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  1. #541
    CC Grandmaster road runner's Avatar
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    on the skin of the pale blue dot
    Quote Originally Posted by Jono
    That's exactly what it was.
    So you missed the quicker win.

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    meep meep

  2. #542
    CC Grandmaster Capablanca-Fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boris
    So you missed the quicker win.
    Right, your way is shorter.
    “The destructive capacity of the individual, however vicious, is small; of the state, however well-intentioned, almost limitless. Expand the state and that destructive capacity necessarily expands, too, pari passu.”—Paul Johnson, Modern Times, 1983.

  3. #543
    CC Grandmaster ER's Avatar
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    Our next interview will be with International Master Prof Greg Hjorth. More details soon!
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  4. #544
    CC Grandmaster ER's Avatar
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    Prof Greg Hjorth Interview Part I

    The first time I saw Greg Hjorth, was back in the early ‘80s during the 1982-83 Australian Open held in Paddington PCYC, Sydney. He was just a kid; yet everyone seemed to talk about him, his great potential and future as one of Australia’s greatest players if not the greatest ever. Some years later I saw him again one Wednesday at the Melbourne Chess Club, then in Peel Street, North Melbourne. He was there for a postponed game. I remember him donning an army jacket and a beret. Maybe, he had already decided that professional chess wasn’t for him and that his academic career was priority No. 1. He left for the US sometime later. Professor Greg Hjorth, obliged to our request for an interview for the Chess Chat Forum and we proudly present him to our members!

    Let’s start with IM Guy West’s response to a question (*) regarding your impromptu appearance in a MCC tournament last year :

    Quote Originally Posted by IM Guy West Interview
    It's very exciting, though maybe tinged with a slight wistfulness when I
    look back and think of the chess potential we had back in the eighties! Greg
    and I obviously made the decision that professional chess was not for us and
    pursued other interests. It was a nice feeling though to look across and see
    Greg playing next to me after, what, 30 years?

    It spun my mind back down the decades to an A Grade interclub match where a teenaged Greg
    didn't know he was meant to be playing that night (against Australian Master John Hanks.)
    Our captain finally managed to put through a frantic phone call to Greg, who I think was in his
    pyjamas at the time, with 15 minutes left to forfeit time. Greg sprang into action and somehow
    made it to the club with about 20 seconds to spare before forfeiting, but only half an hour on his
    clock against Hanks' 90 minutes. He whipped out the Belgrade Gambit and smashed
    Hanks to a quivering pulp, using about 10 minutes on the clock.

    One thing I would caution is that we should respect Greg's desire to play if
    and when he wants to, and not characterise this as a 'comeback' just yet.
    It's his call. It also wouldn't be sensible to place huge expectations on
    Greg, as he won't be tournament conditioned and prepared in the way he was
    at his most active. He is a good chance to win this tournament, but we
    shouldn't expect him to start knocking off the Zhaos and Smerdons and
    playing in Olympiads. It would be like expecting Fischer to come back when
    he hadn't played for a long time and still be at his best level. Oh, hang
    on, he pretty much did! By the way, credit to Jean, Elie and any others
    concerned for encouraging Greg and Erik to play in the City or Melbourne
    instead of just playing blitz as they'd planned!

    How close to reality is IM West’s response to that question? Are you actually planning to return to tournament Chess on a more regular basis in the future?

    Honestly I would love to get back seriously and play a Vic or Oz
    championship. Unfortunately I can't really see it happening in the
    near future -- just because of too many other pressing matters such as

    Maybe 5 or 10 years down the track. As Guy points out, it would be
    more for fun, and I wouldn't be fantasizing about knocking off the
    Zhaos and Smeardons.

    Lookings back and with the benefit of hindsight, did you make the
    right decision to the priority dilemma then?

    When I took a long hard look at professional chess, I thought it would
    probably be necessary to get in to the world's elite to make a good
    income, and I decided that was probably out of reach. That still seems
    like the correct call.

    Also: I wasn't wildly keen about perpetual travel.

    Juniors find it hard to comprehend that most of their coaches today never had proper coaching themselves. Do you feel that players of your generation (yourself not excluded) could have been even better if you had means such as professional coaching, computers, and a plethora of chess publications at your disposal?

    Yes! It would have made a difference, but I was too independent/
    arrogant to want anyone's help. The main issue is that I ended up with
    a rather poor grasp of many basic strategical plans which arise in
    standard openings -- in this sense my knowledge of chess is greatly
    weaker than would find in a player with a comparable rating in eastern

    Possibly the same criticism could be made of most oz players from my
    generation, though I think Rogers and Johansen don't have the same

    Did you grow up in Chess playing surroundings?


    How much Chess related support did you have from your family ?

    Mixed. The professional chess player idea was not embraced with
    terribly much enthusiasm.

    When did you first realize that Chess was going to play a major part in your life?

    I got madly obsessed around 11, though it wasn't clear then how it
    would play out in my life.

    How did you manage school studies and Chess playing and training?

    I generally just fell asleep at school. Uni was more interesting, and
    partly responsible for my moving in a different direction.

    Who were your favourite players when you started playing serious Chess?

    Petrosian. Basman. Nimzovich. As a writer I loved Reti.

    Who was your first Chess mentor?

    Mmmm... Not sure I had one, though Jamieson was sort of part time
    mentor to all the young Vic juniors back then.

    You mentioned Jamieson’s influence as have almost if not all, of the players of your generation in their development. How about the Club factor? Was competition for the colours so to speak of the Club important in trying even harder to improve?

