25 December 2015

Alongside the Grandmasters

About group No.2 of the Nutcracker tournament in a friendly interview given by grandmasters Sergey Yanovsky and Mikhail Kobalia to Vladimir Barsky.

It is quite remarkable that this year the “Nutcracker" generation match-tournament will sport its own sort of a "farm club": boys aged 11-12 will measure strength with girls aged 16-17. The members of these teams are narrated about by the head coach of the national Russian teams Sergey Yanovsky and the senior coach of our junior team Mikhail Kobalia.

Sergey Yanovsky:  In the past year the "Nutcracker" was a great success and the idea of running a battle between two teams represented by chess players of different age groups was greatly appealing to everyone. Let me remind you that the tournament used to feature the "Princes", the junior Russian players of utmost promise, fighting against and "Kings", the experienced grandmasters performing at the highest level. This year we decided to expand the program by adding two teams of the best junior Russian players: boys aged 11-12 and girls aged 16-17.

Round one is about to start


– Do you believe these teams to be roughly equal in strength?

Mikhail Kobalia: – The girls’ average rating is slightly higher, but a lot will depend on the psychological momentum such as whether the girls feel comfortable playing against the boys and vice versa.

S.Y. – Besides, the boys of this age are often underrated, the numbers not keeping up with their accelerated improvement.

– Could you please introduce the members of the teams, starting with the girls? 

M.K. –The native of Elista Dinara Dordzhieva is the most titled of other players, being many-times Russian Champion and winner of the European Championship. This year she used to be a member of the Russian national team at the U16 Olympics and demonstrated quite a decent performance at that. She is the one with the largest amount of experience, performances, and regalia.

Dinara Dordzhieva


S.Y. – Other than Sanan Sjugirov, Dinara Dordzhieva and Aisa Imeeva are probably the brightest representatives of the Republic of Kalmykia. 

M.K. – At present Aisa Imeeva is a student of the Physicotechnical Institute. She has recently drawn her game against Carlsen in a simul!

The team also features the Russian U17 Champion Margarita Potapova from the Crimea. She has been trained by Yuri Yakovich at the Russian Chess Federation grandmaster center in Togliatti.

Margarita Potapova


S.Y. – She displayed a great deal of achievements when she used to perform for the Ukraine. She is coached by Oksana Gritsaeva at home and they make a very harmonious duet, having trust-based kind of relationships in which the coach supports the student in all aspects, not only those related to chess. Unfortunately enough, because of the political complications around the Crimea, Rita and her compatriot Sasha Triapishko, the U17 Russian Champion among other things, could not take part in the latest World Championship in Greece. 

M.K. – Olga Mylnikova won silver at the 2015 U17 Russian Championship.

S.Y. – This is perhaps her first major success.

Olga Mylnikova


M.K. – Yes, she has often broken into top ten, or even top five, but has never taken a medal so far. Recently, Olga has become the Women’s Champion of the Nizhny Novgorod Region. 

S.Y. – At the European Championship Olga played very diligently and was in the group of prize candidates. 

Yet another participant is Aleksandra Dimitrova, who used to be the Russian Champion in one of the early age groups and who has taken this year’s Junior Russian Cup. At the recent U16 World Cup she performed very decently, better than any other Russian participant of her age. 

Aleksandra Dimitrova


M.K. – She is coached by Andrey Vasilyevich Beletsky, chairman of the RCF’s Children and Youth Committee. Even though she lives in Moscow, she regularly attends RCF’s grandmaster center sessions in Kostroma. 

– Who is on the list of the boys’ team?

S.Y. – The youngest team member is Dima Tsoi and, despite his being only 11 years old, he has the most regalia: many-times Russian Champion, two-times winner of the World Championships. 

Dmitry Tsoi


M.K. – Dima is an educatee of the Moscow Palace of Pioneers, although he has recently transferred to Karpov’s school. Moreover, he has attended the sessions organized by the Northwest grandmaster school and the grandmaster center in Togliatti. This year hasn’t gone especially well for Dmitry, but he works hard on chess and it should yield results.

S.Y. – Kirill Shubin is a current European Champion among U12 boys. He grew up in Vladivostok, was the national rapid chess champion and a medal winner in the classical chess. Last year he moved to Peterhof, where a chess boarding school functions successfully nowadays; he has started studying chess under the guidance of the grandmaster Denis Yevseev. It was immediately followed by a major success at the European Championship, in which he was assisted by Yevseev.  

Kirill Shubin


M.K. – The regional grandmaster school used to function in Vladivostok for many years, where Andrei Kharlov, blessed be his memory, would be dispatched on a regular basis. Shubin used to be his student. However, it is more difficult to achieve progress in the Far East as there are few strong tournaments, whereas travelling into the European part of Russia is a very expensive enterprise, let alone the change of time zones. It is clear that St. Petersburg will provide Kirill with many more opportunities for his further development.

S.Y. – The third team member is Arseniy Nesterov from Veliky Novgorod. He has already been a medal winner of the European and Russian Championships.

Arseniy Nesterov


M.K. – Arseniy played very well at the recent World Championship and was one of the medal contenders. He was close to success, but in the last round he regrettably turned out to be the last one to make an error while in mutual time trouble. Arseniy’s father is a great fan of chess and would often accompany his son to tournaments. 

S.Y. – The fourth team member, Yaroslav Remizov from Chelyabinsk, replaced the Irkutsk chess player Anton Sidorov at the last minute. Yaroslav has been two-times the Russian vice-champion. In Chelyabinsk he is coached by the grandmaster Tatiana Shumyakina; moreover, he is a student of Yuri Yakovich at the grandmaster center of the Russian Chess Federation in Togliatti.

Yaroslav Remizov


M.K. – We believe the experience of playing as a team is going to pay off for the young players. It holds the team together. Both boys and girls feature potential of eventually reaching the point of defending the honor of the Russian national team in the team competitions.

S.Y. – Hopefully, the age difference will compensate for a definite amount of physiological fragility of the girls, making the struggle more tenacious. Participants met this idea with great enthusiasm. In addition, they will profit from the opportunity of being able to play alongside the prominent grandmasters and immersing into the atmosphere of genuine chess creativity!