Going »Solitude«

Ana Matnadze, a Spanish chess Woman Grandmaster (WGM) and open International Master born in Telavi/Georgia, was introduced to chess at the age of four by her mother. The sport became a passion for life. Ana also was a chess fellow at Akademie Schloss Solitude until June 2014. The chess fellowships were initiated in 2011 within the art science & business programm as the discipline builds a link between science, business and art: Garri Kasparow once said, chess teaches »logic, fantasy, self discipline and resoluteness«. – After her stay at Solitude, Ana writes about her scheduled life and her experiences with other fellows.

»Hello. I am a professional chessplayer. I am supposed to be extremely disciplined and concentrated, and train around eight hours a day. I need to be confident, as my discipline is a sport – as well as a mix of art and also a science, and when I am at work (i.e. tournament) I am in a constant 4-5 hour inner-battle with my opponent. I was going »solitude,« but I was also there to exchange ideas, share working methods, take and accept challenges … But at the end, chess is, first and foremost, a sport. Now after my time at Solitude is over, I would like to share this experience and tell you who I am.

Chess has a lot in common with art, but it is so different as well. What I have trained for the last 25 years (i.e. since I was 6 years old) has been my discipline. In chess, you have to perform almost ALWAYS well. A new ranking is published monthly, on the first of every month, and you have to be there. At this level, every single tournament is extremely important. And, I don’t know for bad or for good, you don’t depend on anyone’s tastes and/or experience when being a chessplayer – there is no juror, you only depend on yourself. You need to be definitely disciplined, and confident.

Solitude was a paradise for me – like for every chessplayer, who needs time and space and no constant checking in order to train properly … On the very first evening, I got the black curtains I asked for (as a night person and high intensive working schedule for my eyes, I am a bit sensitive to sunlight).

My schedule at Solitude was like this: 7 – 8 hours of healthy sleep, 8 hours of chess training, 1 hour of physical workout 5 times a week; 1.5 – 2 hours of »other stuff« like reading, learning something new or just being lazy … And this way I still had 5 more hours to dedicate them to other activities, be it collaborating/hanging out with other fellows or working on my other projects.

Working on chess openings, middle game intensive, endgame strategy, puzzle solving … and this is only one part. Wanna see how time flies? Play chess. – The 41st World Chess Olympiad will be held between the first and 15th of August in Tromso, Norway. I will be again representing my country, Spain. The importance of an Olympiad in every sportsman’s career is obvious …

To my great and pleasant surprise, I found many chess-loving fellows between the residents. Silvia Rosani (Composer, Italy), Rob Phillips (Composer, USA) , Nimrod Katzir (DJ & Musician, Israel) were just a few of them. We had chess&music nights … Once Rob came with me to the Böblinger Open Tournament and saw many professional chess players playing, myself included. It was his first real chess tournament!

I was so glad I could share the first three months of my residency with other chess fellows and colleagues, Soumya Swaminathan, Li Chao and a visiting former fellow Vera Nebolsina. One of the first things Tod Wodicka, a writer from USA, asked me when we first met was »There will be other chess fellows in the house. How does it normally work? Will you spy each other?«

Yes, we are rivals normally at the tournaments. But no, spying is not the way it works. Simply, we work on our »secret stuff« separately, and then even train together for other, more general stuff. So did Soumya and I sometimes, for example. It is such a rewarding activity! After their game, the two opponents of a tournament go to the analyzing room and analyze it, teaching each other and correcting each other’s mistakes.

One of the most interesting things I found at Solitude was how artists from two or more absolutely different disciplines can collaborate and work on a project together. This happened when Hanae Utamura, fellow within the field of visual arts, explained her project, the movie »Across the Grid,« to me and asked for my collaboration.

The collaboration process was extremely interesting, the exchange of insights and helping each other to find a common point was an incredible experience. I loved the way it went and the shape Hanae’s project took step by step.

Thanks to all at Solitude for teaching me so much and letting me enjoy this multitude!