CHESS TV's "Dish" with DOGGERS!
As members of this site and fans of chess, in general, chances are many of you are familiar with the name “Peter Doggers.” Born October 9, 1975 in the Netherlands, and having become enamored with chess as a teenager, Peter’s path eventually led him here.
In October 2013 Chess.com ChessVibes, incorporating its content and features into the Chess.com site. Having officially joined the Staff here, Peter has since become a . He is also a featured chess journalist on Chess.com’s “Everything Chess” show: Chess Center, along with many face-to-face interviews with chess professionals.
On Peter’s profile page you can read about his interesting journey, which includes him having worked in the Dutch educational system. As you scroll down the page, you will find links to a plethora of fun and fact-filled blogs and articles he has written for Chess.com.
And now it’s time to feature Peter himself here through Chess.com/TV. Let’s get on to the “Lighter Side” of Peter Doggers!
-Mark and Donna
A Chess.com/TV “Lighter Side Up” Q & A:
Getting to Know CM Peter Doggers
How and at what age did you discover chess?
Probably when I was 7-8 years old, but I don’t remember exactly. The first memory I have is playing some casual games with my father and my sister who is five years older than me. I must have been younger than ten. Instead of chess she preferred draughts (10x10) and taught me the rules of that too. I remember winning the first game we played; we didn’t play many.
Who or what brought you to Chess.com?
Our CEO Erik! He dropped me an email in January 2013, when I was still running ChessVibes.com, my company and website with daily chess news that had become rather well known by then. He suggested that I’d start working for Chess.com and after several months of talks, we agreed on everything. I did some stuff during that summer, but officially I’ve started on 1 September 2013.
Chess fans, in general, would likely agree that chess should be as commonplace and encouraged as other extracurricular activities such as sports and dance at a young age. Going a step further, do you feel chess should be included as part of school curriculum/recreation?
I do, but for different reasons than you normally hear. I agree that learning chess at a young age can develop useful skills such as decision making, being patient and improving your concentration. However, I never really understood why chess would be “better” for this than, say, draughts or other board games, or even certain card games. (When I asked this question to Garry Kasparov at a meeting at the European Parliament in Brussels, he replied: “I hope you’re not referring to poker!” I wasn’t.)
But I do think that chess deserves a special place at schools because of the immense embedding in our culture. Besides being a sport, chess has inspired artists from the middle ages and there are strong similarities with science as well. No other game comes close, and this “part of our culture” aspect should be taught to children. In a way, that could also motivate them to start playing!
Which chess tools and resources for learning/playing (e.g., books, videos, coaches, computer software, chess sites, etc.), according to skill level, do you consider essential?
All, and also none of the above. Traditionally, a good coach and/or some good books were essential, besides playing a lot. Some people, like myself, are good at studying from books and are less dependent on coaches than others. But working with either books or coaches was essential for improving. These days computers (as in: chess engines) can serve as coaches, but only partly. They’ll point out tactical errors but after all these years they still cannot teach us about positional factors. But the abundance of videos and other services on a site like Chess.com can definitely function as a replacement of a coach, especially for pupils who are disciplined.
Of the Masters you’ve studied, from who have you learned the most and why?
Robert James Fischer is really the only one that I’ve seriously studied, as in: I’ve played through all of his games, using the book from Wade & O’Connell. The reason is simple: the person who got me into playing chess seriously, the uncle of a neighbor friend, was (in fact still is) a big Fischer fan.
I am not sure what I have learnt, but I can say that it clearly influenced my style (or at least my openings). I became an 1.e4 and a Sicilian & King’s Indian player, although John Nunn and Garry Kasparov were definitely responsible for that too.
Do you enjoy playing bullet and/or blitz chess? If so, do you have preferred blitz time controls? Do you play as enjoyable changes from standard chess, as learning tools, or both?
