The role of non-playing captain and coach of a chess Olympiad team cannot be just restricted to abiding the tournament rules and giving expert game advice, said Grand Master R.B. Ramesh.
Ramesh is the non-playing captain and coach for the Indian chess team under the open category that would be hunting for medal in the upcoming chess Olympiad at Batumi in Georgia.
He was the coach of the Indian Olympiad team in the years 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2018.
Ramesh makes it a point to stay back at the game venue till the round ends unlike many other team captains.
"One has to keep a watch on the player’s body language or facial expression to know whether he is getting tired," Ramesh said.
"If a player yawns during a gruelling long game, it means he is feeling sleepy. The player may not realise it immediately. During such time, I get him the beverage — black coffee/tea — he likes," Ramesh said.
That means the captain should also know the taste preferences of his team members upfront.
As Ramesh has been heading the Indian Olympiad chess team — open category — for the past several years he knows the preferences of his team members.
"If green tea is available then all the Indian players would go for that. In general GM K.Sasikiran likes black coffee, GM B.Adhiban like black tea," Ramesh said.
"Nowadays many captains stay back at the venue till the round ends," he said.
That aside the captain has to know the psychological aspects of the team members and deal accordingly.
For instance, a player might feel hurt if he was asked to play safe and aim for a draw against a much stronger player, he said.
According to Ramesh, the players themselves know what is expected out of them.
Speaking about his team, Ramesh said there is a lot of camaraderie amongst the team members.
"Five times World Chess Champion GM V.Anand is part of the playing team. He mingled with other team members nicely during the training camp. The players also cracked jokes and it was nice," Ramesh said.
He said the fifth seeded Indian team under the open category at the Olympiad to be held in Georgia is the strongest one fielded by the country.
"In 2014 Olympiad, the Indian team won the bronze medal. At that time, the team were underdogs. The players had the fire in their belly to win," Ramesh said.
This time around, the Indian team is strong with three players rated above 2,700 ElO points and the remaining two with a rating of over 2,650 ElO points.
"The rival teams have also gained strength. If the team wins a medal it will be good," Ramesh said.>