Delightful Delilah, Chess Influencer

by Diana Mihajlova
5/5/2023 – Kazakhstan had a blast with chess events throughout the whole of April. Not only the World Match (7 - 30 April) was and still is shaking the chess community, but many high-level international and national side events took place in Astana, the country's capital. A great number of chess events and personalities have come and gone, but Kazakhstan has a hidden treasure at home: a 9-year-old girl, Delilah Sadvakassova, a celebrated chess influencer.

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Last year, 2022, proclaimed by FIDE 'The Year of the Woman in Chess', special awards in various categories were bestowed to women that made an outstanding contribution to the development and promotion of chess The awards were delivered at a ceremony during the 44th Chess Olympiad, in Chennai, India. In each category there was an overall winner and four continental winners. One of the categories designated for special awards was 'Influencer/commentator/social media star'.

The overall winner was Tania Sadchev. The four continental winners can be seen on the publicity banner on the big screen. There are well recognizable faces of Alexandra Botez, Ellen Fredericia Nilssen and Jovita Nwansi representing respectively America, Europe and Africa. The small girl clutching a chess set, representing Asia, is Dilayla Sadvakasova from Kazakhstan.

The 'Influencer/commentator/social media star' banner on the big screen during the awards ceremony in Chennai

The word 'influencer' came along with the expansion of social media. Although it has been used in English since the mid-1600s, in recent years the term was revived with a different definition caused by the outburst of social media outlets. It gained prevalence in everyday life since the 2010s and it was officially added into the Oxford Dictionary in 2019. An 'influencer' is a person who exerts influence and generates interest in something by posting about it on social or traditional media. Interesting content created and delivered as blogs or videos on a regular basis has the power to influence people.

Still from a short video to mark the International Chess Day, 20th July

Delilah's influence comes through a series of videos entitled 'Chess Stories with Delilah'. In short videos, tastefully clad in attractive outfits, Delilah presents biographical highlights of famous chess personalities in an animated way, in beautifully designed settings. The videos serve as a nice reminder to older chess generations and as an educational tool to younger generations. Some of the videos are only in Russian but most of them come with English subtitles.

Here are some examples:

Delilah in a 'split screen' in the video about Susan Polgar  

In the video about Susan Polgar, Delilah rightly perceives that ...'Susan did not remain in the shadow of her brilliant, the best player in the history of chess, younger sister. Without Zsuzsa there would be no Judit! Susan Polgar was and still is one of the most extraordinary people in the chess world...'

The video about Alexandra Kosteniuk contains information that probably many are not aware of: Alexandra, in her younger years, had ventured into the film industry with a small role in the movie 'Bless the Woman' (in Russian) by the famous but politically controversial Russian director, Stanislav Govorukhin.

Delilah with Alexandra at the Fide Women's Grand Prix in Astana, September  2022

As Anand appeared as a commentator for the first few rounds of the World Match in Astana, Delilah did not miss the opportunity to interview him.

After the interview, the ex-champion happily accepted his young interviewer's challenge to a game.

Delilah and Vishy

Delilah also made a biographical video about Anand in which, as a homage to the champion, she was clad in an Indian outfit. 

In Delilah's videos the background and her outfits are often designed to correspond to the nationality of her subject.

Stills from videos about Fischer, Anand, Euwe and Capablanca

From the introduction in the video on the Chinese women world champions we learn that 'In the late 80' Chinese champions Xie Jun, Zhu Chen, Xu Yuhua, Hou Yifan, Tan Zhongyi and Ju Wenjun began to ascend the chess throne. Such appearance of chess queens is all the more surprising if you know that China has its own kind of chess - Xiangqi and Go; classical chess appeared there quite recently and it was completely banned for eight years.

In 1974, a plan to develop international chess was devised and it was named the Big Dragon Project. Grandmaster Ye Jiangchuang was elected the project manager. He was the second Chinese to become a grandmaster - the first was Ye Rongguang - and the first Chinese player who reached +2600 Elo. He retired from competing in order to take on the project full-time and to devote himself to training the women's national team. He promoted the idea of not separating men and women and letting them play together, constantly competing against each other...

The Chinese interior in the video about the Chinese women champions

These videos are of high informative and educational value. A tremendous effort and work are put into their creation. The content is studiously researched and the scenography and costimography are of a high standard.

Delilah's many chess videos are found on her social media pages: Facebook and Instagram.

Delilah and the Certificate of Merit awarded to her by the Kazakh Chess Federation

More articles by Diana Mihajlova...

A former university lecturer in Romance philology, she is currently a painter as well as a chess journalist, and reports regularly from the international tournament scene.