Coach of Ugra hockey team: “Hockey is like chess, just looks different”

Khanty-Mansiysk is not only known in chess circles. It hosts big international sports events, and a local hockey team participates in the Kontinental Hockey League. The capital of Ugra is frequently visited by biathletes, the Russian biathlon championship takes place here in the end of March. This week the local hockey club “Ugra” plays a home game with “Avangard” (Omsk).

We asked the chess players whether they follow winter sports.

Peter Svidler: “I follow biathlon a lot more than hockey. I haven’t got a chance to develop my interest to hockey. No doubt, it is a very interesting game, but I don’t have a clue about it. It could be a good idea to visit a hockey arena or a biathlon stadium the evening before a day off, but certainly not prior to an important game”.

Dmitry Andreikin: “I prefer football, but watch winter sports as well. During the Sochi Olympics I watched it with my whole family. I’d like to go to a hockey match, which I’ve never visited live, but only before a day off. Once in Dortmund I got tickets for the German Football Supercup match. My game started at 3 pm, and that game was scheduled at 8 pm. I though I can easily make it, but my opponent Michael Adams was not aware of my plans. We played a drawn endgame for quite a while, and when the time got really tight, I started to rush things, lost it and happily ran to the stadium”.

Yury Kuznetsov, coach of Ugra KHL team, is also planning to visit the tournament attended by the best players in the world.

“Not that I am a big chess fan, – said the coach after the second home game of his team in the Nadezhda Cup, – but my son is very excited about both chess and hockey”.

“Hockey is like chess, just looks different. You have to think on the ice, not just run. In chess thinking is more focused. In hockey decision making is mostly based on intuition. Team sports are more complicated, because players are also responsible for their teams, and the score depends not only on individual effort, but on well-shaped collective effort… In my opinion, studying chess at an early age greatly helps every sportsman”, – said the Ugra coach.

“Due to intensive training and playing schedule our players have little spare time, so they aren’t often seen doing intellectual sports, but I know many of them play backgammon and chess on holiday”, – added Kuznetsov.

“Soviet hockey tradition developed character and strong will, shaped not only body, but also mind, and chess was an integral part of it. Now the times have changed, and younger generation is unfortunately unable to handle the training load we did. I am glad that chess receives so much attention in Ugra and is even added to the curriculum in many schools”.

Hockey is naturally more popular in Khanty-Mansiysk. However, some Ugra hockey club supporters also share love to chess. Evgeny Gramsik, and old hockey fan, is quite familiar with kings and pawns.

“I play chess a  lot since I was a boy, and follow many international tournaments. Of course I know that many strong grandmasters arrived to Khanty-Mansiysk, but I haven’t visited the playing hall yet. I definitely should go to the Chess Academy to enjoy the art of the recognized masters of chess”, – said Evgeny.