ranges from St. Petersburg to Chita, while the geography of the Major League extends from Kaliningrad to Vladivostok. To Russky Island! Prior to 2014, the Superfinals were always held only in Moscow and nowhere else. The only exception was 2013 when they were held in Nizhny Novgorod.

The idea of playing in museums is to bring chess out of the underground to some extent, from chess clubs that have not always been restored and gyms to good clean museum sites. Trying to capture a new audience! I am very glad that people liked this idea. It is sometimes implemented even without our involvement. But it is often implemented with our participation, for example, the Champions Tournament, which we helped to hold in Yaroslavl. The Starodubtsev Memorial was recently held at the Art Museum in Tula with great success. A children’s stage of the Russian Cup was recently held at the Levitan Centre in Plyos.

During our tournaments, we always organize a social programme and try to energize the local chess life. It’s difficult to imagine a situation in which some regional initiative would not receive support from us, except for the idea that “I have nothing, you will do everything”. We are not willing to support those who don’t want to take action. But if they come to us with an elaborate project such as, for example, the one in Yaroslavl – we help. We held major rapid tournaments in Cheboksary and Altai with a record prize fund. If we are asked to send a lecturer, we send the fantastic chess promoter and excellent commentator Sergey Shipov. The Russian Chess Federation devotes a lot of attention, resources, and funds to the regions. Coaching and refereeing seminars are held regularly. Alexander Kostyev, who joined our team a year ago, travels around the country and holds seminars on school chess education.

– As the editor of the RCF website, I can confirm that there is a constant stream of chess news from the regions!

– And for regional organizers it is important that we have such news! By the way, I wanted to say a few words about something that you know more about than me, namely about our website. Even our critics rightly say that we have a very good website, so thanks to you and your team. You have managed to accumulate absolutely all the news from all over Russia. If you just go to the News section, it’s clear where and in what regions the chess life is buzzing with excitement. And,, incidentally, we have made our website bilingual for the first time. Of course, it is mainly focused on the Russian audience, but during peak periods when major competitions are held, the English section of the website also becomes very popular.

– What is the current status of the ‘Chess in Children’s Homes’ project?

– This is another project whose emergence is directly attributable to the president of the Russian Chess Federation. We came up with it and carried it out over the last three years, but now have reformatted it a bit. The project results are as follows: we have equipped approximately 300 children’s homes with equipment and literature. We pay coaches along with regional sponsors and partners. Some coaches – and kudos to them – work for free, some overwork themselves because they have become attached to these children. For two years in a row, we have held the Ascension tournament and assembled full teams from children’s homes. Last year there were about 50 of them. This tournament has a very interesting ideology. One of the main problems facing kids once they leave children’s homes is the inability to live independently. They very often encounter a difficult life when they leave children’s homes. It seemed to us that this fits in very well with what chess teaches – decision making and the ability to build one’s life a few steps in advance.

There are partners in this project whom should be thanked! This above all includes Supervisory Board member Vladimir Kirsanov, who invests a lot of personal resources in helping children from poor families and in holding this tournament. This is an absolutely amazing tournament, and it made a great impression on me. There are a variety of children: with hearing impairment, mental disorders, and disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Of course, this tournament has no direct sporting objectives: children play, rest, see the sea for the first time, get to know other children from other regions for the first time, and learn to communicate with them. There are conflict situations. This social adaptation is very important. This project is supported by the Northern Crown Foundation headed by Irina Kudrina and several private sponsors: I won’t list them all so as not to make someone uncomfortable. A lot of people help anonymously, simply out of a desire to help. They have nothing to do with medals or these children. They will not compete in the championships of Russia, the world, or Europe, but this project is important for you. And I want to thank all the leaders of the chess federations that have joined in its implementation.

– Let’s return to the work of the RCF. What ideology is inherent in it?

– It’s very simple: we exist to help the development of chess. How many people do we have working, 30 people at the federation? We are not in a position to replace regional federations. But we must help everyone who is capable – all talented children and chess lovers with disabilities. This is our ideology that we adhere to.

A very important part of our work includes helping veterans. This involves stipends, of course. And the veteran calendar is very eventful, although the Ministry of Sport does not invest a penny in it. Chess composers also have their own calendar. I don’t know if there is even a single federation in the world where veterans and composers go to tournaments at its expense? Maybe there is, but I’m not aware of any such examples.

We try to make a celebration out of the competitions that we organize. This not only includes the Super Finals, but also the Russian Team Championships. In 2014, only 13 men’s teams and 4 women’s teams took part in the Russian Team Championships. In the last Russian Championships, there were 70 teams at the start. The festival has grown so much that we had to split it into two parts. The team Championship among veterans, the team Championship among children, the First League, and the Higher League! This all fits into Sochi’s Zhemchuzhina Hotel. Then we added the Russian Rapid and Blitz Championships to this tournament, and the festival became so large that we were forced to hold a separate Russian Rapid and Blitz Championship with, again, a record prize fund of RUB 2,000,000 in individual championships and RUB 1,820,000 in the team-based championships. And in 2014 the prize fund was RUB 250,000. This is all investment in Russian chess. The number of participants in these championships is growing. Two new full-fledged festivals have appeared literally in the last two or three years. We should thank Sergey Smagin, the main visionary of these competitions, who is very emotional about them, and carries out a great deal of organizational work.

Getting back to professional chess, I want to say that the figures don’t reveal everything: part of the money that talented children receive does not come through the Russian Chess Federation. If there is a sponsor who is willing to help directly, we couldn’t be happier. There are several stipend recipients who regularly receive help from the friends of the RCF President. A person who prefers not to be named helps the visually impaired team. And so on. One of the privileges of working with the current RCF President is the opportunity to help those who need this help.

– Another important topic that worries everyone is the Russian national team. How is work arranged with it?

– We all are very concerned because for many years our men’s team has been unable to win the World Chess Olympiad. I can tell you what is being done for the sake of victory. I will talk about the men’s team because the women’s team shows outstanding results.

First of all, regular gatherings are held in which all promising young chess players take part. In the past, they took place exclusively at Lake Krugloye, but now the Ministry of Sports provides chess players with its bases in Kislovodsk and Sochi. In 2016, we spent a substantial amount of sponsorship funds to equip a modern IT-centre for training at a club on Gogolevsky Boulevard. Members of the national team have constant access to it. There is a bonus system developed by the previous leadership of the RCF. The gist of it is that players receive money only for the result. As far as I can tell, it suits our grandmasters. In any case, no one has ever refused to take part in the national team due to insufficient remuneration. At the same time, we see a great desire on the part of young chess players to become one of the permanent members of the national team and they have every opportunity for this. I would also add that significant funds are invested in the training of our best chess players before the most important individual starts – tournament contenders and world championship matches.

In all other respects: sport is sport, and no one can guarantee the result. As Mark Dvoretsky liked to say: “Do what you should – and come what may!”

In the second part of the interview, which will be published in a few days, we will continue talking about the programme of Andrey Filatov and his team for the next 4 years.