Interview with Elena Skovitina at the European Championship in Turkey (part two)


From the encyclopedia: Elena Skovitina (nee. Miskova; b. August 19, 1986, Bendery, Moldavian SSR) is a Moldovan draughts player. Grandmaster since 2005; three-time world champion (2005, 2006, 2015) and two-time European champion (2004, 2008) in Russian draughts, world champion in the blitz game of Brazilian (2007) and Russian (2009, 2015) draughts, multiple champion of Moldova.

We were very glad to meet again. With the magnificent, wise, elegant and charming Elena Skovitina. We recorded a video interview, but as if charmed, it began to be recorded again with interference. This time, the hotel staff showed genuine interest in us, not noticing our camera. Therefore, we present you a text version of our meeting.

Part one here 


Vsevolod: Do you think, seeing now the generation of draughts players who play in the categories of 20+, 40+, 60+, they differ in understanding and approach to life?

Elena: I was lucky enough to communicate very closely with Ion Dosca. He is an excellent speaker, he knows how to tell, he will perfectly teach some kind of story. Here you listen to a person and get aesthetic, moral pleasure. And modern guys, even those who are about 40, they know, not to say that they are bland and boring. But, there is no explosion of emotions (champagne!). They don’t want to draw attention to themselves. Something is missing…

And the young people are all on the phone. I understand there’s a whole world in this box. And you can disappear there for the rest of your life. But… disappearing into it, won’t you lose yourself? And a life for yourself?

Vsevolod: What is missing in the younger generation now?

Elena: Probably cravings for life. Cravings for achievements! They’re like, you know, “young old men.” They’ve seen everything, they know everything. They know everything in theory, but they have never tried. they know how to play checkers at the age of 10, although they are emotionally immature. They are there, they know how to play football at the age of 14, although many study all their lives to play like Messi and Ronaldo…. The list goes on… They don’t read books…. Unfortunately, money has become the main thing for them.

Of course money is important, it is a necessary thing. No one is arguing. It is impossible without them. But there must be something left in the “dry residue”. We don’t live for a car. money, cottages, apartments. We’re living for something else! someone is looking for God, someone is doing something for others! Everyone decides for himself what he will choose in his life…

Vsevolod: I’ll probably come back to the question of money. About money in checkers. But first of all, I will ask another question on the general topic. Not so long ago, in the fall, Yana Yakubovich in an interview. she said, “that she achieved everything in checkers.” What do you think when they say that? Or when young and promising athletes finish their careers is that the point? But then the point of what?

Elena: You know, I won the European Championship at the age of 18, I won the World Championship at the age of 19, and, as it were, I am a young girl… What to do next? I’ve been thinking about it, and we have examples – Chizhov, Georgiev, Golubeva…Who became world champions in the classics not 3 times, but 12, 16, 10 times. It’s just fantastic!

Moreover, they became champions in the matches. How much should a person find the strength to say to himself – “I have to enter this water! I want to prove to everyone once again that I am the best!”. This.. (after a pause) – hard labor.

It’s very easy to say, “I’ve achieved everything!” and I don’t need anything else. On the one hand, I understand her position. (the position of Yana Yakubovich). But.. apparently she doesn’t see the point further. Apparently, what she wanted she got.

Vsevolod: Will the commercialization of sports (the presence of large prize money), including our sport, affect the attitude of young people to their results? And then young athletes. they will not say such phrases, “that they have achieved everything,” but will already set a material goal (let’s be honest). and look for the meaning of the game, only in this?

Elena: You know, it should be a material goal. Therefore, it is not necessary to go far.. Let’s look into the recent past – the Soviet Union and Brazil. In the Soviet Union, colossal money was spent on the development of sports in general! Various competitions – children’s and youth, among schoolchildren, millions of rubles were spent a year. Not to mention adult tournaments, competitions abroad and so on. You can list for a long time

And Brazil. We saw that there was no government support. And there are no results.

Now the Republic of Belarus. If you don’t see Belarusians on the podium at competitions. then they just didn’t come to the tournament.Russians may not get into the top three, but Belarusians always do. Why? Because they have strong motivation and support from the state.

And in other countries… This is being held in the last breath…

Vsevolod: Do you think that someday in these countries (the rest), the state will be interested in sports, including draughts, so that they develop?

Elena: To be honest, I would like to..I would really like to believe that..Because.. we must… how to express it… (thinks).

