Kosintseva sisters abandon the Russian women's team

by ChessBase
2/6/2013 – From 2-13 March 2013 the Women's World Team Championship will be held in Astana, Kazakhstan. The Russian team, which won the Chess Olympiad last September, has lost its two top players, Nadezhda and Tatiana Kosintseva. The sisters say they refuse to play for the team under the leadership of the trainer Sergei Rublevsky, citing 'psychological incompatibility'. News and interview.

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Evgeny Bareev: We need a discussion, not an ultimatum

On January 30, 2013, Chess News report that the head coach of the Russian national teams, GM Evgeny Bareev, told the Russian Chess Federation that the Kosintseva sisters Nadezhda and Tatiana would not play for the national team at the Women's World Team Championship, which will be held in Astana, Kazakhstan, from 2-13 March 2013. Why not? Bareev: "It's a sad story. In December senior coach Sergei Rublevsky sent an invitation to all members of the team that won the Olympiad in Istanbul, but in January the Kosintseva sisters responded in a letter saying they refused to play for the team under the leadership of Rublevsky, 'because of the psychological incompatibility'. It is not clear what is hidden behind this term. The coaches may have taken some wilful decisions, but they turned out to be successful. After all the task of a coach is just that – to win the competition! Nadezhda and Tatiana have refused to come to Moscow, and their father refused to talk to me. The sisters' decision is quite categorical – there's nothing to discuss. As a result the strength of the team has decreased dramatically.

The Russian team with Nadezhda Kosintseva, Natalija Pogonina, trainer Sergei Rublevsky,
Alexandra Kosteniuk, Valentina Gunina and Tatiana Kosintseva at the Olympiad in Istanbul

The Kosintseva sisters don't see themselves as the members of the team while Rublevsky is the chief coach. Unfortunately we don't know where the conflict lies. According to Rublevsky, he had a serious talk with the team after the match against Ukraine. He tried to shake up the team emotionally, which he managed to do. Sergei thinks that could be the reason for their dissatisfaction. He can't think of anything else."

The training session for the Women's World Team Championship will consequently be attended by Alexandra Kosteniuk, Valentina Gunina, Natalija Pogonina, Olga Girya, Anastasia Bodnaruk and Alexandra Goryachkina. Here are the Russian and World rankings of the players considered for the Team Championship:

RR WR Name
  1   8  Kosintseva, Nadezhda
  2  11  Kosintseva, Tatiana
  3  18  Kosteniuk, Alexandra
  4  21  Gunina, Valentina
  5  25  Pogonina, Natalija
  6  33  Galliamova, Alisa
  7  42  Girya, Olga
  8  46  Zaiatz, Elena
  9  47  Bodnaruk, Anastasia
 10  55  Kovalevskaya, Ekaterina
 11  73  Kovanova, Baira
 12  74  Goryachkina, Aleksandra
 13  78  Matveeva, Svetlana
 14  82  Shadrina, Tatiana
 15  85  Vasilevich, Irina
 16  97  Ovod, Evgenija
 17  98  Ubiennykh, Ekaterina

When asked why Alisa Galliamova is not part of the team Bareev explained that the Russian IM is often reluctant to travel and has basically given up chess, playing only occasionally ("once or twice a year"). "I would like to see a fighting team in Astana, in which the younger girls won't feel lost," said Bareev. "Olga Girya played at the Chess Olympiad in 2010, but for the second team. Sasha Goryachkina is lacking even such experience. The other three girls are winners, they know how to play and to succeed. If the experienced girls support the youngsters, we should be able to finish in the top three."

In addition to the above the Chairman of the RCF Supervisory Board Arkady Dvorkovich posted a brief commentary on Twitter: "We did everything in order for [the Kosintseva sisters] to be able to play; I don't understand their refusal to play for Russia..."

On February 3rd one of the sisters, Nadezhda, gave an interview to the Russian chess portal Chess-News, in which she explains, to some degree, the reason for their refusal. In addition she is threatening to leave the Federation.

First of all I should say Tania and I can't claim to be presenting the absolute truth, we can't impose our point of view on anyone. We are talking for ourselves only and only about our emotional perception of the situation. At the same time we understand that our attitude is objective for us but looks subjective for everyone else.

Unfortunately, the Olympiad in Istanbul went for us in the atmosphere of a permanent psychological discomfort, and that in addition to the usual tournament pressure. I can't give you any specific examples of the methods Sergey Rublevsky used, and which turned out to be intolerable for us. The conflicts started to emerge after Sergey started to "shake up" the team. At first the atmosphere in the team was more or less calm, but after we faced difficulties [after Russian team was overtaken by the Chinese] the tensions grew.

We have played for the national team for many years, but we have never faced this kind of negative emotions in the past. We had difficulties before, namely when Yury Dokhoian was our captain. There were situations when we were severely criticized, but those negative emotions cooled down, just disappeared. This time they were too strong and nothing could overcome them. Maybe this situation could have changed if we had seen that the coach is interested in us, but unfortunately that didn't happen.

I don't think Sergey could stay absolutely unaware of what was going on. It is clear from his behaviour, because he started guessing what could offend us most. Segrey was aware of the fact that we didn't like something. On the other hand it could have been considered by him as something unimportant, easy to forget. It is strange that we didn't have a serious talk with the captain. We needed a discussion already at the Olympiad, or it could have been conducted after the competition. We expected him to contact us after we sent the reply letter saying we are not going to play for the team while Rublevsky is the captain. However, he didn't show any interest. It is hard to explain the situation to the people who weren't there by using such delicate concepts as respect and disrespect or regard and disregard.

We had other coaches – Evgeny Najer and Alexander Riazantsev. I think they saw that something was wrong inside the team, at least they could see something was happening with the two of us. But they didn't try to solve the problem, at least in regard to us.

Body language: Yevgeny Najer, Sergey Rublevsky , Alexandra Kosteniuk , Alexander Ryazantsev, Valentine
Gunina , Natalia Pogonina , Nadezhda and Tatiana Kosintseva at the At closing ceremony of the Olympiad

I'm completely aware of the fact that all of the team members have very complicated characters. It would be hard for us to find a coach which would suit everyone. In my view, it would be useful to organise a Trainer's Council meeting before the captain is chosen, where the players could participate in the discussion and express their position. There is no sense in trying to organize the Trainer's Council meeting after the things have reached a crisis point.

This was first time that Sergey Rublevsky headed the team, so I believe saying that the Gold medal we have won at the Olympiad was solely his achievement is inappropriate. No one knows what would have happened if China hadn't stumbled over Kazakhstan. I mean our win wasn't as clear as in Khanty-Mansiysk, when we won all of our matches. It may also be true that we were working with earlier preparation.

It's clear that we won't play for the team this year. As Tania has already said, we are off the list. If the Federation will try to accept our position we may return to the team, but at the moment we are no longer the members of the Russian national team. We are ready to play for the national team, but only if we feel comfortable as its members. If we don't, I'm sorry, but we are not going to play. We have played for the team for many years and our performances were quite successful. We have brought medals, that's why in our view we can do this with the clear conscience.

In reply to a final question by interviewer Evgeny Surov on whether the sisters are going to change their federation, Nadezhda replied: "What a provocative question! You know I have already thought about changing federations, but this doesn't mean I want or don't want to change it. Time will show – that is my answer.

Source: Chess-News

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