“Chess teaches you so considerably!”: An job interview with IM Sabrina Vega

Jamie Linger

The a number of periods Spanish women’s winner and Olympic medalist Sabrina Vega Gutierrez, born on February 28, 1987, in Las Palmas de Gran Canarias in Spain, became a WGM in 2007 and gained her IM title in 2013. Lately, she met with Tatiana Flores by means of Zoom to […]

The a number of periods Spanish women’s winner and Olympic medalist Sabrina Vega Gutierrez, born on February 28, 1987, in Las Palmas de Gran Canarias in Spain, became a WGM in 2007 and gained her IM title in 2013. Lately, she met with Tatiana Flores by means of Zoom to chat about the Premio Reina Sofia (Queen Sofia Prize) award she has lately acquired, about her specialist daily life for the duration of the pandemic, her situation as a function design in women’s chess, and much extra.

Sabrina Vega Gutiérrez at the 3rd version of the Salamanca Chess Competition in February 2021

 

Tatiana Flores: You a short while ago won the Premio Reina Sofia (Queen Sofia Prize), which is awarded for “particularly relevant gestures of nobility or truthful enjoy in sports activities”. You acquired the prize simply because you made the decision not to participate in the Blitz and Fast Planet Championship 2017 in Saudi Arabia for the reason that of the ailments that had been imposed there on woman players. What did it imply to you to acquire this award from the the Queen of Spain?

Sabrina Vega: I think each award and distinction that I have acquired mainly because of my chess achievements is an honor, and to me they are all important. This a single, however, was a extremely unique 1. Not only mainly because the King and the Queen of Spain gave it to me personally or due to the fact it is a person of the most prestigious Spanish awards, but also because I obtained it for a choice that experienced a ton to do with the transmission of values that I believe are quite essential in chess. To me, chess and sports have usually been far more me than just a discipline in which you compete – chess and sporting activities in common achieve considerably further and also have a social perform. This award identified my attempts to protect this and this will make it distinctive for me.

Sabrina Vega Gutiérrez standing subsequent to the King and Queen of Spain following acquiring the award

How a lot did the fantastic chess culture of Gran Canaria influence your final decision of getting a expert chess participant?

This is a issue I’m constantly quite eager to talk about in the seminars and conferences I have the luck to sometimes give at golf equipment or chess situations. I think, a single of the most essential factors to identify chess is the tradition that institutions and educational facilities that aid and endorse this activity have set up. I imagine that is what allows the most.

Here I usually refer to my job as an case in point: I was the very first 1 in my family members and in my close atmosphere who started to chess. And I uncovered chess mainly because it has these a long tradition in this article in Gran Canarias and is continue to really existing.

At initially, chess for me was just an extracurricular activity, but this kind of possibilities assistance a lot to foster interest in chess. We also have had a great deal of leading tournaments here and big simultaneous exhibitions that took position all around the city – picture how interesting that was for me as a child! – and chess was also present in politics. All this helped and motivated me to start out with chess. And if you do not get a probability to check out out anything, you’ll never ever know whether you like it or not.

Your elder sister, the WIM Belinda Vega Gutierrez, started out playing chess tournaments some several years soon after you, and she has also become a expert chess participant. How was it for both equally of you to have such a great enthusiasm in typical? Have been there any periods of jealousy or great rivalry? 

It has often been excellent to be ready to share it all with her. I started off competing in tournaments really shortly immediately after I had learnt the guidelines of the games – almost from the commencing – and acquiring someone with whom I could share all these new and thrilling activities has been quite significant to me. In the conclusion, not only Belinda, but my entire spouse and children commenced to perform chess!

It is merely fantastic to vacation with my sister to tournaments, to engage in with her, to discuss about chess, to do all these things together. I in fact identified chess simply because of her: at that time she practiced gymnastics and had a extremely strict teaching routine. To make it a little bit much easier for our moms and dads to drive us all-around and to pick us up, I resolved to give chess a likelihood as it fitted correctly with Belinda’s timetable.

Some several years later on, when my sister quit gymnastics, she begun to perform chess because she observed how substantially I appreciated it. It also authorized her to retain competing. This way we served each other to find some thing we preferred and in which we were being truly excellent. I assume that’s great.

But there in no way was any jealousy nor rivalry involving us although we in some cases had to play in opposition to just about every other in ridiculous situation. In 2013 we equally performed in the European Women’s Championship in Belgrade, which had a document breaking variety of players – about 150 – but in the initially spherical we had to play towards every single other! It is practically absurd! But properly, we normally drew our games and tried out to consider it with humor.

