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Rustam Kasimdzhanov: A small talk with a former FIDE World Champion

Rustam Kasimdzhanov is an Uzbek GM, former FIDE World Champion (2004-05) and former Asian champion (1998). Besides his professional career as a chess player, Rustam is also known as one of the best seconds – he was a second for former World Champion Viswanathan Anand and Caruana’s second during the 2018 World Chess Championship match against Magnus Carlsen. Rustam is also a trainer — he worked with both Sergey Karjakin in the Candidates Tournament of 2014, and Fabiano Caruana in the Candidates Tournament 2016.

We had the opportunity to talk with Rustam on the occasion of his “Endgame” Masterclass Series with World Chess.

Which one do you think is your biggest achievement during your chess career?

For me nothing really compares to winning the World Championship 2004. Being called a World Champion is a very special feeling :) I do have other tournaments I think of warmly, like getting gold at Asian Games 2010, or coaching Vishy Anand at 2008 match against Kramnik

What’s the hardest thing about being a second?

The hardest thing about being a second is that when your job ends, the game only starts. It can be very tough on your nerves to watch and not be able to do anything

How do you feel when you watch a game that you have prepared not going as expected?

This is normal, actually. With so many possible lines, not guessing correctly is not an exception, it’s the norm. Every now and then it works out the way you planned, and that, of course, is a nice feeling.

Which one do you think is the greatest skill that a chess player can have?

I personally think that it’s all about staying calm. Everything else follows. Most top players share similar skills, but not everyone is capable of calming the waves and navigating calmly through decisive moments.

What do you think about the World Chess Championship game between Nepo & Magnus?

It has the potential to be very exciting. I’ve said before, on record, that Nepo has what it takes to be World Champion. But we also know that beating Magnus Carlsen in the match is the toughest imaginable challenge, so it’s also possible to crash and burn. It could be the most interesting match of recent chess history.

What do you think about professional players turning into professional streamers?

I think to each his own, right :) Playing chess professionally takes its toll on everyone, and I easily understand any player who wants to stay in chess and yet try other avenues, like streaming or commentary. Not everyone can be a top player at the same time – there are many more great players than spots in the elite.

Join Rustam’s Masteclass on the 22nd of August here

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