Tromso: Female chess stars at the Olympiad

by Frederic Friedel
8/8/2014 – Remember when top women chess players were stereotyped as elderly matrons? Well, times have changed, and today they look more like film or sports stars. And we can prove it: there are many wonderful video interviews conducted by GM Daniel King with top women from our Olympiad studio in Tromsø. Many of the interviews are online for you to watch. Enjoy.

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Female chess stars in Tromsø

By Frederic Friedel

Remember the days when one expected top female chess players to look
like the above bronze statue, located outside the playing hall in Tromsø?

Well, in case you haven't noticed: today's 2400+ players look quite a bit different

IM Tania Sachdev is playing board two for the Indian women's team. She has recorded two Fritztrainer DVDs for us, and plans to return to Hamburg to do more. The above image is from that session. You can view a four-minute standup interview conducted by Danial King here:

Tania also gave Daniel King a post-game interview which one of the spectators commented thus:

I saw King's interview of Tania just now, and liked it a lot. I knew about Naka and Red Bull, and am glad to see Tania and the seriousness of the commitment. I must say that Tania is one of the clearest speakers I have seen. She presents her ideas clearly and well. I was impressed.

Here is the 17-minute interview with analysis of the game she has just played:

Tania has just drawn Dinara Saduakassova of Kazakhstan in round three and says the game did not go as well as she had hoped for: she did not manage to get anything out of the opening which "completely did not go as planned".

In the interview Tania praises 20-year-old WGM Padimini Rout (above), a very talented 20-year-old who evened the score in round three when IM Eesha Karavade lost to the astonishing WGM Zhansaya Abdumalik, who is all of fourteen years old.

Zhansaya Daniyarqyzy Abdumalik is a name we are going to have to remember. She is almost exactly as old as the millennium, having been born on January 12, 2000, in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Zhansaya is currently the top ranked U14 girl in the world and the second ranked U14 player, male or female.

In the interview Danny and Tania analyse Padmini's game against Madina Davletbayeva, which is still in progress. The section starts at 2 min 45 seconds into the video, and resumes at 14 min 40s. It is very nice to watch the two evaluate White's chances in real time.

In her interview Tania says she loved Norway and was stunned by the location when she first arrived, but now she "missed the night" (Tromsø is in the Arctic Circle). In the interview she talks about her chess career, her trainers (IM Vishal Shareen, GM Elisbar Ubilava) and her contract with Red Bull.

Tania is the first chess player they ever took on as a Red Bull Athlete – you can watch the trailer Wings for Life World Run here (and maybe read Christopher McDougall's "Born To Run" which our co-editor Albert Silver has been lancing in top GM circles).

Tania she explains (at around 11m:30s) her involvement in spectaculars like the
"Battle for the Queen" that the sponsors staged in four Indian cities with her.

Daniel King also interviewes India's board one on the women's team, GM Harika Dronavalli.
She is the second strongest female player in her country and, like Tania, a very special friend...

Another special friend is GM Irina Krush, whom I have known since her mid teens. Irina is multiple US Champion, very strong and very intense – I treasure the adversarial debates we have had. She never takes my verbal aggression amiss, but always comes for more.

You don't know Irina Krush? Here is a lovely video introduction by Daniel King. You've got to love this line: "I was born in Odessa, which was then the USSR; now it's the Ukraine – still the Ukraine...". The way she slips in a single rueful word into that sentence.

The young German WGM Melanie Ohme was subject of one of our pre-Olympiad reports.

You can watch Melanie's vivacious video interview with Danny King above

And here is one with Natalia Zhukova, whom we have also known from her teenage years

Yuanling Yuan is a Canadian, playing on board one for her country

There are also interviews with lesser-known but more exotic players, like these two from Jamaica

Hungarians: WGM Petra Papp (2274) and Ticia Gara (2321), who were interviewed in our Tromsø studio by André Schulz. Ticia visited the ChessBase office when she was a talented pre-teen. My, how she has grown!

IM Elisabeth Pähtz, who plays on board one for Germany, has been in and out of my
house since she was a child. Elli has done a couple of nice Fritztrainer DVDs for us.

On a personal note: I know that I am going to get some irate letters from feminism watchdogs who will take me to task for implying that I consider some of the subjects of this report to be attractive or beautiful. I even know who is going to write – one letter will be from a chess player in Scandinavia, one from Holland, both from males. Unfortunately political correctness is not one of my greatest strengths, and I tent to adhere to the principle of treating chess like any other sport, like entertainment, films and music. But in order to mollify my critics I will include a few video interviews that Daniel King has conducted with male players for you enjoy – hunks and machos, all of them...


Live commentary, interviews, analysis

Where and how to watch: log into Playchess.com and watch all the games in progress. Analyse with the built-in engine, chat with other spectators. And if you are a premium member you can watch all the lectures, interviews and analysis free of charge. And it isn't at all expensive. Prices for a full year's membership are given in the table below.

During the games we have live broadcast by expert commentators,
with post-game interviews and analysis directly from the venue.

Three of our live game commentators: Yasser Seirawan, Simon Williams, Chris Ward

Interviewing Indian IM Tania Sachdev immediately after her game

Danny King's daily midnight wrapup on Youtube – recorded in the midnight dusk of Tromsø

Schedule of live commentary, TV shows, training and tournaments

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All you need to know about the Olympiad

  • Full information on the games, the venue, the atmosphere and what's happening on and off the chessboard – 68 pages in PDF, 45 MB in size.
  • All practical details you need to know before and after your arrival, including information about money, the climate, arriving at Oslo and Tromsø Airports, lost or delayed luggage, check-in at the hotels, the accreditation desk, information offices and the opening ceremony.

All ChessBase reports on the 2014 Olympiad in Tromsø




Editor-in-Chief emeritus of the ChessBase News page. Studied Philosophy and Linguistics at the University of Hamburg and Oxford, graduating with a thesis on speech act theory and moral language. He started a university career but switched to science journalism, producing documentaries for German TV. In 1986 he co-founded ChessBase.
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pölönc pölönc 8/8/2014 08:35
The girl next to Ticia is not Anita.. She is Petra Papp.
VGerber VGerber 8/8/2014 06:48
You like Tania Sachdev. OK, she is beautiful but is she a top female chess player?
Melanie Ohme is a real cracker, not as special and outstanding as Yifan Hou but in Germany she is a class of her own with her appearance and her personality. With a good management she could do much more for the popularity of women's chess. Just like Filiz Osmanodja who also seems to be a very outstanding and promising young lady.
Apart from that I think it is not sexist to appreciate the beauty of a woman. It's a great gift for the game of chess to have Yifan Hou, Tania Sachdev, Melanie Ohme and others. The challenge is to enjoy beyond desire. :-)
firestorm firestorm 8/8/2014 04:11
Some of the previous articles on female players have been sexist, but I think the coverage at Tromso has been good. For example, I liked the Melanie Ohme interview- its great to see someone young enjoying the olympiad and just discussing her chess development. There are many decent chessbase articles on female chess players- Hou Yifan has excellent coverage, for example, Alina Ami is not only a strong player but an engaging journalist, so keep promoting the chess aspects and you're doing the right thing :)
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