Fikrat Sideifzade: “We can compete with any opponent”

Baku, September 11, AZERTAC

The Azerbaijan women's first team competing in the 42nd Chess Olympiad in Baku has defeated a strong Indian team in the seventh round. The team captain, Fikrat Sideifzade, shared his impressions about the team`s performance after the game.

- How would you rate the team's overall performance after seven rounds?

- We are performing better than expected so far. I am very pleased for the time being. All five players are doing their best. These results are a bit unexpected in a positive sense. We have beaten strong teams such as India and Poland. There are four more rounds to go. These will be crucial match-ups. All of the girls are doing their very best. We have not played against any of the top favorites yet - Ukraine, Russia and China. However, we have played with five of the top 10 teams and not lost to any of them. We are capable of competing against any opponent.

- What is the secret of your success?

- The Azerbaijan Chess Federation and the Ministry of Youth and Sports organized very productive team camps for us in the run-up to the Olympiad. According to the program, there were three team camps. The right selection of the players also plays a role. I am quite pleased with the line-up. We have so far managed to achieve the desired results. There are two young players on the team. Gunay Mammadzada and Aydan Hojjatova joined the team only this year. There should definitely be renewal in the team. The younger players are playing with a lot of energy. In other words, we look forward to the last four rounds. I do hope that the girls can finish the tournament the way thy started it.

- You mentioned Gunay Mammadzada and Aydan Hojjatova. Wasn't it a bit risky to attract young players to the team?

- I don't think so. They have shown in the last two years that they are strong players. They have done well in European and world championships. Their ratings are quire high as well. So it was a correct and timely decision to select them for the national team.

- National champion Narmin Kazimova playing on the fourth board was a bit of a surprise.

- She is the national champion indeed, but there are a number of other things to consider. While preparing for the Olympiad, we analyzed the performance of our payers over the past several years. Team competitions are a bit special. A nervous player can have a negative impact on the whole team. Narmin is not weaker than anyone else. We simply decided that this would be in the interests of the team.

- Doesn't the team feel tired after playing a number of strong opponents in a row?

- The girls do feel a little tired. Of course, it is difficult to play without a break. If we do not consider the first two rounds, we have been playing against strong opposition in every round. They are higher-rated teams than us. I do hope that our girls can fight on with the same energy. After all, they are young and energetic.

- Is Zeinab Mamedjarova living up to your expectations on the first board?

- Some people criticized me for giving the first board to Zeinab, but she has justified all our expectations so far. Zeinab plays very well on the first board, especially in team competitions. She is very experienced and has no fear for any opponent. Our goal is to hold the first and second boards and score as many points as possible on the last two boards. So far our tactics works well.

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