Monday 27 August 2012

Interview with IM Daniel Semcesen

The following interview is done with International Master Daniel Semcesen from Sweden, on his peak he was rated slightly under 2500.
Daniel speaks about forthcoming Chess Olympiad in Istanbul, Swedish chances, Swedish chess, chess tournaments, training, his future and much more...
We agreed to do this interview during Manhem´s GM tournament and I think that this is appropriate time to publish this interview like an introduction for Chess Olympiad.

About The Olympiad

Bejtovic Jasmin: Hello Daniel! Can you introduce yourselves for those who don´t know who are you?

Semcesen Daniel : Hi everybody! My name is Daniel Semcesen and I am an international master. I am 26 years old and work as a chess professional.

Bejtovic Jasmin:  Tomorrow the Chess Olympiad in Istanbul starts. What you think about the importance of this competition in today´s chess? It seems to me that many players who are not on the very top, have a nice chance to meet these guys with astronomical ratings.

Semcesen Daniel: The Olympiad is without a doubt one of the most prestigious events there are in chess, as far as team competitions are concerned. With the country´s honour at stake, almost every team is trying to boast their best line up. This is bound to produce some very interesting games.
Of course it will be interesting for players outside the absolute top to face the " big guns". The top players are favorites to win in each individual encounter, however, there is always a risk of an upset, especially if they play against a well prepared opponent.

Bejtovic Jasmin: Who is in your opinion the favourite in the open section?

Semcesen Daniel: It is a difficult question to answer. The strongest team elowise is not always the team who finishes first. Also you have to take into account that most of the teams in the top 10 are very even, so I would actually say that there are no clear favourites in the open section.

Bejtovic Jasmin: What is your opinion about the Swedish team´s chances? What should be considered as success?

Semcesen Daniel: I think that the Swedish team has good a chance of achieving a decent result. The team composition is a mixture of young players and a few veterans. With a starting rank of 30+ I would consider it a successful result if the team ends up in a place in the top 20.

Bejtovic Jasmin: A few days ago you were a part of small delegation which had a training camp in Svedala, Sweden. Other participans of this delegation  are Swedish players who will play in Istanbul. How was the training session? I know that you cannot reveal secrets in the opening preparation, but maybe you can share some inside information for curious readers….

Semcesen Daniel: During the training camp we looked mainly at opening variations in which the players felt either uncomfortable or unfamiliar. The team spirit was very high and everyone who participated gladly shared their own analysis of different variations.

Bejtovic Jasmin: You played for Sweden in European Team Championship. Impressions? Did you expect an invitation for the Olympiad?

Semcesen Daniel: I happened to get invited to the Swedish team in the European Team Championship mostly by chance, as many higher rated players turned down the offer. I didn´t expect to play this year as my Elo didn´t improve.
It was a useful experience to play against some really strong opponents and also to meet alot of strong players that you only know from books and magazines.

Bejtovic Jasmin: But then, some players refused to play in the Olympiad too. What is your opinion about this issue?

Semcesen Daniel: I think it is too bad that they declined to play, but I can understand their reasons why. I know there has been alot of talk especially in Sweden about the selection process and that alot of (in my opinion unfair) criticism has been pointed towards the person in charge. The main problem seems to be financial and unless the federation is willing to contribute with money I don´t see the situation improving in the future.

"...and the rest of games were played by vulture..."

Bejtovic Jasmin: All right, let´s move on from the Olympiad...
You have the a very specific style of play. Can you describe it and  explain how it comes that you are playing in such a way?

Semcesen Daniel: Hmm I don´t know about "very specific style of play" but I guess that I prefer to play strategic and positional chess. My early chess heroes are not so surprising Capablanca, Petrosian and Karpov. Lately I have tried to add more dynamic play with decent results.

Bejtovic Jasmin: If you can compare your playing style and chess personality with some animal, for example from category of birds, which that could be?

Semcesen Daniel: Interesting question. I got a similar question from my art teacher during 8th grade and answered boa constrictor.