    Wasn't for me, and not for anyone else as far as I noticed. The clubs though
    did help people socialize about chess, and that is very important for
    improvement. Also some of the team events overseas are helpful, because a
    whole bunch of Ozzies get out there together: "God's own versus the rest of
    the world". It helps.

    You must have noticed that Club Chess goes through a revival in Victoria! Melbourne Chess Club under the leadership of Grant Szuveges (a genius in combining traditional values with modern administration ideas) has managed in less than two years to revolutionise participation of the game in terms of membership, and variety of competition. Can you compare the two periods ie when you left for the US to today’s reality in Club terms?

    Yes, we are very luck to have had Grant. A number of people -- including my
    old friend Panno Skiotis -- have worked very hard to turn the club around.

    I think it is great at present. Probably better than in the past, though
    there was a period where there was a well financed Friday night blitz
    tournament, and Rogers, Levi, many other top players, and myself, were
    regular attendees. It would be nice to resurface the tradition of a blitz
    tournament where the top players in town would meet once a week.

    Flashback I - 1983 Melbourne
    Greg Hjorth vs. Darryl Johansen

    Nimzovich - Larsen Attack

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    1-0 (forced mate in 2)

    Greg Hjorth comment: I saw it annotated somewhere without properly identifying the losing move.
    When he played Nf8 and allowed the sac, he should have played Nc5.

    Last edited by ER; 13-07-2010 at 04:48 AM.
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  5. #545
    CC Grandmaster ER's Avatar
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    The IM Greg Hjorth Interview Part II (Final)

    In the second part of our interview with IM Greg Hjorth, we continue our conversation on local matters, and then we cover some areas of wider interest including another chess related flashback, this time vs GM Anthony Miles in England!

    Other Clubs like Box Hill Chess Club for example, while staging tournaments etc are giving more emphasis in promoting junior coaching with GM Johansen and other well known Chess personalities teaching. What do you think of this strategy?

    Mmm.... I don't think I know enough about the issue to comment honestly.

    A recent (mainly during the last decade) phenomenon in Victorian Chess is the development of Chess related business! Darryl Johansen, Leonid Sandler, David Cordover in collaboration with Robert Jamieson just to name a few, seem to lead the way and gradually constitute a healthy competition to the old style of traditional volunteer administration. Do you think that factors as market and attitude allow for Chess administration to be taken care of by professionals?

    I find it hard to imagine that the key positions in the ACF would ever be

    As for the professional coaching, these seem like parallels to the chess
    administration, rather than direct rivals. I am a little bit out of the
    scene, but I don't see why these can't exist happily side by side. Certainly
    it seems that the coaching in schools has done more for Oz chess than any of
    the more traditional volunteer organizations.

    Who do you think is the most influential Chess player of all time?

    In terms of culture and media, Fischer. No question. Massive
    In terms of ideas and theory it might be Steinitz, but that is much
    less clear.

    The strongest?

    Relative to peers, Fischer by a huge margin. In absolute terms,

    The one whose playing style you have been inspired by and have tried to adopt?

    Probably nobody. There are people who did cool things -- eg Rogers
    used to pull off wonderful swindles, and that influenced me.

    The one that you always wanted to meet?

    Well, if you could get Fischer to lay on the couch and be honest about
    himself it would be fascinating. But he never would. Probably nobody then

    When I was younger I thought Joel Benjamin and Julian Hodgson were
    wonderful as personalities, though I met them.

    Of the Chess personalities you have met and I presume there are many, who impressed you most and why?

    Hodgson impressed me for his creativity. We played a couple of
    tournaments in Hungary together.
    There was one game he lost just because he couldn't stop thinking
    about a wacky sac that might have gone down on move 19. A real artist.

    You have played against some of the greatest names of Chess; Kasparov, Reshevsky, Polugaevsky, Miles, Short, Keen, just to name a few. Was it like “wow, what am I doing here playing vs. those giants?” or “ OK mate your name is Gary, or Lev, or Nigel, my name is Greg, show us what you got!”?

    Just to back up, the game against Short was a 12 move draw in the last round where that is all he needed.

    As for the others: I don't really remember a *wow* feeling. At the time I
    still indulged fantasies about getting in to the world's top circle of
    players, so playing those people, and hopefully eventually beating them, was
    just part of the process for me.

    Flashback II 1984 -
    GM Anthony Miles vs Greg Hjorth
    Brighton England.

    Tarasch Defence

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    Greg Hjorth comment: The Miles game it was sort of a blunder (at least -- for a player of his level) to allow the exchange sac.

    Who are your favourite players now?

    Kramnik. Very interesting positional and endgame ideas.
    Who, according to your opinion is Australia's most promising young player?

    Who, according to your opinion is Australia's most promising young player?

    I wouldn't know. And I have never considered I had the ability to
    judge "talent".

    I do like Smeardon's games, and enjoyed the odd duel on ICC before he
    become much stronger than me

    Having played in both the US and Australia can you draw some conclusions in regards to Chess organisation, approach and development?

    I barely played in the US, so I will have to pass.

    How do they remember Fischer in the US? Is he considered as the best ever player etc or as a traitor to his country?

    All this information that had been suppressed by the US media has come
    out in recent years. I think that nowadays most people see him
    personally for the racist a-hole he was.

    Chess and Maths. Are juniors with developed mathematical abilities more likely to succeed in Chess, and/or vice versa?

