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Aleksey Dreev: “With such a team, Azerbaijan should only compete for championship title”
17 August 2016 17:36 (UTC+04:00)

By Amina Nazarli

The captain of the Azerbaijan men’s team, Aleksey Dreev talks to  the press-service of the Baku Chess Olympiad about his expectations from the upcoming 42nd World Chess Olympiad to be held in Baku on September 1-14.

Question: What was your reaction to the proposal to become the captain of the Azerbaijan men’s team at the Olympiad?

Answer: Azerbaijan has always had strong chess players. It is nice to be the captain of such a team. I have a good relationship with some of the guys, as we have worked together in the past. In last year’s Vugar Gashimov Memorial, I was helping Shakhriyar Mammadyarov. Earlier I worked with Rauf Mammadov.

Q.: What can you say about the friendly match with Georgia?

A.: It was an interesting match. It was a friendly, so the result was not particularly important. The result was in our favor. But the main thing was to verify some moves and variations. The captain always wants the team to play better. But I am quite pleased with the current situation.

Q.: When is the last practice session scheduled for?

A.: We will gather on August 19. I do not want to overload the players too much at this stage much. We will work on openings. Each chess player has his own experience. At the Olympics, they will act as one team. We will not play any more friendly matches. We need to give chess players some time to rest. Seven to eight days of training and that is all.

Q.: What result do you expect from the Azerbaijan team at the Olympiad?

A.: It is very difficult to make a prediction. No-one knows what the draws will be like and who we will play against at the start. Of course, the team will play for the top places. Azerbaijan has twice won European Championships but has yet to win a medal at the Olympiad. We are in for a tough competition. With such a team composition, it is necessary to fight only for the championship.

According to the rating, Azerbaijan is ranked fourth at the Olympiad.

Q.: The Baku Olympiad is expected to set a new record – 180 countries and 2,000 players.

A.: Yes, there will be a record number of countries. Our main opposition are Russia and the U.S. We should not forget about the previous champions China. There are no weak opponents here. There are also teams such as Hungary, Poland, France, Ukraine and England. One single mistake can affect the overall result.

Q.: The Norwegian team will include world champion Magnus Carlsen. Should we be afraid of this team?

A.: The focus will be on Carlsen, of course. At the same time, I don’t think Norway will be able to fight for the medals. The Olympiad will be played in 11 rounds. Carlsen alone cannot play against all opponents all this time.

Q.: Will the World Chess Olympiad being held in Baku have a positive or negative impact on Azerbaijani chess players?

A.: It is usually said that home walls help local teams. There is certainly some pressure because the majority of the fans are local. But I do not believe that this factor will negatively affect the national team. Chess players on the team are highly professional. They are used to this.

Q.: Do you want to continue working with the Azerbaijani team in the future? 

A.: All my thoughts are focused on the upcoming Olympiad now. We want to achieve a good result. If all goes well, it will be possible to continue the work. I have not discussed this with anyone yet but if we succeed, I will probably think about that.


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