Interview with IM Sophie Milliet

by Tatiana Flores
8/27/2021 – In an exclusive interview with Tatiana Flores, 6-time French women’s champion Sophie Milliet talks about the benefits chess has brought her, some of her most important tournaments and games, her efforts to support female players in chess, and much more.

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Interview with IM Sophie Milliet

Sophie Milliet was born on November 2, 1983 in Marseille, France. She received her WGM title in 2004, and her IM title in March 2009. Among several successes, she has won the French Women’s Championship six times, represented her country twice at Chess Olympiads and played for multiple international clubs. In an exclusive interview with Tatiana Flores, Ms. Milliet talks about the benefits chess has brought her, some of her most important tournaments and games, her efforts to support female players in chess, and much more.

IM Sophie Milliet has represented France for several years already | Photo: Yovie Insan Nugraha / JAPFA 2019

I read that you are very sporty. What other sports do you practice? Can you combine them with chess?

Yes, that’s true! I like it a lot, to exercise. I think it is a great addition to playing chess professionally. I believe it’s helpful to also be in a good physical condition when playing tournaments. I play a lot of badminton, and even participate in some small tournaments when I have the time for it. It is true that chess occupies most of my time, so there isn’t much left. Sometimes it’s a great challenge to keep my weekends free for it! But I enjoy it a lot, and I also regularly go to the gym.

Which have been the most important tournaments in your career so far?

Since 2003 I have played for the French team and participated in all the European individual and team championships, as in the Chess Olympiads. I had the chance to play in the World Cup once, and in the very important tournament of Cap D’Agde. I also was invited once to play in the Salamanca Chess Festival, where the world elite participates too, and specially that one was a very nice experience.

Which have been your best or most anecdotal games so far?

I had my best performance in this Cap D’Agde tournament I just mentioned. There I drew against Anatoly Karpov, one of the best players in history, and for that I’m very proud. After that, I also made a draw with Black against Veselin Topalov at the Salamanca Chess Festival. I suffered in that game, but managed to equalize in the end! (Laughs). Those were exciting games.

 

Select an entry from the list to switch between games

Which have been the hardest and the happiest moments in your professional career so far?

I’d say the French individual championship every year is a big goal for me. Generally I start as a favourite, and with the years I’ve managed to deal with the pressure quite well. Of course, there were still years in which I didn’t manage to win the title, when I didn’t feel well and couldn’t enjoy the game. Playing under those conditions is indeed hard. The years in which I felt good, I also managed to win the championship. This has already happened six times, and the individual championship is still a very important tournament for me.

What projects do you have planned for the rest of the year?

To my delight, I have a lot of new things in my program, therefore I’ll be very busy for the rest of the year. After nearly a one-and-a-half-year break (which was honestly too long for me), this makes me very happy. First of all, I’ll participate in the European Women’s Championship that starts next week. Shortly after that, around the end of the month, I’ll play in the international tournament of San Cristóbal de La Laguna in Tenerife. After that, I have a lot of team tournaments with the different clubs I play for. Among them is my new Italian club ASD Pedone Isolano, the Belgian club Wachtebeke, of course my German club Schwäbisch Hall, and my Spanish club Manlleu. So I’ll be playing in a lot of team tournaments until the end of the year.

IM Sophie Milliet playing a simultaneous exhibition for her new club Manlleu in Catalonia, 2021 | Photo: Gabri Reyes

How would you describe your playing style?

My playing style… good question! (Laughs). I’d say I’m a very complete player. I generally try to train and improve in all areas, but I’d say that first and foremost I like having the initiative, and that I’m a dynamic player too.

Did you ever have a role model or a referential figure among chess players?

I’m not completely sure about that. It’s true that I belong to the generation in which Kasparov dominated chess (when I was young), and I liked his playing style very much. Thus, I think he was more of a “guiding line” after which I developed as a player and afterwards also progressed. Then, I think Judit Polgar was a great example for every female chess player. She was an exceptional player, and I even had the chance to play against her once, but I lost.

Which advantages has chess brought you in your life?

I think one of the biggest advantages chess has brought me is that it has allowed me to travel a lot. I had the opportunity to play tournaments all over the world, even in very distant countries. Indonesia is one which I fell for, and where I’ve already played several times. This of course makes it possible for me to meet people from different cultures, and at the same time feel very close to them thanks to chess.

IM Sophie Milliet at the Grasse Échecs tournament (Top 12) in June 2021

What would you change or improve in the chess world?

I believe that, generally, the status of women in chess can be extensively improved. We could push female players much more in the foreground in both the international and national scene. After the success of The Queen’s Gambit, someone could have thought that this would’ve helped to put women’s chess in the spotlight, but I think that didn’t happen. The promotion of women’s chess is a matter of heart to me. That’s why last year, in the French Federation elections, I supported Jöel Gautier.

I know you are a fan of the manga “Blitz” by Cédric Biscay. Do you think that art can be a good way to bring chess closer to a wider audience?

Yes! I think that generally chess can be combined with a lot of other areas. When I talk about this with people, we quickly find a lot of similarities between chess and art, and even business. I find it super interesting to follow this approach. This manga came out quite recently, and has been a very nice surprise. I like reading it a lot, and it’s funny to me how good the fight in every chess game is represented. I believe it all fits very well with the manga style, and many things that appear in it (like the chess psychology for example) feel very realistic. The manga shows lots of interesting aspects, and it’s very entertaining. I enjoy it very much!

Thank you very much for your time, Ms. Milliet! The ChessBase team and I wish you a lot of luck at the European Women’s Championship.


The interview was conducted via Zoom on August 5, 2021 in French. Tatiana Flores transcribed it and translated it into English.


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Tatiana Flores was born in Andorra in 1998 and moved to Germany with her family when she was 14. She works as a chess journalist, poet and multilingual author. In addition to chess, she is also passionate about literature and music.
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pelzombie pelzombie 9/7/2021 01:49
enjoyed the great article. :)
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