Interview with chess Grandmaster Gildardo Garcia

Alex:   At what age did you start playing chess?

Gildardo:  I was 9 years old when I started playing chess.  


Alex:   Did you always want to become a grandmaster or was it something you developed  over time?

Gildardo:  Not really. I just began playing and enjoying the game. Since very young I was very competitive and I never liked to lose. I was  analyzing games and  mistakes.  I became a strong self-critic. 


Alex:   What did you have to do to become a grandmaster?

Gildardo:  It was a long way, in my original country, Colombia there were no tournaments that would accomplish these objectives. I had to travel a lot looking for opportunities to get that dream title.


Alex:   What chess players inspired you?

Gildardo:  Well, I think Morphy at the beginning. After that I studied Alekhine’s  and  Bottvinnik’s best game books. But I think I belong to the Fischer’s era, when the famous match of the Century when he challenged Spassky 1972. Fischer has definitively inspired me to play and compete in chess more than anyone else.


Alex:   What is your goal for the future?

Gildardo:  Actually I am more dedicated to teach chess and promote the game among the youth. Of course I didn’t abandon chess competitions, I’ve loved the game all my life. My goal is to help young players to grow and improve their chess skills. I am also convinced that chess helps students in every aspect of their life.


Alex:   How many tournaments do you play in a year?

Gildardo:  I play between 3 or 4 tournaments each year. Active players play 12 and more tournaments a year. If you don’t participate in a lot of tournaments you lose training and it’s harder to improve your score.


Alex:  How much time do you dedicate to chess every day?

Gildardo:  Well, not much now. Prior to become a chess teacher I used to study 8 hours a day including practice.


Alex:   You teach children at the scholastic level in Fairfield County. If any of them would like to pursue chess in a serious manner, what would be your advice?

Gildardo:  Good question, experience shows that American mentality is so much different than ours. I have seen a lot of students with a great talent for chess. unbelievably smart. Parents takes chess like a good medium for their children to improve in many ways They respect chess like a good and healthy activity for their kids and so on. Most of the relevant good chess players coming from our chess schools are from different ethnic origins than American one. A good example is the amazing Hikaru Nakamura who is right now the number 7 in the world. This kind of thinking can change only when people and parents understand and can accept that chess is an important activity in life, like an artist in music, painting, science, etc. After that we will be able to start talking about methods and chess careers.

Therefore my recommendation is to start dedicating good amount of hours of chess theory study, practice by registering in a renown chess club, spent time and money travelling to prestigious tournaments, hire a coach if affordable, learn about how to handle chess software, like chess base and others. Build up your own chess database with your personal games. Review them and write your own analysis. Keep a track of chess grand master games and the chess novelties, etc. Make friend that would be interest in mastering the game.


Alex:    What are some of your most memorable experiences from the tournaments you played?

Gildardo:  Well I played in eleven chess Olympiads, The Fide World cup in Groningen, Holland, 1991. I have been eleven times National champion from my country of born, Colombia and many others experiences. Individually I think, to get to  beat Grand Masters at the level of : Emil Sutovsky once , Ilya Smirin, tying with Kortchnoi once, defeating Shabalov once, Alexander Golding once and many other good chess players is quite remarkable.  I keep good records against famous and strong chess players. For example I became second place tied in the U.S Open, 1991 and tied for first in the World open chess tournament in Philadelfia 1987.


Alex:    Do you have other sports you enjoy playing or hobbies?

Gildardo:   I used to play Soccer, run, swim. Right now I only costume to walk. Of course, talking about hobbies I like to read very much and watch movies, especially classic ones.


Last night, at the beautiful new home Chess Club of   Fairfield County, we had the delightful honor to meet one of the oldest grand masters and theoreticians of the royal game of chess. After a lifetime of playing the game, Yuri Averbakh, 89, is still very excited about the intricacies and interesting positions arising in chess. He revealed to us his ‘philosophy’ of the game by puzzling and un-puzzling us with endgame exercises.

