- Oleg, for people of our generation and older, bookmaking is often associated with some quite old Hollywood films as something dangerous, and being in permanent conflict with the law. Of course, all of us are in the thrall of the prevailing stereotypes for decades. But chess ?!
- I kind of agree with you. People think of it as something where a man comes along, pulls out a bag of money, puts it on boxing or ultimate fighting, or something else where there's a lot of blood and dirt (although in reality it is not so!), And so on. This is the Hollywood stereotype. But bookmaking today is a good, normal, pure business. It really helps people to better understand the sport. After all, in order to place a bet, for example, on football, you should at least know who is playing, the story of their relationship, whetehr one of the team stars is injured and unable to take part in this match, who is at home, and a lot of other nuances.
Probably much of the above is applicable to chess. Therefore the idea: to promote such betting is just another type of sport.
Thus this project arose…
It is known that "Bookmaker Stavok" has invested heavily in chess for several years successfully invested heavily in chess projects. For example, it is one of the largest sponsors of the tournament «Moscow-open». From the viewpoint of the amateur (and probably not only them), it is hard to see chess competitions as commercial event bringing tangible dividends. How did you come to such a controversial decision?
-Among the company's priorities is obtaining not only material, but also moral dividends. You are right that chess does not being huge commercial benefits. But it is socially relevant, and engaging in the conduct of such iconic events, we not only empathize, but also help the chess world as far as we can. In general, it is difficult to put it into words! Chess is an interesting deep game, which attracts thousands of people from around the world ... We are supporting this project for the second year in a row, and, I hope, we will continue to do so.
Unfortunately, the names of specific individuals, companies, brands, providing real support to young people, often remain in the shadows. I believe this to be a fact flagrant injustice! Could you talk a little bit about the assistance provided to the young Russian players?
- We provide targeted assistanceto chess talents. Ilya Makoveeva, champion of Russia, Europe and the world in his age group, is one such. If memory serves, we are supporting him for the third year in a row, we pay a monthly stipend, plus we fund his participation in various tournaments. For example, we covered all his costs of participation in a recent major tournament in Holland.
Now we have two future world champions, one male, one female (smiles).
In any family of the Soviet Union, regardless of the level of material wealth and social position of the household, a chess set was a must-have. It was not necessary that someonewas an active player, or (in rare cases) everyone even knew how to play chess! What was your first contact with the game?
- Probably, like many Soviet boys. My Grandfather played chess. This was standard, as in many other homes. And so it happened that my first game I played with my grandfather. I foresee your next question. My grandfather played well, I played badly, so that the first game ended in a result against me (laughs).
Do you have a chess set in your house? Do any of your children or grandchildren play on the black and white squares?
- Of course.
Six-year old Boris and nine year old-George. Boris works with coaches, yet is playing, probably, at the amateur level. But George already has experience in major competitions. In one of the sections at the last «Moscow open-and" he took the second place. Maybe he has some ability?! I would not be mistaken if I say that chess is very popular in our family.
You were seen with FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov at the recent world championships in Rapid and Blitz Championship in Berlin. Certainly, for you this is not the first visit to a major championship?
- Of course, it is not the first. I visited, for example, the match Anand-Carlsen in Sochi.
What was your impressions of the big Berlin event?
- I very much liked the organisation in Berlin! Very modern, in a beautiful location. чень понравилась организация в Берлине! Many sportsmen were also on view to the spectators, which is very nice for the fans.
People could easily follow the games they were interested in without interrefring with the players. And this despite the fact that there was a huge amount of chess fans. I was even surprised. So, everything was organized with a typically German punctuality, neatness. Water, some cakes, a quick bite on the go, it was all taken into account.
How closely have you had to work with FIDE and what challenges of this organization do you see as paramount?
- It makes no sense to get into the internal affairs of the international chess federation. But we signed an agreement on a joint fight against pre-arranged games. Now, if we see some questionable moments in the course of the game, we report the matter to FIDE, and there an appropriate decision should be taken. The agreement we have signed is up and running for about eight months, gross violations have not yet been identified.
Oh, these fixed results results! It turns out, this is a serious problem not only for football but also for chess ...
- And how! And for chess too. After all, here there is also a delicate moment such as the offer of a draw. "I agree to a draw? - Agree "And that's that! (Laughs)
Do you have among your friends or close acquaintances any professional chess players or GMs?
I have dealings with chessplayers, but I have no professionals among my close friends. Although quite often I meet with the President of the Russian Chess Federation, Andrey Filatov. Can he be considered a professional? (With a smile) We were neighbors, so often go together on walking together, to gain strength and health.
Returning to the subject of fixed games. You actively oppose these, and are driving a relentless struggle against the so-called "match-fixing" in football. As noted above, "fixing" takes place in chess too, though many prefer to remain silent about this. What would you advise in the fight against this shameful phenomenon? What measures should be taken against violators?