    No. I think they are unrelated.

    What would be your reaction if you found that amongst your students there was a rare chess talent?

    I don't know what chess talent is, and am a bit sceptical whether I could
    observe it in real life. If I ran across someone who I cared about who was
    considering such a path, I would just encourage them to take a very hard
    headed look at exactly how much work they were willing to put in, what the
    range of expectations might be, and to think in those terms. Even if someone
    has a shot at becoming world champion, the work required is such that they
    will do almost nothing else with their life until well into adulthood.
    That's not necessarily a bad thing, but I would suggest thinking this
    through before hand

    Would Measure Theory hold its ground vs. Chess ?


    Favourite sport (apart from Chess of course)

    I don't follow any other sports,but if I did it would be soccer. Or perhaps

    Favourite sports team (s)


    Favourite writer (s)

    I read a lot of escapist crime noir stuff these days. Scott Turrow or
    Michael Connelly. Early John Le Carre, but nothing he wrote post iron
    curtain. I think Betrand Russell is excellent as a comic writer (not
    *quite*as good as a philosopher imho). Guy Rundle writes some great
    stuff on politics. Dostoevsky and Nietzsche have isolated moments which are
    wonderful. There was a romance by Graham Greene which I loved. Maybe overall my favorite writer might be Shakespeare -- though I find it necessary to put in a lot of effort to digest the language.

    Favourite music

    Nirvana. Led Zeppelin. The Moodists (great Melbourne band!).

    Favourite film (s)

    David Cronenberg's "Videodrome". I also liked "The Watchmen".

    favourite tv show (s)

    I no longer watch TV, but my friend lent me a series called "In Treatment"
    on DVDs and I thought it was absolutely brilliant, not to mention wryly

    And the last question! What would you be your best advice to junior players?

    Mmm... I don't know. Miles once said his advice would be "get to the top or
    get out". In fact, come to think of it, that was advice I sort of took

    Professor Greg Hjorth thanks for your time!

    (*) See Guy West Interview April 2009
    Thanks to Shaun Press for the treasure of information one can obtain from his excellent blog "chessexpress"
    Thanks to Dr Barry Cox for discreetly pointing out typos and misspelt words. Corrections made.
    Thanks to Dr Kevin Bonham for indexing the interview before I even had the chance to ask him to do so!
    Last edited by ER; 13-07-2010 at 05:53 AM.
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  6. #546
    CC Candidate Master morebeer's Avatar
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    Nice work JAK.

    Although I think Dostoevsky offers a bit more than isolated moments of wonder.
    "Chess is as elaborate a waste of human intelligence as you can find outside an advertising agency" - Raymond Chandler

  7. #547
    CC Grandmaster ER's Avatar
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    Melbourne - Australia
    Quote Originally Posted by Morebeer
    Nice work JAK.

    Although I think Dostoevsky offers a bit more than isolated moments of wonder.
    Thanks Morebeer, I really enjoyed IM Greg Hjorth's interview too!
    Dostoevsky, his thoughts, style and turbulant life can still inspire interesting discussions. Here is an exchange between FM Michael Baron and myself from January 2009.

    Quote Originally Posted by JaK
    ... There is evidence that parts of his (Dostoevsky's) published short stories, mainly ideas and themes, were used for later major works, which had to be completed in a frenzied way due to (as you correctly pointed out) gambling and other related or unrelated causes.
    to which Michael Baron replied:

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Baron
    Well actually...i am not a great fan of Dostoevsky... In fact i find it interesting that Dostoevsky is regarded in the west as "a Russian traditionalist" his writing style and themes are rather unique for the russian literature of the time.
    Coming back to IM Greg Hjorth, he seems to be in great form since in an appearance at MCC Allegro a couple of weeks ago he demolished the opposition (including Michael Baron) 7/7!
    BTW I was expecting to see you in the Melbourne Chess Club Blitz Marathon last Sunday! Next time maybe!
    Last edited by ER; 13-07-2010 at 05:40 PM.
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  8. #548
    CC Grandmaster ER's Avatar
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    David Cordover's opinion!

    Quote Originally Posted by IM Greg Hjorth responding to the question of professionalism in Chess administration and coaching
    I find it hard to imagine that the key positions in the ACF would ever be paid.
    As for the professional coaching, these seem like parallels to the chess
    administration, rather than direct rivals. I am a little bit out of the
    scene, but I don't see why these can't exist happily side by side. Certainly
    it seems that the coaching in schools has done more for Oz chess than any of
    the more traditional volunteer organizations.
    I asked Chesskids CEO David Cordover, as I will in fact ask other leading Chess personalities, administrators, coaching professionals and of course players as well, to comment on the above. Here is David's response:

    Quote Originally Posted by David Cordover

    I don't agree that key ACF positions will always remain unpaid -
    eventually Australia will have the number of players and therefore the
    money available to pay an administrator (or more). I agree that the
    ACF Council and Executive positions will almost certainly remain as
    volunteer positions.

    With regards Greg's comment about coaching and chess admin existing in
    parallel - absolutely. In fact I think it can go further than that and
    actually form a symbiotic relationship. I've been talking about the
    "focus" of an organisation for over a year now; how each organisation
    should focus on a key group of players while forming partnerships with
    the organisations 'above' and 'below' them in the Chess Pyramid.