  “Chess,” he said, “is not a fight anymore. At the beginning of chess, when the game was played only by royalty who  tried to outmaneuver each other like on the battlefield, the pieces on the board represented echelons of the army. Now, chess should be regarded as a theater stage where each piece is engaged in many types of plays. They could be comedies, dramas, tragedies, even a ballet of the pieces. That’s how children should be taught today; the beauty of the game not the battle of it. Girls, for example, don’t like to fight so for them the game of chess would not be so attractive if not presented in the light of being an art and as an opportunity to develop themselves as human beings.”

His memory is still very sharp relating to us funny ditties about his encounters with the famous grandmasters and former world champions he played along his long illustrious career. He played in the most prestigious tournaments of many countries confronting players such as Bronstein, Bobby Fischer, Euwe, Tal, Petrosian, Spassky, Karpov, Kasparov. He mentioned to us the game he played against Bobby Fischer, when the latter was only fifteen years of age.

“On move 20, I hear draw from Bobby Fischer? With only ten minutes on the clock for both of us, in an unclear position and having to reach move 40 before we get any more time, I agreed.” “After the game,” he continued, “I heard people ask Bobby Fischer why he proposed a draw. He said because I didn’t want to lose to a grandmaster. When the same question was posed to me I answered: because I didn’t want to lose to a boy.”

          Another encounter was with classical music composer Prokofiev who was a great chess player. Mr. Averbakh recounts how he had to go to the dentist one morning from school. Since he had to wait a long time in the clinic, the pain went away, but he didn’t want to go back to school or home. Instead he chose to go to the chess club. There he met the composer and played a couple of games. Mr. Averbakh lost the first game but in the second game he knew he had the upper hand. That’s when Prokofiev, afraid of losing to a boy, suggested that they postpone the game till the next day, since it’s late. However, “Prokifiev never showed up,” Mr. Averbakh was saying as we he was laughing at the same time.

At the end, during the questions and answers part of the evening, NECA president, Alex Eydelman asked the grandmaster Averbakh who he would love to play today from all the chess players he met along the years. Mr. Averbakh answered without hesitation: “the classical players, Steinitz, Lasker,



Q&A with Alex Eydelman and Grandmaster Sergei Kudrin on February 15, 2011


Alex : Sergei, you have been successfully coaching many kids, many of which have Become Connecticut and National champions. In 2002 your former student, Jennifer Shahade, won the U.S. Women's Chess Championship in Seattle, Washington. Are there any tips or advice that you could give to the parents who are planning on registering their kids for the Connecticut State Championship April 2 , 2011 K-8 CT State Scholastic Championships


Sergei: Childrenshould be informed that recording their moves on paper is very critical at a young age. This way, the kid is able to go over their games with a coach and review their mistakes. They are more likely to remember their mistakes while analyzing the game due to the fact that it had been previously written down. Of course, kids do not want to write down their moves because it is boring and may even be distracting. But, it will really help them later on when reviewing their games and it will become a habit once they continuously do it. One last reason is that in the Scholastic tournaments, specifically in the Open Sections, it is required that the kids write down their moves. Buying chess books and working independently with your child is very beneficial. Kids should be studying chess problems every day for about 30 minutes. Polgar’s 5334 Chess Problems is a great beginner/intermediate book. The exercises in the book will strengthen the students’ tactical skills, teach how the pieces work together, and keep their brain working as they engage rapidly into the book. Tactics, Tactics, Tactics! Let your child solve as many problems as possible. There can never be enough practice. Let your child review games very quickly. In doing this, they will become more familiar with different positions throughout the game. Kids should expand their knowledge and learn different moves and know what is available. As far as I see, kids do not spend enough time studying the end game. Many parents and coaches emphasize on the openings, but the end game part is very important too. The simple checkmate positions, such as (Rook and King vs. Rook; Queen and King vs. King; Rook endings and Pawn endings) should be kept in the back of the players mind and improvement is needed. Reviewing famous chess player’s games, such as, Steinitz, Morphy, Lasker, Capablanca, will benefit your child’s learning experience.


I wish all of the Connecticut Scholastic chess players good luck!