During the Glorney last week, Mihailo was busy interviewing some of those involved – updated to include interview with ECU President Zurab Azmaiparashvili.
Chess Player and Coach, FM David Fitzsimons
Q: What do you think the biggest challenge for young chess players to overcome is?
A: They need to forget about ratings and results and just focus on playing the best move on every turn and enjoying the game. Improve your play and results will come. Only you can control how well you play, so that should be the focus of your attention.
Q: What advice would you give to a player starting out?
A: Play and study as much chess as possible. Read as many books as you can. Analyse your own games yourself and only then check with an engine. Try to learn three new things from each game. Record the time spent on each move by yourself and your opponent.
Don’t offer draws. It’s a silly thing to do and it can easily distract you from playing the best moves. If you’re better or worse then there’s no point in offering a draw. If it’s equal, play it out. You never lose; you either win or learn.
Q: What do you enjoy most about coaching?
A: I enjoy helping players reach their potential and seeing their reactions when they learn something new. It is always rewarding to help instill a passion for the game and a thirst for knowledge in a player.
Q: Are you satisfied with this event as a whole?
A: It was excellent. Everything ran seamlessly and the venue was fantastic.
Q: What is your proudest moment as a coach?
A: The Irish squad results in the Glorney, Gilbert, Robinson, and Stokes competitions this year. I’ve never worked with a more passionate, hardworking, and deserving group of players. They are a credit to themselves, their parents, their coaches and their country. The future of Irish chess is in very good hands!
Chief Arbiter Peter Purland
Q: How long have you been Chief Arbiter of the Glorney Gilbert Cup?
A: Since 2010.
Q: The Glorney used to be for many countries, rather than just Britain and Ireland. How many do you remember to have played in the Glorney at once?
A: I can remember that at least nine countries played at one time, including France and many other European countries.
Q: Do you think the Glorney has changed a lot over time, and if so, has it changed for the better?
A: The venue has improved over time and the new boards and clocks are good for broadcasting the games. But I do think that continental countries’ connections have changed for the worse. I think that the host country should pay for the expenses of the other competing countries, because the cost of going and staying at the hosting country is very high. I believe this is why many of the other countries dropped out.
Q: Who is the best player you have seen play in one of your tournaments? And who is your favourite player now?
A: In my time I have seen many, many good players; I wouldn’t pick out one player but many.
Q: Who will win the rugby World Cup?
A: If I was a betting man, I’d definitely go for New Zealand, and I’d love to say Wales, but unfortunately I can’t. Ireland has a good chance too, based off their recent successes.
Q: What is the best tournament you’ve ever run, and based off your experience as an arbiter, how would you rate the Glorney?
A: If a tournament is based off how good the players in it are then the best has to be Gibraltar. The Glorney is a very good event. It’s probably the only time all four nations come together to play chess. This year was the best Irish performance I’ve ever seen.
Q: Do you have anything to add?
A: I believe that one of the most important things is that we as senior arbiters mustn’t only think of the best chess players, but all of them. So we must encourage the local congresses and average to keep playing and enjoying the game.
Scottish coach GM Matthew Turner
Q: Do you recall any memories playing in Ireland?
A: I remember playing in Bunratty. There’s always a blitz at the end of the tournament and I remember reaching the final once and playing against Michael Adams.
Q: Who is the strongest player you’ve ever played?
A: I beat Levon Aronian on New Year’s Day once.
Q: If you didn’t become a chess player, what do you think your job now would be? Would you do any other sports?
A: I did economics in University so I probably would have gone into finance. I was never really involved in sport, but I do hashing at my local pub. Hashing is running by a trail of flowers from your pub until they lead you back to the pub where you reward yourself with a pint. So it’s a drinking club with a running problem!
Q: Who was your chess role model growing up?
A: I never really had a particular role model. I was coached by a local player. My favourite player, however, was Sergey Dolmatov because he never really seemed to be looking at his board!
Q: Do you have anything else to add?
A: It really is fantastic to be here in Ireland for the Glorney. I feel that Ireland has set a new standard for the event.
Father of Two English Representatives, CM Tim Headlong
Q: Did you play chess when you were younger? And if not, what do you to encourage your children to play chess?
A: I have been a chess player since 1972. I regularly take my children to tournaments.
Q: Is life at home more exciting now that your children represent their country?
A: I wouldn’t say that it’s more exciting at home but I’m proud that my children represent their country.
Q: Is your role in your children’s chess life big?
A: Not so much but I try and take them to the club as often as I can.
Q: How do you think your children benefit from playing chess?
A: Well, it encourages my son to sit still! I also believe it helps him concentrate a lot better.
Q: Is this the biggest tournament in which your children have been involved? And how does this tournament differ from the others they’ve played?
A: My son did play in the World Schools Championships in Greece, but this is far more enjoyable.
Irish Under 12’s Representative, Adam Murphy
Q: How do feel about getting 6/6 points in your first Glorney?
A: I feel absolutely over the moon. I haven’t felt this good in ages!
Q: How are you going to celebrate your perfect score?
A: I’m not so sure about that yet. I’m stuck for words. I should have a lot of fun at the blitz tonight.
Q: What do you enjoy most about playing chess?
A: I like it because it tests the mind more than anything. It makes me feel like the commander of an army.
Q: What do you do to improve?
A: I study, but I try to make it as fun as possible, so that I can enjoy myself. I play online, but not so much blitz, and rather ten or so minute matches and correspondence chess.
Q: Who do you aspire to be?
A: Magnus Carlsen, because he has achieved so much and became a grandmaster at a very young age.
Q: Is there anyone you’d like to thank?
A: I would like to thank my family for all their support, my coach Michael Crowe and everyone at my club, Naomh Barróg.
ECU President Zurab Azmaiparashvili GM
Q: What are your duties as European Chess Union President?
A: Represent the Union and its members. Promote chess and assisting federations and players. Raise new funds for chess and create development projects. Safeguard transparency, run the Union business plan, raise the ECU awareness.
Q: Is there anyone in particular in today’s chess world that you admire, and why?
A: I admire the pragmatism and coolness of Kirsan and energy of Garry! I think their synthesis would give new impetus to the development of chess worldwide, especially in the area of its application in the educational system!
Q: Starting out as a chess player, did you have any idea how far your career would take you?
A: I was not thinking about anything, just liked to play chess. Because I started playing at age 4! I just didn’t like to lose, and always cried. Well, when I matured I was ashamed to cry and after losing the game I was breaking pens or my fist hit the wall!
Q: What do you enjoy most about being the President of the European Chess Union?
A: I wish to reach our targets and make a stronger European Chess Union. A Union of the many. Meet new people, make new friends, learn from them much more and use this knowledge for future activities and assisting chess projects all around the Europe!
Q: Do you think chess events like the Glorney are important in junior chess, and why?
A: Yes they are, because they raise the interest and the competition between juniors. Especially when they are organised in a high level as in Ireland this year! Young people have much more motivation for progress and better results.