    As Greg said this is happening regardless of our intentions - chess
    clubs and 'traditional' ACF events have seen massive proliferation in
    juniors; all of which is thanks to the development work done by
    professional coaches. Just imagine how much better this could work if
    it were actually PLANNED for and encouraged?
    I used the term CEO because in terms of Chess analogies Chesskids has achieved countrywide representation with many coaches and hundreds of kids involved. However, since the term created some discussion out of the thread's and topic's theme thanks for the relocation of these postings in a slpit thread!
    Last edited by ER; 15-07-2010 at 02:57 AM.
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  9. #549
    CC Grandmaster ER's Avatar
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    FM Michael Baron's response

    This is FM Michael Baron's response to IM Greg Hjorth's statement on professionalism in Chess administration and coaching:

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Baron
    Well...I agree with 99% of What Greg said! In particular I share his attitude towards professional chess playing: my case is similar to his..with the only (unfortunate ) difference being...I am not a professor yet ..and I never achieved in chess what he did .

    As for chess administration - hopefully at some point it will be professional and paid!
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  10. #550
    CC Grandmaster ER's Avatar
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    This is IM Igor Goldenberg's response to IM Greg Hjorth's statement on professionalism in Chess administration and coaching:

    Quote Originally Posted by IM Igor Goldenberg
    I agree with everything Greg said:
    1. That chess in Australia is unlikely to achieve a level that warrants paid executive,
    2. That professional coaching does not have to conflict with administration. It only happens because sometimes they feel threatened by each other, or try to undermine each other, even though I don't see valid reason for doing though.
    3. That coaching in school has a potential to bring chess into daylight.
    Last edited by ER; 15-07-2010 at 02:06 PM.
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  11. #551
    CC Grandmaster ER's Avatar
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    Challenge and Response: The Szuveges Stand!

    FM Grant Szuveges, the young President of the Melbourne Chess Club has already established himself as a very important personality in the Chess scene not only in Victoria but in the whole of Australia.

    His enthusiastically uncompromising, relentlessly progressive and markedly innovative style of leadership has inspired many youngsters and has made the more conservative circles of our chess fraternity to take notice of the new status quo.

    To give you a full account of his and his committee's achievements in the relatively short (just about 18 months) period since what is now known as the Leicester St Revolution was declared and succeeded, we would need another interview which I hope we 'll be able to contact soon.

    For the moment let's summarise Grant's presence as being the moving force in combining traditional values with modern administrative ideas in the development and improvement of MCC particularly in organisation, increase and participation of membership and variety of competition.

    Here is Grant's response to IM Greg Hjorth's statement (*) in regards to the role of the MCC, and the professionalism in administration and chess coaching:

    "Its great that our club is getting such positive recognition! And while I
    really get a kick out of the personal recognition that I get, its great to
    see others such as Pano (Skiotis) getting recognised for the work they do at
    MCC also. I represent the club publically a lot, but Pano (and others)
    really do a lot of hard work behind the scenes which people often dont see. (**)

    I agree with Greg that the atmosphere at MCC is great at the moment and its
    great to have Greg playing allegro! I also share his sentiments that a
    regular Friday night blitz would be good for the place too.....

    I think that key positions in the ACF (and Chess Victoria and hopefully even
    the MCC) will be paid positions in the future. Chess is growing so much so
    quickly. Remember 15 years ago how different chess was. If someone had told
    us that there would be numerous chess coaching companies working in schools
    (Cordover, Johansen, Speck etc) who wouldve believed them? Now this is an
    accepted part of the chess scene. That was 15 years ago, before all of the
    kids being taught now were born. Imagine what chess will be like in 15 years
    time, when all of these kids grow up! It wasnt so long ago that AFL/VFL
    footballers had to work regular jobs - look what they earn now.... Why
    wouldnt the same thing happen in chess?

    I also agree that the professional chess coaching companies and the chess
    administration can coexist peacefully - however I think that they need to
    work together a bit more and be less suspicious of one another. Many people
    believe that the coaching companies shelter kids (and parents) from the real
    chess scene (presumably because its eccentric people may reflect badly on
    their businesses). Im not sure that this is rife, but if it is happening,
    then it is a concern. If even half of the kids being taught by these
    companies would start playing in the mainstream chess scene, then chess
    would be thriving. Getting these kids from the coaching companies into the
    club scene is the biggest challenge in Victorian chess at the moment in my

    (*) The IM Greg Hjorth interview begins in post #544 of this thread!
    (**) For the original interview of FM Grant Szuveges please go to page 1 and click on Grant's name. Dr Kevin Bonham's very efficient indexing will navigate you to post #23 where the interview is located!
    Last edited by ER; 16-07-2010 at 06:27 AM.
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  12. #552
    CC Grandmaster ER's Avatar
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    The Michael Addamo Interview

    I first met Michael in the Vic Open Tournament a couple of years ago. He had just started playing chess but you could tell he was serious about it. Apart from the fact that he beat me (as he usually does whenever we play) I was impressed by his manners and personality. Michael shows respect to everyone and at the same time he commands respect from everyone. He is popular, talented and looks like he is taking seriously whatever he is doing. When I was told that he is planning to go international and represent Australia in Greece later in the year, I asked him to do an interview and to promote his fundraising efforts as well… He obliged and here follows the content of our discussion:

    Of what you 've told me in short discussions between tournament rounds, you are doing quite well at school! Is academic excellence part of your personal goals?

    Yes, I aspire to do well in VCE and get into Melbourne University studying Commerce/Engineering.

