Behind the Moves: A Candid Convo with the Masters
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Behind the Moves: A Candid Convo with the Masters

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All of us love and enjoy the entertainment that low elo chess provides us with. From bringing out the queen as early as on move 3 to blundering an M1 from being up a thousand points of material, what we witness is pandemonium all over the board.

Feel me?

But the actual meaning of the game called "chess" resides in the play of the top players. Continuous draws or a 20-move-long theoretical opening play might seem boring, but that's where the beauty of the game of 64 squares is found. Breathtaking sacrifices and unbelievable tactics are like a cherry on top, and combinations are the heart of chess. In many cases, the level of creativity of play by these players makes chess a form of art, instead of being only a worldwide board game. 

In this blog, I asked 9 questions to 4 titled players, some young, some experienced, ranging from a candidate master to FIDE master and prodigy Tanitoluwa Adewumi (known by the name of Tani in short). Some of them were general interview questions, but later I moved on to ask their opinions on some of the heated topics of the chess world. 

Before tuning in, I would like to say thanks to @Rodgy, because it was he who first started this idea of questioning titled players in late 2022, and inspired me to continue this idea. If you haven't checked out his blogs yet, I mean what are you even waiting for? 

October 2022 "Blog of the Month" winner.

Introducing The Masters

Me: What is your full name and title? 

Titled Player #1: CM Stephen Willy 

Titled Player #2: CM MX 

(Umm, code name I guess?)

Titled Player #3: NM Paris Prestia 

Titled Player #4: FM Tanitoluwa Adewumi 


Me: How did you get to know about the existence of "chess"? At what age did you begin taking the game seriously? 

CM Stephen Willy: I got to know about the existence of chess through my dad. I played in scholastic tournaments for about 2 years and then I would say I actually started to study seriously and improve in early 2020 (age 10). 

(It's common that almost all of the masters of the past and of the present had begun to study the game seriously before the age of 10, seems like so is the case here. Stephen is still young and is already a candidate master.)

CM MX: 7 years ago......2016/17. 

(Short, but very much answers the above question.) 

NM Paris Prestia: Around the age of 5 I found an old chess set of my dad's, and I would end up learning at 7. I began playing rated tournaments just before my 8th birthday, but I would say I started taking it seriously when I was 9. 

(Wow, seems like many of these players discovered the game through their dad. Great) 

FM Tani: Family around 8-9 years ago 

(Buddy literally discovered the game at the age of 3-4 that would change his life forever.) 


Me: Are there any other competitive chess players in your family? If yes, would you like to share a chess experience you had with them?

CM Stephen Willy: No


(Sad life, the quest to become the first chess master from your family must have been tough.) 

NM Paris Prestia: My dad played in college, and was my coach for most of my time as a chess player. I have two younger brothers who are 2000+ rated, and we broke a record for the youngest trio of brothers to be rated all over 2000 elo. 

(Having one of your family members as your chess coach has much more benefits than known. Moreover, having your dad as your coach must have been cool, and congratulations on the siblings' record!) 

FM Tani: Nope 



Me: What was the toughest part about achieving your title, which many of us wouldn't consider?

CM Stephen Willy: Dealing with being stuck several times at different ratings for periods, even more than half a year sometimes (it happens online, but it's worse when it happens in OTB). 

(Being unable to progress is bad, and chess plateaus are worse off. I have been through the phase several times online, but I don't play OTB so no idea lol.) 

Magnus Carlsen's rating graph (generated by ChessBase).

CM MX: Studying side by side..... at Harvard. 

(I can only imagine how tough it is to manage education along with chess, great job doing that.)

NM Paris Prestia: Coming back from losses and always learning, even if you are a master. 

(True. Most of the time the result doesn't matter, it's important to always keep learning, getting yourself ready for the upcoming challenges, and bringing out a better version of yourself.)

FM Tani: Finding tournaments

(That won't sound like such a big problem, but if thought in-depth, it is. For those who do not know, Tani was born in Nigeria, in the African continent where chess is the least popular.) 


Me: What are your thoughts on the dedication, hard work, and sacrifices that are required to become a chess master? How tough was/is it to figure out the balance between life and chess, and education and chess as a young chess player? 

CM Stephen Willy: I am gonna be honest, I am not the person to talk about this cause I am still working on my balance lol, although I feel like if you actually are dedicated and put in the effort and make some sacrifices, becoming a master is very likely. 

(You cannot disagree with that, can you?)

CM MX: Very tough...chess is sooooo addictive....very tough to balance it out with education. 

(This man chose to speak fax.) 

NM Paris Prestia: I think it's greatly underestimated because it takes a lot of time to reach a level like this. I became a master just before my 13th birthday, so I was in the midst of middle school back then. I managed my school with chess pretty well, and my sport too. 

