STAR Interview: Natalia POGONINA
I admire many women chess players. Some of them are very serious, some are funny, some are simply exceptional. In this regular series of my blog I will introduce you to exceptional women who love to play chess. They are all successful women for whom a game of chess means something special.
The first chess star that I have the pleasure to introduce to you in more detail is Natalia Pogonina from Russia. Natalia is currently rated no 3 in Russia and no 14 in the world. She just lanched her new web-site - www.pogonina.com and in her busy schedule had time to answer my questions:
I was born on March 9, 1985, in Vladivostok, Russia.
2. How did you start playing chess?
My grandfather taught me how to play chess when I was about 5-6 years old.
3. What are your main achievements in chess?
Adult chess: Bronze medal at the European Women Chess Championship (2009) and North Urals Cup (2007), Winner of the Moscow Open (2009), Gold Medal at the the First International Mind Sports Games (2008), Rudenko Memorial (2007), Bykova Memorial (2006)
Junior chess: Three-times European champion (U16, twice U18), Bronze medal at the World Championship (U18)
4. What is your peak rating?
2501 as of April 2009
5. Do you consider yourself a professional chess player?
Yes, chess is my primary occupation.
6. How often do you study chess? How many hours a day?
I am a very active tournament player, so there is not much time left for studies. About 4 hours during free days, a bit more during training sessions.
7. Do you have a chess trainer or you study chess by yourself?
My chess coach is IM Pavel Lobach, plus two seconds GM Vladimir Georgiev and IM Vladislav Akselrod.
8. What do you study most: openings, middle game or endgames?
I pay attention to all stages of the game. In general, it's impossible to gain an understanding of an opening without analyzing the emerging middlegame positions.
9. Do you prefer to play chess with men or with women?
It's equally pleasant.
10. When did you feel happiest about being a chess player? Why?
It's hard to pick one moment, there are so many of them. The European Chess U16 was probably the most memorable since then I became European Champion for the first time in my life.
11. If you had not become a chess player what career would you have chosen?
I would probably have been a sportsman since I love all kinds of sports.
12. How many brothers and sisters are there in your family?
Unfortunately, I don't have any brothers or sisters.
13. What's your home?
I live at Saratov, but don't spend too much time there since I'm constantly traveling from one tournament to another.
14. What is your favorite chess book?
I like many chess books, so it's hard to name just one. Among the ones that I've recently read I liked Sergei Rublevsky's selection of his best games.
15. What is your favorite non-chess book?
I love reading, my favorite writer is Antoine de Saint Exupéry.
16. Whom do you consider the best chess player in history?
Once again, it's so hard to name the greatest. Let me try. .
17. What is the best game you have ever played?
I'm not sure that the notion "best game" exists at all. Each game is remarkable and instructive in one way or the other.
18. What do you like doing besides playing chess?
I like taking pictures, traveling, singing and lots of other activities.
19. Do you believe in the future of women's chess?
I strongly believe that women's chess is going to progress since women are very attractive and interesting.
20. What is the best chess country in the world?
21. What is the best organized women's tournament you took part in?
Annual North Urals Cup, I guess.
22. What is your dream in chess?
It's a secret. Dreams tend not to come true when revealed to everyone.
23. What is your favorite ?
I love all of them.
24. What is your favorite place in the world?
Kamchatka, since I spent my childhood there.
25. What is your favorite kind of food?
Okroshka. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Okroshka for details.
26. How do you manage to combine playing chess with studying in the University?
Luckily enough, the University's authorities support me a lot.
27. What are your future plans for this year?
I'm in such a crazy period right now that it's very hard to make plans, but I will decide on them soon.
28. What do you think we should do in order to make women's chess more attractive to the media?
Chess players should be more active. Promote chess and themselves on the Internet, participate in advertisements. Play exciting exhibition matches. It's vital not to confine yourself to the game only. Apart from playing in tournaments and studying one should remember about the interests of chess fans and do his/her best to make chess more popular.