    Is your school performance a factor in deciding how much time you spend on chess, sports and other hobbies?

    I would like to spend more time playing chess and sports but my schooling takes a little time out of this.

    How difficult do you find it to combine serious Chess playing with studying at school?

    It is hard because when I play weekly tournaments, I come home from school tired and then I have to play late at night, so it is difficult at times to concentrate on both, which is why I rather weekender tournaments

    Who was your first Chess mentor?

    Probably my father who taught me how to play chess firstly, but to be honest he wasn't very good and I beat him easily after a few times, although without him I might not have ever been introduced to chess.

    Did you grow up in Chess playing surroundings?

    Apart from my dad initially teaching me how to play I had no one in my family who played chess seriously, so I didn't really grow up in chess surroundings.

    How much support did you have by your family to pursue your chess interests?

    My parents are very supporting in helping me pursue my chess interests as they drive me to various tournaments far away, and they take me interstate. Now they are also taking me to Greece for the World Youth Chess Championships.

    Who, according to your opinion is Australia’s most promising young player? (yourself not included here) !

    I would have to say Victoria's own, FM Bobby Cheng, the U12 World Youth Champion and IM James Morris.

    What’s the future of chess in Victoria in terms of participation and strength? How do you compare it with the rest of the country?

    I think Victoria has Australia's best juniors in the country as there are many good coaches. It definitely ranks up there compared to NSW where there are more chess players.

    Would you like to share with us your favourite game? The one you really enjoyed playing from the beginning to the end?

    My favourite game would have to be my game against Thai Ly where I attacked his king-side very well risking my own king. I was happy with the way I had placed my minor pieces, so this would have to be my favourite game.

    Is your present rating representative of your real strength?

    No not really, which is the same for most juniors as they usually are severely underrated.

    Excellent so far Michael, now let's get to the second part of this interview which as you have already told us focuses on your participation in the Junior World Championships to be held in Greece later in the year. Tell us about the original idea of your decision to participate... How did it start???

    it was actually Michael Loh (Zac’s dad) who told me that the Australian Chess Federation were selecting players for the World Youth so I put my name down, and a month later I was officially picked and now I am going.

    You understand that this is a very important and serious move in everyone's language! Are you going to have a special preparation for it?

    Yes of course, I will study chess harder than ever and I will be playing more tournaments. I will also be consulting with GM David Arutinian on Skype who will be coaching us in Greece

    Without revealing your secrets can you give us some details of how you will approach it?

    Of course, everyone knows that Australia isn't the best chess playing country so there will be many very stronger players than me, as few GM's. I will have to approach each game confident and never give in to the fact that some players are much stronger.

    Now. apart from your individual aspirations and goals, you will also be representing all of us there since you will have the Australian flag next to you on the board! How important is it for you that you are going to represent the Aussie Green and gold?

    I couldn't be prouder of wearing the Australian colours. It has been my dream and most other kids dream to represent their country on a world stage.

    Of what I 've heard you are planning to organise some fundraisers in order to finance your trip to Greece for the World Championship. Tell us about your plans so we can publicize your efforts as much as we can.

    (For a detailed schedule on Michael’s fundraiser please check related post in Upcoming and Current Tournaments thread).

    I will be playing a Chess Kids RJ Shield chess tournament at Doncaster this Sunday to raise some funds for my trip and I may even play some 1 minute to 5 minute games as well as possibly a simul. I would like many people of all ages to play in this tournament to support me. I might also do a BBQ at Bunnings at a later date, depending of what BHCC says.

    Favourite writer(s)

    Garry Kasparov

    Favourite sport (s)


    Favourite sport team (s) I know the answer to this but I have to ask anyway!


    Favourite film

    The Hangover

    favourite tv show


    Favourite music?


    Thanks Michael, Ciao for now!

    Thanks Elliot
    Forze Juve and Collingwood!!!
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  13. #553
    CC Grandmaster ER's Avatar
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    The Yelena Dembo Interview

    Yelena Dembo is a 26 yo Chess player who incidentally is an International Master (Woman GM) with a FIDE rating of 2452, which establishes her as No. 40 in the list of the strongest women players. She is currently in Khanty Mansiysk where she will represent Greece in the Women’s Olympiad playing first board.

    "The organization so far was very good, the hotel is fine. The internet is quite acceptable too, although only from the lobby. Hopefully will go to the opening ceremony and have photos for you later on.” we read from her personal website!

    Yelena became a Woman Grandmaster when she was seventeen years old, and an International Master at age nineteen. She is also a chess teacher and author.

    However, all her biographical details as well as other related information can be found in her blog

    So let’s proceed with the discussion we had with her, not long before she left Greece for Siberia, thanking her for being so kind as to share a few of her thoughts with the ChessChat readers:

    Yelena, welcome to ChessChat Forum and let’s start from the beginning, what was young Yelena's attitude to chess learning?

    Big interest!

    How did she get involved in this journey that still continues and apparently will continue successfully for many years to come?

    Already at the age of one year my parents gave me chess pieces as toys. For example, my dad said take this knight to mum, she will gallop on it to her job One year later my parents showed me how chess pieces move, while at the age of 3 years and 4 months they started teaching me chess for 1-2 minutes. Very soon my parents understood that I could study for 10-15 minutes. And later – forward!

    Did you grow up in Chess playing surroundings?

    Yes, of course! Always.

    How much support did you have by your family?

    They did absolutely everything they could.

