Q: Congratulations on your recent victory at the 27th Chicago Chess Open! That is a big one! You had many remarkable results in your chess career so far, which of those are you most proud of?
A: Thank you. it's always nice to win such a strong tournament with a lot of great players.
I believe this result is one of the best in my career, although I won the Russian Junior Chess Championship 3 times, tied for first in the World Chess Open, Philadelphia Open, and won the Mid-America open. Of course, Final Four titles with Webster University are also memorable to me.
Q: How and at what age did you get started in chess?
A: My mom taught me when I was 4, and when I turned 7, I joined the local chess club.
Q: Growing up in the most respected chess nation (St. Petersburg, Russia) in the world, were you part of a specific Chess School?
A: My first chess school was not a famous one, but besides me, among the students were Anish Giri and a few other grandmasters.
At the age of 14 years, I transferred to the famous Palace of Pioneers. Spassky and Korchnoi learned chess there (many years earlier) among others.
Q: What were your biggest accomplishments as a junior chess player?
A: As I said earlier, I won the Russian Chess Championship under 12, under 16 and under 20, but I consider the victory in the World Youth Stars tournament in 2008 to be my most serious achievement in Junior chess.
I scored 9.5/11, despite the fact that 6 future grandmasters with ratings of 2600+ participated in the tournament.
Q: How old were you when you made your final GM norm and became a Grandmaster?
A: It was January of 2009, I was 16.
Q: What were your peak FIDE / USCF ratings and ranking in the world?
A: My peak FIDE rating was 2664, top 80 in the world at that time. My highest USCF rating was 2727. Now it's 2714, #16 in the US.
Q: Which is (are) your favorite chess game(s) you have ever played?
A: My game versus Jobava from the European Chess Championship in 2014 is the first that comes to my mind. Curiously, I had another game versus Baadur from the PRO Chess League, which was also highly entertaining with 4 Queens fighting on the chess board.
Q: In addition to being a very successful chess player, you have not neglected your formal education either. What degrees have you earned so far and what are you studying now?
A: I earned an MBA degree in December 2017, and currently working on my degree in Finance.
Q: You have been part of Webster University's nationally #1 ranked chess program for the past three years and have significantly contributed to three Pan-American and two Final Four titles for your teams. What do you see as the key ingredients of the continued success of the program?
A: Besides the fact that our team has very strong players, I have no doubts that we have the best team chemistry among all teams. We are all like one family, so we care for and support each other. I believe that this is the basis of our ongoing success.
Thank you, and good luck in your upcoming events!