SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
How can youthful talent become world-class talent? The Chinese bamboo plant takes 10 years to grow 6 inches, and then grows 10 feet in 6 months. But wait: Did the plant grow 10 feet in 6 months, or 10 feet 6 inches in 10 years and 6 months? This observation is central to the theme of the nature of talent in sport.
When I first started to play chess in high school it was exceptional if a player could reach international master (IM) level category by age 16. If a player became grandmaster (IGM) by age 21 then likely this individual was destined to fight for the world championship soon afterwards.
Today it is nothing special to reach IM level by age 16, and it is becoming increasingly clear that it is possible to become an IGM before age 16.
So what has changed in the years since I learned chess in the library of Rosemount High School?
Exponentially increased information, for one thing. The internet chess sites and chess databases are devoured by the youthful memories of today’s talents. The first time I saw a ‘chess informant’ I was 18 years old and already a chess master! Today this quality of information is available from the first day a player learns the moves…
More qualified master-level chess coaches is surely a significant factor: at Rosemount High School my first coach was a 1500 rated player!
And finally, more countries have developed chess cultures that quickly recognize chess talent and induct the youngster into a world-class level training program. From here it is just a question of dedication and application. Today’s chess world does not lack in opportunities for achieving title norms.
Today I introduce to my readers the young Ukraine talent, Illya Nyzhnyk, age 13 years and already with a grandmaster’s rating!
Illia Nyzhnyk is a Ukrainian chess player. He was born September 27, 1996 in Vinnytsia (Ukraine) and gained world-wide attention when he won Group B of the 2007 Moscow Open at the age of 10. He attained a nearly flawless score of 8,5/9 and his performance rating was 2633, that of a Grandmaster… In 2007 he won the European Youth Chess Championship for under 12…
In April 2008, Nyzhnyk won the Nabokov Memorial in Kyiv, Ukraine, with 8,5/11, and scored his first GM norm. In September 2008 he won, at the age of 12, the European Youth Chess Championship for under 16. Soon after, in December 2008, he placed 12th in the Ukrainian championship, with a performance rating of 2594…”
Here is part of a news report from Groningen of this year
Take a look at Illya’s FIDE rating chart!
Obviously the young Nyzhnyk is going places!
INTERVIEW WITH ILLYA NYZHNYK
What do you remember from your first tournament? Which memories are most vivid?
”I started to play chess in 2001. Almost all tournament of these years are forgotten. What I clearly remember is the tournament in Kamianets-Podolsk, where I played my first official game with grandmaster, although it was just a blitz game. My opponent was Spartak Vysochin.”
At a zoo
How would you estimate the limit of your achievements and how fast can you reach it?
”I am often asked when I am going to become a world champion. Normally I answer in 5-6 years .”
Waiting at an airport
Which you are outside of chess? How do you spend your free time and what is your hobby?
”At the moment my main hobby is physical-mathematical gymnasium N17. Only one week is left before the end of this school year, so I have no time left fir anything else than study, even for chess. Generally I like to play football with friends, ride bike.”
”When I am at home I go for a walk with my dog 2 times a day and always try to find some time for reading. Recently started Tolkien. I thought after the movies book won’t be as good, but reading tuned up to be more interesting than watching.”
Do you feel support from our chess federation? If you had chance to have open account for your preparation, how would you use finances first of all?
”Vinnitsa sport school № 6 pays for my participation in Ukrainian and international championships, for what many thanks to its manager and my coach Nikolay Bodnar. Several times Ukrainian Chess Federation provided significant assistance. Especially I want to say thank you to Oleg Tovchyga. ”
”In the last and one before last years I got good support from Kiev chess federation and its president Pavel Kuftyriov personally. There many people around who help me to some extend, for what I am very grateful. But money is never enough, I would need it more for high quality chess preparation.”
In the company of grandmasters
What do you remember most out of your travels? Which country provided most impressions for you and in which way?
”Each trip- is a small adventure. For example, in Benidorm we lived in the highest hotel of the city at one of highest floors. I was even scared to approach the windows. Or let’s say my trip to Groningen in December, when there were heavy snowfalls over all Europe. It deserves a special story.”
”I will only say that I arrived for the first round exactly from the train, and came just in time. I liked all the countries which I visited. Each one is good in its own way. Iceland seemed to me unusual and like nothing on earth. It’s nice in Holland. It’s comfortable in Germany. It’s interesting in Spain. And people are nice everywhere”
For whom did you root, Anand or Topalov? Why? How can you comment the match itself and what instructive did you find in it?
”I like the play of them both. But I believed match had to be won by Anand. That’s how it happened. Although if Topalov would win I won’t be sad. It’s great that they play! I have what to study from their play.”
What is most attractive in chess for you? Why do you love it?
”I don’t love chess for something. I just love to play it.”
If you were offered to gain any trait (ability) from any player by some magics, what would you like to borrow for your own improvement?
”I’m afraid that only one trait and only one player would be not enough .”
Illya even has his own website!
SEVERAL OF NYZHNYK’S BEST GAMES FROM THIS YEAR