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Natalia Pogonina Became a Member of the Saratov Region Governor's Council

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Friday, 28 June 2013

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Recently Natalia Pogonina became a member of the Saratov region Governor's Council. Her main responsibility there will be to create a program of professional sports development in the region.

Members of the working group:

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Last Updated ( Friday, 28 June 2013 )

GQ (Spain) on Girls in Chess

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Tuesday, 11 June 2013

GQ (Spain) published an interesting article about girls in chess. If you don't know Spanish, you can always use Google Translate or just click on the links to view the images of beautiful chess-playing girls, articles and videos.

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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 11 June 2013 )

Susan Polgar on Natalia Pogonina

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Thursday, 25 April 2013
Today Natalia was honored to receive a generous praise from the legendary VIII Women's World Chess Champion and Chairman of FIDE Women's Chess Commission Susan Polgar:

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Last Updated ( Thursday, 25 April 2013 )

Natalia Pogonina Nominated for "Girl of the Month" by Russia 2 TV Channel

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Friday, 19 April 2013
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A leading Russian channel Russia-2 has a sports program called All included. Unsurprisingly, one of their most popular projects is the Girl of the month contest. Most nominees are well-known female athletes, while some artists are also invited from time to time.

The reigning Olympic womens chess champion & Russian womens chess champion Natalia Pogonina was recently featured in the program. We would like to share with you the official pictures and a few more exclusive images:


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Last Updated ( Friday, 19 April 2013 )

Chess Cash Kings-2012: Comments

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Monday, 11 February 2013

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The Chess Cash Kings-2012 article has received a decent amount of attention from the media, including, but not limited to:

The New York Times

Business Standard (feedback)

To address the most popular questions, concerns and misunderstandings, we wanted to provide a few brief comments.

1. Earnings and prize money are two different things. Many readers referred to the figures as "X makes Y per year" and commented on whether it is a lot ("I didn't know that one can make his living playing chess full-time"), or little ("if #10 in the world earns only..."). However, chess players have a variety of income sources apart from prize money - endorsements, coaching, writing books, giving simuls and so on. Check out the Making Money in Chess article for a larger list. Hence, in some cases there is a large gap between aggregate income and prize money.
2. It's about transparency of prize winnings and promoting chess as opposed to monitoring someone else's income. Taxes and expenses associated with hiring seconds/traveling/purchasing equipment were mentioned a few times. This is true, but the list was supposed to provide an estimate on the prize winnings. We are not trying to stick one's nose into the chess players' pockets and figure out how much cash they have made. It is their personal business.
3. Women's list. We haven't made up our minds yet on whether to create a separate list of female chess players with highest tournament earnings or not. Besides, thanks to the upcoming Women's World Chess Championship match, at least one women is expected to make it to the top-10 "open" list.
4. How accurate is the list? On the one hand, most appearance fees and certain prizes are being kept secret, so we can't be sure about anything. On the other hand, we have conducted a few interviews with top players and organizers that have helped shed light on the missing data. Another indicator of our rating list being reasonably accurate is that so far we haven't received any complaints from the featured (or non-featured) players. Of course, some of them might have overlooked the article or ignored it, but it's not likely.

Thanks for your feedback and advice on how to make the Chess Cash Kings rating list better!

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Last Updated ( Thursday, 14 February 2013 )

Natalia Pogonina Interviewed by Russian Communal Standard Magazine

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Tuesday, 22 January 2013

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Chess is an ancient game that has captured the hearts of many people. Throughout history chess has been popular among thinkers, poets and rulers. Nowadays this is a game played by millions. While at first glance chess might seem to be dull and boring, in reality it is full of action and tension. By playing chess one gets to develop one's logical sense and improve the thinking process. A great benefit of chess is that by learning to plan our own actions and anticipate the activity of other people we gain an important real-life skill. Chess helps to become more successful, expand one's horizons, achieve new goals in one's career and personal life. Becoming more confident, stress resistant and stronger analytically are other advantages of studying chess.

Natalia Pogonina knows about this like few others do. Among her multiple prestigious titles are: Olympic team & individual chess champion (2012), Russian women's chess champion (2012), European Team Champion and runner-up at World Team Chess Championship (2011), winner of European Club Cup (2011). Natalia shares her thoughts in an exclusive interview for Russian Communal Standard Magazine.