- If you take the Russian legislation, there were major amendments made two years ago. And quite severe. If previously those guilty of "fixing" did not face serious consequences, now, if collusion is established, and if there are any monetary transactions, the article provides for imprisonment for up to five years. The State, as we see, has taken such a step, to allow the law enforcement authorities to prosecute violators of «fair play». Fortunately, so far there have been no cases of players or officials being involved in such violations. That is, anyone trying to organize match-fixing in any sport. Thus far, nothing, no large trials such as have occurred in Italy. Maybe just because we have not got such people?
In general, do you think that the measures taken, despite their harshness, are justified?
- Of course.
Two players sitting down at the board in an official championship, having pre-arranged the result, making money and decisiving the fans, for money?
- In the first place, to earn money, and secondly, it is still a sport, not some sort of farce. People want to enjoy the pleasure of a sports performance, and it does not matter whether it is chess or football. And instead, they get some dirty joke, in which to actors play each other, knowing the result in advance, just to make money. And, after all, in the end, the bookmaker has put his money on or another outcome.
It is believed that chess is an artificial form of sports, a pastime for "nerds." Accordingly, people conclude that from the perspective of a breakthrough in the information market (primarily television) the game has unfavorable prospects. Do you share this opinion? Is there a future for chess in this area?
- There is some truth in this.
Inevitably a wave of interest arises when a person has the opportunity to bet, albeit small, on a particular result. The game becomes much more interesting! It may be possible to promote this product to the TV in that capacity? The number of bets that can be made is enormous! Not only on the result itself, but on the opening variation, even on the move and what kind of a piece! Bets can be made on all the events and it make the pastime more interesting and rich.
As you know, in March we have the Candidates Tournament, which we be exciting for the whole chess world. Are you involved in this? In what capacity?
- We are partners of the organizers of this great event and will be taking bets on different outcomes.
For whom will you be cheering?
- I will not say (with a sly smile). If by chance he should win, people might think that I already knew. A "fixed" result! So I better not say anything!
Tell us a little about yourself. You were born in Moscow? You have a large family with five children plus grandchildren - frankly, not very typical phenomenon of our time! There are some patriarchal roots, is it a family tradition?
- No , I don't think it runs in the family. I was born not in Moscow but in the Ukraine, and at five year old, we moved to the city of Surgut. I came to Moscow in 1991 after service in the Armed Forces of the then USSR.
And children? I just love children. And my eldest daughter, by the way, is the same. Probably she takes after her father. She is 29 years old and has five children already! Can you imagine? So I have five children and five grandchildren.
It is not without interest to read that you were serving in the Soviet Army. At that time, you remember a proverb: "The army is a great school of life, which is even better in absentia." Weren't you tempted, as was fashionable then, to try to get out of it?
- No, this was not my desire, although it was a possibility. But I deliberately made my choice and went to serve. And you know, I'm glad! I served in the Western Group of Forces, was carrying arms, did two years of service, 24/7! As expected in the military, regiment, personal weapons - everything was very good.
Among your interests and training activities are the federations of judo and archery. Are you a sports person?
- Moderately sporty.
Do you make time for sports in the home? What type do you prefer?
- I usually go swimming for health, and visit a gym, so as not to lose shape. I love hiking.
- 10-15 kilometer is enough.
It is obvious that free time in your schedule is very limited. And yet, what you do prefer when you get a free moment? Are you a supporter of passive or active recreation?
- I am a supporter of active recreation, but I have to do it within the family. When I get home from work it requires a lot of energy to pay attention to the children. All are different ages, each has his approach. One wantsme to play football with him, one - a game of chess. My daughter wants me to sing (laughs). In general, all the recreation centres around the family!
It is impossible to do without the next question. Have you personally bet on any current sporting events?
- Actually, the bookmaker generally taking bets himself and does not put them on. as something puts. You sign a contract, or more correctly a bet with me, with the bookmaker. In Russia, in the order of 1000,000 bet with "Liga Stavok". It turns out that I am betting against all those sports fans, for me that is enough!
Do you sometimes feel sure that an event will end with any particular result? That is, you have a kind of foresight?
- From my own experience I know that it is best to rely on the analyses.
When it comes to chess tournaments, have you brought in as experts professional players to make those similar calculations?
- How else? There is no other way! We call on the services of consultants who are not below the grandmaster level.
Are you a gambling man?
- Actually, yes.
You do not remain indifferent, during the broadcast of some interesting match?
- No, of course not! Especially if this match has a lot bet on it (laughs).
Which sports do you prefer as a fan?
What would you wish for lovers of chess in the current year?
- Bright memorable victories, starting with the young, ending with the "uncles".
What would you recommend as a professional in their field to those who bets on sports events in the world?
- Good luck and good preparation!
And you need to know your stuff, to beat us bookmakers.
Thank you for a very interesting conversation!
- I look forward to seeing you at "Liga Stavok"!
Oleg Zhuravsky: People want to obtain pleasure from a show, be it football or chess