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Press conference with Adrian Mihalchishin and Arshak Petrosyan

Mikhalchishin Petrosian thumb

KARLOVICH: Dear ladies and gentlemen, I’m happy to invite you to the first press conference of the fourth round day. Let me welcome our guests: Adrian Mihalchishin, the trainer of Turkish national women’s team and the chief of FIDE Trainers Commission and outstanding and well-known trainer of Armenian team, which was two times Olympic champion - Arshak Petrosyan.

So my first question is to Adrian Mihalchishin: can you tell us more about your preparation to this Olympiad and in general about your team, which is the strongest among Turkish women’s team?

MIHALCHISHIN: Well, our team is very young, since the average age of girls is under twenty. Team consists of two parts: we have two quite strong GMs, who won different medals on Junior world and European Championships: Kübra Öztürk (current European Champion) and Betül Cemre Yıldız, who is a very experienced player, despite of her age of 23 years, she played many times in FIDE Grand Prix series and plays quite successfully here as well. All other girls are very young and they are considered to be hope of Turkish chess.

In order to prepare our team, we organized camp close to Izmir – Foča town – in a hotel, which was founded by one of the Izmir chess players. The atmosphere was very friendly; we paid a lot of attention not only to chess preparations, but to physical exercises as well, such as swimming etc. We are satisfied by the preparation and are definitely ready to show the best result of Turkish women’s team in history – the best result so far was shown in Turin – 23rd place.

KARLOVICH: Actually now you changed the first and second boards – previously the first board was occupied by Betül Yıldız, now Kübra Öztürk is playing the first board. Why have you decided to make such changes?

MIHALCHISHIN: You know, the Chess Federation of every other country has its own strategies regarding arranging players – one put players strictly according to their rating, e.g. in Azerbaijan there is a special strategy, according to which they place their strongest player Mamedyarov on a bit lower board.

Armenian team also has good example of formation of the team – they have four best players according to the rating and one National Champion, this strategy is considered to be very logical. In our team we also believe that National Champion should play the first board, and since this year Kübra Öztürk became Turkish Champion (Betül Yıldız won this title for 8 times), it’s high time for her to test herself on the first board.

Mikhalchishin Petrosian


KARLOVICH: Adrian, you are also the Chief of FIDE Trainer’s Commission, can you tell us about the work of this Commission, problems which captains and trainers face.

MIHALCHISHIN: In general, our ambition is to become professional union of chess trainers. In some way, on the contrary to the other sports, the work of chess trainers is underestimated. We have lots of problems, as we don’t have sufficient education for trainers, except of some former Soviet Union and some part of Europe.

That’s why we organize special seminars to educate trainers. Since Olympiad in Khanty-Mansiysk we conducted 30 seminars already, which were attended by lots of trainers. Few months ago we had a fantastic seminar with Arshak Petrosyan in Jordan – we had more than 30 participants.

The main problem is that every chess player is sure that he can be a successful chess trainer. But in such cases we are usually witnessing the lack of psychological, pedagogical knowledge. Chess clubs, which hire such trainers without any background, usually experience great problems.

We are Union not only of top trainers, who are present generally here or on some World Youth Championships – we do our best to help all trainers, even the beginners. We created syllabus for trainers of medium level. This year we had cooperation with Chess in Schools Commission and established syllabus for trainers, who work with the beginners – it’s almost the most important part of our work. We try to provide a lot of educational material for trainers.

Every month we publish two articles of top trainers, usually with important lessons on the problems of middlegame and endgame. So we try to help trainers to receive material, because up to now we don’t have elaborated programs for training. Since we believe that trainers are underestimated, we established prizes for best trainers’ results – we want to show which trainers had the best achievements during the year.

For this reason we have special panel, which evaluates trainers’ result. I’m very glad, that for the second time as the World’s Best Men’s Trainer was titled Arshak Petrosyan – his Armenian team won last year World Championship. I hope that even for him it’s an important recognition of his own and his team’s achievements.

KARLOVICH: Arshak, can you tell us a bit about the preparation of Armenian team and about the members of the team. As we know Sergey Movsesian represents Atrmenian team in the Olympiad for the first time, so how does he feels in the team?

PETROSYAN: As usual we had the same two-week camp before the Olympiad, this year all members of the team participated in this training camp. We spent a very nice time: during the first part of the day we had some sportive preparations, and afterwards: chess preparation.