(Successful adjustment is a crucial part of becoming a chess master. Well done)

FM Tani: You have to put in a lot of dedication, it wasn't too hard for me. 

(Understandable, if you develop the feeling of love for a particular thing or stuff, you don't have to be forced to do hard work and put in the required dedication, it comes naturally from inside.) 


Me: Do you consider chess a sport?

CM Stephen Willy: Yes but maybe not as tiring as other sports (at least for me). 


CM MX: Chess is everything

(Was that inspired by Bobby Fischer?) 

NM Paris Prestia: Yes

FM Tani: Yes

(Wow these masters are cool they all consider chess a sport.) 


Me: What are your thoughts about chess streaming, YouTubing, blogging, and any other form of chess content there is? Do you watch any well-known chess streamers on YouTube or any other streaming platforms like Twitch? If yes, how often? (Question Credit: @Lightning)

CM Stephen Willy: I think it's good. I watch chess content very often, I like it as long as it doesn't overhype chess or is clickbaity, pure chess is more interesting to me. 

(Clickbaits are actually annoying sometimes💀)

CM MX: Streaming is for people who have tons of time, which unfortunately I don't. I don't watch any streamers due to lack of time. 

(I hope I am not making you waste your time by answering my questions👀) 

NM Paris Prestia: I think it's great for the game, and really makes chess a more prominent subject in our modern society. I only binge-watch Hikaru, no one else. 

(Seems like pure chess content along with some entertainment is what you tend to find, just like Stephen. But it's true, many people began playing chess by watching some of these streamers on YouTube.) 

FM Tani: Yes I watch a lot and very often. 

(Levy and Hikaru for sure I guess?) 


Me: Do you consider Paul Morphy a part of the GOAT debate? What do you think would have happened if Morphy had been born in the modern era of AI, technology, computers, and chess engines?

CM Stephen Willy: Morphy without computers is not in the GOAT debate for sure. Magnus has such domination even in such an era with computers and the internet. Morphy with computers idk but he can do what Carlsen is doing in the era with computers then sure but he won't be able to know that. 

(Very theoretical answer, let me explain it to my average audience, his answer was "No"😅)

CM MX: It would have been interesting seeing him play young players. 


NM Paris Prestia: No, Morphy would lose to any decent GM nowadays, because of how far chess has come. If he was born nowadays and was forced to play chess, then perhaps he could go pretty far, but even though he was amazing in his time, you can't have someone of that skill level to be the GOAT, in my opinion. 

(Now that's a hot take and a strict opinion. Morphy fans, do let me know in the comments if you agree with our titled player or not.) 

FM Tani: I mean hard to say he was in a different era so...he played some really nice games though. 


If interested, click on this image which will take you to a blog written by @Rodgy.


Me: If you got to have one game with any elite player from the early 20th century (1900s-1930s), who would it be and why? 

CM Stephen Willy: Well the 1900s-1930s is very limiting removing some other great options, probably Capablanca just to understand how he was so good at endgames. 

(True, Capablanca is one of the greatest endgame players for sure.) 

CM MX: Rubeinstein, he is the GOAT. 

(Rubinstein is one of my favorite chess players, and CM MX is a man of my heart for taking his name!) 

NM Paris Prestia: Capablanca, my idol. I strive to play like him in my games. 

(Makes a lot of sense, you can't go wrong in having Capablanca as your idol.) 

FM Tani: Too hard to say many different personalities. 

(Well, fair again.) 


Me: Do you think chess will ever be solved? 

CM Stephen Willy: Maybe for the engines at some point but humans won't solve it for sure. 


NM Paris Prestia: Yeah, I mean eventually definitely. It's hard to imagine that supercomputers in the future won't be able to solve it. 

FM Tani: Never

(All of the 4 masters had different opinions on this question, while Tani and MX were confident that chess would never be solved, Stephen somewhat believed that it would be done by the engines, and Prestia was confident that supercomputers would solve it for sure. Do let me know your thoughts in the comments.) 


Umm well, I hope you enjoyed my questions and the answers of these talented titled players like Tani. 

It was an interesting experience exploring the life of a master for me, so once again I thank @Rodgy for inspiring me to continue his idea. Don't forget to present your thoughts in the comments regarding the opinions of these titled players. I am open to all types of feedback, whether positive or negative, so do share them if you have some.

This will be an end to this blog, thanks for taking out your valuable time to read this, appreciated. Oh and sorry for those huge word walls smh. 

Until next time, I am outta here. 

To know more about Tani and his life story: Tanitoluwa Adewumi

My name is Tani and I believe in Miracles. 

- FM Tanitoluwa Adewumi