However, in some cases it also turned out to be excellent that organizers tried out to steer clear of pairing us alongside one another. One particular time, I was to enjoy in the Spanish Junior Championship U12 and Belinda was to participate in in the U14 but I experienced caught chickenpox and could not participate in. Nevertheless, when I experienced recovered immediately after a couple of days I was permitted to enjoy in the U16 to give me a prospect to even now play but to steer clear of putting me in the similar group with my sister. Back again then the pretty young children performed some days previously than the older types. That turned out to be a blessing simply because I received my team and Belinda won hers. It was a really critical and binding family members second for both of those of us. It was great!

What do you feel are the most critical techniques that chess can educate us?

Which is a problem I could write a full book about! There are absolutely a lot, but the most elementary a person for me would be that chess helps to build and to structure the brain. Everything else then follows from there: the ability to make selections, time management and the capability to cope with frustrations.

In chess we get used to having data, which we sort and analyze with the goal to make the ideal possible decision with confined time. You know that you really should not rush but you do not have countless time possibly. We learn to accept that every decision – or move – has a consequence. These are the principal expertise that chess teaches us and they resemble life a lot: In lifestyle we are also consistently getting selections, and we are surrounded by information and information we have to course of action and evaluate.

I believe that chess also will help to develop a robust irritation regulate. The game teaches us that failure is something natural and inescapable, just like it’s in serious life. It shows us that mistakes are part of the way to success just one step even more in the finding out method. Even just after making a mistake – or a blunder in a game – we still can realize success. What is really important is to get over that psychological wall and expand much better from every failure.

Do you even now recall your most crucial tournaments or game titles?

Sure, unquestionably! Just after 25 decades in this occupation, I have a ton of video games and tournaments that I would classify as crucial, simply because I think that they all someway move together in the conclusion, but one stands out: the Women’s World Championship U12, which was performed in this article in Spain, in Valencia. I try to remember successful my penultimate video game from Humpy Koneru.

 

Just after this win, my family members and I calculated that I could end third if I drew my past sport. I no longer had a prospect to end very first of second but nevertheless could win bronze. In my last sport I experienced a posture that objectively was quite equal but I experienced the initiative and was confident that I could acquire. Even so, as prepared, I even so determined to offer a draw.

At first, I was very content with this final decision, but that altered speedily when a Russian girl  – whom I experienced defeated some rounds right before! – received her final recreation and caught up to me. Regretably, we had someway miscalculated the tiebreak factors and in the conclusion she finished third, not me.

Can you consider how discouraged I was! I only was twelve and I did not even try out to get since I had imagined a draw would be sufficient. It is various if you try and you really do not be successful, but in this sport I did not even consider. That was the minute I actually realized to offer with my frustrations, and I’m certain that this game served me to acquire a large amount of other video games and to attain a lot. It is humorous that 1 of my most vital games is not a fantastic get but this match in truth taught me a great deal.

It also assisted me in afterwards tournaments. For case in point, in spherical five at the European Women’s Championship in Romania in 2016 I had a successful situation but was short of time and dropped. It was a extraordinary and bitter reduction, but many thanks to the aid of my loved ones and friends and because of my ordeals soon after my “bronze medal match” I was able to tranquil myself and to concentrate again. The tournament was much from about, and providing up was not an solution. I recovered and in the very last 6 rounds scored 5.5/6.

Did your design and style change and produce over the course of your career?

I have been actively playing for a lot of several years now, and I believe that you go through phases. Also, as you grow up your personality variations and you see this reflected on the board. Even so, I continue to imagine that my participating in model didn’t transform that substantially in excess of the many years.

My 1st coach – who fueled my enthusiasm for chess – always explained that techniques were being my largest weak point. I could compute strategies but I did not not like tactical positions. I have normally most well-liked to play a positional recreation. I also appreciated to have a whole lot of place to attack – those ended up the positions I was wanting for when I started playing.

However, I was under no circumstances ready to undertake a tactical type like Carlsen had when he began to participate in. That was genuinely never ever my design and style, but I noticed an significant progress in my occupation when I started out finding out the online games of Botvinnik and Kasparov. Finding acquainted with the remarkable ideas of their games, like constantly finding the ideal area for your items, to use them all, etcetera., assisted to strengthen my level considerably.

