Showing posts with label Close-up. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Close-up. Show all posts

March 18, 2012

Close-up: Alexander Morozevich!

I am coming back with one of my favorite labels: close-up! 
The interview has been already published in the second issue, February 2012, of the German Magazine: Schach.

June 21, 2011

Close-up: Wesley So!

I didn't have the chance to meet Wesley personally, not until January this year, in the Tata Steel Chess Tournament. All I knew about him was his ascending chess career - a wonder kid from the Philippenes, with an incredible talent for chess. His achievements at an early age, coming from a country without a very long chess tradition, made him famous worldwide.

March 10, 2011

Interview with Olga Dolgova, the woman behind a top GM!

In an interview given after his loss against Peter Svidler, in the World Cup 2009, Khanty Mansiysk, Alexei Shirov had to answer, immediately after his game, to a personal question:

You came to Khanty Mansiysk with a charming friend? Tell us about her.

Here Alexei faltered. It was obvious that he was trying to find the correct words...

February 6, 2011

Interview with Mihail Marin

It is always difficult to find the best words to describe a person that you respect and appreciate very much. I will give it a try, although I am afraid words might look too small or sound empty when compared to his achievements.
I am honoured to present you my dear friend: Mihail Marin, who doesn't need any further introduction. His name has its own well deserved place in the chess world and everybody heard of him.

February 4, 2011

Interview with the winner of the C-Group!

Daniele Vocaturo

If Daniele was shared 3rd last year in Wijk aan Zee, when the tournament was called "Corus", this year in Tata Steel Chess Tournament, he finished alone on the 1st position, half a point ahead of the 2nd place, with a convincing score: 9 points out of 13!
Success didn't come overnight for Daniele. It is the result of hard work carried over the years, with the combined efforts of Yuri Garett (his manager) and Mihail Marin (his trainer). Ups and downs, happy and sad moments, a tremendous work and love for the game, determination, hopes and illusions, they are all present in Daniele's career. What we can see, is only the top of the iceberg, the beautiful result of his struggles, culminating in his attacking style and tendency for seeking complications.

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:)

January 26, 2011

Tata Steel Chess - Interview with the tournament director

 Jeroen van den Berg

Wijk aan Zee is now the center of the chess world, with the Tata Steel Chess Tournament being its heart. Why is this event so respected and who are the people behind it, making sure everything is perfectly arranged?
An insight into the tough scene of organizing a strong chess event will be kindly given as follows, by the tournament director: Jeroen van den Berg.
A few days ago, while the games were still in progress, he made time for me and my questions, which is clearly not an easy task and I thank him for that!

Jeroen van den Berg
Picture from:

January 20, 2011

Portrait: David Navara

Picture from:


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.

January 17, 2011

Interview with:

Tania against Kateryna: encounter seen
through the eyes of an artist!
Picture courtesy: Pia Sprong 
Kateryna Lahno

Country: Ukraine
Born: 27 December 1989
Title: GM
Current Fide Rating: 2518
Peak Rating: 2539 (September 2010)

  • WGM at the age of 12
  • now a full GM
  • a child prodigy with a tremendous chess career
  • mother since last year

How is it possible to achieve so much by the age of 21?!

January 3, 2011

Interview with Daniel Stellwagen

Daniel Stellwagen

Country: The Netherlands
Born: 1st of March 1987
Title: GM 
Current Fide Rating: 2631
Peak rating: 2639 (October 2007)

Daniel is only 23 y.o. and he achieved a lot so far, both in chess and his education: Grandmaster at an early age, several times Dutch Champion, silver medal in European and World Championship under 12, winner of many open tournaments, and now he is doing his PhD in Chemistry at Utrecht University. He will soon be a Doctor and, if you think about it, not so many of them out there with a GM title and being so young! We might wonder when did he have time for both, especially to excel in such different fields.

Chess and chemistry: Daniel's two passions. While his chess results are well known among chess circles, his career as a scientist is still a mystery for many of us. In the following interview Daniel will give us an insight into his life as a chemist, where chess remains a reliable friend.

