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Monday, May 11, 2009

STAR Interview: Natalia POGONINA

New Series: Women Star Interviews!

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 - and in her busy schedule had time to answer my questions:

1. What is your place and date of birth?

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
Championship 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 chess piece?

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 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.

Interview made by Alexandra Kosteniuk
Women's World Champion

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  • At May 13, 2009 at 2:23 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...


    Congratulations on your promotion of chess via your web site, I'm sure it takes a lot of time doing it, especially in 2 languages.

    I'm sure many women and girls view you as a positive role model, keep it up!

  • At December 31, 2009 at 11:20 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    How sad for future female players that even chess champs think men have greater 'natural' gifts, while at the same time acknowledging a major difference in their lifestyles.

    How many male chess champs get asked how they juggle their game and taking care of their wife and children? How many of them are expected to? It's such an obvious, major challenge towards women in any profession, game or sport, and it's staring us in the face. How pathetic that so few can acknowledge it, while in its midst or as an observer.

  • At January 27, 2010 at 5:00 PM , Blogger Mizantropie said...


    I love this interview, it's just great!
    Greetings from Mexico!
    Take Care

    Long Life Chess

  • At April 2, 2010 at 4:56 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    hi thanks alexandra for posting this interview?
    this proves the human potential in women
    all the best for pogonina
    sanjay k

  • At April 19, 2010 at 3:07 AM , Anonymous Hans Hildebrand said...

    Thank you Alexandra for the profiles and blog on the great women players in Chess! I would love to see a woman win the world championship over the men. Now is the time. Warmest Wishes, Hans in NH-USA

  • At May 15, 2010 at 3:11 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Спасибо чемпионки мира за интересное интервью с Наташей Погониной! Я горжусь Наташей и её дружбой! Наташа Погонина очень замечательная женщина! Она действительно щас настоящая яркая Звёздочка на шахматном небосклоне! И большое спасибо Наташе что она всеми силами и средствами старается поднять популярность женских шахмат! Она пример для подражания всем шахматисткам которые мечтают о высоких результатах! Удачи и Побед во всём! С уважением Юрий Волков.

  • At May 29, 2012 at 5:02 AM , Anonymous bensdoing said...

    Hi alexandra ...

    thanks for posting the interview.
    I was very impressed with the women who are good at playing chess
    success always for you!


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