Interview with GM Li Chao – a 2700+ planning to become a Pro chess player (“maybe”) after his students become GM
Dec 16, 2014

INTERVIEW by IM/ WGM Anna Matnadze

Official website/ 19th Magistral de Barcelona LIVE games with analysis

He is a nice, candid guy, always in good spirits and full of energy. He comes from a huge chess country, is a Super – GM with 2730 elo points, playing non – stop lately and collecting titles all over the World. Everything to be proud of, one would say. But for him, the greatest achievements are still to come. After that, he would finally consider being a pro (!). Do not miss this rare interview with Li Chao, conducted by the PR Manager Anna Matnadze at the recent Magistral Ciutat de Barcelona (Nov, 28 – Dec, 2).

1) Hello Mr. Li Chao, welcome to Barcelona. Could you please, describe to us your preparation process for the Magistral Casino Tournament? What chess analyzing program do you use?

You know, I didn’t have much time for preparation, because these days I played many many games… All in a row. So I think maybe the best preparation was just rest 🙂
And usually I use Houdini for analyzing.

2) Whom were you expecting to be the most difficult opponent?

For me, the most difficult opponent was Balogh, of course. But a very, very interesting player I think is Illescas Cordoba; some years ago, he was one of the World´s leading players. I saw some games, he played with Kasparov or Karpov and so on. You know, for me, he is a star… and he knows everything. So I was so happy to play with him.

3) Had you been to Barcelona before? What are your impressions? Did you plan to do any sightseeing this time? If yes, what were you planning and what did you visit?

Not really. Just 7 years ago I played an Open in Pamplona 🙂
I like Barcelona very much. It seems to be an amazing football city… when I first arrived here, I saw Barça everywhere! Of course, I am a Barça fan too, so I was so happy to finally get here!!
Actually, at the beginning, I had planned to go to the stadium and watch a match. But you know, I started not so well… so finally I punished myself and cancelled it… Maybe next time! 🙂

4) Of course, so now you have an extra reason to come back then!! :)) You come from a huge chess county as is China. Chess is really so very popular there (and I have seen it with my own eyes!)… and you have so many new talented players every day. Tell us how do you do that? How does your Government support chess and how Chinese training looks like?

I think our country’s chess is not so popular. The point is, we have many many people… so that is why you think chess is popular in China. But next time, try to go to somewhere and ask people around; maybe they don,t know what is chess…

And yes, for now I have a club with my good friend GM Wang Yue, and we have 10 kids now. I am a coach as well, so i teach them every day.

The government does support us. It is like rule in our country, every sport gets government´s help. Although for us, not a great deal, as chess is not an Olympic sport.

5) Tell us more about the chess academies in China.

Not so easy to talk about that. We have some rules :), and I cannot reveal the secrets. So sorry!

6) You´ve got many students yourself. What is more Li Chao, a pro player or coach?

I like to play chess, but some time ago we just came up with this idea of coaching. But when we started to teach them… they just became like my kids. You know, sometimes, I am like their father or babysitter  So, what I mean is that… if I have time, of course I would like to become a pro chess player; but for now, I hope they can use their time to work hard, and achieve some serious results. After that, perhaps I will give up this school, and become a pro chess player. At the moment though, you know,I am so busy every day… usually I go to bed at midnight, 1 or 2 am, so I just hope they will improve as soon as possible and I will get some deserved rest!… 🙂

7) Is chess your only main occupation, or do you have any other profession as well? If you weren’t a chess player what would you be?

For now, chess and my kids i.e. my students are my life… I am interested in many many other things, but I don’t have enough time to do any other stuff… Computer Sciences, or Medicine, for instante. Yeah, I would like to be a doctor. I really want to become a Chinese doctor, because my father is one.

8) So interesting indeed!!… Still, back to your chess carreer: You have won lots of strong tournaments. What has been your most beloved title ever? What is the achievement you are most proud of?

I think titles are not so important. And I hope, for the future, any of my kids that can become a World Champion (smiles) That will be the title I will be most proud of! 🙂

9) Please, introduce to us your family. Do they play chess as well? Where do you live?

My family is just a normal one in our country. My father is a Chinese doctor, and my mom is an English teacher at the University (although my English is very bad…). First, when I was 3 years old, I saw my father playing Chinese chess, and I just watch that. After 2 years, at the age of 5, I already wanted to learn Chinese chess, and we went there. But oh! The class was full, no place left for me… then someone told my mom: “Chess is like Chinese chess, the two are very similar, your boy could go there”. So finally I had no alternative thus chose chess. And here I am. By now, my father can play some chess, but his rating is like 1200, and my mom knows the rules.

10) Being a chess player is tough. We need lots of tips to get over this and that. What is your secret as to how to recover from a bitter loss?

No way. Just waiting for the next round. Usually after a loss, I watch some movie.

11) What do you think would be necessary to do in order to make chess as popular a sport as, for example, football or tennis… ? What would be your strategy or ideas to attract more Sponsors?

So sorry, I don`t know that. More blitz tournaments, maybe?

12) What do you think about the “short draws phenomenon”? What would be the mechanism to avoid them?

Yes, I think I have a remedy for that. Maybe there should be some big prize money, so called “fight money”; like if there are 9 rounds, if you draw 6 games you don´t get any money (laughs) Just kidding, but this is the idea. It just needs some further shaping…

13) What is your opinion about cheating? It is becoming a very serious problem.

Yes, that´s a serious problem, but I think maybe blitz tournaments don’t have this one. And another idea would be delayed live broadcasting, maybe just for 10 minutes or something like that.

14) There are emerging stronger and stronger chess programs every day. What do you think about this? Computers vs. humans?

No chance for humans. but I think the point is, when we play chess, we experiment and feel a lot. That is exactly why chess is a sport. If we played with computers, it would be just like doing some Math tests…..

15) Which of the youngest players have the potential, in your opinion, to become a next World Champion, if any? Is Carlsen there for a longer time?

Maybe Caruana. I hope to see him play with Carlsen. But you know, I think my countrymen boys also have some chances, like Yu Yangyi or Weiyi. Yu Yangyi is a very good friend of mine, I know him very well. He is like my little brother. So I hope he can get some opportunity to get there one day.

16) Why am I not surprised your students just adore you?!? Again, what would be your advice to young people who are just starting to play chess and take it seriously?

Just work hard. Look, I think I don´t have some special talent, but I do work hard. Maybe I can´t become a World Champion, but if you work hard every day, 2700 is not so difficult 🙂

17) I want to have some of that “not so special talent”. What are your plans for the future, Li Chao?

Step by step to teach my kids. If they can become Gms, maybe I will come back to be a pro chess player.

Thank you very much for an extremely interesting interview!

Thank you and further success to the Magistral Ciutat de Barcelona tournament!

Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
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