About Natalia
Our Team
Chess Links
Play Chess
Pogonina's Chess Shop
Contact Us


 Follow Natalia on Twitter:

Please help Natalia promote chess by making a donation:


Link to

Play chess at ChessOk Biggest Online Chess Games Database - made an easier way to find Skrill casinos lists the best online casinos for Finnish gamblers. For more information visit:  

For casino and games top lists visit online casino dollar to find the news source for the gambling industry.

Sweden is now a regulated market, which means that as a player you can only play at casinos with a license. See all regulated
casinos in Sweden by Mr casinova.

To find the best casino in Norway take look at
norske casino at CasinoPiloten.

Find the best Norwegian casinobonus at

Get exclusive access to a
huge range of free spins & no deposit casino offers with Spin Bonus.

You'll find new online casinos in Finland if you visit
parhaat netticasinot

Try the exhilarating new 20p Roulette game.
Play it online at thecasinodb and find casinos to play for real money.

Get the best casino bonus information with Casino Gorilla.

Casino lovers in Finland should visit Casino PWR, a unique guide to gambling in Finnish.

Play casino in New Jersey and find the best NJ Casinos.

Online Casino
in Mexico is growing rapidly. Find the best bonuses and promotions today.

Visit SR Casino - the fastest growing comparision site for casino online.

Italian slot lovers - play Book of Ra and get the big wins.

Visit Casinomir United Kingdom for top casino sites, game guides and the best UK offers.

Chess games at Gametop For you that want to find online casino strategies, guides and a good casino bonus!


What's your FIDE rating?

What should Natalia do to make more interesting for you?

Who is your favorite active top player?

Poker or chess: what do you like more?

What's the largest monetary chess prize you ever won?

How much time per day do you spend on chess-related activities?

Do you have a special chess mascot (pen, badge, toy, etc.)?

Which time control do you prefer for over-the-board tournaments?

The strongest women's chess team in the world is

What is the strongest national chess team in the world?

Will Magnus Carlsen's rating reach FIDE 2900?

Do you think you can become a GM?

Exclusive interview with ex-FIDE World Chess Champion Alexander Khalifman

User Rating: / 1
Written by Administrator   
Monday, 19 July 2010

Alexander Khalifman (born January, 18, 1966) is a top Russian chess grandmaster, renowned chess author and coach.

Most famous for becoming a FIDE world Chess Champion in 1999 after
defeating the following opponents in the knock-out event:
D. Barua (0:1 1:0 (2.5:1.5)), G. Kamsky (1:0 0:1 (0.5:1.5)), K. Asrian (1/2 0:1), B. Gelfand (1/2 1/2 (1:0 1/2)), J. Polgar  (1:0 1/2) and L. Nisipeanu (1/2 1/2 1:0 0:1 1:0 1/2). The final amtch agiainst V. Akopian: (1:0 1/2 0:1 1:0 1/2 1/2 ).

Learnt how to play chess at the age of six. Became an IM in 1986, GM - in 1990.

Two-times USSR junior champion (1982 and 1984), European junior champion in 1985.
World team champion in 1997, team gold at Chess Olympiads in 1992, 2000, 2002.

Highest FIDE rating - 2702. Current rating: 2625

Winner of multiple international tournaments, including New York Open 1990, Hastings 1995, Hoogeven 2000, Russian Higher League 2005 and many others.

We would like to thank Alexander for being so kind as to answer's questions:

1) Any qualified chess player knows about your opening manuals according to Anand, Kramnik, now also Karpov. Taking into account that the series emerged at the time of Kasparov's dominance, why is there not a single book on how to play according to Garry? Is it something personal, difference  in chess styles, or some other reason?

"Now also according to Karpov" sounds strange. This was my very first attempt, and not a very succesful one, let me confess.

As to Kasparov - I have already mentioned that in the introduction to one of the series. Neither hostility, nor difference in styles have anything to do with it. Garry Kasparov has always been a very ambitious player, fighting for the initiative since move 1. Imitating his style when building up an opening repertoire without having his skills and knowledge can only lead to disappointment. Opening books won't help here.

 One of Alexander Khalifman's books

2) You are a player of exceptional caliber: not a single loss in a rated game since Oct. 2008 while playing in the World Cup, European Championship, Moscow Open, Russian Higher League - that says a lot. Nonetheless, it is widely known that you have dramatically reduced the number of tournaments you participate in and also often agree to early draw offers. Should we blame it on your physical condition, lack of motivation, or something else?


Things are going quite ok. My age takes its toll though. Many of my peers and even younger grandmasters have already quit competitive chess. I sometimes play to enjoy the game and don't worry too much about the results.