Alina: Why don't we see you so often anymore playing chess tournaments?
Daniel: Unfortunately, I don't have so much time now. I have a job, which requires a lot of time, as a PhD student at Utrecht University. I am working in the chemistry department, in research, with a full time job, from 9AM until 5PM, five days a week. Usually it takes even more time because I am trying to do my job properly, I get excited with a new project/discovery, and I am eager to finish it. My project for PhD involves making new types of catalysts for biodiesel production from renewable feedstocks such as waste oils and fats. (ed. just for the record, Daniel helped me with my article on Chess and Chemistry; sometimes I felt completely out of the conversation, when the discussion took the chemistry path; so don't worry if you have to google what he just said about his project:)
Of course I am trying to keep up with the current  chess events as well. Occasionally I'll still play myself, in league games and team events like the Olympiad.

Alina: Have you ever had doubts which one to choose, chess or chemistry?
Daniel: I briefly considered life as a chess professional when I finished high school, but I didn't want to specialize so early on in my life. Instead, I went to university to expand my horizons. For a while I combined both chess life and my chemistry studies, trying to divide my time equally between both subjects. At the moment my priorities have shifted toward my chemistry work, since a PhD project obviously requires much time than undergraduate studies. In any case, whenever I find time, I like to fill it up with chess.

Alina: Are you considering to come back as a professional chess player?
Daniel: I hope to first get my PhD, so if I will decide to come back to chess full time, it won't happen in the next few years. I simply enjoy my life more when I do other things besides chess. Anyway, it would have been, practically speaking, more appropriate to decide upon a chess career a few years ago, to be able to reach the very top.

Alina: Which one is more difficult: chess or chemistry?
Daniel: Difficult to say because they are different from each other; but if I have to choose one...I'd say chemistry is more difficult because it is a much bigger field. On the other hand, chess is a very competitive game, you have to beat someone, you have to train hard and there are a lot of emotions, stress and pressure involved. In chemistry, you also have the competitive element, because you have to publish your work, you have to come up with better ideas than other people, but you don't have to face and fight against somebody. This is what makes chess a difficult game.

Alina: Can we talk about different styles in research as in chess?
Daniel: When you are doing research you try to find the optimum result, and there are of course many different ways which will finally bring you to the same conclusion. We can talk about two kind of scientists: experimental and theoretical, but there is so much to know, the volume of knowledge is so high that you are more or less forced to specialize in only one. 
In chess, we can also speak about the theoretical players and the practical ones; but at the very top, the strongest GM's need to be both theoretical and practical players.

Alina: If you could start all over again, what would you choose between chemistry and chess?
Daniel: Difficult to say, I have more experience as a chess player but it's nice to do them both and experience as much as possible. It brings you a nice perspective.

Alina: What do you miss most from chess, besides playing?
Daniel: The tournament atmosphere, seeing my friends, it's a really pleasant life. that's why it's a pity that I don't have so much time to play anymore. Of course, I am a bit more relaxed now with chess because I am less concerned. We know that when we lose a game, it's not good for your inner peace; the more serious you are on chess, the more disturbed you get with bad results.
Now I am much easier on myself, it's not the end of the world if I lose a game and my life is more pleasant. So, I do miss the nice atmosphere but not the soul crushing defeats which sometimes appear:)

Alina: Why chemistry?
Daniel: I really enjoyed sciences, especially biology and chemistry. But after highschool I chose chemistry and later on I specialized on inorganic chemistry. 

Alina: Would you like to become a chess or chemistry teacher at some point?
Daniel: No. My aim is to work in industry.

Alina: What is your opinion on Tata Steel this year?
Daniel: The A and B groups are very strong this year, with a very exciting line up! All the players are extremely strong but if I have to make a prediction:
A-Group: Kramnik - I enjoy his games and I hope he will do well
B-Group: could be anybody; maybe McShane, he was very successful in London. But with such strong players, the tournament can be won by any of them, depends on the shape.

Alina: A final chess advice?
Daniel: When things go wrong in a game, many players don't enjoy it anymore and, as a consequence, they no longer make an effort to fight. They should be aware of the following fact: for the better side, for the player with a winning position, it's extremely annoying to face a tough defence. It's so frustrating that you cannot easily turn your advantage into victory that, quite often, a winning position changes into a lost one. Keep fighting and be as resilient as possible!

