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Teimour Radjabov Vs Bartlomiej Macieja – How to be a Grandmaster Interview with Macieja

When did you learn chess and who taught you?

I learnt first rules of chess when I was 5.5 years old. My first teacher was my mother. In her family almost everybody knew how to play chess, although nobody ever had any (even local) rating. My father played chess at very similar level.

When did you begin playing tournaments and how did you do?

My first international tournament was in Bydgoszcz 1985. For a beginner I made a good score, sufficient to be awarded with the lowest official Polish category.

When did you begin making legitimate progress in your game and How?

From early beginnings I worked with chess coaches. I had several of them. Each of them was good at a certain level and each of them contributed to my chess development. I can’t say there was a particular moment from which I suddenly started making a huge progress. It was rather a continuous process.

Can you recall a specific turning point? (a game, event, working with a chess trainer, etc..)

My last 2 chess coaches were famous Russian grandmasters: Ratmir Kholmov and Vitaly Tseshkovsky. Till now my friends say that I am actually composed of 2 different players. With black I am Kholmov, with white I am Tseshkovsky.

What are your top book recommendations for advanced players?

I recommend everybody to buy a book with games annotated by a favourite player. It helps a lot when a favourite player shares thoughts he had during a game and explains the process of taking a particular decision.

How did you become a GM?

My GM title was based on 4 norms achieved in Pardubice 1994, Budapest 1996, Polanica-Zdroj 1998 and Krynica 1998. The conditional title was awarded to me on the 4th of October 1998, it means the day of my 21st birthday. The condition (rating at least 2500) was fulfilled on the next rating list (1 Janaury 1999 – I had 2553). During the first tournament GM Ratmir Kholmov was helping me occassionally, in Budapest I didn’t have a chess coach, and during the last 2 tournaments GM Vitaly Tseshkovsky accompanied me.

What was your exact study regimen when you were working towards GM?

I have always seriously taken studies at school and university, thus I didn’t have much time for studies on chess. On the other hand, the free time I had was so precious for me, that I used it for chess very intensively. My chess coach GM Vitaly Tseshkovsky was coming to me for training sessions and we used to work many hours every day. I worked mostly during summer holidays, for this reason I was always a much more dangerous player around September-October than May-June. The duration of a particular training session during summer holidays was usually about 2 weeks of 8 hours a day, followed by a tournament. A typical schedule was that we played a rapid game, analysed critical positions in particular opening lines, finished a day with a blitz mini-match.

What is your study routine now? (how is it different?)

For many recent years I have worked mostly alone, it means with computer programs. I concentrate on openings.

Do you have any charity causes that you would like to promote? (chess-related or not…)

I am one of the founders of the Warsaw Foundation for Chess Development ( ). The Foundation helps children, professionals and also organises tournaments, including various European championships.

Nature or Nurture: Do you think top chess players are born with a natural ability/gift or do they become so talented through hard work and the right environment?

Not everybody can become world champion based solely on a gigantic work. At the same time, many very talented players have never shown their potential due to insuffient amount of work.

How do you feel about cheating in chess? (deterrents/punishments?)

Cheating in chess is less common than in other sport disciplines. Unfortunately, the development in informatics, apart from obvious good sides, has increased the danger of cheating. Some measures need to be taken. The ACP has proposed many worthy solutions. I wouldn’t show any mercy toward people caught on cheating. At the same time we must fight against false accusations.

Who is your favorite player and why?

Anatoly Karpov had been for many years my favourite chess player. He played in a deep strategical way, all of his pieces were usually perfectly coordinated. In many games it was impossible to show any weakness, any target of a possible attack of an opponent. From nowadays active players I admire Vassily Ivanchuk for his deep knowledge, understandable style of playing, but mostly for his unlimited dedication towards chess.

How to be a Grandmaster Series

People always want to know how Grandmaster’s achieved the extraordinary feat of becoming a GrandMaster. I noticed most Grandmaster interview’s focus more on recent and upcoming tournament’s and do not focus on how they became a GrandMaster. While most people assume that becoming a GrandMaster is simply a formula of natural talent and hard work, we’ve discovered there is more to the secret formula. Our interview series hopes to unlock these “GrandMaster secrets” so we can learn to not only work harder, but smarter as well. Our GrandMaster Interview series includes both audio and video interviews on our YouTube as well as text interviews with corresponding games on our site. We hope you enjoy these grandmaster interviews. Comments are appreciated and if you have questions you’d like to ask future grandmasters, let us know.

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Damian Lemos
A recent iChess survey has concluded that 78% of club players rated between 1200 and 1900 commit these same 5 crucial mistakes. Find out what they are in this free course created by Grandmaster Damian Lemos who has years of experience coaching club players

One Comment

Rafael Ibarra says:

Thank you, it was a very interesting game and as always, your comments were concise and precise.

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