3) You are the head of your own Chess School. Do you like coaching? What do you consider to be your main achievement in this field? Not necessarily the names of the most famous students, but something truly pleasant to remember?


No matter whether it is good or bad, my activities at the School are hardly related to coaching. Most of the time is spent on technical and administrative issues. I can't say I am enjoying it, but just haven't found an alternative yet. As to my coaching achievements: I would rather keep silent, let the people whom I assisted talk about it.

Alexander Khalifman giving a simul for kids

4) What is the perfect team for a professional chess player? Are you more of an individual researcher, or a person used to seconds, coaches, etc.?


The answer to the first question, strictly speaking, depends a lot on the financial means. Of course, anyone could benefit from the support of different specialists: from a computer expert to a personal fitness trainer. However, the reality is often rather harsh and everything comes down to having enough cash. In the perfect case all such matters, including attracting sponsors, finding contracts, etc. should be handled not by the chess player, but by his/her manager (agent, administrator - call them whatever way you like). The problem is that in this environment there are many outright charlatans who claim being super-dope managers, while all they know is how to deprive their proteges of part of their earnings. I would like to warn all young chess players: watch out for such people! It should also be said that not all the managers are crooks, there are also positive examples. Alas, there is no algorithm that allows to tell one of them from another. 


Regarding my own career, most of the time I was on my own both in the chess and organizational senses. Of course, from time to time Gennady Efimovich Nesis helped me, but he had a very-very busy lifestyle, so I had to handle most of the issues on my own. It's hard to say whether that's good or bad. At least, all my achievements and mistakes are mine, not someone else's.


5) Unless it is is a secret, what computers do you use when analyzing (e.g. writing books)? Supercomputers or regular PCs + super GM skills?


Of course, it would have been nice to check some variations on a supercomputer. Alas, I don't quite understand where and how to arrange that. So, purchasing every year a brand new model that will soon become one of many seems irrational to me. Therefore, I am working on a rather ordinary computer, trying to substitute the shortcomings of computer "brains" with my own. 

 Can a notebook and a PC defeat Alexander assisted by a bottle of mineral water?

6) It is obvious that chess won't be solved in the nearest future. Anyway, do you think this game is a draw?

Absolutely sure it is. Even by a large margin, i.e. Black has a lot of opening variations that don't lose.

7) As far as I know, you are familiar with the games of correpondence players and have judged a few of their "best games" contests. What is you attitude towards this type of chess? Have you ever played correspondence games?


I am quite interested, but have never tried it myself. "Long advanced chess" (correspondence, in my opinion, is an outdated term) is one of the main contributors to opening theory. It is surprising, by the way, that many colleagues of my - elite and semi-elite active players - underestimage the importance of advanced chess games for opening preparation.


8) In a standard time control double round robin featuring all the world champions (including FIDE World Champions): Spassky, Karpov, Kasparov, Khalifman, Kramnik, Anand, Ponomariov, Kasimzhanov, Topalov - whom would you name as top-3 favorites?


The rating-list says it all. I don't see why I shouldn't agree with it.

 Anand vs. Khalifman ursblick (Urs )
Playing against his greatest nemesis - Viswanathan Anand

9) Many amateurs (especially non-USSR born) are addicted to studying chess theory. Another popular and opposite view expressed by some pros is that one shouldn't spend much time on the opening until he/she becomes a GM, it makes sense to spend time on other areas. What is your opinion?


The truth, as always, is in between. Without studying openings one will never become a GM, analyzing only openings is also silly. No matter what engines your are using during preparation, at some point you have to play on your own.

One shouldn't run to extremes in either chess or in general.


10) If you were to describe yourself in one sentense in a way that would distinguish you from any other chess World Champion, what would you say?


Easier to do it in one word. Plowman (meaning a workaholic, someone whose success is attributed to hard work as opposed to natural talent -

I'm so sorry I'll have to crush you...

11) Did you have any chess idols?


In the common sense of this word - no. But I tried to learn from many great chess players. Fischer and Tal probably had the largest influence on me.

12) People say you don't like playing blitz. Is it true? Wht is it so, do you think blitz is senseless, harmful for one's chess?


It is not my cup of tea, playing with hands. I prefer using my head.


However, I am not condemning people who like it. Anyway, one shouldn't run to extremes in blitz too.

A rapid game against Anatoly Karpov
Source: ChessTigers

13) What do you think about Fischer random, do you consider it to be an alternative to classical chess?


No, I don't think so and find many of the initial positions ridiculous and artificial. Once again, if someone likes it, let it be.


14) Do you read chess books? If yes, what would you recommend from the ones you have recently read?


