Grandmaster Chef: Peter Svidler

by Alexey Root
9/20/2020 – Grandmaster Peter Svidler is an eight-time Russian chess champion. Svidler’s peak rating placed him fourth in the world. National Master Mike Walder annotates one of Svidler’s wins and has a recipe for a dish that Svidler likes. WIM Alexey Root tells why Svidler is a Grandmaster Chef honoree. | Photo: Eteri Kublashvili

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Elite GM, teacher, commentator, games player

Grandmaster Peter Svidler has played for Russia at ten Olympiads. He played in three World Championship tournaments, in 2002, 2005, and 2007. By winning the 2011 World Cup, he qualified for the Candidates Tournament for the 2013 World Championship.

When Svidler taught a “masterclass” for World Chess, he said that his most memorable move ever was at the 2011 World Cup, as Black against Kamsky. World Chess created a postcard about the move, though the postcard incorrectly listed 2010 rather than 2011. See if you can find Svidler’s brilliancy, which is more than one move long.

Svidler also played in the 2014 and 2016 Candidates Tournaments. His most recent Russian Championship first-place finish, his eighth title, was in 2017. In September 2020, he competed from Saint Petersburg in the 2020 Champions Showdown: Chess 9LX, held online by the Saint Louis Chess Club.

Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura once called Svidler the best chess commentator around.

When interviewing Svidler for the GRID, Woman Grandmaster Jennifer Shahade’s poker podcast, Shahade described Svidler as a “beloved commentator, and poker aficionado.” Svidler has played about 50,000-100,000 PLO (Pot-Limit Omaha) hands on PokerStars. Shahade interviewed him about Ace-Seven of Diamonds as a starting hand in No-Limit Hold ’em. Svidler broadcasts chess and Hearthstone on Twitch. His bio on Twitch is “Chess player playing games, including chess.”

The recipe

At 1 hour 20 minutes into this 2020 video, Svidler is asked about food. He replied that he likes Indian or South Asian cuisines. However, his favorite dish is steak.

Mike Walder’s roommate, International Master Elliott Winslow, doesn’t like steak being cooked in their apartment. Therefore, Walder found a dish that Svidler likes and that Walder’s roommates (Winslow and FIDE Master Frank Thornally) would like too.

The dish pictured is, according to a Google Translate of one of Svidler’s replies, “Hawaiian poke - tuna and all kinds of vegetables.” That tweet formed the basis of Walder’s recipe.

Ahi Tuna Poke by Mike Walder


  • Sushi-grade Ahi Tuna, 1 pound cut into ½-inch cubes
  • Fresh Ginger, ½ teaspoon, grated 
  • Soy Sauce or Tamari, ¼ cup
  • Sesame Oil, 2 Tablespoons
  • Rice Wine Vinegar, 2 Tablespoons
  • Seaweed, ¼ cup crumpled
  • Yellow Onion, ½ cup thinly sliced
  • Green Onion, 2, just the greens cut into ¼-inch pieces to garnish
  • Cucumber, 1 small or ½-large, peeled and cut into small bite-sized cubes
  • Seaweed Salad, ½ cup
  • Edamame, shelled, ½ cup
  • Avocado, 1 cut into small bite-sized cubes
  • Rice, 1 cup cooked
  • Optional: Sesame seeds or chopped macadamia nuts


  1. Ahi Tuna PokeMake a marinade by combining the soy sauce, sesame oil, freshly grated ginger, and the yellow onion in a large mixing bowl. Whisk until the ginger is incorporated.
  2. Add the ahi and seaweed to the marinade and toss until the fish is coated.
  3. Cover bowl and place in refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
  4. Time the cooking of your rice so that it will be warm when you plate this meal.
  5. Put the cucumber cubes in a small bowl and dress with the rice wine vinegar.
  6. Put a floor of rice down in three bowls for your guests.
  7. Divvy up the cucumber, seaweed salad, edamame, and cubed avocado around half the circumference in each bowl, on top of the rice.
  8. Spoon out the ahi and marinade over the rest of the bowl.
  9. Garnish with the green onion and, optionally, sesame seeds or chopped macadamia nuts.
  10. Takes 2.5 hours to make. Serves 3.

[Pictured: Ahi Tuna Poke, after 6...d5 in Svidler vs. Bu (click to enlarge) | Photo: Elliott Winslow]

The game

As ChessBase explained, in Round 4 of the 2017 World Cup, Svidler had won the first Rapid game (time control: game in 25/10-second increment), as Black, against Grandmaster Bu Xiangzhi. Therefore, Bu Xiangzhi had to win the second Rapid game, as Black, to avoid being eliminated. Instead, Svidler won, advancing to Round 5. Walder annotates Svidler’s win.


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Alexey was the 1989 U.S. Women's Chess Champion and is a Woman International Master. She earned her bachelor’s degree in History at the University of Puget Sound and her doctoral degree in Education at The University of California, Los Angeles. She has been a Lecturer in Interdisciplinary Studies at UT Dallas since 1999 and is a prolific author.


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