GM-elect Jesse Kraai was featured on the cover of the July 2007 Chess Life magazine. I remember reading a story on Kraai who was reputed to be a neighborhood troublemaker in his youth. When asked why he chose chess, he said it was the most violent game he could find. Well lots has changed since. Kraai has earned a Ph.D. has spent some formative years in Europe and now is America’s newest Grandmaster.
What I found interesting was the part where he discussed the difference between American chess and European chess. Specifically, he was asked why he was the first American-born Grandmaster in 10 years.
There are two basic reasons as I see it: my resistance to materialism and my exposure to and appreciation for chess culture in the Bundesliga and the AF4C U.S. Championships. In tournaments like Foxwoods or the National Open, chess feels “dirty.” By the evening round, everyone is so tired … they get up all the time, play faster and more superficially, go to the bathroom way too often … in the Bundesliga and the U.S. Championship, players are treated like pros. There’s one game a day, and people analyze after and prepare beforehand for hours.
I have an issue of why people keep making an issue of being “American-born.” For example, Hikaru Nakamura, who was born in Japan, learned the game in the U.S. and developed into a Grandmaster in America. The issue should be where you learned the game, not where you were born. Nevertheless, the article is interesting. Here is the full text.