Let's say, I read them from time to time. A lot of different books are published. Unfortunately, also many volumes of outright trash with ambitious titles. From all the books I have read during the past few years I will probably recommend Dorfman's two-volume series. Some statements there are arguable, but, at least, it's a new interesting view on a number of problems.


15) I wouldn't like to ask you "Ilyumzhinov or Karpov", let's put it this way: what are, in your opinion, the most critical problems of modern chess? Where are we going the right way, and where are we at a dead end?


If I was to reply seriously to this question, it would require not one page, not even 10. There are too many problems. However, I am not the one to paint everything black: the most important FIDE chess events are being held on time, although not at the due level.


Will try to answer briefly. The main concern is lack of professionalism. Management and PR should be handled by specialists in these fields, rules of events - by respectable and experienced chess players. Meanwhile, the organization men who have been happily keeping executive spots in the FIDE management for years are not qualified in either of these areas, all they specialize in is election intrigues.


I am not optimistic about both candidates. Kirsan Nikolaevich might have had some success if he was ready to make some decisive steps towards modifying his team. But he, as it seems, is not going to do it. So, in the future we will stay in the same swamp as now. Anatoly Evgenievich, as any great champion should be, is a great egocentrical. It is not even a sortcoming, but a trait that is hardly compatible with being FIDE president. And, if we just imagine that Karpov wins, he and his main ally will start arguing who has the larger...I mean, who has more chess achievements (this scenario is more than possible), and a total havoc will happen.

Anatoly Karpov, Susan Polgar, Alexander Khalifman
Source: Susan Polgar's blog

16) Each chess player has gone through tournaments when he/she couldn't find his/her own game. What, do you think, are the best ways of getting out of this condition?


Seriously speaking, the question is too general.


First of all, the reasons behind this can be different. Sometimes your head seems to be malfunctioning, but you still score some points. In other situations eveything seems to be going well, but every time something weird happens, and your results are quite pathetic. Secondly, a lot depends on where it happened. If this is some unimportant open tournament, it may be useful to try to minimize rating losses, make a few short draws. If the event is vital then one needs to reverse the trend somehow. The ways of doing it are very individual, general advice is not applicable in this case. 


Ok, just one general recommendation which won't do anyone any harm, but may prove useful: try to forget about previous failures, don't dwell too much on the mistakes you have made (unless we are talking about analyzing an opening variation which you need to fix before the next round).


And, of course, one should plan his tournament schedule and preparation carefully, otherwise this problem may become a permantent nuisance.


17) Do you think that in the future female grandmasters will be part of the chess elite? Or is Judit Polgar a unique phenomenon? What are your impressions from playing against her?


Judit is a unique phenomenon for sure, but it is quite possible that some other player may attain that level in the future. As many other female chess players, Judit is playing in calculative, almost computer chess, but her algorithm of move-search is more sophisticated, and the "processor" is more powerful. Also, unlike most other women grandmasters, she studies chess a lot on her own. I am not sure about now (since kids require a lot of time and energy), but before she did work a lot and quite efficiently.


I hope that dear readers of both sex won't see any sex-chauvinism in my sincere reply. I didn't mean it at all.

18) Your chess memory is known as unique. Is it so? Do you know any ways of memorizing variations?


Unique - is probably too strong a word, but my memory was, indeed, very-very far from bad, both chess and general. Now, alas...


I may be wrong here, but I consider it to be a special gift which is very hard to develop. Either you have it, or not. Anyway, worrying about it too much in case your memory is not that good doesn't make sense since it is not the critical requirement for chess. A useful trait, nothing more.


It is by far more important, in my opinion, to know the limits of one's memory and take it into account when working on one's opening repertoire.

Two Russian flags, two World Champions

19) Whom do you consider to be the top-3 favorites at the Chess Olympiad-2010 - both men and women?


I don't see why I should say something original here.


Men: Russia, Azerbaijan, Armenia

Women: China, Russia, Ukraine


20) What is more important for success in chess: hard work or talent?


It's a tough question. Without either it's very hard.


It's not easy to say more about it. Moreover, as Garry Kasparov has written (in, I think, "How life imitates chess"), diligence is also a special talent. A quite reasonable point of view, by the way.

Alexander Khalifman at Russian Club Cup in Dagomys-2009
Source: ChessBase

Official website of GM Alexander Khalifman's Chess School

Related materials
Interview with GM Maxim Vachier-Lagrave
Interview with GM Evgeny Tomashevsky
Interview with GM Susan Polgar
Interview with GM Sergey Shipov

Bookmark and Share

Be first to comment this article

Write Comment
BBCode:Web AddressEmail AddressBold TextItalic TextUnderlined TextQuoteCodeOpen ListList ItemClose List

Code:* Code

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 20 July 2010 )
< Prev   Next >