1) How long do you play chess and what could you tell about yourself shortly as a chessplayer?
I started to play chess in 29th October 1992 when a classmate of mine Armands took me with him to a local chessclub in the tiny Latvian/Estonian bordertown Valka – I was 9 years old. You might ask how do I remember this – I got my first diploma after my first visit so I kept it as a reminder how it all started. Then exactly after 20 years, in 2012, I visited Valka once again and gifted them the diploma back, nicely decorated. It was a very emotional and symbolic moment for everyone, especially for me. In the chess club I learned probably the most important thing – to love the game and enjoy playing it. I have the best memories of my hometown and my first chess coaches – Vsevolods Dudzinskis, Maris Koops and Jevgenijs Ivanovskis.
2) How do you see yourself in 5 years?
I hope I will have at least once reached ELO 2650 and checked at World Top 100. I think that’s the maximum I could do as a chessplayer and when my player’s ambitions are fulfilled, I can fully concentrate working as a chess coach, write some books or perhaps something more modern for online learning. I want to do something good for the chess world and not be just another 2600 guy. When I’ll be an old man, I want to look back and be sure that all that time was not wasted but invested.
3) Do you have a player who has always been your favorite and/or has inspired you?
In my youth I greatly admired Garry Kasparov because he was the World Champion, seemingly unbeatable, charismatic. Also I was and still am a great fan of Alexander Alekhine – I’ve read several times Alexander Kotov’s book “White and Black” which is sort of a biography of Alekhine’s life – that was always something special for me. However, my favorites tend to change when I understand more and more of the chess world. From modern chess players I’ve been probably most inspired by Igor Kovalenko when he switched to Latvian Chess Federation. Seeing his willpower to win and invested time into studying chess made me ask one question – maybe I can do it was well?
4) How many hours/minutes per day do you devote for chess on a daily basis? Participation in tournaments doesn't count!
Aside from my work as a chess coach, not much, perhaps 1 hour/day, maybe even less. I don’t count browsing various chess websites or playing online, but studying. I’ve found that it’s very difficult to work alone – it’s always much easier working in a group, brainstorming.
5) Name your three best and worst characteristics!
Kind, honest, funny, sometimes selfish, irritable, lazy
6) Former World Champion Bobby Fischer once said that chess is life. What do you think?
I’d say that for professionals chess is a lifestyle – chessplayers are one weird social group! Sometimes I even think that a chessplayer is a diagnosis...But on a more serious note, I believe that life is much, much more than chess otherwise it would be just sad that a person had nothing more than 32 pieces and a chessboard, no matter how brilliant he is at it.
7) Could you win Magnus Carlsen in a match with a pawn handicap in every game?
Yes, I think so, however I’m sure he would save many games and perhaps win one if I would cooperate.
8) What future do you see for online chess?
I think the importance of online chess has been growing all the time and we’re ahead of even greater changes! Internet and social networks have already changed the society (for the worst or the better, that’s another discussion) and chess is changing with it.
9) What's the last book you have read which is not about chess?
The Girl in the Spider’s Web – the 4th novel in the Millenium series. I’m a huge fan of the original trilogy and it’s such a shame that Stieg Larsson could not finish what he was planning. As far as I know, he had planned 6 or 7 books. David Lagercrantz is doing his best to fit into his shoes but one can’t get rid of the feeling that this is not what Larsson was planning.
10) And finally, what do you expect from the Pro Chess League?
To have fun playing in the company of my friends against some of the best players in the world! I imagine we will gather together in one room, have a great atmosphere and enjoy the time!