    When did you first realise that Chess was going to play a major part in your life?

    At the age of 9 when I got my first bronze medal in the world championship.

    How did you manage school studies and Chess playing and training?

    Tried to go to school as rarely as possible and to do homework as less as possible J (Juniors don’t try this at home! )
    Parents were encouraging it. They understood that most school subjects WILL NEVER be useful for me. Especially for chess J

    Looking at your biographical notes, from Russia, to Israel, to Hungary, now permanently in Greece! Has moving around Europe been a positive effect in your career?

    Sure! As in any of these times we all improved in life as well I did in chess!

    Who were your Chess idols when you started playing serious Chess? who are your favourite players now?

    Were and are now: Tal, Fischer, Kasparov.

    Who was your first Chess mentor?

    My dad.

    Who do you think is the strongest Chess player of modern times?


    The one whose playing style you have been inspired by and have tried to adopt?


    The one that you always wanted to meet?

    There are too many great chess players

    Of the Chess personalities (and there are so many indeed) you have met who impressed you most?


    Tell us about your meeting with the ex world champion!

    In 1998 we were invited to a Kasparov’s press conference with my dad in out city, Tel Aviv. When it finished, leaving, my dad asked Kasparov if he remembers this little girl, on which he replied that of course he does as well as he remembers the moves in a game we played in simul in 1993 and started recitining them by heart. Then my dad tried to let Kasparov pass through the door first, but Kasparov insisted my dad does first, and my dad thanked him and said “A King is always a King”.

    Who, according to your opinion is the world's most promising young player?


    What’s the future of World chess in terms of participation, strength and popularity?

    Chess always has a good future as there are millions of people who love this game.

    It is a bit worrying but also romantic, that our Chess players don’t even get their fares paid to represent the country in the Olympiad. It’s through their own personal sacrifice and some fund raising campaigns, like the one conducted by ACF and this Forum that we send our ladies and gentlemen to represent the Gold and Green in such important international events. What’s the situation like with the Greek National Team?

    The federation pays us serious money for playing in the Olympiad as well as in Teams and Individual European championships.

    Tell us a few things about the team’s preparation for the Olympics? Do you have pre - planned openings, strategies etc or you just wait to see who’s the next opponent and respond accordingly?

    We don't have any special preparation before the Olympiad as all of us have been playing on about the same level for many years already. Yes, we have our own styles, naturally openings which each of us analyses separately.

    Greece has improved drastically since the early 80s I mean staging two Olympiads, having the No of Men and Women GM s increasing and the placing of the country so high particularly in team events is not an insignificant situation. What is the secret of this success?

    - I believe it is because people became more serious about studying chess in Greece and due to large amount of strong Open events in Greece during summer. So if you study well and a lot as well as have practice, it is definitely possible to improve!

    I was recently looking at one of your victorious games vs the ex Womens World Champion Antoanetta Stefanova! What a tenacious fight!!! Would you like to share with us one of your favourite chess games, one that you really enjoyed from the beginning to the end?

    Here's one vs GM Sergey Erenburg

    Event "Cappelle la Grande"
    Date 2006.02.19
    Result 0-1
    White Sergey Erenburg
    Black Yelena Dembo
    ECO B61
    White Elo 2573
    Black Elo 2461

    PGN Viewer


    Favourite sport (apart from Chess of course)


    Favourite team (s)

    Inter Milan

    Sports personality

    Michael Phelps

    Favourite writer (s)

    Mikhail Bulgakov.

    favourite music


    Favourite film


    And let’s finish with an advice that you would give to the junior players!

    Study all phases of chess, not just the openings!

    Yelena thanks for your time, and good luck to you and the team in Khanty!

    Thank you and best wishes,

    Last edited by Kevin Bonham; 22-09-2010 at 04:42 PM.
    ACF 3118316
    FIDE 3201457

  14. #554
    CC Grandmaster ER's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Melbourne - Australia

    The Yelena Dembo Interview Part II

    Yelena is already in Khanty this time playing her first round game... Earlier today she responded to my final set of questions...

    Coming to chess studying and teaching now. You are a teacher and you love your work! Do you teach only juniors or your teaching targets include students of all age groups?

    I teach students of all ages. Currently I have students aged 13 to 68.

    Are you strict as a teacher?

    Yes, I try to be but I also understand if my students can’t always do their homework due to studies or job

    Apart from teaching you have also contributed to Chess literature with your works. How hard is it for a chess player to concentrate on playing as well as teaching and writing?

    It is very hard, because you have to take the time for writing from studying chess yourself! But so far I managed pretty well

    Please provide us with an address for students and players who would like to talk to you about lessons and purchasing of your books!

    Yelena thank you very much for your time and good luck in the Olympiad!

    Thank you as well!

    We conclude Yelena's interview with her own words about the books she has wrote and published so far

    Quote Originally Posted by Yelena from her blog
    In the last few years I have been working as an author as well. So far I have published two books on my own and three for major publishing house Everyman Chess. Here is some info about them:

    * My first chess book, “The Very Unusual Book About Chess”, is about the middlegame and contains several interesting methods of playing this part of the game, complimented by many instructive examples by the world’s leading players (Kasparov, Anand, Kramnik, Shirov, Sutovsky etc.) on each method.