Bejtovic Jasmin: I would compare it with  a vulture, patiently waiting for your opponent to die (or make a mistake). Anyway ,you are  the proud owner of two GM norms. When we can expect the third and final?

Semcesen Daniel: I like your comparison better! I don´t know when the last norm will be fulfilled, but I hope it will happen soon. Somehow it seems to me the more that when I actively try to "force matters" nothing happens. Maybe I should not try to push it?

Bejtovic Jasmin: What kind of tournaments do you your prefere, round robin or open tournaments?

Semcesen Daniel: Normally my goal is to make a GM-norm and for this reason I prefer round robin tournaments. Of course it is possible to make norms in open tournament but there are too many factors that you cant affect and for this reason I prefer round robin tournaments.

Bejtovic Jasmin: Recently you changed a club in Sweden. Can you explain this story with Team Viking and Lund´s ASK ?

Semcesen Daniel: I used to play for Lund´s ASK for a long time but was disappointed when the club didn´t want to support me after I had become IM and decided to become a chess professional. I therefore decided to change club to Team Viking (a professional club) instead. Now I have played for Team Viking for two seasons and decided that it was time to return.

Bejtovic Jasmin: You are playing many tournaments outside of Sweden. Which country is your favourite chess country and why?

Semcesen Daniel: I don´t know if I have a favourite chess country but I like to travel and visit new places, which is a reason why I am playing alot of tournaments abroad. The main reason, however, is that there simply are no decent tournaments for norm seekers in Sweden. The last two years I played in round robin GM tournaments in Lund and in Gothenburg, which were excellent, but except for those two and Rilton there is nothing.

Bejtovic Jasmin:  It seems that there are more real tournaments in Denmark compared with Sweden. I cannot see any reason why Sweden cannot do the same.  After all, the mentality is the same and chess is equally (un)popular. What do you think about that?

Semcesen Daniel: I agree with you that there are more tournaments in Denmark organized for title norms. I think the main difference between organizers in Denmark and Sweden is in the attitude towards the professional players. In Sweden organizers are unwilling to pay title-players, instead preferring to organize weekend tournaments with no conditions for professional chess players.

Plans, trainings and little things

Bejtovic Jasmin: But there are few exceptions. Sigeman & CO is something special and Rilton Cup is nice open. A tournament in Gothenburg, Manhem´s GM, where we recently played, was really nice organized and it is an example for any organizer in Sweden how things should be done.
You plans for the future, short and long term plans….

Semcesen Daniel: I will try to become GM within the near future as I want to continue as a professional chess player. However if it doesn´t come to fruition I will return to my university studies to finish my degree.

Bejtovic Jasmin: Do you read chess books regularly?

Semcesen Daniel: Not anymore. Of course I look into chess books everyday but never read the books from beginning to end.

Bejtovic Jasmin: Who is your favourite author?

Semcesen Daniel: I quite like Lars Bo Hansens books. He presented some interesting ideas and they had alot of influence on the way I play chess today.

Bejtovic Jasmin: Can you describe your usual training session?

Semcesen Daniel: These days I almost only work on openings. Normally that means going through the latest games in a specific variation and analysing ideas with an engine. In general I try to work on positions that are unbalanced and lead to dynamic play in order to improve on my ability to handle unclear positions at the board.

Bejtovic Jasmin: How often you read Chess & Life?

Semcesen Daniel: Everytime I get a message on facebook saying there is a new article.

Bejtovic Jasmin: What you think about these articles about improvement in chess?

Semcesen Daniel: It is interesting to follow another approach to self improvement than my own. There is alot of interesting material, analysis and tips that are useful to improvement.

Bejtovic Jasmin: What is your advice for ambitious players?

Semcesen Daniel: I would recommend ambitious players to work on their own games. It is important to know one´s own strengths/weaknesses as it should direct the player in the right direction [ie what one needs to improve].

Bejtovic Jasmin: All right Daniel, thank you for this interview

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