“Live commentary is extremely popular”

Interview mit GM Robert Rabiega

“Live commentary is extremely popular”

Interview with Robert Rabiega

Dear Robert, during the Bundesliga event at the end of April/beginning of May, you will be responsible for commenting on the event, which will also be broadcast live on the Internet. How does a chess grandmaster develop an inclination towards commenting? Is this rather a hobby or rather part of an activity as a professional chess player? Is there a special preparation for this?

For some players commenting has become a lucrative secondary activity. I see this rather as a well-paid hobby, which gives me some pleasure. It’s even more fun for two, especially when you sit together with Gustafsson or van Wely. The inclination comes all by itself if you have a sense of entertainment. As preparation you can take the current tournament results and games of the protagonists. This can explain some features, such as weakness of form.

A major chess event nowadays can no longer do without a live broadcast. For a inclined amateur this is great, as he gets a bit by bit and well prepared world class chess delivered to his home: World Championships, Saint Louis, World Cup, London etc.; Wijk aan Zee and the candidate fights have just ended. How do you evaluate the influence of live commentaries on the impact and acceptance of chess nationally and internationally and do you yourself hang in front of the computer as a consumer in such competitions?

In my circle of acquaintances live commenting is extremely popular!!!! Even for players who do not play in the club. You only have to remember old times, there was practically nothing. Chess newspapers have informed us. But it came out only once a month…
The effect is immense nationally and internationally, not for nothing are all the big servers live. The broadcasts are becoming more and more professional and entertaining. I often don’t have the time to follow things live. Nevertheless I watch the shows afterwards and try to learn something myself.

Apropos Berlin: With the candidate competitions and the central final round, two major events are taking place on the doorstep and the World Championships in Speed Chess and Lightning were not so long ago either. How do you assess the development of chess in the German capital? Is there also a lasting effect on popular sport, which you as a youth and school chess trainer also have a good eye on?

That cannot be answered so sweepingly. The events mentioned are, of course, outstanding. How long have I waited myself for such events in Berlin? It was a nice feeling to see students from my Käthe Kollwitz grammar school watching the Bundesliga final round. The audience figures speak for themselves. Why does the candidate tournament take place in Berlin? For players of any colour, such events can have a very motivating effect. The popular sport, however, develops independently. It is not for nothing that chess was introduced as a subject at the Käthe-Kollwitz-Gymnasium and was expanded more and more. Parents are discovering more and more the values of the royal game for their children. From my point of view quite rightly! We are talking about concentration, logic, strategic thinking, decision-making, etc. Chess is the perfect workout for this. Of course, these tournaments can help, but it would be too early to talk about sustainability. There are also big differences between the two events. The SF Berlin present a giant event. Numerous events accompany the Bundesliga final round. The more players or spectators, the better. The SF Berlin also seek contact with the Berlin Chess Federation and, to the best of my knowledge, are supported in the best possible way.

In the mid-1980s you were the youngest Bundesliga player in the German Schachoberhaus with – if I remember correctly – 14 years of age. That was a sensation at that time: A teenager between loud seniors (often smoking on the chessboard); sometimes doctors and philologists. O tempora o mores! Today, the Bundesliga is a highly professionalized organism that regularly brings together the world’s top chess players. Are the conditions for talented offspring nowadays better or worse? What support possibilities would you like to have as a youth and school chess trainer in Germany?

I actually became the youngest Bundesliga player at the age of 15. That was really unique. Of course, times have changed completely. Grandmasters are getting younger and younger, knowledge has increased massively. My association king Tegel under leadership of Manfred Rausch and my only coach Rainer Tomczak, supported me in the best way possible. At that time there was no ChessBase and Internet. The tournaments were not so numerously organized. The present offers for the ambitious player everything only imaginable. Anyone can train with a grandmaster via online lessons. Tournaments take place weekly all over the world. With some talent and a lot of diligence an IM title is absolutely possible. To reach the top of the world you need a lot of talent and really hard work. I would like to introduce chess as a school subject all over Germany. Other countries are already doing this. With the mass of players, the next German World Champion would no longer be utopia.

A final personal question: You have achieved a lot for yourself and your club König Tegel in Blitz. Will we see you on Saturday, April 28, 2018 at the International Blitz Tournament in the Central Final Round?

I will play! All my students will take part in this top event. In Tegel there will be 2 tournaments in March and April with this reflection period, so the best possible training conditions!

The interview was conducted by Dr. Lars Hein.