SERGEY BYSTROV, INTERNATIONAL MASTER
I was going long ago to visit Vyacheslav and Olga Styazhkins. We are told together as old acquaintances. And so many trips and tournaments being made and played together, one cannot even count!
Besides, we have been working together at the "Ismailovsky" DT (Creativity House). Of course, not this has served a reason for our talk. There are not so many those people who like chess and their pedagogical work so much and who have achieved also high results in it. It is difficult to evaluate the deserts of chess enthusiasts as it is impossible to scoop out the sea. Chess trainer's bread is not easy to earn. The state values his work lower than needed, pupils sometimes betray and consider him to blame. And those who envy their successes are slandering. However, the well-deserved remain at work and bear their cross all the life.
A short reference.
Styazhkin Vyacheslav Nikolayevich was born in 1956, got three higher educations: technical (Leningrad mechanical institute), psychological (Leningrad State University) and physical culture (Higher-trainers' school GTsOLIFK in Moscow). Awarded trainer of Russia, International master, International arbiter. Author of a number of books on theory and methods of teaching chess. Chairman of the trainers' council of the Petersburg Chess Federation. Owner of St. Petersburg cup in quick chess. Styazhkina Olga Mikhailovna was born 1970, got higher technical education (Leningrad aviation instrument-making institute). International Grandmaster. Higher' category Methodist. Five-times champion of the city, owner of St. Petersburg Cup in quick chess, personal participant of World Championship among women, vice-champion of Europe in a body of women's team. Styazhkina Anya was born in 1997. Pupil of the 2-nd form at school № 549 of the Krasnosel'sky district of St. Petersburg. FIDE master candidate. Three-times champion of the city at age categories up to six years old (2003), eight years old (2005) and ten years old (2005). Winner of an International tournament in Anapa (2004), the 1st All-Russian tournament of the champions of schools (2005), bronze-prize winner of the championship of Russia up to 8(eight) years old (2004), World champion among school children up to eight years old (2005).
Our talk with V.N.Styazhkin took place during M.I.Chigorin Memorial where he as a vice- main referee kindly agreed to answer my questions. The meeting was timed to the immediate success of his daughter Anya. But it was much wider than the topic being assigned and on the whole it touched the problems of chess pedagogic.
- Vyacheslav Nikolayevich, when was Your family formed?
- It was in May 1994 and it was transformed in June 1997 when daughter Anya appeared. Well, and the last increase is a son Nikita in November 2004.
- I know, Olga studied from childhood in Your chess section and when did it all begin?
- Olga came to me with the first chess enrolment (it was already in the far 1978). The first enrolment is always most wonderful and remaining in the memory because it. Creates an unusual state in a system "trainer, pupil". Up till now I hold good relations with many of them.
- How old were you at that time?
- I was a student of the Leningrad mechanical institute, sports master candidate, 22 years old.
- Well, it is too early for a trainer, isn't it?
- On the whole everything took place occasionally. My friend combined his work of a leader of chess circle at the Moscow House of pioneers with the main one. When he made up his mind to leave it, he offered me to take his place, the work being 8 hours a week. I consulted with my trainer, August Semyonovich Livshitz and he said: "You may agree, I think, you will get results". The main trainer of the house of pioneers went to another town soon and my lot of work to do arise up to 36 hours a week.
- And did successes come at once?
- No, I wouldn't have said so, but I had a progressive movement forward. An eventful process of mutual enrichment both of the trainer and children was progressing. In five-six years we won a first champion title in team championships of the city both among junior and senior ages.
- Now let's speak of Anya. Vyacheslav, please tell our Readers at what age does she play chess and how is it combined with studies at school and other pursuits useful for children's development?
- Anya's beginning at chess is known precisely, at four years and three weeks. Our family went out to a sports camp and young chessplayers accompanied us. In a word, we had a chess atmosphere around and Anya grasped burningly an idea of being involved in chess play process. Her perception of chess became adaptive. Of course, wife and me tried to draw Anya into chess art harmony of struggle and beauty, to say the truth, our attempts were not importunate and if we saw that "the process does not go", her involvement into chess was put off for other time, and at the sports camp alone out hope succeeded as lucky to full. Anya's successes came rather quickly. In four months already she won a tournament of novices though her rivals were much older.
