Elisabeth Paehtz: “For every kilo I gained, I gained ten Elo points”

by André Schulz
11/10/2021 – Elisabeth Paehtz played an outstanding tournament in the Women’s Grand Swiss, where she came second. Her performance granted her a spot in the next Grand Prix, and she also scored a GM norm, but it is not entirely clear whether this was her second or third norm. In an interview, she explains why and talks about the factors that helped her improve during the last year or so. | Photos: FIDE

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Elisabeth Paehtz had a very successful performance at the Women’s Grand Swiss in Riga: she fought for the tournament title for a long time and in the end came second. She thus passed the 2500 Elo mark, got a GM norm and qualified for the Grand Prix series. Shortly before her departure for the European Team Championship, the German number one found time for a chat.

AS: Congratulations on the great performance in Riga. How do you feel?

EP: Thank you very much. I feel very good, of course. I have now gained 50 Elo points, but I have also gained 5 kilos recently. So I guess that means that for every kilo I gained, I gained ten Elo points (laughs).

But the secret of your success probably lies somewhere else?

Yes. It might sound a bit strange now, but I gave a lot of training during the quarantines.

Given, not taken?

... Yes, given. But when you give training, you also occupy yourself intensively with all the topics you want to deal with in the sessions. That means: I looked at all the relevant textbooks again and worked through them while preparing for the lessons. Even as a professional and tournament player, you become more aware of things. That has helped my chess. The training gave me more stability. This was one of several reasons for my success.

Which others?

I also get on very well with my coach, Yannick Gozzoli. Maybe it’s better to say that he gets on well with me. When I work with him, I can show how I feel at the moment. If I sometimes hit him over the head with my bad mood because something didn’t work out right, he doesn’t hold it against me. I have worked with Yannick several times before, at different Grand Prix tournaments, at the World Cup, and now here.

Are there any other reasons for your improvement? Are you sometimes emotionally vulnerable?

That’s right, but at the moment everything is working out. My boyfriend Fabio Gianandrea gives me a lot of support. By the way, he is a wellness therapist. He was with me in Riga and thanks to his therapies I was able to become emotionally calmer before important games. I’m also glad that I’ve been able to put all the anger from last year behind me.

As a side effect, there was also a GM norm for you, the third, and thus the title.

You can’t be 100% sure of that. My second norm in 2016 was a performance norm, but it wasn’t entirely clear at the time whether certain exemption rules applied or not. The main arbiter at the time was of the opinion that the requirements were met, but there were other opinions. The ambiguous wording of the rules at the time allowed for different interpretations. In 2017, the rules were reworded and made clearer. But the GM norm was not relevant to me at all. If I had qualified for the Grand Prix with a draw in the last round, I would have done that, norm or no norm. But my opponent gave me a chance with 19...Ba6. So I had to play for a win.

What happens next?

I actually have many requests and a lot to do at the moment. Next we will play with the national team at the European Team Championship in Slovenia. We have a very harmonious team, and I’m looking forward to the tournament.

Thank you very much for the interview and good luck!

How to exchange pieces

Learn to master the right exchange! Let the German WGM Elisabeth Pähtz show you how to gain a strategic winning position by exchanging pieces of equal value or to safely convert material advantage into a win.


André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.


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