3 November 2017

Ezher Tatin: I Hope Chess Will Take its Rightful Place in Altai

A chairman of the Altai Republic Chess Federation’s Board of Trustees answers questions by Vladimir Barsky 

By and large, every Russian Cup stage is known to have a main event accompanied by an additional program. Thus, on game day two a small group of organizers, together with grandmaster Vladimir Nevostrujev, left the Altai Palace casino for the National Theater of Gorno-Altaisk, where a meeting with chess fans and a simul for children was organized.

It all started with a chairman of the Altai Republic’s Physical Culture and Sports Committee, Zauri Kazapkaev, a deputy executive director of the Russian Chess Federation Alexander Tkachev, a chairman of the Altai Republic Chess Federation’s board of trustees Ezher Tatin, a president of the Siberian Federal Okrug’s Chess Federation Maxim Ivakhin and a president of the Altai Republic’s Chess Federation Arzhan Itashev sharing with reporters about the tournament and chess development plans in the Gorny Altai, upon which Vladimir Nevostrujev took a challenge from the younger generation. The Siberian Federal Okrug’s two-time champion set a high pace from the very beginning (sure thing, a tournament game starting at three o'clock was in store for him at the Altai Palace!), which the children failed to cope with, even though three or four of them were that close to a draw.

Grandmaster Vladimir Nevostrujev giving a simul

Meanwhile, Ezher Tatin arranged a small tour of the city for the guests (we were lucky to see the streets bathing in sunlight that day), and talked to your correspondent.

– A founder of chess traditions in the Gorny Altai is Yury Terentyevich Chentsov. He is a strong first-category player and, what matters most, is a Teacher with a capital T. He has been cultivating chess for more than half a century here, having shaped over a thousand chess players in the meanwhile. Yury Terentyevich used to work in the Gorno-Altaisk school No.1, which was Belaya Ladya’s champion among the Siberian and Far East schools in the 1980s, being one of the six best teams of the Soviet Union. I also went to this school, but several years later from our "golden team", and we took second at the Belaya Ladya in Altai, the first place taken by the schoolchildren from Barnaul.

Chess used to be very popular back then. We had a great club at the city park regularly hosting children's tournaments, while almost every school holidays would find us participating in competitions. Guest players would also come to us for our many local tournaments.

Although Yury Terentyevich is over 80 now, he continues his work at school No. 9. On Chentsov’s anniversary, we opened a chess club named after him, where a coach Emelian Petrovich Pak teaches children for free. It has been for four years now that school No.7 runs chess classes for grade 1-6 pupils on a daily basis, all in all being 6 or 7 groups. Recently, Dmitry Vladimirovich Solonkov, a FIDE master, has moved to us from Nizhny Tagil, and we expect him to help us in significantly improving on organizational and refereeing aspects of work, as well as on the pedagogical one. We elected Solonkov as vice-president of the republican chess federation and hope to use his contribution in promoting the popularity of chess.

It is so great to have the Altai Palace casino as our partner and sponsor. We have other potential partnerships among big companies as well. The Altai features large recreation centers and high level hotels belonging to Sberbank, the AFC systems, and the Russian Railways, which, too, fit superbly for tournaments and training sessions for children. The Altai is much spoken about nowadays, with the country's leaders, headed by Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, coming to us to enjoy their recreation time. On Boris Vasilyevich Spassky’s anniversary, I met the RF Presidential aide Igor Evgenyevich Levitin, and we discussed similar ideas. Those are no more than dreams at the moment, but we work to make them come true!

In the 1980s we had regular training sessions as part of grandmaster Evgeny Sveshnikov’s school: children from all over Altai would come to some nice recreation center for a week or two. They were busy studying chess, socializing, and enjoying their rest time. We can and must restore all this now.

Alexander Tkachev, Maxim Ivakhin and Ezher Tatin

– Do you have any promising youngster players?

– Please understand that the level of chess in the Altai Republic is such that we have never had even a single homegrown master of sports - candidate masters at best. Training young athletes takes time, resources and professional attitude. The budget is very tight. We need to attract sponsors; Sergey Karjakin's example shows that this is real. Altai is a center of attraction for people from all over Russia; I hope that chess will take its rightful place.

– Is the Altai Republic ready to introduce a universal chess education into the school curriculum?

– I treat this idea with great enthusiasm since chess accounts for a lot in my life. I have three children, a daughter being a republic champion among U13 girls. This is a noble task to draw children away from computers and gadgets, introduce them to chess and teach them thoughtfulness, perseverance, discipline, logic, and consistency in their actions. I believe this will be a great foundation for our youngsters to build their lives upon.

– Do you have chess fans among businessmen and high-level officials?

– And quite a number at that! We need to unite efforts in creating suitable conditions for chess development.

Pictures by Vladimir Barsky