- When Anya was born, have you already known that she will be a chessplayer, was the decision taken long before her birth?
- Certainly when we learnt that we would have a child, we would like chess to take a positive place in her life. What place? We could not even imagine because many talented children having good chess inclinations stop playing chess at a rather early age.
- Did, Laslo Polgar's experience influence it?
- Well, I think no. We have our own tenor of life and our own ideas of children's upbringing and training.
- Of course, Anya's overcoming of qualification stages looks out unique: the IV category at four years, the III and II categories at five years, the 1 category at six years, FIDE master candidate at seven. Do you believe that Anya has grounds in future to excel her mother - Grandmaster?
- I remember Olga well at the age of eight years at what Anya is now Chess for Olga always was and remains as a hobby. Though it may be thanks to this she is more than ten years in the ranks of the strongest chessplayers of Russia. She doesn't know failures practically and those she has are quickly forgotten. Anya has quite another approach to chess. Chess for her is at the first place, the rest is hobby. At the children's age Anya passes ahead of her mother for four years. As for further advance we cannot plan Anya's destiny as a professional chessplayer. She may involve other serious passions, we'll not stand in their way, but it may be said definitely that chess will enter fastly into Anya's life. In her grown-up life Anya herself will make her choice. Nevertheless, I hope they will play together in the women's championship of the country in foreseeable future. Till now there are no objections on their part. In four years, though...
- Is it not too optimistic?
- It is intended so...
- What else is Anya busy with?
- She goes to a swimming-pool, studies music at a piano.
- Is it advisable to pay so much time to chess nowadays? What is a view of the awarded trainer of Russia at that? I have in view numerous tournaments, studies, etc. Is it not better, if "God gave brains", to use them in the other field which is more useful for the society and family?
- All children must be taught chess to develop their thinking, to introduce as en element of physical culture in primary classes of the secondary school at least. I support an idea of I.Sukhin and other well-known children's trainers and pedagogs that chess should be brought into kindergartens. Of course, one cannot expect from everyone that he (she) will become a chessplayer. The thing that a child will get familiar with this wise game will tell positively upon his intellectual development. Besides, chess as an element of recreation will remain with a man (woman) for the whole life.
- And here is a chess family where everyone is a chessplayer, is it normal?
- It's a normal family indeed! We're often asked: do You all the time speak of chess? Of course, not! We don't discuss who of us plays better, we seldom play chess in-between. There are many other problems and topics which must so or otherwise be solved...
- Please tell us of your best pupils, what are their achievements?
- Most outstanding successes were achieved by Peter Swidler, one of the strongest chessplayers of the planet. Petya came to me when quite a little boy. He was very lively, ingenuous; it was interesting to work with him. Still at an early age he had one curious habit. During a chess game his look often wandered over the ceiling, walls and a rival. At the same time one felt his great brain work being done. In order to think over a move, he was not in need of the chessboard. It just pictured the past, and he in his calculation thoughts was already in a far future! In his early childhood his results were rather high, at mine he was a master candidate already. By those times it was very unusual. Other trainers were saying: "How far Petya would have become stronger if he looked at the board during the game?!" Thank God, I didn't change anything. If it is more comfortable for Petya, let him play so. Generally my trainer's credo: "Don't kill", i.e., don't interfere with the boy's developing what nature put into him. Our union continued of order eight years till I moved to Moscow for studies. Olga's movement forward was so impetuous, but rather progressive. She might not so much love chess, in order to waste at it all her spare time. She liked our chess command, atmosphere reigning at the lessons. To add more, at those times there was not such abundance of children's competitions as nowadays. The country's championship among boys and girls was alone carried out, that was all. I remember, at a selection tournament of world championship Olya lost her game at the last round and took the second place. F.Velikhanly went then to the World championship, and nobody went to the European championship on behalf of our country.
- What else was Olga busy with?
- Well, she performed luckily at track and field athletics, skated, played basketball and participated in swimming. By the way, Olga is even now swimming better than me. And here at that level we we're competing each other.
- It turns out, sports occupies a considerable place in your family, doesn't it?
- Yes, we try to make up our physical form. For example, I swimming a kilometer when training at the swimming pool. It's my norm. I play football, tennis and ping-pong with my friends. The burden on Olga has arisen of late. Anya is not big yet and we have Nikita already, therefore we manage to swim together now only during sports assemblies, or during on-tour competitions.
