Sat, 22 Feb 2003

Sveshnikov accepts offer to train RI's chess team

Musthofid, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Former Russian national chess coach Grand Master (GM) Evgeny Sveshnikov is relishing coaching the Indonesian chess team for the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.

"Of course, I'm very happy to train a chess team in Indonesia. I have vast experience in coaching in several countries outside Russia," the 53-year-old Russian told an Indonesian delegation on the sidelines of the recent Aeroflot Open in Moscow, as reported by Indonesian Chess Association (Percasi) spokesman Kristianus Liem.

Sveshnikov coached the then-Soviet Union chess team for about ten years in the 1980s before assuming coaching roles in Latvia, Yugoslavia, Slovenia, the United States, Canada and Tunisia.

The former head of the Russian Chess School said he had won several tournaments during his playing career.

"And what impressed me most was when I became the Soviet Union champion in 1979," he said in the interview, an excerpt of which was made available to The Jakarta Post.

"One thing I shouldn't forget from my playing career is that I have faced six world champions 34 times with the results being only minus two," he said.

Eka Putra Wirya, who led the Indonesian delegation in the negotiations, said that Sveshnikov had been tied to a one-month contract worth US$3,500.

Among the entourage was GM Utut Adianto, who played at the Aeroflot Open and finished with 5.5 points from nine matches in the tournament, which featured 201 international players.

Percasi plans to groom six men and six women for the upcoming SEA Games, which will be staged in Vietnam and in which chess makes its debut at the region's biennial multi-event sporting showcase.

Utut has been awarded an automatic place in the men's team along with 2002 Chess Olympiad gold medalist GM Cerdas Barus.

The inventor of the Sveshnikov Variation will start his job in October, with a one-month contract extension a likely option, conditional on the coach's performance and the availability of the funds.

"We will try him out for a month first then see whether it is worth an extension for another period," Eka, who is Percasi executive chairman, told the Post on Friday, adding it would ask the National Sports Council (KONI) for financial assistance.

Eight gold medals are up for grabs in the chess competition in the SEA Games in Vietnam in December. Eka said the Indonesian team had set itself the target of winning at least two golds.