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Natalia Pogonina - Interview for the Cacereno Chess Club

User Rating: / 2
Written by Natalia Pogonina   
Saturday, 31 October 2009


The Cacereno Chess Club began a series of interviews with top chess players to try to help stimulate women's chess. Natalia Pogonina was their #1 candidate for an interview.

Natalia Pogonina (WGM 2501 FIDE) is one of the most promising players on the international scene. Currently the world No. 14 and No. 3 in Russia.  Gold medal women's Olympic team in her country and won big tournaments such as 2 times European Champion sub18 and under 16, No. 1 in numerous international tournaments (2005 - Bykova Memorial, 2007 - Memorial Rudenko, 2009 - Moscow Open, etc. ). This year has surpassed the 2500 ELO barrier and is a serious candidate for the female world crown. She combines her brilliant career in chess with first steps as a model, and is also writing a book with her husband, Peter Zhdanov (they married on June 5), the revolutionary "Chess Kama Sutra"

1 . - A player like you has had the opportunity to see classmates and friends that started in chess but with the passage of time left chess.  It's something we see often in chess schools in our region, girls are initiated and then abandoned the game as the boys continue to play. Why do you think this happens?

Professional chess occupies a persons mind, and takes a lot of his time. So, many people just view chess as a pastime, or an educational technology which is used during the school years, and then left behind. As to girls many of them get distracted by other interests, lose motivation (since the earnings of women chess players are relatively small), start a family, etc.

2 .- The smaller clubs have few means to work, how we can promote women's chess without falling into the "positive discrimination"?

Let me quote myself, an article I have written for Chessbase:

Steps to take

Final question what should we do to make chess more popular among girls?

Run an educational campaign aimed at parents to help them learn that chess is a great game that develops the persons mind. Crush the stereotypes and provide enough information about the benefits of studying chess, and parents will be encouraging their daughters interest in chess!

Introducing chess in the school curriculum could also be a great step towards providing girls with opportunities of becoming good chess players.

Another key thing is sponsorship women chess is very attractive and exciting, so its worth investing into. If prizes in womens events increase to the same level as in mens, then girls (and their parents) will have a good financial motivation to consider chess seriously.

Finally, the girls themselves should know that they are equal to men in terms of chess talents, play in mens tournaments, study hard and believe in their powers. If most women start acting that way, then one day quantity will lead to quality, and the world chess elite will be enjoying more female players.

Its essential to remember that the sky is the limit and all the obstacles are in our heads

Press "Read more" to see the whole interview

3 .-  We have all heard of the Polgar sisters, even those that do not play chess. Judith and Susan have broken records and Judith is the first and only woman who has overcome the 2700 ELO (while Sophie seems who does not play chess) do you think you can reach 2700 ELO? What is your next goal as a player?

Id like to play chess as well as I can. However, one should progress step-by-step, so talking about 2700 is a bit too early for now. As to my chess dreams and goals thats too private, let it stay a bit of a mystery, ok? 

4 .- Chess and intelligence are not incompatible.  I always thought that women are much more intelligent than man (I'm sure I will be reproached for this) and have a higher work capacity. Beauty tie it breaks with the topics of chess and it is clear that benefits our sport but they say, with exceptions like Judith, who play worse than men do you think that this is so? And if you think why can it be?

Honestly speaking, Im a bit tired of debates on this subject. I guess each chess forum has a thread where people keep discussing why women are worse at chess than men. Many of the comments are either purely misogynistic, or (less frequently) feministic, which is equally inappropriate. I have summarized most of my views on this issue in the article Women and men in chess smashing the stereotypes (quoted above).

As to beauty thats a great trump of womens chess, which could be especially effective for promoting the game. Too bad most sponsors seem to be not aware of this...

Natalia Pogonina

Con su marido 5 .- I imagine that they are aware that a book with a title like "The Kamasutra of chess" will cause a shock of the media and chess community. The title is great for the media, but is it good for women's chess? Indeed, the Ateneo de Cáceres is a cultural association and would be a great place to present her book in Spain.

The title is a bit provocative indeed. However, this is going to be an extremely exciting book on chess & sex. I get lots of e-mails and other messages at, my Twitter, Youtube channel, etc. With questions What is the book about? How can I buy it?. Thousands of people are interested and intrigued, the top media (Times, NY Post, Toronto Star, etc.) have published articles on the book before its release. Its funny that there are already some critics groundlessly claiming that Pogoninas writing chess porn. However, how can one comment on a book which he hasnt read, or even seen a cover of? Its just short-sighted and narrow-minded behavior, isnt it? Just wait until next year, and you will have a chance to read one of the greatest chess best-sellers of all time! And a presentation in Spain would be just great. 

6 .- What has been your best game to this day?
  Or one of the best (to be placed at the end of the article).

Like most active grandmasters, I am planning to play my best game in the future. If you need a nice example of my chess, you may publish N. Pogonina T. Shadrina (Russian Women Superfinal-08). It serves as a pretty good illustration of what my current chess style is like.

Pogonina 7 .- If I could ask a question committed to a chess player what would you ask? For the record, this question is the will of another great chess player.

Id like to read an interview with Anna Muzychuk.  Btw, who was the mysterious stranger who suggested my personality?

  8 .- Finally one more thing. We know you like Spain and Caceres is Candidate for European Capital of Culture, the capital "if we come to visit us?

Thanks, I love Spain, and wish you the best of luck on winning the honorary title! However, even if it doesnt happen, Ill always be glad to visit your city. Just send me an invitation! 

Thanks for your time.

You are welcome!

See the full interview at the Cacereno Chess Club's website (English & Spanish versions)

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Comments (2)
1. Written by This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it on 14:50 02 2009 .
Thank her for her disposal and for providing us with some material from her website for this interview.  
Gracias por su colaboracin. Ignacio Garca (Club Ateneo Cacereo de Ajedrez)
2. Written by on 04:24 12 2009 .
! ! ! ! ! ! ! .

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