    The chapter breakdown is as follows:

    1.Gifted Moves (Gifted Ideas)

    2. Special Chapters (“Easy But Nice”)

    3. “Kasparov’s Rook”

    4. g5-g6 followed by h5-h6 in positions with opposite-side castling

    5. Kings Can Do Even The Impossible

    6. f4-f5 in the Sicilian Defence

    The book is available in English and Russian. It is 136 pages long and includes detailed verbal comments and the special “Dembo-rules”! The english version costs 22 euros, including postage & packaging.

    * My second book is titled “Conversation with a Professional Trainer – Methods of Positional Play”. The cost of this book is 22 euros, including postage & packaging.

    These two books are not available commercially and it is not possible to order them through this website either. If you are interested, you should email me directly. Payments are possible through PayPal.

    In late 2006 I started working for Everyman Chess, the most significant chess publishing house of our times. The products of our cooperation so far:

    * Play The Gruenfeld was my first opening book, released in mid-2007! It provides a complete repertoire in the Gruenfeld Defence for the player with Black.
    * Next came Fighting the Anti-King’s Indians: How to Handle White’s tricky ways of avoiding the main lines, which covers all of White’s possibilities after 1 d4 Nf6, with the exception of 2 c4, as well as advice and King’s Indian solutions to 1 Nf3 and 1 c4. The book was published in the second half of 2008.

    * My latest effort is a contribution of a few chapters in Dangerous Weapons: The King’s Indian. Other contributing authors are GM Glenn Flear and IM Richard Palliser.
    For a more detailed information in regards to her published work, please refer to Yelena's website

    BTW Yelena won her first round game! Here it is with the Greek Champion using the King's Indian Defence to overcome her opponent Tammy Choe Segarra from Puerto Rico

    PGN Viewer

    Well, Ms Segarra will know first hand that it's not easy to play against someone who has wrote a book on the KID unless of course one reads the book beforehand! At least our very own Garrett has no such a fear!
    Last edited by ER; 22-09-2010 at 04:31 AM.
    ACF 3118316
    FIDE 3201457

  15. #555
    CC Grandmaster ER's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Melbourne - Australia

    The Erik Teichmann Interview PART ONE

    FM Erik Teichmann is one of the stronger (some think he is actually the strongest) chess players in this country... He is a popular person, with a great sense of humour and at the same time one who doesn't hesitate to call things as he sees them! His interview, the first part of which is appearing here today is very interesting and as I stated a few days ago one of the best, if not the best, I have ever conducted. The interview coincided with Croydon Chess Club's Guy West Weekender in which Erik is one of the major participants! So read the interview and come down to meet him in person! (details in the tournament's thread!)

    Erik first of all thanks for your time and congratulations for your recent success (es) in almost all tournaments you have participated!
    How do you do it?

    Over the 13 month period from March last year I went from a true playing strength of ~2250 FIDE tops to perhaps 2410. Shaking off rust, and a *little* bit of work on skillset might have been worth 50 points of that; NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) is responsible for the rest. I expect to get my playing strength to 2430ish with more NLP (because that's by far the quickest option), then add around 20-30 with nutrition/energy yoga. After that I'll have to learn how to play better

    I am not expecting you to reveal to us your weaknesses (if they are any) but are you really indestructible as one (also very strong player) has called you?

    Yes and no! I'm psychologically pretty close to indestructible these days (from the NLP). But there are some weaknesses on a practical level: I'm crap at any sort of analysis, handle the clock badly, and can't play endings to save my life. I also play dodgy openings which I don't know particularly well, and in some cases don't even like or really understand. So if I fixed all that I'd be well on the path to 2500. None of this is joking, BTW, so those of you who are preparing against me have a wide choice of targets – perhaps too wide, which is why I might beat you anyway

    Let’s go back to where it all started. What was young Erik's attitude to chess learning?

    I learnt the moves at 10, was given my first book a bit before 14. Once I got that book I was addicted because I instantly loved chess – not the competitive side like many kids, but the aesthetics, history, ideas, personalities ….

    How did you get involved in this journey that still continues and apparently will continue successfully for many years to come?

    My mother's toyboy boyfriend gave me the abovementioned book (an old classic by Mason, updated by someone in the 40s or 50s)

    Did you grow up in Chess playing surroundings?

    Not as such. There were other players at school though, and I went to the local club, where I soon became = top player.

    How much support did you have by your family?

    None really. My brother played and could have got to 1800 or so if he'd stuck at it, but he had other things to do. My mum drove me to a couple of tournaments, of course

    When did you first realise that Chess was going to play a major part in your life?

    It just sort of happened without me noticing. But after my first tournament (at 15) where I had a 2200 result, it seemed like a good idea. I didn't repeat that success for about the next 20 tournaments, of course, and my first published rating was only 1930.

    How did you manage school studies and Chess playing and training?

    From 14 I played chess in all the breaks at school but it didn't get in the way as I didn't have any other hobbies in my mid/late teens Also I wasn't exactly very committed to school.

    Who were your Chess idols when you started playing serious Chess? who are your favourite players now?

    Initially Reti and Bronstein. Later on and still, Nimzowitsch (surprised?)

    Who was your first Chess mentor?

    Never had a mentor or trainer at all – I'm entirely self-taught. It can be done!

    Who do you think is the most influential Chess player of modern times?

    I don't do modern at all – I usually don't even know who's world champion or what style the top players have. But over a longer time-span, Nimzowitsch, then Fischer. I don't think history will see Kasparov as particularly influential – a bit like Lasker.

    The strongest?

    Kasparov – just look at his rating. A pity he + Fischer weren't contemporaries.

