The media-shy grandmaster Roman Yakovlevich Dzindzichasvili, once the number four player in the world, has rarely if ever given an interview before. We learn about his meetings with some of the true giants and geniuses of chess - Fischer, Botvinnik and Keres, as well as some information about his upbringing in Georgia, a former Soviet republic.
Chess.com Username: JRLOK
Name: Roman Dzindzichasvili
Date of birth: May 5, 1944
Fide rating: 2550
What, if push comes to shove, is your all-time favorite movie?
My all time favorite movie ... I never thought about it, it´s so many of them. Well, one of my favorite movies is the one with Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino called Heat. I like these actors very much, and there was a movie once called Once Upon A Time In Mexico, a very interesting movie.
CAMEO: Roman Dzindzichasvili making a cameo in the 1993 movie Searching For Bobby Fischer.
What kind of food and drink do you prefer?
I like spicy food, hot food. And I like European food, mostly. And certain Russian dishes. I´m not a big fan of American food.
What is your favorite book?
I was fascinated with the book War and Peace by Tolstoj. I was a kid when I read it. Also a lot of Agatha Christie. I don´t like science fiction and fantasy. I definitely adore Hemingway. Right now, lately, I don´t read any books, everything is internet, my life is internet. It´s been like this for a long time.
What music are you currently grooving to?
I like old traditional music, I don´t like new, crazy stuff. I like melodies, not rap. I like mild music – I like classical music very much. This is my love in music. My all time favorite artist is Sting, and there is also a Russian artist who is relatively new, well, he´s been around for like eight years. He turned down singing with Pavarotti. He has the most incredible voice, very high. His name is Vitas. When you have time, look him up. The name of the song is "Opera 2". It´s very different from anything you have ever heard in your life.
Can you tell me a chess secret?
Yes. One secret that I tell everybody is "Do not try to disobey the general principles of the game." A lot of people try to do that, and it never works. It´s mandatory to obey the general principles. I never think of chess like "What is the hidden secret?". I don´t think of chess in these terms.
"Do not try to disobey the general principles
of the game"
What is your best chess memory?
I thought it would be meeting Fischer, but it wasn´t. He overshadowed everything in the end of our meeting. He behaved like a jerk, and I left. I remember it very well, but it´s not my favorite memory and I don´t like to think about it. My greatest memory, yeah, well when I won Hastings, Long Pine and New York International. All three were invitational Grandmaster tournaments and I won first place in all three tournaments. Those are the best chess memories I can recollect. My most memorable meetings with the greatest chess players were meetings with Botvinnik and Keres. Although I wasn´t friends with them I had several meetings with them, but I was a close friend of Leonid Stein and Mikhail Tal. But it´s different, very different. Chesswise meetings with Keres and Botvinnik were very influential.
MEETING THE TITAN: Some say you should not meet your idols, they may not be like you think they are... Meeting Bobby Fischer was not among the best chess memories of Roman Dzindzichasvili.
What do you think is worse – failing or never trying?
Never trying, of course. Some people never try anything and they have no regrets, but a lot of people get bothered by the fact that they never tried. On the other and, people who are bothered by never trying, eventually they´re gonna try, so it´s like a chicken and egg question. Failing – it depends on what level you are failing. If you fail on entry level, it´s bad. I tell everybody, every chess player that want to improve, you have to become world champion. Everybody. None of them will become world champion, but if you really try to become world champion, you´re gonna get as far as you can. This is an attempt and this is the important thing. It´s important to try – you´re not gonna become world champion but you have to try to get as close as you can.
How old were you when you began to play chess?
Six. My father taught me.
Do you have a family?
Yes. I´m separated but not divorced. I am divorced one time, but now the second time I´m just separated. I have one daughter from each marriage, and two grandchildren from the first daughter.
Is the internet a big part of your life?
It´s a huge part of my life, because everything I need, if I feel like reading I do it on the internet, if I feel like listening to music I do it on the internet, if I feel like researching in chess I do it on the internet, if I feel like playing I do it on the internet. Something I cannot do on the internet is to sleep and to eat – just real food and a real bed, everything else I do on the internet.
"I was a very good student, but I liked to escape from school and go to play chess instead"
What was your childhood like?
My childhood was good. I had my older brother we were growing up together, we learned chess together, but he just didn´t like chess very much, he had a different mindset, different things. I followed chess, and my younger brother who is seven years younger than me went to a different field. I was born in a family that was above average financially, well above average, and I had no real challenges in life when I was a child. I was a straight A student in school, I was a very good student, but I liked to escape from school and go to play chess instead. When my parents found out, they gave me a good beating. But otherwise everything was ok, I didn´t really have a problem. A lot of people say they had abusive parents or we were poor, I had nothing like this, and I was lucky in that way.
CHESS GENIUS: Paul Keres, "The Crown Prince of Chess." Known as the strongest player who never became world champion.
Which chess player has had the most influence on your chess?
Paul Keres. He was my all-time favorite player. And I´m proud of it. Why I´m proud that I liked Keres is because I liked him when I was a child. I admired is style – active positional. Now there are a lot of great players and geniuses in the history of chess, but today´s chess style of the top players is exactly what Keres´ style was. There was Botvinnik, there was Petrosian, the greatest chess minds, but none of them resemble top chess players that play today: Keres did. Compare Keres´ style to today´s top players – if you take Kramnik, Magnus Carlsen, basically all top players, they all very much resemble what Keres was. Of course his theory and opening knowledge was at a different level, but it was different times, so....
"Basically all top players of today very much
resemble what Keres was"
PERSONAL FRIEND: Paul Keres and Mikhail Tal at the chess table. Roman was a personal friend of the immaculate Tal.
FACTS ABOUT ROMAN DZINDZICHASVILI
* He was born in Tbilisi, Georgia, a former Soviet republic
* Probably one of the most productive chess dvd authors in the world, Roman Dzindzichasvili has released at least 113 dvd´s
* He won the Junior Championship of the Soviet Union in 1962 and the University Championships in 1966 and 1968.
* He lived in Israel from 1976 to 1979, before he left for the United States
* As a chess coach he has trained among others GM Gata Kamsky and GM Eugene Perelshteyn.
* Roman has also trained Gary Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov.
* Roman has attained an ICC blitz rating of 3450
* In the 1980s he lived as a chess hustler in Washington Square Park in New York, betting on winning blitz games for money.
* Today he produces chess videos for your favorite chess site, Chess.com.
* He lives in Boston.