That’s a tough one. I don’t really enjoy it but I still do it from time to time. I almost exclusively play 1|0 and 3|0. The reason I can’t say I enjoy it a 100 percent is that I’ve never learnt to deal with losing games by silly mistakes, which is inevitable at these time controls. Getting outplayed is not pleasant but easy to get over, but dropping a rook in a winning position is something I’ll never get used to! Another thing is that I always found it difficult to accept that bullet is a completely different game, where almost anything is allowed. Therefore, I am still surprised when someone is playing 1.Nf3 d5 2.g3 Bh3 hoping for 3.Bg2. I could never do that.
What moment in chess history is your favorite?
The period when Paul Morphy traveled to Europe and killed everybody, playing chess that people had never seen before. He was much ahead of his time. Pure talent. A highly romantic story.
On a personal level, what moment in your chess life is the most memorable?
Scoring my first IM norm in Amsterdam in the summer of 2004. Before the last round the arbiter told me I needed to beat my opponent for a norm. I played IM Daniel Stellwagen, rated 2509, who would score his final GM norm a month later so my general thought was: yeah, right.
I played a Sicilian, won one bishop for a knight, and then another, but still his attack on my king was much faster than mine so I felt this was going to be a typical loss against a stronger player. Later analysis showed that he was indeed much better out of the opening.
But then he suddenly allowed a positional tactic: I could place my rook on the unoccupied c3 square where White couldn’t take it, and then sacrifice that rook for a knight on g3 and win the e4 pawn with Bb7xe4. That bishop was clearly stronger than a rook and I was better. The position more or less played by itself and I got a winning attack, which included another Rc3 move.
To win that game in such a nice way, with friends watching, and getting congratulated by so many people on my norm, that was an amazing experience. Ten years later I scored another norm which was also cool but less exciting because by now it’s completely clear that I’ll never get anywhere near the IM title. I never even managed to get over 2300! So I consider these norms as two nice trophies in an otherwise very modest chess career.
Speaking of memories, as a child, what were some of your favorite pastimes—e.g., games, TV shows, movies, books, sports, etc.—other than chess, that is
I played a lot of football. My parents wanted me to be the next Johan Cruijff, like all parents in the Netherlands. I was a right forward, and my plusses were that I was fast and that I had a decent pass. I remember once trying to give a pass from the side to our forward, but hitting it completely wrong and the ball just ended up in the net, with the whole team congratulating me on an amazing goal. It’s like playing a brilliant combination but for the wrong reasons. You’re missing the point, think you made a blunder and then you suddenly see a nice winning move.
But at some point I started to play chess tournaments on Saturdays and couldn’t combine those with football anymore. As a teenager I also used to read (mostly Dutch literature) and watch movies. I remember films like Beverly Hills Cop from those days.
How about as an adult? How do you enjoy spending time aside from playing chess?
When going out with my girlfriend I usually go to the theater and the cinema. For theater, we try to vary, and attend both “light shows” such as (stand-up) comedy and classics plays. For cinema, we usually see art-house stuff. We tend to watch Hollywood movies at home.
By myself, I’d like to run, wherever I am. When I’m not at a tournament I grab the opportunity to see friends, for lunch or to grab a beer.
If you'd be a father, in what ways would you incorporate chess into your children's lives, if at all?
If I would have kids they would come across chess rather quickly because my life is so much around the game. I would be happy to teach them but I would stop as soon as they’d lose interest. There’s no point in going further.
Does your girlfriend share an interest in chess? And in what ways does that play a part in your relationship?
Not at all, and I think that’s a good thing. There’s too much chess in my life already.
As an occupation, you were a Dutch teacher, heavily involved with the educational system in Amsterdam. Having transitioned to the chess world as your focus, are you in any way involved with the educational system now?
Not really, except that I might throw in the occasional instructive comment in a news report when I embed a recent GM game that’s a model example on a certain theme. I do have experience with teaching chess, and every now and then that shows, I think.
By the way, my work as a teacher and my involvement in the educational system in Amsterdam were two completely separate jobs. After teaching individual Dutch courses to expats for a few years, I became part of a project that supported Amsterdam schools in their safety and security policies but there I was already an editor writing about news on its website and in its newsletter.