- Natalia, can women compete on par with men in chess? For example, in tennis, swimming and many other sports men are just stronger physically...
- They can, but it's a rare phenomenon. Among the world's top-100 players there is just one lady. The main reason for this is probably gender discrimination. Very few parents encourage their daughters to attend chess clubs. Also, many coaches are reluctant to work with girls, because they treat them as the inferior sex chess-wise and believe that they will never become good players anyway. Additionally, after marriage and, especially, giving birth, it is typical of women to quit. Professional chess players have to travel from one tournament to another, and this is not an attractive lifestyle for most married women. Nonetheless, I hope that we will be seeing more strong female chess players in the future.

- How is "women's chess" different from "men's chess"?
- Men are less emotional and more pragmatic. Let's say there is a chance to a tie in a large open tournament. Quite a few male pros are likely to negotiate the outcomes of the final round and avoid taking risks. Women usually fight till the end; women's chess is very exciting and unpredictable.

- Male chess players are often sporting old sneakers, dirty baggy jeans with coffee stains...On the contrary, women are dressed stylishly and wear make-up. Should a chess player care about his appearance and outfit, or should he only care about his chess performance and look whatever way he wants to?
- In my opinion, it is important to be well-groomed and elegantly dressed. Of course, a lot depends on the status of the tournament. If it is an open event for amateurs, then there is no need to impose a strict dress-code. After all, they are paying their own money to compete. Some of the guys are coming to the playing venue right after their real job, being tired and barely catching their breath. Talking about super tournaments and official events, everyone is supposed to be dressed respectably. The spectators & the sponsors won't be happy if the players look like homeless people. Hence, most of the top grandmasters to care for their public image. Of course, there are exceptions, the nutty professor-type GMs, but when there are few of them, then it's not a problem. Just adds some spice to the game.

- Is it true that some Chinese players are using special balms in order to confuse the opponents? What other means can women use to throw their opponents off balance?
- The Chinese team is indeed well-known for applying certain balms that are mind-expanding. Also, they have special teas which increase a person's concentration. Women in general? They can try to catch a man off-guard at the board by wearing a sexy decollete, or surprise a woman by buying a new flashy blouse. Chess history knows a lot of behind-the-scene tricks: kicking under the table, muttering, inviting hypnotists. Some people are not very picky when their career success is at stake. Also, chess players are expected to be ready to take doping tests, which is kind of silly. The list of forbidden medicines is that same as for the other athletes, while it should have been entirely different. After all, the key component of a chess player's performance is how well one's brain is working. Much more important is the problem of cheating prevention, i.e., making sure that no one is getting human or computer assistance during the games.

- You, chess players, can foresee the moves of the opponent. And how can a regular person learn how to think strategically and plan ahead? Any quick tips?
- Chess is an excellent model of life and a good simulator of making decisions. It teaches us to carefully assess the situation, consider all the factors involved and come to the right conclusion. The game is beneficial for both kids and their parents. Therefore, it is not surprising that the number of schools which are including chess into the study plan is increasing, while private lessons are becoming more and more popular among adults. Of course, chess is not the only way of acquiring such skills. For example, studying exact sciences has a similar effect.

- Such long tournaments as the Olympiad that can last for weeks must be devastating. How do you stay in shape?
- I like soccer, volleyball, basketball, skating, jogging, dancing. Besides, going out for a walk is a good idea.

- There is a common belief that all the chess players were nerds at school and had only excellent marks. Also, they are supposed to be Math wizards. Is this the case with you?
- At school I did better in the humanities than in Math and didn't have all A-s. However, I have a college degree in Law with a GPA average of 5.0 (the highest possible in Russian universities -, which is a subject for good-natured jokes coming from my friends and relatives.

Natalia Pogonina is one of the few women in the history of chess who managed to break the 2500 FIDE rating threshold, which is traditionally associated with the playing strength of a GM 

- How many hours per day should one study to reach a professional level in chess?
- This is a tough question. There are different layers of professionalism in chess. If we are talking about someone who is a contender for the World Chess Champion title, then he is expected to work on chess full-time, about as much as people do at their regular job. Women are generally less organized and less willing to study independently. A lot depends on the person. By far not all of us have a strict schedule. Sometimes I study vigorously, and sometimes hardly do anything at all. There are also chess addicts, of course. To sum it all up, professional chess requires consistent concentration of one's physical and mental energies. Caissa doesn't tolerate unfaithfulness.