December 1, 2010

Close-up on the GM's!

Anish with his family in Hoogeveen
Anish Giri

Country: The Netherlands
Born: 28 June 1994
Title: Grandmaster
Current Fide Rating: 2682
Peak rating: 2682 (November 2010)

Anish Kumar Giri is just 16 year old...and yet, so many things to be said about his chess career, personality, interests or personal life.
His talent, ambition and hard work are already visible through his chess results:

1. Winner of the closed Dutch Championship in Haaksbergen, September 2009.
2. Winner of the Corus B-Group in Wijk aan Zee, January 2010, aged only 15.
3. In May 2010 it was revealed that Anish had aided Viswanathan Anand in preparation for the World Chess Championship 2010 against challenger Veselin Topalov.
4. Winner of the 18th annual Sigeman & Co Tournament at the end of may 2010, with a performance rating of 2936.
5. One of the best scorers for the Rising Stars team during the NH tournament against the Experienced team, August 2010 - I know he doesn't have the best memories from this tournament, but his result shouldn't be forgotten. 
6. Bronze medal in Olympiad, Khanty-Mansiysk, October 2010, playing board 4 for the Dutch team.

And this is just the beginning...
Despite his young age, Anish has a very strong personality, an important tool in becoming a top player. His flexibility in adapting to the new positions that arise on the chess board and to strike back in a proper moment, is also one of his main strengths. Is the fact that he had to adjust with a new life in Russia, Japan and Holland responsible for this?! What we know for sure is that Anish has a lot more to say to the chess world...

Alina: Who or what inspires you?
Anish: My good mood inspires me.

Al: What's your funniest memory?
An: When I was about to lose my first serious chess game, I stole the rook of my opponent:)

Al: Favourite drink?
An: Mango lassy - (ed. you can find the recipe here , I also like this drink very much:)

Al: If you were written about in the newspaper, on the front page, what would the headline say?
An: The kid strikes!

Al: What makes you angry?
An: When I see the right move, but I choose the wrong one (both in chess and life).

Al: Which is your wish that is not yet fulfilled?
An: I am very happy that I cannot think of an answer to this question.

Al: Name one regret that you have
An: You only know what to regret at the end of the life.

Al: If you could give the world one piece of advice, what would it be?
An: Never listen to any advices.

Al: If you could choose one of your personality traits to pass on to your children, what would it be?
An: Love and respect for the parents.

Al: One of your best games
An: Nyzhnyk - Anish 2008, Werle - Anish 2009 or Anish - Harikrishna 2010.

Al: Favourite book
An: "A short history of nearly everything", Bill Bryson.

Al: Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
An: I cannot see that far, but I can tell you in a week:)

Al: How do you recover after a terrible lost game?
An: With the next game.

Al: If you could pick any career, what would you want to be?
An: Stand-up comedian.

Al: If you could choose to have a superpower, what would that be?
An: To see what poeple think.

Thank you Anish!

November 10, 2010

Close-up on the GM's!

Parimarjan Negi

Country: India
Born: 9 February 1993
Title: Grandmaster
Current Fide Rating: 2603
Peak Rating: 2636 (May 2010)

On 1st July 2006, at the age of 13 years, 4 months and 22 days, he became the second youngest Grandmaster ever, second only to Sergey Karjakin, achieving his final Grandmaster norm in Satka, Russia on 1st July 2006.  He is now 17 and studies in the Amity International School as well.

Amongst many other results, we shouldn't forget:

1. Winner of the Philadelphia Open Tournament in June 2008, with a score of 7 out of 9 (undefeated).
2. Winner of the Politiken Cup in July 2009
, in Copenhagen, with 8.5 out of 10. 

Besides being a chess prodigy and despite his early age achievements, Parimarjan is a very nice person, very modest and interesting to talk with. He likes to read Ayn Read's books and he is also interested in Psychology. (like me:)

Here are a few questions that he kindly answered during breakfast-time in Hoogeveen. 

