The Dlugy Files

3/2/2007 – Maxim (Max) Dlugy was born in 1966 in Moscow, immigrated with his family to the USA in 1979, won the world junior championship in 1985 and was awarded the grandmaster title a year later. Twenty years ago he dropped out of chess to marry and become a finance enterpreneur. He remains an awesome Internet blitz specialist. Interview.

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The Dlugy Files

By John MacPhail

For years, Maxim Dlugy was considered among the world’s most talented players. A World Junior and World Open champion, Max was rapidly ascending the ranks of international chess when he married, settled down and started a non-chess career. In 1990 Max became the youngest president in the history of the United States Chess Federation and he moved on to have a very successful career in finance. I caught up with Max recently and got his views on a range of topics including modern chess, FIDE and even the upcoming Candidates’ matches.

John MacPhail: I notice you had a fine result in a recent tournament in Latvia. Do you still have aspirations as a chess player?

Maxim Dlugy: I have not been a professional player in nearly twenty years and do not have any aspirations in that regard. I do enjoy playing in tournaments occasionally and online. I’d like to be able to play very competitively with anyone in speed chess online for another twenty years.

JMP: You are known on the Internet as a speed chess maven. Do you have any tips for others who play speed chess online?


GM Max Dlugy, former Junior World Champion

Dlugy: Players need to force themselves to calculate quickly to be really good at blitz. Normally players have a tendency to check and double check analysis. You have to condition yourself to make good analysis once, which the brain is strong enough to do, and not always be double checking. From a practical perspective it’s good to have some pet opening variations and to move around if you are getting in trouble. Also, when you see a reasonably good continuation, you should play it without hesitation.

Chess has changed a lot since you were active. What are the main differences between top players then and now?

The advance of computers has changed chess considerably. When I was younger, a lot of preparation was based on your own work, but now a lot much of the analysis is done by computers.

Do you think that it’s possible for players with less talent to be successful now based mainly on studying with computers?

No. Players studied before computers as well. In both cases I think that the most successful players are the ones with the most talent that work the hardest. Many elements of chess are the same: such as being well prepared, understanding your opponent’s strengths and weaknesses, and determination. It’s a little more important to be able to play faster now than then, since time controls are often faster and rapid tie-breaks have become more common.


Dlugy at the 2006 US Championship

As USCF President and a GMA board member you were very active in chess politics and organization. What do you think of the current state of chess?

Unfortunately FIDE has continuously failed to attract talented individuals that know how to establish chess as a well organized activity with reliable sponsors. Being well organized and attracting serious sponsorship should not be so difficult to do. Chess has a very large international following. In fact, many of the biggest accomplishments in chess had little to do with FIDE. The best organized event in chess was the World Chess Festival, the biggest prize fund was Fischer vs Spassky II, the largest corporate sponsor was Intel for the PCA and so on.

There are rumors about you being involved in a new chess project, can your provide details?

I am working on a chess project which, if successful, will have a big impact on chess. I really don’t want to go into details at this time.

You’ve developed an interesting business career. Can you explain what you do?


With veteran GM Boris Gulko at the US Championship 2006

Along with my partner, Mark Lisnyansky, I manage an international investment fund called Optim Advisors. Primarily we concentrate on public equity, real estate and private equity investments throughout the world. The fund is very dynamic and we have been very successful.

Are you willing to provide us with your predictions about the upcoming Candidates’ matches?

Yes, I can do that. I think most of the matches will be very interesting. Here are my picks.

Aronian vs Carlsen – Carlsen is obviously very talented but in recent years Aronian’s chess has reached a very mature level. I expect Aronian to win.

  • Leko vs Gurevich – Gurevich is a very dangerous opponent who I think once reached sixth in the world. But age is not on his side, and I think Leko will win.

  • Ponomariov vs Rublevsky – This is hard to call. Rublevsky is less known that Ponomariov because he has played in fewer high profile events, but he’s very good with Black and does well at fast time controls so he has an advantage in tie-breaks. I’ll pick Rublevsky.

  • Gelfand vs Kasimdzhanov – Both are excellent players, but Gelfand is more forceful and dangerous with White. I expect Gelfand to win.

  • Bacrot vs Kamsky – Kamsky is a very tough opponent with a tremendous match record. He has now played himself fully back into form. I think Kamsky will win.

  • Grischuk vs Malakhov – Grischuk is a very talented player on the rise. He also is very strong theoretically. I think Grischuk will win.

  • Polgar vs Bareev – Polgar has a tremendous lifetime record against Bareev, and lately Bareev has had trouble maintaining his high level of play. I think Polgar will win.

  • Shirov vs Adams – Lately Shirov has not played at his peak form. But if he can find his form he will be a very difficult opponent for Adams. Shirov is also a very formidable match opponent. I think Shirov will win.


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