Interviewer: Veronika Fomicheva

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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 22 January 2013 )

Natalia Pogonina: "Women's Titles Don't Mean Anything in the Men's World"

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Sunday, 16 September 2012

Winner of Chess Olympiad in Istanbul Natalia Pogonina

Interviewer: Elena Vaytsekhovskaya,

What is a Chess Olympiad? Why was Judit Polgar the only woman who could compete on par with male grandmasters? What thoughts do chess players have at the board? Do chess players need muscles? Was Robert James Fischer mad? Answers to these and other questions can be found in an interview of grandmaster and two-time Olympic champion Natalia Pogonina


European Team Chess Champion and Vice-Champion of the World Team Chess Championship, grandmaster Natalia Pogonina recently returned from the Chess Olympiad with two gold medals. Our womens chess team has achieved a team victory for the second time in the Russian history (not counting the Soviet victories

- Natasha, what do the chess players themselves consider to be more prestigious the Olympiad or the World Championship?

- Being called a World Champion is obviously more prestigious. However, if we take team events, then the Olympiad is unmatched.

- Chess Olympiad what is it?

- On the one hand, its a great festival. On the other hand a tense and exciting tournament. It is very important. Almost 160 countries participated in the Olympiad at Istanbul, including New Zealand, Uganda lets say, most of the nations from all over the globe. There were a few thousand participants.

- And what about the Olympic slogan: Taking part is more important than winning?

- For such countries as Russia there is always only one goal: to win. Thats the reason why we all feel the responsibility and cant relax even for a minute. Losing focus can quickly lead to forgetting about your dreams and ambitions.

- Has this goal (gold) been formulated for our chess players since the times when Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov were sparkling?

- Yes. But nowadays the competition is much tougher, especially in the Open section. The chess world is generally more condescending towards women. Men are more competitive, and they take losses more personally.

- And what about the competition in the womens chess?

- Our main rivals are usually the Chinese ladies. In Istanbul they had the reigning Womens World Chess Champion Hou Yifan on board 1. She is widely considered to be a chess prodigy: she won the title when she was only 16. Now Hou is 18. Also, there are other teams that have traditionally been strong: Ukraine, Georgia, USA

- What board did you play on?

-  I was a reserve player. We have the 4+1 system, meaning that the reserve player can appear during any round, but only on board 4. Overall there were 11 rounds. I have played 8 games; other members of the team 9.

- You had the best performance on your board, right?

- Yes. The best result among reserve players, 6.5/8. Hence, I now have two Olympic medals: a team one and an individual one. The same result was demonstrated by another girl from our team Nadezhda Kosintseva. She earned gold on board 3. Alexandra Kosteniuk won bronze on board 4. So, speaking figuratively, we stroke with the tail. This skill is very important in chess. Most countries can find one or two strong players, but very few are capable of allocating five stars. I guess we won the Chess Olympiad in Istanbul due to having a strong tail.

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Last Updated ( Sunday, 16 September 2012 )

Natalia Pogonina & Evgeny Tomashevsky returned from the Chess Olympiad

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Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Saratov minister of sports, journalists, fans and chess enthusiasts are greeting Natalia Pogonina (team Olympic gold, individual Olympic gold) and Evgeny Tomashevsky (team Olympic silver).

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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 12 September 2012 )

Natalia Pogonina Interviewed by Chess Rex

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Monday, 30 July 2012

Thank you Natalia for taking the time and granting us this interview to answer
questions from your fans at

Natalia says, the more original and uncommon they are, the better.


1) When our opponent castles, should we use all our strength in attacking the castled king, or concentrate more on controlling the center?


Chess is a very complicated game, so there are no universal rules of this scale. The devil is in the details, so sometimes you have to play for a direct king attack; sometimes in the center; sometimes even on the other side of the board, etc.

2) While playing, what things should grandmasters always keep in mind?


Try not to fall asleep, I guess.

3) Which offers more chances to win an attacking approach or defensive playing?


Being a universal player. Also, its more about playing well than having a certain style. For example, while being universal, Kasparov is more of a tactical player. Carlsen is more positional. But I bet you wouldnt be unhappy about having either of their ratings.

4) In blitz, when both the sides are in equal position and any wrong move can
invite a blunder and you dont have much time left, how do you find a suitable move quickly?


You have to develop your intuition and practice a lot in order to get used to playing quickly and well. Also, when both partners are short on time in blitz, many mistakes go unpunished. So you should try to avoid making obvious blunders and confuse the opponent if possible.


1) Suppose you are playing with another GM and the foremost rule is that you
have to draw the game, what opening would you start with that will help you to force the draw?


I will just play my standard openings and try to win, but keep in mind that if there is a way to draw (e.g., perpetual check), then I can go for it. Choosing dead drawn openings is bad from the psychological point of view. A player starts simplifying the position and talking himself into believing that he will be able to hold it. Gradually, the position is becoming worse and worse, and then he loses. Therefore, you should remember that when you need a draw you are happy with either drawing or winning. Basically, two outcomes out of three suit you.