Alina: Which is the place you would love to visit?
Parimarjan: My home, I tend to be more like a guest lately.

A: Favourite drink:
P: Sprite.

A: If you were written about in the newspaper, on the front page, what would the headline say?
P: If I would be on the front won't be for a serial killer report, for sure:)

A: What makes you angry?
P: Losing a game.

A: Which is your wish that is not yet fulfilled?
P: To beat Erwin! (that's my husband:)

A: Name one regret that you have...
P: That I don't feel like a chess genius.

A: If you could give the world one piece of advice, what would it be?
P: Read Ayn Rand!

A: If you could choose one of your personality traits to pass on to your children, what would it be?
P: Maybe they should take them from their mother:)

A: One of your best games:
P: Postny - Parimarjan 2006.

A: If someone was to give you one gift, what would you want to receive?
P: A ticket to an Eminem's concert.

A: Favourite book...
P: I like so many books, difficult question:) But to name one: "Fountainhead", by Ayn Rand.

A: Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
P: Somewhere on this planet, hopefully:)

A: How do your recover after a terrible lost game?
P: I go to sleep, it makes you forget:)

A: If you could pick any career, what would you want to be?
P: Author, or something that would bring me a lot of money:)

A: If you could choose to have a superpower, what would that be?
P: To read everyone's mind.

Thank you Parimarjan and good luck!

November 1, 2010

Close-up on the GM's!

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave

Country: France
Born: 21 October 1990
Title: Grandmaster
Current Fide Rating: 2703
Peak rating: 2730 (January 2010)

Maxime became a Grandmaster at age 14 years and 4 months, in 2005.
Amongst many other results, we should mention:
1. World Champion in Puerto Madryn, Argentina, 2009; with an incredible number of points: 10.5 out of 13.
2. Winner of 2009 Biel Tournament, with 6 points out of 10, ahead of Morozevich and Ivanchuk.
3. Winner of 2007 French Championship, after beating GM Vladislav Tkachiev in tiebreak match.

And the most recent result:
Winner of the Crown Group in Hoogeveen, 2010, with a performance of 2881.

Being present at Maxime's last event in Hoogeveen (I played in the Unive Open), I had the chance to know him a little bit better. He kindly answered to the following questions:

Alina: Which is the place you would love to visit?
Maxime: New York.

A: Who or what inspires you?
M: Mountains.

A: Which is your favourite drink?
M: Pineapple jus.

A: If you were written about in the newspaper, on the front page, what would the headline say?
M: Lucky Genius! (nb: insiders know:)

A: What makes you angry?
M: Hypocrisy.

A: What is your wish that has not yet been fulfilled?
M: I am fine with the way my life is going now.

A: Name one regret that you have...
M: Not winning the Corus B-Group in 2007, when I was leading with 1 point ahead.

A: If you could give the world one piece of advice, what would it be?
M: Enjoy your life!

A: If you could choose one of your personality traits to pass on to your children, what would it be?
M: Irony.

A: One of your best games...
M: Alexander Morozevich - Maxime, 2009 or Robert Fontaine - Maxime, 2007

A: Favourite book...
M: Harry Potter.

A: Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
M: Maybe in France or Spain and no children.

A: How do you recover after a terrible lost game?
M: I talk with my friends and have fun.

A: If you could pick any career, what would you want to be?
M: Chess player!

A: If you could choose to have a superpower, what would that be?
M: To be invisible as long as I want.

Thank you Maxime!

October 31, 2010

Close-up on the GM's!

Such a nice feeling to be back home! Especially with a happy husband next to you:) Besides Erwin's result, we also had great time. The tournament in Hoogeveen is organized in a very professional way - but at the same time the atmosphere is very laid back and relaxed!

During the tournament I managed to speak with a lot of Grandmasters, had the chance to get to know them a little bit, very interesting. In the upcoming weeks I will post a series of interviews with a.o. Maxime Vachier Lagrave and Anish Giri. For now I bring you a funny memory Anish shared with me from the early days of his career:

'I remember that -as a little boy- when I was about to lose my first serious chess game, I stole the rook of my opponent!' 

Keep an eye on my blog! More is to come:)