On the eve of the Russian team’s flight to China the head coach, Evgeny Bareev, gave a short interview to the “Sport-Express” newspaper. In particular, he answered a question on who he thinks can represent the Russian team on the first board in the upcoming World Team Championship:
I talked to Sergey [Karjakin]. I had to see if he was prepared to take on such a huge responsibility. It’s not enough for the team leader to play good chess. He has to be ready for the enormous psychological pressure, as after all everyone will be watching to see how the leader deals with our rivals’ best players. After talking to Karjakin I saw that he was ready for that role.
At the same time, Bareev admitted that, “I’m a little nervous to see the answer to the question: how will each of our guys handle the psychological load?”
No-one’s giving me a headache. We’ve got a very good team, with everyone having earned the right to represent Russia. But any new event is a new test, and previous results count for nothing. Moreover, opponents will already be doing special preparation for Nepomniachtchi, who played brilliantly last year.
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– GM Susan Polgar