Konstantin Belov
Russian Federation

Konstantin Belov

Alexander Tkachev: "We make sure that our athletes get the most important thing - the opportunity to compete"

Alexander Tkachev: "We make sure that our athletes get the most important thing - the opportunity to compete"
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On February 28, the Russian Chess Federation announced its transition to the Asian Federation. This is the first Russian sports federation to officially make such a move. RCF Executive Director Alexander Tkachev during the congress and exhibition event “We are together. Sport” told OSPORT about the possible consequences of such a transition.

- Russian chess players will now compete in Asia, we have taken such a serious step.

- We aspired to it. Back in April last year, the Supervisory Board of the Russian Chess Federation decided to transfer our federation to the Asian Chess Confederation, and then painstaking work began. Legally, this is not easy to do, not like you applied in April and transferred in May. There were many consultations, FIDE expressed its point of view, a lot of work was done. Today we witnessed our transition from Europe to Asia at the Asian Chess Federation Summit. Twenty votes were cast in favor of our entry, one vote against, six abstentions.The decision has been made, and we can now state that the Russian Chess Federation has become a member of the Asian Chess Federation. But I will note an important legal detail: we will officially become full members from the first of May.

- So we can still compete in Europe?

- Yes, from 2 to 14 March the European Championship will be held in Belgrade. Our athletes will take part there. In fact, this will be the last tournament in which we will play as a member of the European federation.

- But there is no fear that after the announcement of transition to Asia sanctions will be applied against RCF, due to which we will not go to the European Championship?

- No we can not. We held certain consultations. In chess, as in any other sport, a decision is not made overnight. And the competition starts very soon.
I would also like to cancel, two years ago there were about fifty of our chess players at the European Championship. Last year, there were only three of our athletes at the European Championships. The obvious reason for the transition of our federation to Asia. We, the leadership of the Russian Chess Federation, make sure that our athletes receive the most important thing — the opportunity to compete. Any athlete, no matter what kind of sport, needs and wants to have competitive practice. I will not say that we have been deprived of it over the past year. Compared to other sports, we could continue to compete. The restrictions affected only national teams. But with the transition under the flag of the Asian Federation, the national team will be able to compete in international competitions.

- In what status is Russia entering Asia?

- In the status of a full member of the federation. And it's funny, now there are 53 federations in Europe, and there were 51 in Asia. In a sense, we have established parity. We enter Asia with absolutely the same rights as China or another of the fifty members of the ACU.

- Are there any fears that even after our admission to Asia, unfriendly countries may oppose us and ask to be removed from the competition?

- If you look at the list of ECU and ACU, you can count unfriendly countries in Asia on the fingers of one hand: Japan, New Zealand and Australia. In Europe, the situation is exactly the opposite. The European countries had their own clearing, where they arranged, unfortunately, their own rules. The German federation made such a decision that if their athletes play in the same tournament with the Russians, then they are deprived of funding. It is not normal.

- But you became the first federation that decided on such a transition from Europe to Asia.

- We really have become. I do not urge anyone to follow our example, everyone has their own way. For example, to compare the level of football in Europe and Asia, in the first case it is higher. If you look through the prism of chess, then in Asia the opponents are stronger, cooler.

- And many say that the transition to Asia will only benefit us.

- It really is. We turned this gaze to the east not a year or two ago. Before that, we seriously considered the possibility of moving to the Asian Chess Federation for a very simple reason — the opponents there are better, better and cooler. The competition is higher there, and we are not afraid of it. If you want to win and become stronger, then you have to play with those who are a little better than you. If it is the other way around, then you will go down in the level of the game. Asia is India, China, Uzbekistan, the current winner of the Chess Olympiad, Iran, Kazakhstan. So this was not a spontaneous decision, this decision is not because the world has changed. We have been working on this issue. 

- Should we wait for the Russian chess team at the Asian Games, which will be held in October this year?

- From May 1, we will take part in all events of the Asian chess calendar. They are on the website of the International Chess Federation. The first event will start on March 5, but we are skipping it for now. But we will take part in the Asian Championship, scheduled for September, and in the Asian Team Championship. Therefore, we will play at the Asian Games.

- Were there any talks about competing under the Russian flag?

- We hope so. In Europe there are restrictions, in Asia they are not. This issue was not raised or discussed due to its absence. In conditional Latvia or Poland, we cannot perform with our flag, but in conditional Tashkent, yes. The only place where we cannot compete under our flag is the competitions under the auspices of FIDE, a member of the IOC. The recommendations of the IOC are the performance of Russia without a flag, an anthem, and so on. Everything that goes according to the FIDE line, and there are not many competitions. If the Asian Championship is not an integral part of the World Cup, then we have no bans, unlike Europe.

- FIDE and the IOC are in favor of us competing under a neutral flag or we would not be allowed at all. Aren't you afraid that we are winning a tournament in Asia, entering a tournament under the auspices of FIDE, but not allowed to compete?

- The IOC does not prohibit anything, it only recommends. And very strongly and strongly. In any case, the decision is made by the international organization. For example, the International Chess Federation has decided that the national teams of Russia and Belarus cannot participate, but athletes from these countries can participate in the individual competition. Yes, without a flag and an anthem, but they can. So, the athlete Alexandra Kosteniuk became the European champion, speaking at the championship in Poland. In other sports it is completely different, somewhere we are still not allowed at all. In this regard, chess is in a somewhat better position than its colleagues. Athletes chess players do not have a ban on the profession, there are only restrictions.

- April 7 in Kazakhstan will begin matches for the title of world champion between Ian Nepomniachtchi and Ding Liren. What are your expectations from this confrontation?

- I, like any other Russian, wish Ian victory. Nepomniachtchi, compared to previous championship games, gained that invaluable experience. 

- What do you mean by invaluable experience?

- An experience that you can't read in books. He played the previous match with Carlsen, yes, he lost, but you can't read that invaluable practical experience in books, you can't buy it for any price. This is an important, but not the main advantage of Yang, which Ding does not have. Liren did not play for the title of world champion, not a single Chinese chess player participated in such matches. I hope that Jan will have a laurel wreath with the inscription "World Champion"! 

- Sergey Karjakin headed the Chess Federation of the Moscow Region. What is the task for him?

- We talked to Sergey about it. In Russia there are 84 regional federations. We are one of the biggest federations. Of the 87 subjects of the Russian Federation, 84 are part of our federation. The Chess Federation of the Moscow Region is one of them. I am glad that a team has appeared in the federation of the subject, which in the first couple of days will begin to occupy the development of chess in a particular region, in this case the Moscow region. The more such enthusiasts, the better it will be for chess. We unite regional federations. I wish Sergey not to stop halfway, I have provided, continue to provide and will continue to provide any assistance, as well as to other regions of Russia. Unfortunately, the previous federation was hampered by the pandemic and a bunch of third-party factors that are beyond our control and negatively affected our lives. I wish Sergey to succeed. 

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