We pay a lot of attention to the atmosphere inside the team, it wouldn’t be a lie, if I tell that we are like one family. We are very happy, that Sergey Movsesian is the member of our team now, in his first tournament with our team – in China World Championship – he played very well, and showed fantastic results, thanks to him we gained victory and became World Champions. All the members of our team are not only good chess players, but have good personal qualities.

KARLOVICH: For many years you were trainer of Peter Leko. I was wondering, what is easier for you: to train the whole team or one chess player of a very high level?

PETROSYAN: Both cases are not so easy, but it’s a different kind of job. When we trained with Leko, we devoted 10 months during the whole year to intensive every-day training. With the team we have different situation: we analyze, discuss our problems, but we don’t spend so many days for preparation. Still it’s very interesting to work with the team and with one player.

KARLOVICH: Every trainer has lots of stress during the Olympiad, every round is very tough. How do you manage to cope with this stress?

PETROSYAN: As I have a very big experience, I understand that it’s important to handle this stress. Even if your team has bad position on the start, you still can win the match - the situation is always unpredictable. So I try to overcome my stress, using my experience.



MIHALCHISHIN: While working with women’s team, we have very specific situation: it’s necessary to prepare openings in different ways, because girls are very sticked to opening repertoire. You can predict exactly what other girl will play. Among girls the situation during the match is constantly changing: first you look at the boards and you are satisfied with the result, another moment they’re losing. That’s why working with girls is very stressful.

The atmosphere in the team means a lot: when the team works together, you see the results. For example, Russian team consists of 4 strong members (probably, the strongest team in the world), but for some inside reason they don’t show the expected performance during last 4 Olympiads. To my mind, the main task of the trainer is to create the atmosphere in the team and try to preserve it to the end.

UROSEVIC: My question is for Arshak Petrosyan: before the Olympiad we spoke with several experts about their predictions. All of them believe that Russian or Armenian team (though this team is not even the second highest-rated team) will take gold medal. How did you managed to establish such reputation and what are your predictions?

PETROSYAN: Usually I don’t answer such questions during the Olympiad. Around 8-9 teams can fight for medals, but even one round (e.g. 8th or 9th) can change the situation completely. I’ll answer this question after the tournament.

MIHALCHISHIN: I can just add, that for example, last year during European Championship in Greece Armenian team played fantastically and was leading in tournament, and during the last round with German team, which is not so strong, Movsesyan lost decisive game. You know, it’s sport. Trainers are responsible for their work, but not always for the results.

ZOLDAN: You discussed the importance of chemistry in the team. Do the strongest players share their secrets with other members of the team?

MIHALCHISHIN: You know, it depends on the team. When I trained Soviet national team, some players shared their knowledge and their variations. Some players hesitate whether to share their secrets or not. As I know, in the Armenian team, players always give pieces of advice to each other, share the information they know, because of the atmosphere in the team.

PETROSYAN: As you know our team member Levon Aronyan, one of the strongest players in the world, knows lots of good opening preparations and he never minds sharing any new information with the rest members of the team. During the team championship we have no secrets from each other.

ZOLDAN: What about the player, who is not involved in the game during one day – does he support the team or is it possible for him to have a rest?

PETROSYAN: The situation is always different, sometimes when the player doesn’t need any specific additional preparation – it’s obviously perfect day to have a rest. Every day after the round we discuss our next opponent and immediately understand who needs some special preparation or not, if necessary – we divide into groups and train.

MIHALCHISHIN: There are some differences with women’s team: their play is always very concentrated. On the contrary to the men, who are smoking, walking around the playing hall, girls sit and concentrate on the game. That’s why they become very tired at the third hour of the match and can make lots of mistakes at this stage of the game. After the match you see the player who is physically weaker and needs to have a special day off.

KARLOVICH: And the last question: what is your attitude to the new rule, according to which trainer should stand behind his players, shouldn’t show up during the game?

MIHALCHISHIN: On this case it’s completely correct, that captain doesn’t have visual contact with the members of your team, because previously psychologically weaker players in time troubles could look into the eyes of their trainer to evaluate their own positions. For this reason I totally agree with this rule, it should have been adopted long ago.

KARLOVICH: I just wonder, when during the match players meet their trainer somewhere around the playing hall, what should you do as a trainer? How it works on practice?

MIHALCHISHIN: As I know most of the top trainers don’t interfere in the game, don’t try to warn their players, even if they are very nervous inside.

PETROSYAN: During the game I can only ask whether somebody wants to drink or not and bring them beverages (laughing).

KARLOVICH: Let me wish good luck to both of your teams and thank you for your time.