Just Checking: Alejandro Ramirez

2/16/2015 – Each "New in Chess Magazine" contains 106 pages full of chess: portraits, interviews, chess history, tournament reports, book reviews, and lots of material to improve your chess. In the "Just Checking" questionnaire "New in Chess" asks chessplayers to reveal tastes, thoughts, fears, and convictions. ChessBase author and editor Alejandro Ramirez gave the answers.

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Cover of the 2015/1 "New in Chess" issue

The "Just Checking" Column

What is your favourite colour?
Some shade of blue.

What kind of food makes you happy?
Mexican aguachile, Peruvian ceviche, Sichuanese Hot-Pot. I like spicy and full of flavour. Please no bland Euro-food.

And what drink?
What drink or how many?

What is your favourite book?
A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson.

And your all-time favourite movie?
Amélie, with Audrey Tautou.

Audrey Tautou, Cannes 2012 (Photo: Wikipedia)

What is your favourite TV series?
Game of Thrones. All time maybe Death Note.

What music do you like to listen to?
Some kind of alternative rock, either in English or Spanish.

Do you have a favourite artist?
Hiyao Miyazaki.

What was your best result ever?
My 2nd place at the US Championship in 2013.

What was the best game you have ever played?
Eh, maybe my win against Eljanov in Aeroflot eons ago.

 

Who is your favourite chess player?
As a chess player, Kasparov always struck me as what every chess player should strive to be. However, to relax, have a drink and go over a chess game with, the best player by far is Morozevich.

Is there a chess book that has had a profound influence on you?
I read Think Like a Grandmaster maybe 30 times when I was nine years old. I’m not sure if that was a good thing or not. Benko’s Endgame Laboratory compilation book is the reason I knew endgames as a kid.

What was the most exciting chess game you have ever seen?
Morozevich-MVL from Biel 2009 is the most WTF game I’ve ever seen.

 

What is the best chess country in the world?
Probably still Russia, though I hope some other country takes up this baton soon.

What are chess players particularly good at (except for chess)?
Thinking they are right when they are not, and making a compelling case for it.

Do chess players have typical shortcomings?
They generally know nothing outside of chess. This, of course, has strong exceptions, as there are players with immense cultural and academic knowledge, but they seem to be the exception that confirms the rule more than anything else.

What is it that you appreciate most in a person?
Honesty. Also, and relevant since I’m from Latin America, punctuality has never hurt anyone.

What is it that you dislike in a person?
Ambivalence.

Who or what would you like to be if you weren’t yourself?
I like being myself actually. How about myself and some extra money in the bank account and a house in Waikiki Beach?

Which three people would you like to invite for dinner?
John Oliver, Rex Sinquefield and Elizabeth Warren would be a nice hotpot.

Is there something you’d love to learn?
Chinese, dancing Salsa, how to cook more ethnic food, how to differentiate one wine from another… come on, there’s so much in this world…

What is your greatest fear?
Hurting people I care about due to stupidity.

What would you save from your house if it were on fire?
My cats!

How do you relax?
If I ever feel too relaxed, I start up Hearthstone or Starcraft and get my stress levels up. I do enjoy the occasional read or binge-watching anime.

Is a knowledge of chess useful in everyday life?
Up to a point. Tournaments teach harsh life lessons fast in a brutal but civilized way, while solving puzzles seems to keep a brain active. Knowing the latest theory on the Najdorf? Not so much.

What is the best thing that was ever said about chess?
‘You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave!’ Wait, maybe that was about something else…

Alejandro Ramirez at the US-Championship 2012

The "Just Checking" column comes at the very end of each magazine. The cover story of the current issue of New in Chess is "Miguel Najdorf: A Life of Tragedy and Triumph". Adam Feinstein looks back on an exciting life full of ups-and-downs.

Portrait of Miguel Najdorf

The issue also includes reports about the Qatar Open, the Mind Games festival in Beijing, musings of Nigel Short who told what happened in his "Burmese Days", book reviews by Matthew Sadler, and much more.

View the full contents of New in Chess 2015#...

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David Sprenkle David Sprenkle 2/16/2015 08:20
Alejandro likes cats, Blizzard games and Hiyao Miyazaki?! No wonder I enjoy his articles and annotations so much--he obviously has excellent taste!
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