Interview with “The Chess Queen” Alexandra Kosteniuk
Alexandra Kosteniuk is a former Women’s World Chess Champion and an great person! She promoted chess, especially chess for girls, all across the world and has motivated many kids, teens, and adults to improve their lives with chess. I had the pleasure of interviewing this very special lady and think it would be interesting for all of you to read. More Info about Alexandra can be found @ www.chessqueen.com.
George Krasnopolskiy: At what age did you learn to play chess, and from who?
Alexandra Kosteniuk: At 5 from my Dad. I was very happy that my Dad would spend so much time with me, and I always tried to make him happy by listening to his explanations on how to play chess. He would reward me for correct answers (by giving me candy and/or coins), so it was great learning chess!
George Krasnopolskiy: Who did you play chess with while growing up? Did you play mostly boys or girls? And were you afraid to play boys, or was it the other way around?
Alexandra Kosteniuk: I played chess with every one. I was lucky to grow up in Russia, as almost everyone plays chess, in parks, at school, in clubs. We used to play all together, boys and girls. In Russia boys are not afraid of girls and girls are not afraid of boys, chess is a universal game. My Dad would teach me during the week and during weekends would take me to parks and chess clubs so I could test myself against other people.
George Krasnopolskiy: Were you always good at chess?
Alexandra Kosteniuk: I started like everyone knowing nothing. But my Dad spent a lot of time training me, I would study chess at least 5 hours a day, mostly tactics solving. Chess is a fair game, the more you study, the more it will reward you with wins! In a sense it’s a great school of life, since in life it’s the same, to achieve something, you need to work hard!
George Krasnopolskiy: When did you beat your dad (or other significant chess figure in your life)?
Alexandra Kosteniuk: It’s funny, but while my dad trained me for more than 10 years since I was 5 till I became Grandmaster, and I never played a game with him, he used to quiz me with chess books. As for having proud of a win, I was very proud to have beaten a man Grandmaster (Sergey Kudrin) in 1999, when I was 15 years old. After that I have beaten many men Grandmasters in classical, rapid and blitz games.
George Krasnopolskiy: What were your other favorite activities to do, other than chess, while growing up?
Alexandra Kosteniuk: I lived like any girl, simply I had 5 hours of chess studying a day apart from school. I simply did not watch any TV, that saved a lot of time. Nowadays kids waste much too much time watching TV. Imagine how much you could achieve if you simply did not watch TV. I used to go out for sports, with friends, singing karoke, skating, going to movies, etc.
George Krasnopolskiy: What is your favorite chess quote?
Alexandra Kosteniuk: Tarrasch: Chess, like love, like music, has the power to make men happy.
George Krasnopolskiy: What do you like most about chess?
Alexandra Kosteniuk: It’s fair. If you win, you deserve the win, if you lose, it’s your fault, and you can learn to play better next time. You can always get better at chess. Also, it’s a great game to meet new people and make friends. Thanks to chess, I have travelled to dozens of new countries, learned new languages, have many international friends!
George Krasnopolskiy: How do you feel chess has helped you in your life? Are there any specific situations you can think of?
Alexandra Kosteniuk: Sure, chess makes it easier for me to think logically and to come out with a decision. It has helped develop my memory, and my problem-solving abilities. Chess helps concentrate and find the main elements in an issue to be resolved. Chess teaches you to uses all your assets, not to waste efforts, and to have a plan.
George Krasnopolskiy: What did you want to be when you were a kid? Work/ Profession wise.
Alexandra Kosteniuk: Since I was very young I was a chess champion (at 8 Moscow champion, at 12 girls world champion), so I never actually thought of doing anything apart from chess. When you do well, why change and start a career from scratch?
George Krasnopolskiy: You are not just a chess player, but also a model and a mother; are there any other goals in your life you are still trying to pursue?
Alexandra Kosteniuk: I love to do all kinds of new things and to always be learning new subjects. In life it’s important to be flexible, you never know what you will like in the future and how good you’ll be at it. So don’t be afraid, try!