So yes, at the starting I had a positional model, but of study course with time and the practical experience I attained, I was keen on finding out far more. Here, my personality – I’ve usually been quite curious – and the teaching with El Divis (David Martinez) served me. He is a wonderful theoritician and has supplied me a great deal of self-assurance in my openings.

Thanks to making ready with him, I usually was capable to play strains and versions I had not recognised anything at all about ahead of. I stayed up researching until finally 3 am, but the subsequent working day I played them properly. This aided me to have much more confidence in my game and I was a lot more open up to try out new issues without having any fear.

I suppose this obviously provoked a change in my design. Here is a awesome anecdote: I had a childhood buddy who was also a chess participant. Afterwards, when we ended up grown ups, he began to coach a group of youthful gamers and I performed versus some of them.

Later on I questioned him what he imagined about my game titles, and he told that he was amazed how a great deal I attacked. He only knew my positional model from my beginnings and was so shocked!

Even with the ongoing pandemic you experienced the prospect to participate in some in excess of-the-board chess at the third edition of the Salamanca Chess Competition that was held in February 2021. You faced robust gamers this kind of as former Earth Champion Veselin Topalov, the eventual winner of the function, Alexei Shirov, Elisabeth Paehtz and Almira Skripchenko, and other people. How did you working experience this event?

It was the second year in a row that I’ve been invited to engage in in this match in Salamanca. The competition is still young but it presently is a acknowledged party on a national and worldwide amount, and I was extremely happy to have the opportunity to compete in it all over again. Additionally, I really do not get to engage in towards these kinds of strong and knowledgeable gamers every single working day, and that also created the event pretty intriguing.

When I very first played at the pageant, I was extremely nervous, and did not know what to count on but in the close it was a wonderful practical experience. I especially bear in mind how I received a challenging and fierce sport from Hou Yifan – it built me seriously delighted.

 

Sabrina Vega Gutiérrez during her activity in opposition to Veselin Topalov in Salamanca

This year, I was incredibly inspired and ready to have a superior time. I was also pregnant and experienced a thing much more to appear ahead to. The games weren’t uncomplicated at all, but that is also an vital aspect of chess: to mature with issues!

It was a really great knowledge again. Salamanca is a lovely town, and its university and other educational institutions help chess. To truly feel that when walking by way of the town has been particularly fulfilling.

You also gave a lecture in the course of the pageant and talked about the “Existing scenario of ladies in chess, a mixed sport that promotes gender equality”. When did you recognize that you wished to share your awareness and your working experience in conferences like this?

I assume, what I can lead very best is indeed my knowledge and the awareness I experienced the chance to attain over the years. I was fortunate to start out participating in competitively when I was younger, and I have been extra or fewer by each and every period there is: It began as a match, then it became a person of my favourite hobbies, then a terrific ambition and eventually my profession.

Getting the chance to transmit this expertise and anything that I have discovered participating in chess – not only from the game but also from everything in concerning, how it felt, how it was for me, what had been my views – is seriously crucial to me. I have never thought that there’s only one particular right way to do points, but if I can at minimum describe how to enhance some important factors in chess, I’m joyful. It’s all about sharing and speaking with people today who are intrigued in realizing far more about this journey.

You are a function model for ladies chess gamers in Spain. Have you witnessed a beneficial transform in the attractiveness of chess throughout the pandemic, when far more and more persons performed online and Netflix produced “The Queen’s Gambit”? 

To be trustworthy, the time period “part model” sometimes nonetheless overwhelms me, but I’m satisfied if I can support and give suggestions in the distinct phases of a chess vocation, specifically in the beginning and all through the teenage years, as that is the minute when a whole lot of ladies stop to participate in.

I feel there was a positive chess wave during the pandemic. It became obvious that pcs and the net are currently nearly indispensable for chess players, and how a lot it can assist us to maintain the interaction with each and every other.

Also, chess is a great alternative if you assume about the quite a few alternatives individuals experienced to entertain and to distract on their own throughout the lockdown in the pandemic. Almost all over-the-board tournaments arrived to a halt, but there had been a good deal of on line gatherings, and even some top rated tournaments. I assume, we manufactured the best out of the condition.

I consider a good deal of people have been determined to return to chess (if they have at any time left it) and it was a fantastic time for people today who did not know how to participate in chess to start off with it. As I stated, I believe that chess actually was a person of the very best strategies to entertain ourselves all through the lockdowns.

