A month ago the Russian magazine “MK-Voskresenye” published an interview with Maria Manakova, provocatively entitled “Sex and Chess”. Actually the original Russian "Sexуальные шахматы" transliterates to "sexual chess", but we believe our title captures the intention more accurately.
Denis Markov, who drew our attention to the interview, has translated it for us in summary. At the end of the interview there is a link to the original Russian, and a new and spicy discovery we made in the meantime.
By MK-Voskresenye staff author Yevgeny Gik
If someone someday stages a contest “Miss Chess World”, WGM Maria Manakova from Moscow will win it many points ahead of the others. Maria was on the top women chess players’ lists for many years – and now she is in TV journalism. Her favorite theme – “Chess and Sex”.
Maria, in chess you are women’s grandmaster. What about sex?
People started to think about me as a specialist in sex because I once said that a woman should be woman all the time – at home, at work and at the chess board. Very often women chess players devote their entire lives to chess. They have no age, no sex. Maybe that’s why my words attracted attention.
What changes if those clever women also become sexual?
If women chess players become more attractive, more sexual, many things will change. Spectators and journalists will pay more attention at them, chess will become more popular. It would be great if in chess we will have someone as popular as Anna Kournikova is in tennis.
Do your women colleagues support you?
Something has changed in their minds during the last years. But most of them aren’t quite ready for the sexual revolution. They think that chess is an intellectual game, and that it shouldn’t became some kind of "merchandise". I don’t think that this is correct. We are not as strong as the male players. So why shouldn’t we cash in on our beauty, don’t you think?
What can you tell us about women chess players' private lives?
Usually there is no private life, or it is far from perfect. Children? No time! The same applies to your husband, by the way. Men often have the same problem – that’s why marriages between women and men players are quite common. They play in same tournaments, they prepare together – they even play same openings! I once saw a classified ad in the newspaper, submitted by a Grandmaster: “Looking for a wife. Elo rating not less then …”. And he found one! They have a ten-year-old child now.
Some people say that you often play in tournaments together with your husband, a Yugoslav GM, in order to always have a sexual partner available.
We play a lot together, and not just chess. Maybe this is the reason why I never won a world championship title. But on the other hand I had a different kind of joy, one that is no less important to me.
A chess game usually lasts four hours or more – so is there enough time for sex?
Yes, although playing chess is really difficult and drains your strength. And if a woman loses, it can take some days for her to get back to normal.
Maria, do you think if there is any “real men” amongst the GMs? Kasparov, Kramnik, Karpov?
I am attracted to charismatic people. Kasparov definitely takes the lead here. He is a very charismatic man, and his energy has a great effect on everybody who is near him. There is something attractive about Karpov too. But maybe I am a bit perverted? As for Kramnik, he doesn’t interest me. He is neither bad nor good. When he won the title of world champion he should have offered Kasparov a rematch. He didn’t – he was simply scared. Such men don’t interest me.
Video interview with Maria Manakova in ChessBase Magazine 97. It was conducted by Anna Dergatschova, who discussed Maria's feelings about being a “sex symbol” in the chess world, and how she hoped to promote chess by becoming famous as a journalist or a television personality.
As we opened the latest issue of New in Chess magazine our attention was caught by an article in the section "NiC's Cafe", where the editors have set up a special "Babe watch". In this issue the author wrote: "We cannot say that our search for chess babes is not appreciated by our readers. On the contrary, there is no lack of encouragement and quite a few suggestions reach us, unfortunately not all of them helpful. Still, we have this nagging feeling that things are getting out of hand after friends in Moscow drew our attention to the cover of the latest issue of Speed, one of many high-quality papers that have flooded the Russian market after the likes of Pravda lost their long-cherished monopoly."
The article contains a discrete black and white picture of the cover of the magazine. We immediately contacted our illustrious Dutch colleagues, who sent us a colour scan.
Our Dutch colleagues had done all the necessary research. The lady on the cover of the magazine was none other Maria Manakova, the Women's Grandmaster who had recently scored 5 out of 7 for her club BAS at the European Club Cup in Crete.
Denis Markov told us that Speed is a Russian rag or "yellow" magazine. The headline next to the picture of Maria says "I like eating... elephants". Denis explains that the Russian word for the chess bishop is "slon", which actually translates to "elephant", and in Russian you "eat" pieces, not take them. He cannot see any devious meaning to the headline. "Eating elephants just sounds like fun, that's why, I think, it is used here. Nothing else."