January 20, 2011

Portrait: David Navara

Picture from: www.soloscacchi.altervista.org


Present for the fourth time in Wijk aan Zee, playing in the B-Group this year, with a prestigious chess career and a diploma in Logic at Charles University in Prague, David doesn't need any further introductions.

Extremely talented, sensitive, fragile, caring a lot about the people around him, very modest and able to see and admit his mistakes, sometimes minimizing too much his merits, David is looking at you in his own characteristic way - his eyes tell you in less than a second, even at first sight, that he would help you immediately if you would ask him to. A very strong chess player, with an interesting personality, David jumps out of mediocrity and flat characters, making himself immediately remarked.

With the Black pieces against Efimenko.
Unfortunately, a loss today for David.

Why?! That's a very simple question for me right now. I had the chance to see him in several occasions, to speak and share the same table with him during the management evening. He is different than regular players and I am not talking about his high rating or chess style (I heard his nickname is "David Express" because of the speed and accuracy of his moves when he has a better position).
In a chess world where you have to be selfish sometimes, to focus on your games and tell yourself what a genius you are to keep your self-esteem at a decent level, David is exactly the opposite. He is kind and extremely modest, aware of his weaknesses and generous.

I remember when he came in the press room and showed his first won game against Radek Wojtaszek. In general chess players are doing this only when they are specifically asked to; otherwise, they are more than happy to run and hide, trying to save their energy. Which is completely normal and there is nothing to be blamed of. Cameras, reporters, conversations, analysis, smiles and polite talks are energy eaters, especially after your tough game.
But David: he came himself to the audience and offered his insights in what was the delicacy of everyone present there: an objective and deep analysis of his game. Small sample:

It was obvious he wanted to do everything right for the public: not to make too short his presentation, but extensive enough, with a lot of lines and explanations (this is a rare attitude, usually GM's are not so keen to reveal too much and if they do, it's more about the things which put them in a bright light) - on the other hand, he became worried that he bored the audience and expressed his emotions about it, asking for forgiveness. There was absolutely nothing to be forgiven, everyone enjoyed every single second they spent on their chairs, looking at the demonstration board. It was not a regular analysis and David is the only responsible one for that: instead of being a monologue, we somehow felt that we are taking part in a conversation, that he allow us to know him better. From time to time he was saying his characteristic words:"I am sorry", when dropping the pieces on the floor in his rush to show us enough lines but not for too long, worried not about his time, but about ours!

Always very modest:"I cannot keep this high standard of my play every game", "I was superficial", "I am probably mistaken" - the words used by David reveal the same kind person we intuitively sensed: innocence is the key word to his soul and personality.

Advice: "I am the wrong person to be asked, I am not that strong and I make many mistakes. I think a better answer could be given by an experimented trainer, even if objectively he is much weaker as a chess player. What I think it's important is that a coach can organize your time better, systematize the chess information and make you more disciplined. Important is also to play against stronger opponents and learn from your mistakes, as well as following the games of Grandmasters."

How many hours does David invest in chess?

David: "I don't have a clear answer to this question, sometimes I work a lot, sometimes not at all. I can have great results after a period without much work, but it happened the other way around as well: bad results even if I prepared a lot before. What can I say?...I am talented for chess, but there are other people more talented than me. The only difference is that they chose another profession."

By Pia Sprong

Good luck David, 8 more rounds to go!


  1. Logic not logistics!

  2. Great article, Alina! Thank you. David is our national hero! (reader from Czech Republic)

  3. Thanks, updated! I was speaking with David and he said that Logic is the same as Logistic for other people. I knew it was logic, but in my brain remained the other term as well.

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