Q & A: GM Miguel Illescas, Eight Times Spanish Champion, Kramnik’s Second In WCC Match Vs. Kasparov

Where Grandmasters Advise Young Players

What is the advantage of someone starting to play chess at an early age? When is it best to start? And for those who might be late in learning the game, are they able to get back on track to becoming a titled player?
Chess is like another language: those who learn it at an early age will speak it better than other people. Starting as a child is a great advantage if you finally dedicate yourself professionally, although you can recover lost time and reach a level of IM or GM, since these titles are nowadays easy to achieve.

If there are three main departments of the game — opening, middlegame and endgame — what portion of our time should we spend on each? And what is the most important?
The distribution of time should be based on three factors: the level of each player, the time spent on chess, and personal goals. The lower the level and the time spent, the greater the percentage on tactics and endgames. The higher the level and higher the objectives, then more important is strategy and openings.

From your own experience can you recall any specific type of opening position or endgame theme that an aspiring chess player should be sure to study because of its particular importance?
Rook endgames, classical openings (Italian Game, Orthodox Queen’s Gambit), open positions with lots of piece play.

Not everyone can be a chess world champion. But how can chess be of benefit in life and business?
Chess teaches you how to plan and make decisions. It also accustoms you to putting yourself in the place of others, to think what the other party wants, to negotiate and reach compromises with others and with yourself. On the other hand, you learn to face difficulties and to overcome defeats.

Why would you recommend chess to youngsters? What joys may they expect to experience on this thrilling journey, in addition to those you have mentioned in your previous answer?
I think it’s interesting to put yourself to the test, as well as to feel that your leisure time is being used for something constructive.

Read More in American Chess Magazine #06

American Chess Magazine

American Chess Magazine