Sunday, 27 September 2009

My Chess Autobiography

Thank you very much to everyone who reads my blog. I've had hits from all over the world, which is much more than I expected when I started this. I hope you'll find this blog interesting and worth reading in the months to come. Some of you may not have met me or just don't know much about me, so it's time to give you a bit of chess background about myself.

I was born in Chelyabinsk in Russia what seems like a very long time ago. Chelyabinsk is a large town of over 1 million people and it's a capital of Chelyabinsk region and of the South Urals. Until recently, the most famous GM to emerge from there was Sveshnikov because of Sveshnikov Sicilian. Strangely enough I was in the same class with his daughter at school.

My dad taught me chess when I was very little. I remember learning checkmate with two rooks when I was about 5! When I was almost 7 I started going to a Chess School. The Chess School was somewhere children could go after traditional school finished for the day and I went there about twice a week. Chess has always been considered a sport in Russia, so like many other sports it was heavily subsidised during communist times, which meant I had plenty of opportunity to travel to tournaments and train with good coaches for free. We even had free full medical check-ups twice a year!

Since I was a promising junior, I was also invited to attend the Chess School of GM Panchenko which happened twice a year. That's what people call "the Russian Chess School"! Juniors from all over Russia had very intense training for a couple of weeks, which included lectures from IMs and GMs, tests and some practical chess. It was completely invaluable experience - I should have paid more attention at those lectures, as that school produced many GMs! You can read more about Panchenko School here if you can read Russian: You may even recognise mini-me in a couple of photos :)

I was the best girl junior not only in Chelyabinsk region, but in the wider zone of Russia that included neighbouring regions. My best achievement at the time was 2nd place in the Russian girls' championship under 18. The local government of Chelyabinsk even awarded me a scholarship for this aceheivment. I did fairly well in the Russian Women's cup too. The other memorable achievement was that my school team won the schools' championship of Russia called "The White Rook". We did very well in the Soviet Union championship too - we got a second place once. The team consisted of 4 boys and 1 girl (me).

After I finished traditional school at 17, I went to study in Plymouth in the UK. I played a bit of chess for a year and went to the local chess club, but for the following 4 years I gave up chess altogether. Being a student, I found it difficult to find money and time for travelling. Since I was one of the strongest players in the Plymouth chess club, I got bored of going there too. After I gained my BSc in Business Information Management Systems, I got a job and with it the money. More importantly, I got back the will to train myself and play chess again. I also relocated to Berkshire where chess tournaments were far more accessible compared with remote Devon. A few years later I got my FIDE rating and WFM title. Around that time I also played for the Guildford ADC team in the top division of 4NCL British Chess league and we won the league.

My dad Sergey YurenokAfter that I pretty much stopped training and played mainly in the 4NCL for a number of years. My personal life took over and kept me busy until now. But lack of training meant that I consistently performed below my rating and at the end I lost more than a 100 rating points over few years. Now I'm getting my rating back and aiming to get even more than before. My aim is to get to the WIM performance level in the coming months. The other aim is to become better than my dad!! Papa, I hope you are reading :) My dad is a strong Candidate Master and coached me a lot during my many years of playing chess. Now that he's moved to live in the U.S.A., he's got his FIDE rating too. It's 2254 and he's aiming to become a FIDE Master. Bring it on!


jello said...

Interesting bio! Think its pretty cool that you went for and, got to have those experiences with chess at such an early age (wish I'd discovered chess as a child, as it happens it didn't happen till I was in my thirties, but better late then never :)

I'm glad you decided to continue with it and to share about your travels and encounters in the sport, you write well and seem to enjoy it (I also enjoy writing but I don't know that I'm any good at it). Though I am a boy, I seem to relate to women a bit better and have lamented that there are not more women at the game - but apparently things are much improved in this case over say just a few decades ago, and more and more girls seem to be coming to chess! Anyway, thanks for the inspiration I've found within the pages of your blog, you rock!

PS Its a nice photograph of your dad, he looks to be digging deep :)

Maria Yurenok said...

Hi Jello,

Thanks for your nice comments. I was quite lucky with the whole chess thing when I was young.

Writing is a strange thing, I never thought I'm any good at it but decided to write to improve my writing skills if nothing else. And now I'm delighted to have regular readers following the blog.

There are probably a few more girls in chess these days, but still not enough!