Teimur Radjabov: The enemy is the enemy – we all hate Armenians
The head of the Azerbaijani national chess team that won the bronze medal at
Team Championship, behind Russia and Armenia, Teimour Radjabov, gave an
exclusive interview to the Russian language sports news agency APA. It contains some
very startling comments.
On the Bronze Medal win at the European Championship: This
is of course a great success. I think our players competed well – we should
not forget that European chess is the strongest in the world. I am sure that
we will achieve more success in future.
On the clash with Russia, after leading until round five:
We lost to the main favorites of the European Championship, the Russian team,
and it had a bad influence on me. We lost three games in round five, and one
ended in a draw. But this score does not reflect the potential of our players
at all. Before competing with the Russians we were thinking about defeating
our rivals. We were scoring well until that round. The Russians defeated us
and won the gold medals.
On the loss to Slovenia in round six: We did not think about
losing to them. We took risks and that led to our defeat, an unexpected defeat.
I think we are to blame, as we did not assess our opponents correctly. We thought
that we would win without any difficulty.
On the draw against Armenia in round eight: Of course we had
chance to win it. But the situation changed gradually. Vladimir Akopian offered
me a draw, after Shahriyar [Mamedyarov] and Rauf [Mamedov] had finished their
games with draws. I did not accept, because by then Vugar [Gashimov] had
a bad position. He lost, so I had to defeat Akopian to draw the match, and I
managed to do it.
On the team's feelings before this round eight match: I will
not deny that we were very nervous. Regardless of where we meet, the enemy is
the enemy. We all have feelings of hate towards them. But you must try to suppress
those feelings and not let them interfere. Chess must be played with a sober
On the atmosphere in the hall at the time: The Armenians had
a lot of active fans. The Armenian Prime Minister Serge Sarkisian had arrived
there, and I saw him in the hall during most matches. The President of our federation,
Elman Rustamov, also attended our match with the Armenians and supported us.
We understood the importance of the match and adhered to the principles of the
On the roots of this first historical success for the national team:
First of all collective fight. Friendship in the team was one of the main factors.
We thought about the team first of all. None of the sportsmen fought to improve
his personal rating. This is very important. Our failure in the previous competitions
worried us, as we felt that we had the capability to win medals.
On whether the team is capable of winning greater victories:
I believe in it. Though our team has been composed of teenagers, we are known
in the chess world. All teams fear and respect us. We are in the list of the
strongest national teams of the world. For the first time, we have two Azerbaijani
chess player is placed in the top ten in the world, which shows that our chess
occupies a high place. I do not doubt we will win greater victories in
future competitions. The world team championship is being discussed at the moment.
Our team is the bronze medalist of the European Championship and so should also
participate in this competition, which will involve the ten strongest countries
in the world. But I heard they want to give the right to organize the competition
to Armenia, and in this case, our team will not be able to take part. If Armenia
is commissioned to organize the competition, our federation will appeal to FIDE.
On his your target at the World Cup in Khanti-Mansiysk, Russia:
The competition will start on November 24. I am still trying to rest after European
Championship. That’s why I will not participate in the Mikhail Tal Memorial.
As the World Cup is held according to the knockout system, one defeat is decisive.
That’s why I will do my best to be very careful and move forward step-by-step.
If I achieve it, I can expect success there.
Addendum: Message from Teimour Radjabov
After our report on the APA interview had appeared we received the following
communication from Teimur Radjabov:
I would like to appeal to all reporters writing about chess, the editors-in-chief
of chess magazines and web sites, to all reporters and chess fans.
As a sportsman playing on the international level and giving plenty
of interviews, I, unfortunately, cannot follow all statements ascribed,
sometimes in a supernormal form, to me by reporters.
All the more, reporters do not submit to me the text of my interview
before it is published, which is what happened in the latest case. Therefore,
please, treat this issue with due understanding.
True, we do not have simple relations with Armenia, we are virtually
in a state of war, and 20% of our lands are under occupation. Naturally,
all this leaves its effect when contests are held between our countries,
and the stir created by media and fans from both sides are understandable.
However, I would like to state that the Azerbaijani people, including
me as its representative, are tolerant and will never stoop to pathological
nationalism. We all sincerely believe that common sense will prevail
at the end and the conflict between our countries will be resolved peacefully
and within international law.
GM Teimour Radjabov