Monday, November 9, 2009

Interview with Gregory Kaidanov

Grandmaster Gregory Kaidanov is one of the strongest chess players in the United States and one of the top 200 rated players in the world. I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Kaidanov a few months ago when he came to South Carolina and toured around 4 cities putting on various simuls and lectures to promote the South Carolina Open. I had the opportunity to have lunch with Gregory and found him to be tremendously pleasant and also a true gentleman which I hate to say is missing greatly from a game that is supposed to be "the gentlman's game".

Thanks for visiting.  Sit back and enjoy my interview with chess sensation, Gregory Kaidanov.

Grandmaster Gregory Kaidanov Interview with the Weak Square
WS: Hello Mr. Kaidanov, first off let me thank you for your time and right off the bat I just have to say you are not near as pretty as the last GM that I interviewed, no offense of course.

GK: If you would say that I'm pretty, it would make me worry.

WS: Who is your favorite player ever and a few lines about why?

GK: I don't have a favorite player. In different times of my career I enjoyed studying (and benefited from) the games of Tal, Botvinnik and Karpov. Nowadays I enjoy looking at the games of young players like Carlsen, Aronian, Gashimov, Tomashevsky. When I see that not a very well known player wins a strong tournament I am always curious to see how did he does it and what his style looks like.

WS: Do you have any rituals or superstitions you abide by before a serious game?

GK: I am no different from majority of professional players: preparation, meal, short walk, etc.

WS: My rituals usually include trying to slip my opponent some kind of laxative, but we're all different right? Have you ever experienced such a devastating loss that you considered giving up chess permanently?

GK: Many times! The first one was when I was 10 years old. It's an interesting story, you can read about it at

WS: What's your favorite beer?

GK: I like dark beer though I am not a heavy drinker, Killian's Irish Red is one of my favorites.

WS: My favorite beer is "free" with it's close cousin "stolen".  Speaking of beverages, were you the guy inside the Amp Can? (

GK: Was not able to open a link

WS: I'll take that as a "no". But for those not in the "know" a guy dressed up as an Amp can and went to Washington Park and started whipping a bunch of tail in chess.  Ok so next question, I imagine making a transition to English was difficult enough as a second language but were you able to pick up the Kentucky accent when you moved here?

GK: Didn't succeed in picking it up, but made a big progress in understanding it. :)

WS: I still have trouble understanding the hillbilly dialect and I was born and raised in the South, I can't imagine what it must be like for a foreigner, moving to Kentucky what a culture shock. Anyways, what advice would you offer to an adult class player who has hopes of reaching 2200 one day?

GK: This advice will differ greatly depending on the age, level, style, types of mistakes this player does, etc., etc.

WS: Does your wife or your children like chess?

GK: My wife is 1500-1600 player strength, though she thinks she is better than that :) My kids enjoy an occasional game, but that's about it.

WS: Your wife is in the same boat as every other chess player I think. So other than reading my blog on a daily basis, what is your favorite activity aside from chess... keep it clean please?

GK: I have many hobbies: poker, reading, hiking, movies are just a few. Unfortunately there is not enough time for everything.

WS: I understand you offer chess lessons via phone, Internet, etc. Would you like to say anything in regards to that? Are you currently welcoming new students?

GK: I am currently working around capacity, especially when it comes to evening hours. Even Saturdays and Sundays are very busy. So far I didn't turn down anyone, but I will have to change something, maybe rising prices again (though I did it just a few months ago). I am very passionate about teaching, but at the same time feel very sad that I almost had to give up playing, to combine both at this stage is virtually impossible.

WS: And how much would you be willing to pay me for chess lessons? I've picked up over 400 points in the last year, I'm sure you could learn a thing or two from me.

GK: Don't worry, everyone who plays poker knows, it's just a variance.

WS: Touchet! Chess is a fascinating game and draws people from all walks of life. Because of this there have been countless bizarre, outrageous, strange and unbelievable things in chess history. I say all this to preface the question, what's the most outrageous thing that has happened to you during a game?

GK: I heard many such stories, but the most outrageous things which happened to me were couple of cases when the lights went off during the game. Sorry to disappoint.

WS: Thanks again for your time, best wishes as you continue your playing career.

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