I’m sure your website ChessVibes is an accomplishment you’re proud of having launched and made it successful, and now connected directly to Chess.com. How do you feel about this boost and how has the transition affected your daily life?
It feels great. ChessVibes was a fantastic period for me, and as it turned out it became a springboard towards what I consider a “dream job” at the moment: doing something related to chess as my job, writing about it and getting to travel, meeting many people and seeing much of the world.
The change hasn’t been dramatic; my days are very similar to when I was still at ChessVibes.
What aspects about being so integrated in the chess world do you enjoy most?
Being present at historic top events and thus being able to witness chess history as it evolves from just a few meters away. It still feels like a privilege to see Karjakin and Caruana shaking hands, just being there and witness the historic moment where someone reaches a world title match, and then reporting on it for thousands of readers.
For anyone who’s had exposure to cartoons, whether through television, movies or comics, we can’t help having one or more favorite cartoon characters. Which were—and are—your favorites?
If you could have one super power, what would that be and why?
Invisibility. Especially for journalist it’s very tempting to sneak in a room and be that fly on the wall.
What would you consider your ideal vacation?
Two to three weeks in a nice town with good food and a beach close by. That reminds me: I want to return to San Sebastian soon!
Though it can be difficult to narrow down a list of favorites, which musical artists and songs often rise to the top?
I like many types of music, artists and bands (e.g. Al Green, Madonna, David Bowie, Radiohead, Tori Amos, Bob Marley, Prince, Smashing Pumpkins, The Cure, Frank Sinatra are part of a ridiculous potpourri!) but one dominates: The Rolling Stones. Mentioning their hits wouldn’t make sense (my favorites are Sympathy for the Devil and Gimme Shelter), so here’s a small list of lesser known songs which are really great as well: Little Red Rooster, That’s How Strong My Love Is, The Spider And The Fly, Let’s Spend The Night Together, No Expectations, Street Fighting Man, Midnight Rambler, Monkey Man, Can’t You Hear Me Knocking, Sister Morphine, Loving Cup, 100 Years Ago, Till The Next Goodbye, Time Waits For No One, Memory Motel, Fool To Cry, Just My Imagination and Waiting On A Friend.
There’s something very satisfying about sandwiching something between two pieces of bread. Which sandwich/es do you eat most often?
Unfortunately I have to admit that two slices of wheat bread with butter and cheese in between (and nothing else) is kind of a national lunch dish in the Netherlands. That just about sums up the creativeness of our cuisine, although the upside is that we have an enormous choice of excellent foreign cuisine restaurants. When I go for a lunch outdoors I often take a caprese sandwich especially when I know it’s served with buffalo mozzarella and fresh pesto.
When that sugar craving strikes, which candy bar/s would you storm the convenience store to buy?
A milk-hazelnut Tony’s Chocolonely bar. Claimed to be 100% slave free!
It’s common to be drawn to more than one profession. Other than yours, which profession would you like to attempt? Never attempt?
Any profession that deals with preserving the planet. I would never attempt plastic surgery.
There are countless famous quotes, from silly to poignant. Do you have a favorite or two you’d like to leave us with?
I’m not a big fan of quotes, partly because they’re often misattributed. One comes to mind, but I can’t remember who made this one up. “We’re sorry to inform you that the symposium about dealing with disappointments has been cancelled for the third time.”
To close out this Q&A: what do you enjoy most about being a chess player?
The Saturday matches with my chess team, which has some of my best friends in it and which has been going, with few changes, for more than two decades. It’s just very nice to enjoy chess together with pals, and later socialize in a restaurant and/or bar.
Thank you, Peter, for taking the time to share these thoughtful answers with us. You’ve helped shine a brighter light on who you are as a person and chess player, and added a bit more color to the décor here at Chess.com/TV
Where you can find Peter:
- Chess.com Personal Profile
- Twitter – @ChessVibes (latest chess news)
and – @peterdoggers (personal)
We hope you enjoyed the Q&A and thanks for reading!
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Chess.com/TV Public Relations
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