21.06.2005 Women's chess. Olga Alexandrova

Judit Polgar is the only female chessplayer who plays at the level of the best chess players of the world, she stands head and shoulders above the other female chessplayers. What’s the secret of her phenomenon?

I think that this question has been discussed many times. Would you like me to repeat once again a story about Judit’s father and his system? Judit is gifted by nature. Since the very childhood she has been focused only on chess. I think, if all female chessplayers took chess from the childhood as seriously as she did, we would probably have more examples of such a kind. I think, women are able to do this!

After the birth of a child usually comes a period of decline. She had a different situation. How can this be explained?

Who has told you that after the birth of a child comes a decline? I see quite the contrary examples. Viktorija Cmilyte has two children, Monika Socko also has two children, Marta Zielinska has three (!!) children… There are many other examples. Did they have worse results after the birth of the children? I would even notice that the situation is quite the opposite. Judit has just proved this fact once more.

How do you think, why Alexandra Kosteniuk manages to combine a chessplayer’s career with shootings for fashion magazines? What helps her avoiding the repetition of Kournikova’s fate?

On the one hand, Alexandra had a good financial support since her childhood, which allowed her to work with strong trainers and to reach a high level, and also to play chess more risky not thinking about the prizes and money, which is typical for the most of other female chessplayers. On the other hand, I can suppose that Alexandra is very hard-working. Besides, she has a strong competitive spirit!

Can women's chess be a professional sport?

It’s possible. However, girls have to be real professionals to make it possible, which means that they have to work and play at a proper level, unlike a common situation – I stay at home and do nothing and then I arrive to a tournament, whack! – I am a professional!

Whom of the female chessplayers do you consider to be real professionals?

The world champion, Chinese girls… I think there are about 30 of them. It’s impossible to name more now, when chess is almost not financed, you need to play frequently and successfully to earn good money, as in any kind of sport. You won’t achieve anything just keeping 2300 rating and waiting for something. However, what does it mean “to earn good money”? It depends on a country. Playing in Bundesliga, I earn as much as a friend of mine a year. So, women’s chess is quite an estimable profession in our country.

It’s certainly more interesting to broadcast playing girls instead of sullen men. Do you think this fact can be used as a pretext for creation a chess TV show to popularize chess?

It’s possible, but it’s better not to show women playing for 6 hours. There should be more action…

What attracts you in chessplayers? Is the appearance of a “favorite” important? Judging by appearance whom of the male chessplayers do you like?

Frankly speaking, on the whole, I do not like male chessplayers very much. I do not want to speak about all the chessplayers as I have friends among them and with some I have sympathy… But about 70 percent of male chessplayers are absolutely unattractive people. Those of the 70 percent I’m speaking about are typical chessplayers, for whom there exists nothing in this world except chess. But there are also atypical chessplayers, who are well-rounded and interesting people. I do not have any favorites judging by appearances, but I certainly have some favorites whose play I really like. Sometimes it’s a pleasure to go through interesting and integral games. Who is good-looking? I’ve never thought about this! I judge about a person on the whole, and his inner world is more important for me. I’ve never been interested in the outer shell apart from the resource of a person.

Do you think that not only professional but also good personal relationships between a trainer and his student help to get a better result? Or this can just be an obstacle?

I think good relationships with a trainer are important for women (I do not even mention the cases when a trainer is your boyfriend or husband), because psychological aspect in women’s chess is much more important than in men’s.

Does women’s chess differ from men’s, if it does, then how?

Yes, it differs. I think that the point is in the difference of male and female physiology. It’s well known that man’s and woman’s brain is organized differently. Women’s chess is more emotional and unstable. One day a female chessplayer can play a game at the level of 2600 and the next day she would probably get on the wrong side of the bed and play a 2100 game. I think that men are tougher.

Photo from ChessBase archive

Questions were asked by Misha Savinov.

This article is published with permission of Association of Chess Professionals

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