- Can you select anybody else of your pupils?
- Out of nature chessplayers I worked much with Raisa Eidelson. But not less than Grandmasters I'm proud of the pupils who have become comrades-in-chess and are working pedagogy or chess instructors at different associations of the city. Their number over passed the ten. I follow their successes, glad at theirs.
- In concluding the talk I would like to know recommendations of the family trainer to the parents who wish their little have been charmed by chess in earnest.
- I wouldn't give such recommendations. Parents should be sure that their boy or girl is ready for it. I repeat once more as Anya's father I see my daughter still in children's chess. But I'm greeting chess studies at kindergartens, schools, children's creative work houses, etc., for I'm profoundly convinced that it is a needed and useful occupation.
- Nevertheless, it is not so simple to interest them all, if you speak of the kindergarten, and schools the more.
- Well, children themselves will sort it out what they need, but if they are led into the world of chess it will be good for all. A modern generation is much more developed now than in the past. Kindergarten's group leavers are that what school's first class was formerly. They are writing, reading, playing, if not chess, then various musical instruments, they know much...
- Are you with Olga going to familiarize Nikita with chess, have serious intentions?
- When his age comes up we'll strive to lead him into the world of chess. I think it will be not earlier than three and a half years old.
- Is it in your view an optimal age?
- It is difficult to say of the optimal age it depends, but at three and a half children begin to grasp the idea of the world structure and their ties with it... And further on it goes individually for everyone. Anya said there would be support on her side and she would accompany Nikita to a tournament!
- Fine! What, is it true?
- It is indeed much. The most difficult thing is to be a fan of one's child during the competition. We're accustomed people but for other parents it is a great ordeal, stress. Not all of them stand it.
- And children?
- Most children feel easier. They take it as a play. I even think, the word "was playing" is applicable to them, and not that he (she) lost or won. He has been playing today and still will play tomorrow. They forget their blunders very quickly. The parent's task is to follow child's example.
- And how does Anya feel her failures?
- All children suffer but more they perceive reaction of their parents when those will know the result. I remember, at a children's championship of the country my pupil was waiting with horror after a defeat his mother's ringing up at the hotel room. When a trunk-line was heard the boy went into hysterics though he performed well and a total took the fifth place.
- Now, Vyacheslav Nikolayevich, a traditional question about your future plans?
- This year we're planning to play in the children's championship of St. Petersburg up to 14 years old. This is a very good tournament; I hope it will be a good training for Anya. We're going to participate also in championships of Russia, Europe and world up to 10 years.
- Well, it remains to wish you all luck in realizing all your plans.
- Thanks, in conclusion I would like to show several fragments of Anya's creative work at various age levels.
Styazhkina Anya (5 years, 3-rd category) - Zagriychuk Slava (10 years, 2-nd category)
Sankt Petersburg, Championship of the Admiralty district, 2003
Styazhkina Anya (6 years, 2-nd category) - Goldobin Misha (10 years, 1-st category)
Zelenogorsk, classification tournament, 2003
29.Bg5 f6 30.ef Qf7 31.Qh8 Qg8 32.fg Kf7 33.Qh5 Kg7 34.Rf5 ef 35.Qh6 Kf7 36.Qf6# [1:0]
Kachalin Artyom (7 years, 3-rd category) - Styazhkina Anya (7 years, 1-st category)
Moscow, selection tournament of school champions, 2005
10....Ne4!! 11.Nd8 gf 12.Rf2 Bf2 13.Kf1 Rh1 14.Ke2 Nd4# [0:1]
Tskhadadze Anna (10 years, 1-st category) - Styazhkina Anya (8 years, FIDE master candidate)
Sankt Petersburg, Championship of the city among school children up to 12 years old, 2005
38....Nf3! 39.Bh2 [39.gf Qf3 40.Rg2 Qh3 41.Bh2 (41.Kg1 Re1 42.Kf2 Qe3# ) 41...Re1 42.Rg1 Qf3#] 39...Ng1 40.Bg1 Re1 41.Qd8 Kh7 42.Qd3 g6 43.Kh2 Qg1 44.Kg3 Re3 45.Qe3 Qe3 [0:1]