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


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 have recorded a video interview, but as if charmed, it has been 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.

Part two here.

(part III)

Vsevolod: Functionaries. Sport rests on functionaries. On such an administrative apparatus that creates competitions and organizes them. Creates some kind of system. How much draughts lacks such people (functionaries), in addition to the fact that there are not enough coaches, team work?

Elena: Well.. [thinking] Probably corny, but it all comes down to money. There will be money – there will be competitions, there will be prize money – there will be an interview… We must… [pause] Many have found themselves outside draughts… They had accomplished something in other area, and draughts have remained as a hobby. There’s nothing wrong with that…Such a difficult question. Nothing will grow without support.

Yes, something is being done… It is being done quite well. We have international competitions now. And there are quite a lot of them, but we need to look at whether the athlete can come. Someone has the resources – he can come at least once a year, someone does not have that either. It’s hard. How to answer this question.

Vsevolod: The last draughts question. (I smile involuntarily). There is an opinion that a person comes to draughts to solve his psychological problems. And when he has solved them, he can leave them quite calmly.

The last draughts’ question [smiling involuntarily]. There is an opinion that a person comes to draughts to solve his psychological problems. And when he has solved them, he can leave them quite calmly.

Elena: [interrupting me with a smile] Can I ask, who said that?

Vsevolod: I promise that after the interview I will tell you about the author of this concept [smiling cheerfully in response]. Do you agree with this concept? That we work out our problems and if we work them out, we either become successful players and look at the sport independently; but someone remains a dependent player and he no longer sees himself outside draughts.

Elena: It’s such a long question… I think in any sport, a person comes for that much… as much as he can stand. And if he doesn’t have the resources, then he will leave quickly.

The task of the coach, as well as the task of the teacher, is to tell something that will make him stay. Coaches used to be like GODS! And now the coaches are just people. There is no fleur of mystery, divinity. Here’s the Coach [!!!] – he knows so much, he can do so much.
My first coach was Alexander Boyko. This is a man with a capital letter. He became a coach at the age of 25. He went to competitions with us and carried a hot plate with him. He wanted to feed his children, cook something [and then it were the 90s, it was bad with food, he found something and took products]. It was a story every time. Now I remember it with such trepidation that… This is probably the most vivid memory. We went somewhere together, discussed something. But this feat is something “inhuman” (superhuman)! That is, to take on, in addition to coaching, mentoring and the work of a confessor. Not everyone can stand it. And he could! And it wasn’t two children or three, but seven, or even more. The man was mentally ready for some actions. And it’s worth a lot!

Vsevolod: What qualities do you like in people?

Elena: Honesty. Openness. Benevolence.

Vsevolod: They say that a man in order to please a woman must commit an act. Do you agree with this statement?

Elena: You know, now giving a hand to a woman who gets out of a transport is already an act. My son recently astonished a teacher. One day she said to me: ‘Your son has done an amazing thing!’. I asked: ‘What did he do?’. She replied: “When we enter the classroom, he always lets me go ahead!” [we smile at what he said].

That is, we have now so atrophied the attitude towards a Woman in modern conditions that it is already surprising to give a coat, help put on a coat, take care of a Woman. Not necessarily verbal signals. And to show through small trifles, through small actions (and women pay attention to such trifles) show that he cares about you, that you are dear to him. If a man does such little things and a little more, it certainly wins a woman’s heart.

Vsevolod: Then a logical question follows from what has been said. What qualities should a woman possess?

Elena: Cheerfulness. Curiosity. Kindness.

Curiosity, you know, is like a little girl. She wants everything and therefore looks at the world with wide eyes. I was born – so beautiful! [with irresistible irony].

Vsevolod: Your curiosity and love to languages?

Elena: We talked with you, everything is always mixed up there. Everyone knows that I was born in Moldova. And the Moldovan language is different from Russian. But if you shake off a little “dust”, you can find a lot of interesting things.

Few people know that there is such an old Russian word – “орать”, which means “plow”. And in Moldovan, “plow” means “ara”. There are many other words either similar or they are absolutely identical. For example, the word “флаг” – one of their variants in Moldovan is “steag”. Or, for example, there is such a Russian word “чеканить”, and the original form is lost, but in the Moldovan language it has been preserved – it is “ciocan”, which means “hammer”.

Words – they leave the connection of people through time. And we are trying to break it now. But the language remembers! Although a lot of words go away and they turn into ‘the dust of centuries’. But this is an interesting area of knowledge. Through language you can understand a person. How he “builds” his language, how he can think. For example, in the Moldovan language there is such a phrase ‘ill-mannered person – hasn’t been seven years at home’, which means – you have not been brought up for seven years. This imagery of the language conveys the beauty of both speech and various sayings.

Vsevolod: Do you have a favorite work or saying?

Elena: Probably not. But if something happens and you need to set yourself up for the best… then.. (you know, if you always think about the bad, it will overtake you). But at one time I had a popular expression: “God does not beat with a stick!”. Although I am a peaceful person, I can also be sarcastic.

Vsevolod: Are you a passionate person?

Elena: Yes.

Vsevolod: Are you an ironic person?

Elena: I’m working on it.

Vsevolod: What can upset you?

Elena: Lots of things. Lack of free time. Especially now, when you want to be in silence. Those who have children will understand me.

Vsevolod: If there were no draughts, in what field would you work?

Elena: I’m probably not ready to answer this question. Since draughts take 90% of my time. Even if it seems that this is not the case. There are a lot of friends who are draughts’ players, and still you come back to search for new meanings. You build your free time outside the family so that there is room for draughts in this free time. Therefore it is very difficult to answer. It must have been so ordained by God.

Vsevolod: People who have influenced you in life?

Elena: I was very much influenced by my mother. Dad was very busy with me and tried to teach me how to play chess. But at the age of 6 I steadfastly wanted to play draughts… Probably my husband.

Vsevolod: Do you know how to be grateful?

Elena: Yes, absolutely.

Vsevolod: Do you think that this quality distinguishes a good person from an evil one?

Elena: Yes, I do.

Vsevolod: Two very difficult questions that Posner usually asks in his interviews. Are you afraid of death?

Elena: Yes and no.

Vsevolod: If you met God, what would you ask him? 

Elena: …I don’t even know. This is a difficult question [ponders]. Maybe… would thank.

Vsevolod: Thank you for the interview. I very rarely manage to communicate with such deep people and those who understand and are interested in life. May God protect you.

Elena: Thank you.

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