Who is Agnė Semonavičiūtė?

Who is Agnė Semonavičiūtė?

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Welcome back to the ‘Who is?’ series, where we interview chess streamers about their chess journey, how they got into streaming, and anything and everything they’re willing to share about their life off-stream and off-board!

Today, we’re talking to a former Lithuanian child champion, Agnė Semonavičiūtė (I challenge you to say her last name three times fast!) - currently an iOS developer and a Twitch streamer in free time. Let’s get to know Agnė.

Agne ready for the Twitch stream.

Q: Can you tell us about your journey in the world of chess, from being a child champion in Lithuania to where you are now?

Agne: My chess journey started when I accidentally found a chessboard at the age of four and asked my dad what it was. He showed me how to put the pieces on the board, and he thought that was it. Later on, I played it as if it were checkers, because I didn't know anything about chess.

He saw that I had an interest in chess, so he signed me up to try it out if I really liked it. I started training, and when I participated in my first Lithuanian girls' chess championship at the age of six, I believe I ended the tournament in last place. 

Then, a few years later, I trained some more, and I got to third place. The next year, I got first and tried to never let it go.

I ended my chess career by playing my last tournament in 2017. I did really well, but to this day, I still remember an unfortunate loss in the fifth round, crying overnight, and then losing again in the sixth round. I think I could have done better then.

Now I play chess mostly because I love it and I'm trying to train some more to get back to my previous form, but I had not played online chess before streaming; I had always played only OTB. So now, on stream, I play online for fun, to interact with people, and I train OTB to win some tournaments.

Agne's last OTB tournament results.

Q: What motivated you to start streaming chess on Twitch as a hobby, and how has the experience been so far?

Agne: I started streaming after I finished university, because I got some more free time and I was bored! I wanted to try something that I had always been afraid to do. As a perfectionist, when I started streaming, it was a little bit mentally challenging because I wanted everything to be amazing from the beginning. 

With streaming, you need to have patience and grow your audience. The experience is incredible; I love interacting with viewers, playing chess online for fun, and talking. I talk a lot…  

I always feel so good after each stream; I love doing it! The main idea is, as I have a job, streaming for me is like a hobby. I don't take it as work; I don't feel like it's mandatory. I am doing it out of love, not because I need the financial support. So, I think people can feel this more free and happy energy when I am streaming. And also, I am really happy that I recently became a Twitch partner. This makes me feel motivated and happy, and I want to do more and more fun and interactive streams in the future.

Agne's stream on Twitch.

Q: Balancing a full-time job with hobbies such as streaming and dancing can be challenging. How do you manage your time in order to pursue all your interests?

Agne: I have always been a versatile person since I was young. At the age of four, I already started dancing and playing chess. By age seven, I began attending swimming lessons, and at 11, I started music school. By 12, I joined art school, and somewhere in between, I also played table tennis and tried out many other things. 

Balancing activities comes naturally to me; I always have my schedule prepared at least a month ahead of time. Additionally, I love traveling, meeting friends, and partying (I really love partying). So, on week-days, I try to be more consistent with what I need to do, and on weekends, I try to be more spontaneous and live without a strict schedule. This is basically my secret. 

I tried to confine myself to certain frames, to choose only dance or chess or traveling, but every time I tried to fit into those frames, I felt like something was missing. So, I stopped doing that. I know it might seem strange to some because I play chess and I am an iOS developer, but I also love fashion, makeup, dancing, and traveling. So, I have these two sides, and I stopped restricting myself with the need to choose only one

Q: You had to pause your chess journey to focus on studying. How do you feel your skills have changed since returning to the game after that break?

Agne: After the break, my skills were terrible at first. I had no board vision anymore, and I couldn't remember some simple things like always thinking about what the opponent wants to do. But I started training with my coach, who had trained me as a child, and I feel that my skills are coming back. I just need about a year of training, and I think it will be okay.

Agne's OTB tournament commentated by Phoebe Witte.

Q: How do you see your chess journey growing through your Twitch streams? Are there specific milestones (rating, title) you're going for?

Agne: With the streams, it's actually really fun. I was trying to figure out what I want to do with the streams, and I am still not entirely sure. For example, do I want to play seriously online, or do I want to make it more interesting for viewers and myself? It's been 8 months, and here's what I have come to:

I don't really care about my online rating - as long as it's higher than 1600 - because it doesn't really hold too much value to me. As I was growing up only with OTB chess, my focus is there; online is just for fun.

As I checked out a lot of chess streamers, they take chess online really seriously and focus more on chess than on chat. I want to do it another way. I feel that talking with people while playing some interesting and fun chess games makes me happy, but I can't play seriously while simultaneously talking and listening to music. 

Also, this is because I was growing up playing only OTB (which you play in silence). So I was really struggling at first with the streams because I wanted to play well and interact with viewers. But later on, I just realized that I have to choose because I feel overwhelmed otherwise.

So I chose to play online for fun and OTB to win. And I am trying to give this to my audience because a lot of people are used to serious chess online, and for me, it doesn't really mean anything, for me real chess is OTB.

Q: This is a really interesting perspective on online chess. But there’s one thing everyone still wants to know - who is Agne Semonaviciute?

Agne: I am a woman who is eager to learn new stuff, who wants to take everything that she can from life. You can go partying with me, talk about fashion, discuss IT, or play chess. I am a truly versatile person, and I love it.