Here we have Ion Dosca – a man who has achieved not just a lot, but a lot. USSR champion, world champion, Brazilian draughts world champion.. He has seen everything and maybe even a little more. He has some merit. He’s earned something. And it seemed like someone else could tell.. I won too ..but in fact there is nothing to announce…

That is, there is no interest of the authorities…Maybe there are no acquaintances…maybe there are no goals. You can see for yourself that everything has gone somewhere wrong.

Vsevolod: That, yes. I even heard the opinion that our sport is doomed and it is dying. Do you agree with this, and is there any hope?

Elena: There is hope, but… We have a lot of individuals, but there is no collectivity. Everyone thinks only for themselves. And so the sport is not done. Sport is always some kind of collective work. No matter what anyone says. So you can’t tell. – “Here. I’m so great!” – give it to me. Even in Soviet times, they did not give one player or one result. A galaxy of results was needed. After all, when there were 5, 10 results, questions began – maybe we should pay attention? Since we have such a galaxy growing here. People are not thanks, but in spite…

I’m watching how checkers is developing in China. How actively they are engaged in checkers there. Yes. maybe they don’t play chess… But they have a different goal. Their goal is to study for the sake of classes! Do you understand? Their goal is to study for the sake of classes, not to study for the sake of money! They have slightly shifted accents. Checkers are not weaker, not simpler, they are just different in relation to chess. A completely different game!

Chess is an absolutely individual sport! Draughts is a collective sport! He conveys the spirit of the Russian man. Draughts is like a community! Generally speaking.. As it was in the community – One for all and all for one! Also draughts.

Vsevolod: It turns out an interesting contradiction. Draughts is a collective sport, but as we note, there are many individualists in it who think only of themselves when playing a game that should unite. And we can’t fix the simplest thing – the survival of our sport!

Elena: Some things are still happening. Quite a lot of tournaments are held. In different places, in different countries. New countries are emerging. And this is a good sign. Let it develop slowly, but there is development. Another question is that we have weak work on the ground. Not everyone receives sufficient bonuses, not everyone receives scholarships, and sufficient funds for support.

Until the state is interested in smart people. And the capitalist system is “a priori” not interested in smart people. And we have to prove to everyone that it (this system) must be interested in smart people. but this is not an easy task. And the task is not one person.

Vsevolod: I hear in your answer that that’s why they don’t go to coach. The young do not go. Those who represent the 50+, 60+ generation do not go.

Elena: This is a big problem in my opinion. I have already thought about it, in light of the events that took place in our Federation, at this tournament. I came to one simple and naive thought. What if a person has grown up to be a master candidate – the Federation is simply obliged to make him work as a coach! Where? This choice should be offered by the Federation. But he is obliged to go and work for two or three years.

Because if it doesn’t happen, then.. And such a story was in the Soviet Union.. A person grew up to some kind of category – he was immediately taken to the section as a coach. Let it not be a professional section at the club. Let there be a little section, but it was necessary for there to be a mass. This is a problem right now, in countries like Moldova. There is not enough mass character. There are no coaches.

From my group in which I trained, only Denis Dudko works as a coach. I’m not working as a coach yet either. even individually, unfortunately. Everyone has their own problems, their own difficulties. But the state is not interested. And they don’t want to pay even minimal money. Even that necessary minimum.

Vsevolod: Good… To end the sad coaching theme. Do you want to go work as a coach?

Elena: Very. I really want to work as a coach. I see the difference between children. Who play checkers and who don’t play an intellectual game. Those who practice checkers know how to concentrate. For a school, this is a very important quality – to be able to concentrate! Secondly, many things in life, children engaged in checkers begin with the experience of communicating with the coach and discussing their actions. And in checkers, the main thing is to think and then do it. Having got into the habit – later in life, such children will think first.

Of course, a lot depends on the coach. After all, there are “not clean on hand”. But still. Draughts players are distinguished by the ability to concentrate, the ability to communicate, to think through.

Our kind seems boring. In fact, this is a very deep story about communication. A story about relationships. The coach is not afraid of high words, he can create a genius, or he can create a nonentity. His indifference, aggression.

The coaching profession, like the teaching profession, is very difficult. But… The teacher sees the student for several hours. And the coach sees the student 4, 6, and 12 hours a day. And the coach spends more time with the student sometimes than the parents. And some coaches spent more time than with their children. I have such cases…But the coaches are great!

(to be continued)

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