Drum Interviews @ ’16 Millionaire Chess

Drum Interviews @ Millionaire Chess Open #3

One of the most gratifying assignments in covering chess events are the interviews of various personalities. The Millionaire Chess Open attracts players from around the world and the diversity was apparent in all sections. In the under-2200, there were a number of interesting personalities and one of them was pleased to grant his first interview!

Naphtali Smith
Photo by David Llada

Naphtali Smith (Columbus, Ohio, USA) – Hailing from Columbus, Ohio, Naphtali was inspired by his cousin Billy Turner and began a serious push to improve his play. Entering the under-2200 with a rating of 2188, Naphtali ended with 4.5/7 with still a handful of points to make National Master. During the tournament, he was amused at his friends’ reactions to his photo at the board with his trademark… the well-kept beard! James Harden should be on alert! The personable young man plans to get involved with coaching at some point in the near future and make his contribution to the development of chess in Ohio. 8:13 minutes


Prince Eric Junior Guipi Bopala
Photo by David Llada

Prince Eric Junior Guipi Bopala (Montreal, Canada) – This 9-year old has five names, but one mission… to be a Grandmaster. The Canadian junior has won a number of national honors and started playing chess at age two!! He has been a mainstay in American tournaments having played in the World Open just a few months back. In this tournament, he scored 5/7 in the under-1800 section. His father, an immigrant from the Central African Republic has been the driving force in his son’s chess career and was able to share his thoughts in this joint interview. Enjoy! 11:44 minutes

GM Pontus Carlsson (Sweden) – The Chess Drum audience will know Carlsson quite well as he has been the subject of numerous articles at the website. The Colombian-born Swedish national took his first trip to the U.S. and wanted to support the Millionaire Chess initiative. While he was critical of his play, he offers suggestions of parallel tournaments. He relished the moments with Maurice Ashley and there were a number of iconic photos taken of two of the five the Black GMs in the world. Carlsson now splits his time between Sweden and the Czech Republic. 16:54 minutes

GMs Pontus Carlsson and Maurice Ashley… double exclam!!
Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

Wachania Wachira (Kenya) – Wachira was one of the African qualifiers from the MC Satellite tournament in Kenya. The field was tough for him as he struggled to gain his bearings under the weight of strong players. Nevertheless, he was intrigued by the U.S. and said that it was not what he expected. “It is too developed,” he asserted with a smile. It is with a bit of irony that in such a developed country, chess is not getting the attention it rightly deserves. 10:11 minutes

Pan-African Unity! CM Wachania Wachira (Kenya), IM Daniel Jere (Zambia), Daaim Shabazz (USA), IM Oladapo Adu (Nigeria), IM Farai Mandizha (Zimbabwe). Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

GM Cristian Chirila (Romania) – Chirila came to the U.S. six years ago to pursue his education at the University of Texas at Dallas. After being part of the successful teams at UTD, he moved to California where he would become a chess professional. In this interview, an obviously elated under-2550 winner described his experience at MC3 (he has attended all three), but remains skeptical at the model. Notwithstanding, this was his most successful tournament to date. 7:00 minutes

GM Cristian Chirila (right) receiving his prize from GM Maurice Ashley.
Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

FM Daniel Anwuli (Nigeria) – This talented 19-year old earned his FM title two years ago and became the nation’s highest-rated player at age 18. He recently represented Nigeria at the Baku Olympiad and has sights to further his studies and pursue the GM title. In this interview, he reflects on the tournament and how his slow start didn’t dampen his spirit. He scored 4.5 in the last five rounds to make Millionaire Monday. 14:13 minutes

FM Daniel Anwuli upsetting GM Conrad Holt.
Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

IM Daniel Jere (Zambia) – This Zambia came to MC3 after winning the qualifier in South Africa. His maiden visit to the U.S., he seemed enjoy the interaction with strong players and got a creditable 4/9 drawing GM Zhou Jianchou and 2500-rated IM Andrey Gorovets. Jere had taken a hiatus in chess and has since moved to South Africa where there are more opportunities. 14:02 minutes

IM Daniel Jere (right) blitzing between rounds.
Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

Githinji Hinga (Kenya) – Having served as President of the Kenyan Chess Federation, Hinga was interested in seeing the Millionaire Chess Open closeup. He had helped to host two qualifying events and wanted to lend support. While he did not participate in the events, he was able to provide moral support to qualifier Wachania Wachira and witness the excitement firsthand. 11:57 minutes

Githinji Hinga visited MC3 from Kenya.
Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

GM Emilio Cordova (Peru) – Having been a part of the 10th place Peruvian team in Baku, Cordova came to Millionaire Chess at the urging of a friend. While he admits that the cost is prohibitive, he was able to take 4th place overall. Surprisingly he mentions that there is not much support for chess, but the Olympiad result certainly brought honor to the country. Likewise, Cordova represented Peru well in Atlantic City. 6:59 minutes

GM Emilio Cordova versus Chinese GM Zhou Jianchou
during Millionaire Monday. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

GM Samuel Sevian (USA) – Born in New York, Sevian has been a sensation for a long time. He became an Expert at age 8, a National Master at age 9 and an International Master at 12 and 10 months. He broke a national record by becoming an International Grandmaster at 13 years, 10 months and 27 days. Since then he has played in two U.S. Championships and has begun to make his presence felt in international circles. In this joint interview with his mother Armine, he talks about his evolution as a chess player. Hopefully we will see good things from this raw talent. 9:49 minutes

GM Samuel Sevian and mother Armine chatting with
GM Pontus Carlsson of Sweden. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

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