Who taught you to play chess?

Lightning portrait

What got you into chess?

I started playing chess when I was 18 years old. At that time I was looking for a new challenge and a new hobby. It so happened that I fell hopelessly in love with the game. During my school days at HTL Ottakring, I was also able to inspire my classmates with chess. We always used the breaks between the lessons to play small tournaments and individual games or to discuss special tasks. This often went on until the teacher arrived in the classroom and chased us away from the tables in the back row, annoyed.

What do you love about chess?

Anticipating intention. Given the limited information, find out what my opponent wants and then determine how I can prevent it. Of course there is also a special aesthetic inherent in the game of chess, which always amazes me.

How did you get to the 1st SK Ottakring?

In fact, as I found out after starting out as a chess player, we had our own chess club in our school. Funnily enough, there was a little rivalry there between the chess players from the mechanical engineering department and the IT department (I was one of the mechanical engineers). At that time we held a small tournament in which we faced each other. It was a bloodbath. In the end, however, it had to be recognized without envy that the computer scientists were slightly superior to us. Our chess trainer at the time, who was also a teacher here, then drew my attention to the 1st SK Ottakring, whereupon I followed his advice and joined here. Since then, I've been very proud of my membership.

How would you describe your relationship with your club colleagues?

A mix of friendly collegiality and professional distance.

What is special about the 1st SK Ottakring for you?

I have never been to any other chess club, so unfortunately I have no comparison. I just know that I would never change and always will stay here.

What was your best experience with the 1st SK Ottakring?

My first Christmas party with all members in our clubhouse in 2019. The choir was wonderful and the lyrics that were sung there were extremely interesting. I had never seen anything like it before.

The 1st SK Ottakring particularly promotes training for children and young people. How is this important for your development?

Since I am an assistant teacher in children and youth training, the dissemination and teaching of chess is a particular personal concern of mine. In my opinion, the skills that are acquired in this way are an invaluable asset in all areas of life. Both for the children and for me. Specifically, my job taught me to be patient.

Is there a team competition that you particularly remember?

Oh yes, my last match in 3rd grade. I was winning with only three moves before mate, but then, through a fatal mistake, I was able to turn the game in favor of my opponent. Also an achievement.

Which mode do you prefer and why? (Rapid, blitz, standard chess, Chess960)

Generally standard chess, but occasionally I can be persuaded to play a blitz game. I prefer the longer time because it allows me to shape long-term strategies. If the game lasts longer, it is more important to me, because a win or a loss is of no importance to me in blitz chess. But if you sit down for three hours and then lose, it won't just pass you by without a trace. In standard chess I also learn a lot more from my games.

What are you particularly proud of your own accomplishments and why?

Open WSC Wolfmaier Cup 2017. At that time with 0 Elo I got first place with 12-1.

What was your best game?

In a game of simultaneous chess I was able to draw against a 2000 Elo player. I have framed the game hanging in my room.

Which tournament are you most looking forward to?

Definitely the candidates tournament for the World Cup. Always a pleasure.

Tournaments take chess players abroad again and again. Where did you already travel? And which impressions do you remember particularly well?

Until now I have never traveled abroad for a chess tournament. I hope, however, that I will get the opportunity to do so.

Do you have a special ritual before a game?

Greet my opponent in a friendly manner and bring us a small glass of water. First there is flattering and then the tatters fly!

How do you feel about a game?

With two:
-The joy of trying something I've never done before. Be it a new tactic or a new opening variation that I learned shortly before, I always want to try something new because that way I remain unpredictable.
-The ambition to want to defeat my opponent and not give him a chance.

In your opinion, what is important for a game to succeed?

Your opponent must be more confused than you. All jokes aside. I think it's the focus. For me, the fact that a game was successful doesn't mean that it was won. Even if I lose, the game was a success as long as I concentrated, did my best and learned something from it.

What qualities should a chess player ideally have?

Courage and creativity.

Who are your great chess role models?

Mikhail Valley.

Which personality in chess history would you like to have a coffee with?

Mato Jelic. A very funny and instructive man through whom I learned chess. His YouTube channel offers a lot of great videos.

Benjamin Finegold. International grandmaster in both chess and humor. He used to work as a chess teacher in the St. Louis Chess Club. His videos are available on Youtube and highly recommended!

What is the most impressive game of chess that you have ever seen?

Moscow tournament 1992. Michail Tal vs. Garry Kasparov. Absolute madness. What fascinated me about this game was how Tal appeared despite his health problems and still remained true to his style right down to the last move.

What importance would you ascribe to the advancement of women?

They enrich our chess culture in every way.

In your opinion, why do fewer women play chess than men?

The reasons for this are of course many and varied. Therefore, I cannot be brief if I want to answer this question in full. But since I have to be brief, I would say that it is primarily about the diversity of interests that women and men have in life. Fewer women are interested in chess, but also in technology or mathematics. There are now different explanations that operate on different levels: Is it socialization? Is it culture? Is it individual psychological? Is it organic? Probably a little bit of everything.

What is your (next) big goal?

I want to break the 1500 mark. But for that I have to play more.

What would you advise your younger chess player?

Stop sacrificing characters!

Which three chess books can you recommend?

I learned chess on my own through YouTube and games. One book is particularly close to my heart, namely “The Big Book of the World Chess Championships”, which I received from dear Karoline as a present. If you're reading this, Karoline, I cherish this book.

And finally: What do you do when you are not playing / training chess?

I am a passionate debater. For me there is nothing better than philosophizing with other people. You can often find me in my favorite bar (the “Jetzt”), where I discuss controversial topics with like-minded people and sometimes with people who think differently over a good beer. A typical Viennese then. Has an opinion on everything.

Also funny: when I'm in the bar and a friend asks me where I am right now, I answer: I'm in the now.