January 29, 2011

Interview with

Tania Sachdev

Whoever says beauty and brains are unlikely to be found in one place, has to take one look at this 24-year old chess prodigy. Holding titles like Woman Grandmaster and International Master, Tania's talent is obvious when she is playing this brain sport, which doesn't make her boring at all!
Known as a simple, funloving girl by her friends from Modern School, Vasant Vihar, she continues to be like any other girl her age. Success hasn't gone to her head, making modesty one of her biggest virtues.

After defeating many of the successful business men from Tata Steel company, in the simul organized during the management evening, and having a great score at the moment in the C-group" - 6.5 out of 12 games, Tania shows her class once again, making the correct moves, not only on the board, but also in life. One more thing: she has a contagious smile and a particular charm, both making her a great company and a "terrible" opponent when playing against men:)

It is your first time to play in in Wijk. Are you happy to be here? 
I am really excited, it's a very strong tournament , with so much history and it's really wonderful to be here! This is probably the strongest tournament I've ever played, I am honoured to be invited and...yes, I am happy to be part of this event.

Did you set a goal for yourself before the tournament started?
I think that the best attitude is to take every game at a time, I am the lowest
rated player here and every game it is a tough fight; I think my target for this tournament is to try to play the best chess that I possibly can.

Focusing before the game starts, in Tata Steel Chess.
Picture from: www.chessvibes.com

I know that you were training with Vladimir Chuchelov, are you still working together?
Yes of course! He is a very respected and famous trainer, working with the entire Dutch Team! That's why he is always extremely busy and difficult to make an appointment:) But definitely we'll be working soon.

Did you improve so much thanks to Vladimir and his secret techniques?
I was working a lot, also with my coach from Delhi, but definitely working with Vladimir has contributed a lot and hopefully I'll get better! By the way: do you remember when we were playing together, in the World Championship under 10 in Brasil?
Now that you mentioned it, I do remember! It was so long time ago:) What did we do?!
I think you won that game. You were always wearing a red headband:)
:))) It didn't look great, but I was only 10 and I think it became a superstition at some point because I was winning all my games...until the moment I started to lose:))
But I think it worked for you, you finally became world champion:)

Maybe:) Do you also have your own superstitions? Or routines before a game?
Tania: No, I don't. Maybe I should start having some but for the moment I don't have:)

I remember that your mother was always coming to the tournaments with you, is she still doing that?
She was, before. Now she prefers to choose the nice locations, with the beaches and sun and all of that:) But now she is busy with her grandson and well...I miss her a bit.

Are you playing a lot of tournaments, despite your far away location?
India is kind of far indeed and we don't have as many tournaments as you do in Europe. Things are improving but it's still important to travel abroad. I have to do it, there is no other option. So, yes, I am travelling a lot, I enjoy playing, it couldn't be better:) I don't have as much time as I would like to for my personal life, but you know how it goes...and than you appreciate much more what you have. I really miss my family, my home...I am kind of a family person, you know how it is in India with the culture, with the family bonds and I am missing it a lot. But you have to do what you have to do:)

Traditional indian wedding!

Don't worry, it was not Tania to get married...
not this time:)

With friends

And how exactly is the chess situation in India right now?
It's improving a lot but, they are working hard to popularize it and finally in India people realized that there are other sports than cricket. But there is still a very long way to go, it's improving as I said but it's still going to take a while. For the younger generation, for the children with an age between 8 and 10 for example, things will get better and better and they will have more chances.

Are you still studying?
I finished my studies and now I am playing chess. Also I am working with Air India, but chess is still my profession. They are very flexible, so I can play my tournaments without any problems, I don't have to go to the office.

Sounds like a dream job! And what exactly do you do?
I am working in the commercial department, so basically I have to overlook the ticketing and at the ground staff. I don't have to go all the time there, like in any other regular job, I have my time to practice in chess. But when I do go, I am taking part in the commercial activities.

Did this job appeared after you were seen in the indian fashion week?
Actually it came after last year, after I graduated from college. I won a lot of tournaments: asian championship, indian championship and  they wanted me to work with them. They couldn't offer me the job because I was still studying in University, but after i graduated, I took my chance:)

Walking on the ramp for designer Narendra Kumar.
Beautiful, intelligent and confident: perfect combination!
Tania on the ramp during the "Ashima and Leena Show"
at the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week
in New Delhi on Saturday 24 Oct 09.

And what did you study? 
English Literature: a lot of Shakespeare:) It was really nice, I like reading, so it worked very well for me.

Can you tell me more about the award you received: Arjuna Award?
It's one of the biggest recognition for a sportsman in India. We have one sports award which goes to only one person and Anand took it. The Arjuna Award goes to 12 sportsmen, one award for 12 different sports. It's really prestigious and it comes with a lot of recognition, it was a really big moment for me because after a hard life: with a lot of work and travelling and sacrifices and sufference, you finally get something in return...it means a lot to me.

Tania receiving the Arjuna Award from the
President of India Pratibha Patil, 29 August 2009.

Indian's Women Champion, 2007

You mentioned that you like to travel, which places you enjoyed most?
I think...I really liked Iceland; they have very nice tournaments there, well organized and I played well. And my favourite country, besides India of course, is Spain. I lived in Barcelona for 2 and a half months and it was absolutely great! Especially because it was summer:)

Do you still remember the moment when you decided to make chess your profession?
It was after I won the Asian Championship under 16, that was the moment when I decided to take chess professionaly - I think. It was a very strong tournament because you have many chinese, vietnamese players it was a really strong starting list. And I remember that during the closing ceremony they were playing the national anthem of India and I felt so...it was a wonderful feeling and, in that moment, I realised this is what I want to do, it was a turning point for my chess career. But there are so many other things that I am interested in and which I want to do in my life. I've been playing chess for about...15 years I guess?! I want to do some other things as well, but right now I am enjoying very much my life: travelling and playing chess. When I will have enough of this type of life, I will surely switch, but right now I am happy, I love to play for India, to play in Olympiads. It's not the moment to change that yet:)

There are not so many women tournaments, unfortunately. What do you think we can do to attract more sponsors?
I think that lately things are improving. Many organizers want women in their tournaments and as long as more and more women will take chess more seriously, it will become better and better. It is important to invest time, to work hard and to be more demanding when it comes to conditions in tournaments. But of course, the most important thing is to really want to 
start playing chess at a professional level. Besides, I think that being a woman is even better than being a man. There are so many strong GM's and it's difficult for many of them to get conditions from the organizers. As a woman, if you work hard enough, it can be better.

Would you like to become a trainer at some point?
Definitely! I played for so many years, I gained a lot of experience and it would be a pity to keep it all for myself. I would like very much to share it, I think it's wonderful to see your pupils on the podium, watch their happiness and have this great feeling that they are there also thanks to you. But it will most probably happen after some time, when I will be tired of playing myself.

Good luck for your last round and we all expect to see GM written soon on the chess lists!


  1. Did you really beat her in Brazil, Alina? :-)

  2. why so surprised Anonymous?? afterall she is also a GM and that too a 'pretty' good GM

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