    The one whose playing style you have been inspired by and have tried to adopt?

    Nimzowitsch, though it's time to move on. I've been studying Korchnoi games recently. Lasker and Alekhine would be good. I've got a soft spot for Petrosian too, and Bronstein would be worth revisiting.

    The one that you always wanted to meet?

    I don't think I did … but as a life coach I'd have liked to have had Fischer as a client – he was worth fixing.

    Of the Chess personalities you have met who impressed you most?

    I haven't hung out with the really famous GMs except a bit with John Nunn – we played a few blitz sessions and I liked him Tony Miles was a sweetie. I'm impressed with the top end of Aus chess – I get on really well with all our 4 GMs and all the IMs here I've met. Having nice people at the top could be turned into a huge asset for the future of the game here.

    Who, according to your opinion is Australia’s most promising young player?

    Hard to say. I was very impressed by Tomek Rej at the Doeberl, and I suspect Max Illingworth may become very strong worryingly quickly, though I haven't seen him much. Closer to home Bobby Cheng has really matured style-wise over the last year or so, but if he's even a quarter as unhappy as he looks I think he'll bail out before he hits 2500. James Morris is outrageously talented but has huge focus issues with no obvious solution in sight, so it's hard to guess what will happen with him – he could go all the way or sink. Of the girls, Emma Guo will be the one who hits 2200+, I think. Alex Jule isn't a junior any more but could easily hit 2200 if she chooses.
    The promising 8 year-olds rated 1300 don't interest me.

    Who is your favourite Australian Chess player ever?

    My personal friends Guy West and Eddy Levi As players, Guy, Ian Rogers, George Xie, Solo and Chris Depasquale have impressed me in different ways.

    What’s the future of chess in Victoria in terms of participation and strength? How do you compare it with the rest of the country?

    It should be much stronger than it is.

    Suppose you had the absolute power of control in the Australian Chess Scene for one year. Name two of the most important things that you would change!

    Do whatever it takes to run more high-end tournaments, and tournaments in general. Growing up in the UK (population only 3x here) there were 2-3 tournaments to choose from every weekend, sometimes more – that's how I, and England, got strong. There should be 10 decent weekenders minimum in Victoria, similar elsewhere.
    Nationally we need 5 more normable 9-round tournaments like the Doeberl/SIO/Aus Masters. There are several resident foreigners who make running normable invitation tournaments realistic.
    And ...
    Educate people that non-juniors are worthwhile. Whenever I win another big weekender, there's more excitement about some 1500 kid who beat a couple of 1800s. This creates a culture where adults don't believe they can have huge successes, or that it would matter if they do. I call myself Victoria's Most Promising Up-and-Coming Player and I fully intend to make Bobby and James work very hard to knock me off top spot once I get there!

    And two of those you would leave as they are!

    Keep David Cordover out of positions of influence (and yes you can publish this). His business ethics are very different from mine, and I think it would be a disaster if Chess Victoria was dancing to his tune.
    No other strong opinions

    Share with us one or two of your favourite chess games that you really enjoyed from the beginning to the end!

    Here are my 2 wins over IMs from Ballarat this year. They're very different games but they're both efforts I'm proud of. Interestingly the Solomon game is my favourite of the two, even though Ian Rogers described it (rightly) as “about the most unpublishable game I've ever seen”!

    Solomon-Teichmann, 0-1 Round 5
    Very cat and mouse! (the mouse ended up eating the cat ...)

    PGN Viewer
      and lost on time 0-1 but could safely resign.

    Teichmann-West, Round 7
    (As I had 5.5/6 and Guy was one of many on 5, he needed to play for a win – a draw was going to leave me =1st and him around =5th.)

    PGN Viewer


    Favourite sport (apart from Chess of course)

    I play go (the Japanese board game), table tennis, squash. I like watching cricket.

    Favourite team (s)

    North Melbourne AFL team if I have to choose one. I wear the scarf ...

    Sports personality

    Any spin bowler

    Favourite writer (s)
    Stephen Batchelor (writes Buddhist books). If you want someone mainstream, Bill Bryson.

    favourite music
    Rosenstolz, Joe Jackson, Paul Kelly, Manu Chao, flamenco, Andean if it's done well, a lot of classical, anything that my choir is singing, anything that activates manipura chakra

    Favourite film
    Hi Fidelity

    favourite tv show
    I haven't had a TV since I was 16

    And let’s finish with an advice that you would give to the junior players!
    Personally I find adult players equally important and much more interesting than juniors (It would take a lot to persuade me to coach juniors, for example) so most of this applies to all players regardless of age:

    • Don't play much blitz. It will make you a worse player. I put this first for a reason! I have one blitz session every 2-3 weeks – that's a sensible maximum
    • Ignore the latest trends
    • Play competition rather than study
    • Never accept a draw against a stronger player unless it gets you into the prizes
    • Get a chess buddy who you play and study with regularly (every week is good) Replace him/her as soon as one of you isn't pulling your weight
    • Ignore anything your parents and friends say about chess that doesn't work for you. Don't play less – or more – because of them
    • Have a life beyond chess – it'll make you play better and stay playing after most of your contemporaries have packed it in
    • Give up the stuff in your life that you really don't need, e.g. TV, facebook, beer, and use the time for other things
    • Look after your health and fitness. It's worth at least 100 rating points, usually more.
    Last edited by ER; 27-09-2010 at 11:58 PM.
    ACF 3118316
    FIDE 3201457

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