GM E. Grivas Interview

photo_introHave you ever dreamt of meeting a real Grand Master of chess, who holds all the secrets to this mysterious art? Mr Efstratios Grivas embodies all of that, not only because he holds the GM title, but because he is successful at transmitting his knowledge and sharing his sharp understanding of all matters concerning chess.

Mr Grivas has had a rich career as a competitive chess player with many distinctions, medals and awards and has authored many books in Greek and in English as well. He has worked as a coach for the national teams of Greece and Turkey and is now traveling around the world holding the Fide Trainers Seminars. He is a SENIOR FIDE TRAINER, INTERNATIONAL FIDE ARBITER, INTERNATIONAL FIDE ORGANIZER, INTERNATIONAL GRANDMASTER. He is also the secretary of the Fide Trainers’ Commission.

From his Website:

His greatest success was winning the Silver Individual Medal (on the 3rd board) in the 33rd Chess Olympiad in 1998; this remains the only Olympic medal Greece has ever won to this day. Other important successes were the Gold Individual Medal (on the 3rd board) in the European Team Championship in 1989, 4th place in the World Junior Championship in 1985, 1st place in the 1987 Munich international tournament (320 participants), 11th individual place (on the 4th board) in the 32nd Chess Olympiad in 1996, qualification of his club (OAA ‘Iraklion’) to Europe’s best 16 clubs in 1997 (European Club Cup) and several good placements in international tournaments: 3rd in Paris 1982, 1st in Cap d’Agde 1983, 2nd in Karditsa 1984, 3rd in Bucharest 1984, 2nd in Strasbourg 1985, 2nd in Munich 1986, 3rd in Xanthi 1991, 2nd in Gausdal 1993, 3rd in Reykjavik 1994, 2nd in Limassol 1997, 1st in Hellexpo-Sportexpo 2001, 1st in the inaugural Greek Internet Championship in 2002 ( and others. In 1996 he was voted chessplayer of the year in the first Greek Chess Media poll.




Angelina: How does it feel to travel around the world and teach chess?

Grivas: Well, I love to visit new countries and make new friends. For me it was always important to try new things and test my limits. And if I can combine my travels with teaching chess (and get paid for that as well!) looks wonderful…


Angelina: Did you always know that you would become a chess player/trainer?

Grivas: I didn’t have the slightest idea. When I started playing chess I didn’t even know that there were chess trainers…


Angelina: Who is your favourite player of all times?

Grivas: The great Akiba Rubinstein. I was rather influenced by his style and understanding.


Angelina: Which person or event affected your chess views in a profound way?

Grivas: I would say the workshop I attended in Botvinnik Chess School on summer 1984. I fully understood what is chess, how to play it and afterwards, how to teach it.

Angelina: Is confidence important in chess?

Grivas: Not only in chess, but in every aspect of life and sports. If you do not have any, try to buy some; otherwise you will live with your misery as your best friend.


Angelina: Which was the funniest moment in your chess career?

Grivas: I can’t specify one. For me my chess life was/is an endless funny adventure. Even if fun was absent sometimes, I was trying to invent it…


Angelina: Do people from totally different countries and cultures have a different approach towards chess?

Grivas: Absolutely. I do not think that I noticed even two countries alike. But they have something in common: chess. And that’s enough to turn them into a forceful power.


Angelina: Have you ever lost a game to a woman?

Grivas: Yes, I have a lost a few. If I am not mistaken I have lost five games in total. But I do not see it in the way men-women, but rather good-bad player. But anyway I have lost some games to bad players as well, so, no excuse!


Angelina: How can small clubs turn their members into competent players?

Grivas: Tournaments, lectures, simuls and anything else that will invite and keep the member into the club. Facilities should be provided into the club – the member should feel it like his second home. Team competitions among clubs are also a nice touch.


Angelina: Sometimes I watch commentaries of big tournaments and notice that only very good players can follow them. Don’t you think they should be addressed to a wider and less specific audience (and even be a bit funny and imaginative)? Or would that distort the true nature of chess?

Grivas: You are probably watching the wrong channels! Nowadays there are many sites that offer commentary for every level. In general I do believe that commentary should be addressed to a wider audience; after all who is strong enough can analyse by himself.


Angelina: Have you ever seen a chess game in a dream?

Grivas: Many! I have also discovered good novelties; so good that I am thinking to write my next book while sleeping.


Angelina: Which is the best way to improve in chess?

Grivas: Work like hell and get a good coach. And then you have a 5% chance. Well, I would suggest to give it up and try to become a doctor; it is much-much easier….


Angelina: Your plans and hopes for the future?

Grivas: I am out of plans for the moment and I can see no hope in my future… I will just continue fighting against chess-training fraud; a feature that becomes fashion in my country Greece (among others) today…


Mr Grivas is celebrating his 35 years in chess and is giving away for free his out of print books in English and in Greek. Everyone can download them from his website in electronic form.

4Last March 2014, I attended the Fide Trainers Seminar in Athens that Mr Grivas held and was one of the fortunate attendees to have my complete chess worldview changed. You can read here my account of that seminar.