Staff Profiles: Matias

Staff Profiles: Matias

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May 5, 2015, 8:41 PM |
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This is the third in a series of posts to help people get to know the Chess.com Team a bit better! Today, we catch up with Matias Jose, aka... shadowc!

 



Tell us a little about yourself?

My name is Matias and I'm actually more of a pianist and composer than a programmer, but time has proven that I'm a pretty decent programmer too, and that I can do well in this strange and nerdy profession. I've studied piano for about 8 years at the National Conservatory of Argentina, became a Chopin specialist, and I've written about a hundred (mostly classical) piano works and one pop song demo. All of them unedited, but not for long!

Where do you live?

In my apartment in one of the most crowded neighborhoods in Buenos Aires, Argentina — to me, one of the most beautiful places in the world (in case you get weird news about us on the media, nope, it's actually very nice and peaceful here :) )


How long have you been with Chess.com?

I've been here since Chess.com was only a 300-thousand-member site, more than 7 years ago! I have seen Chess.com rise from a shaky but eager start-up with some issues that needed to get fixed if we were going anywhere, up to the huge success that it is right now. Sure, things still need fixing, but believe me, we came a long long way to what we are now, and I'm happy and proud that I was a tiny part of all that growth, and that I am still a relevant part of this ongoing process!


What do you do at Chess.com?

Basically, almost since I started, I have been in charge of maintaining and improving the chessboards that you use all over the site. I took over this area from the GREAT Piotr Dachtera and the extremely challenging task of making the boards even better, and I was lucky to succeed to a degree that kept me in the job for many years. Even though the boards suffered extensive rewrites by me during many of these years, there are still bits of the code (about a 20%) that date to all the way back in the days of Piotr because, even now, it's still the BEST way to do it. Yes, people, that's how great Piotr is. :)

For some time now, I have been leading the live chess architecture and redesign team, which consists of a small group of professionals, improving, rewriting and making live chess cooler and more stable for you, and I've pretty much left the chessboards to my successor, Yuri.

What are your hobbies or other interests?

I want to say music, but actually music is my profession. It's just that programming proved to be more profitable in a more reliable way than Music, and so it turns out that I'm in that weird spot in which my hobby became my profession, and my profession is my hobby. Luckily enough, I'm now on the verge of editing a book of piano works for children some time this year, and will hopefully record most of them on my YouTube channel (which you can check out here: https://www.youtube.com/user/therealmatiasjose)

When I'm not working, practicing piano or writing music, I LOVE to play soccer (I actually went to soccer school for about 6 years when I was a kid), go to the Bombonera to watch my team Boca Juniors, or just stay home and play some Minecraft (which I think I'm slightly addicted to).

So you are a composer... What is your favorite song?

I can't say that I have a favorite song really... It depends on age, the period of my life, even the mood that I get up with every morning. I do believe in music as a live activity (don't like recordings very much) and as such, there are a few cases that I praise as captured moments of musical perfection. Let me leave you an example (that you might not know too well) of one of the best performances in music history that I recall to date and that pretty much defines my philosophy:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9PEybjgUj6U

I could speak for hours about this song and give lectures about it, but for the sake of not boring you to death, let's just say this song to me is a masterpiece, and its structure is so simple it seems like a joke. But it is in the way its simplicity is structured, that implies such an underlying complexity that the human mind cannot comprehend, which creates a sense of magic and awe. Moments of inspiration, as some people call it!

When a masterpiece is executed perfectly like that (every time I listen to that first chorus I get goosebumps, and maybe even something in my eye), then you have what I call a moment of musical perfection. And those are really hard to find!

Ok, I get it. There is not one "best" song... How about a favorite composer?

That is also a very unfair question, given that music is so old and so many geniuses have shaped it; it's impossible to pick just one. However, from a technical perspective, I shall say that maybe the best composers of all times would be Sergei Prokofiev and Maurice Ravel (both classical music composers). But you might not like them (I actually don't like many works from Prokofiev). It's all about taste. Personally, I like Bach, Chopin (probably my favorite), Rachmaninov and more in the 20th century, I could name composers like John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Phil Collins, Elton John (a true beast), Freddie Mercury, and I'm probably forgetting a few, but you get the picture.

What do you believe in?

I believe in the opportunity for ordinary people to perform extraordinarily under extraordinary circumstances and in the power of human compassion to win over greed. I believe in love (which is to say that I believe in God) and the power of logic, critical thinking and science to take humanity to the next level (rather than destroying it).

Anything you would like to confess?

Yes, I want to say that I am a total nerd, a Star Trek fan, and a Carl Sagan follower. I admit it all!! D:

 


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