The series “The Queen’s Gambit” started a actual boom. I believe, chess is a seriously cherished activity, and the fact that this is so tiny regarded in our culture saddens me a whole lot I believe chess deserves a great deal a lot more appreciation. It is true that the media covers it more than it did some years in the past, but there is however extra that can be done. As I mentioned right before, I imagine chess needs marketing and advertising and in my view, “The Queen’s Gambit” here was extremely valuable. In a charming way it confirmed a extensive audience the several added benefits of the activity, and possibly woke up some fascination in the match.

This 12 months, you began to stream this job has been really warmly welcomed by the Spanish online local community. Can you explain to us a bit more this task?

We started this challenge not long ago, and we are nevertheless attempting out new things, and we also had a tiny split due to the fact I was expecting, but in typical it has been extremely good. It was generally a consequence of the pandemic that I enable some of my friends persuade me to consider it.

I have generally been a particular person who cares a good deal about individual communication and viewing my opposite facial area to experience, and to retain in touch, was unquestionably a pretty excellent encounter for me. I have to acknowledge that before I only utilized the laptop or computer to prepare and assess my game titles, but it has been a actually terrific working experience and the welcome was in truth pretty friendly.

I first noticed it as an experiment that I was all set to give a opportunity and now I get pleasure from it a lot. Any time we can, we operate alongside one another, we have a guest or merely established up an interesting situation to commentate and assess all jointly. At the stop of the day, I like viewing it as an casual reunion of folks who share a enthusiasm and who fulfill to have a excellent time. As if if we all would meet up with for a coffee and a chat.

You a short while ago became a mom for the initial time. Do you have any ideas of how you’d like your baby to approach chess? Would you like it if he even chooses it as a career just one day? Do you think there is a excellent age for little ones to start out learning how to play chess?

Which is a truly superior question… I believe I’d like it, sure. I deeply imagine in chess and its positive aspects, and in that feeling I would of system like it if my son showed some interest in chess. But I feel it’s quite essential that small children establish this curiosity on their possess, I always check out to make that quite obvious in my conferences: the minor kinds are the types that ought to want to play and to learn chess, it’s of no use if the grown ups pressure them into chess.

In my scenario, I’ll consider to set up some chess boards in the residence, and I get ready for my games in entrance of him, things like that, and hope that it’ll work (laughs). It would seriously be really great if he asked me one working day to educate him the recreation.

I imagine specially the initially yrs, in which small children arrive into call with chess are quite charming. During this time chess is a game like all the other folks, it is leisure, enjoyment, but also a pretty practical pedagogical software. My intention as a mom is to give him access to as a lot information and facts and encounters as he needs to be capable to mature up freely and to make his have decisions. If I control to do that, then I’ll be happy. 

I consider there are a lot of men and women who are better knowledgeable than me about the “ideal age” for children to start playing chess, but I think the basic feeling is that from the age of 3 children can tactic the activity in a playful method, e.g. by coloring items on paper, touching and enjoying a bit with them as if they were just a toy.

With five kids are frequently able of knowing some extra advanced areas of the match, e.g. uncomplicated strategies. I know little ones from my chess environment who at the age of four or five were now able of setting up positions in the pc. The game titles they perform are certainly quite very simple, but at the very least they engage in.

But everybody is distinctive and each individual mind grows, is effective and progresses at unique speeds. Consequently, it is significant to give youngsters area and time to allow them discover out if they want to start out with chess and if yes, how considerably they want to go.

If you could right now modify or boost a thing in the chess earth, what would it be?

I’d probably alter some aspects that I imagine want improve the most some of them are previously in development, but what I definitely pass up is the recognition of chess outside of the chess environment (there are however a whole lot of stereotypes about chess and chessplayers) and the acceptance of its benefits in each area in our modern society in general. 

In the chess globe, I still see a constrained visibility of women’s chess. I believe that helpful tools to boost this and to listen far more to feminine players have been supplied, but it even now requires to be further supported and enhanced. I also imagine that women’s chess could be supported a lot more.

What fears the chess community in basic, I believe it would be attractive if additional people today had the probability to devote on their own 100% to chess and to make an sufficient dwelling from it. I see that the FIDE also supports this purpose but I assume that it is to start with of all important to create chances and options.

Thank you pretty substantially for your time! The ChessBase staff and I wish you all the greatest for your future endeavors.

The job interview was conducted by way of Zoom and Tatiana Flores then transcribed it and translated it into English.

 

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