2) If in chess all pawns become bishopthen what would be the problem in
playing the game? Or who will get the advantageWhite or Black? If you are playing such game as white, then what would be your first move and why?


This game is a mate in 4: 1. Bf7 Kf7 2.Bc4 (or 2.Bh5) Ke8 3.Qh5 Bg6 4.Qg6X
There are a few sub-variations (exercise: find them), but its still a mate in 4.

3) What are the differences between normal chess and jumping chess in terms of tactics?

Why is jumping chess is not so popular?
Do you think Online Chess sites need to include this type of chess?


Personally I prefer classical chess over all the variants. Also, I believe that in terms of marketing its better to have one official format and promote it. If we have a hundred versions of the game, each of which is played by a few thousand fans, we wont ever get anywhere in terms of establishing chess as one of the worlds leading sports. However, dont get me wrong, I mean no offence to people who enjoy other types of chess. I myself used to play bughouse and other variations when I was a teen.

4) What is best way, resign early when we see the coming defeat or see till the end? What do you prefer?


My formula for this is resign when the weaker of the two players realizes that its all over. You can find a detailed answer in my article When should one resign?.

5) If God gives you the power to turn your family in to chess set then which chess piece (other than Queen) would you like to be and why?


I love all my pieces equally; otherwise one of them might become insulted and start avenging me. Besides, dont you think that being a human is somewhat more advantageous than being a chess piece?

6) If all the chess pieces become alive and they are in a battle field then which chess piece would be less tensed and why?


Maybe the bishops, because they will set their hopes upon Gods mercy?

7) I have weakness in playing fast games, in a hurry I make more blunders than my opponent, but I can play days game well where I can take time and give my moves.  Can you give me some tips that would help me to play blitz games better?


Hope this article will help (Playing Blitz).

8.) Can chess make a child an introvert or unsocial?  Im asking this because I have seen such kids and elder people who are such type.  Obviously it doesnt apply for all, but is it true to some extent?


I am afraid you are mixing up the cause and the effect here. Ive read stories about kids who, for example, had an injured leg, so they had to stay at home and read books/play chess. Then they grew up relatively unsocial. Or someone who doesnt like to communicate a lot with other people might decide to choose chess as a career, because of its silent nature. However, many of the people who like chess are very amicable and communicable. To sum it all up, chess does attract a lot of nerds and nuts, but it doesnt mean that everyone who plays it must be one.

Last but not least, introvert and unsocial are not synonyms. While being unsocial is typically regarded to be a negative trait, being an introvert is quite ok.


1) I recently played in a high school dual meet.  I was beating my opponent and during my turn I knocked over my king by mistake.  We stopped the clocks and the game and asked our teacher if this means I resigned because he would accept the resignation.  Teacher said to keep playing as if it never happened.  I eventually beat him, although he said that I accept his mistake resignation.  My question is did I or he win the game?


Knocking the king off the board doesnt mean resignation. We all know this symbolic action from movies/history, but in the modern world it doesnt have a legal status. There is another example: capturing the king. Kids are often taught that the goal of the game is to capture the opponents king (some coaches think that this concept is easier to understand than checkmating). So, imagine a situation when one of the players makes an illegal move and exposes his king to a capture. The other one happily grabs it and says he won. This happens all the time. Instead, of course, the illegal move should be annulled, and the game should continue in a normal way.

2) Is the Fried Liver attack for black?  Can black also play this attack?  It is one of my favorite attacks.


Did you mean to ask if there is an equivalent of the Fried Liver attack for Black? Guess not, because Black doesnt have the time for it. Also, against die-hard Fried Liver fans one can simply play 3Bc5 instead of 3Nf6.

3) I have a question, should I read to become stronger at chess, or is playing enough?


Id say that the stronger you are, the more you have to study. For novices the ratio is maybe 80% practice, 20% theory. For mid-level (Expert to FM) it is closer to 50%-50%. The very top GMs can spend 90% of the time or more preparing for the games.

Also, by practice I mean playing classical and rapid time control games and carefully analyzing ones mistakes afterwards. If one, for example, just keeps mindlessly playing blitz day after day on the Internet, his skills will improve somewhat, but not much. Theory and practice always go hand in hand.

4) I have come across many books by grandmasters, should I purchase one?


Of course. Since your question implies that you have never bought chess books before, I suggest you start with something about the history of the game and/or a chess manual of some sort. Just dont buy one of those voluminous boring opening encyclopedias.

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Last Updated ( Monday, 30 July 2012 )
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