But wait until you realize that this is her second (!) national title and now she is a double champion! Her first title came when she was only 12, back in 2019.
Here is an interview with Aliaksandra Tarasenka, a future star of international chess. A small preview of Tarasenka’s career so far: 3rd place in the European Youth Championship (Riga, 2018), 2nd place at the European Youth Championship (Tallinn, 2019), 3rd place at the World Youth Olympiad (Turkey, 2019) , 1st place in the European Youth Online Championship among girls under 14 years old (2020), and two Belarus National Championship titles in 2019 and 2021.
Hello Aliaksandra and congratulations on becoming Belarus national champion! Tell us more about the event, your opponents, and the games
The Belarus National Championship took place 8-16 May. I went with a colleague and a coach – Vladislav Viktorovich Katashuk – who helped and supported me. I had to cope with the excitement because the opponents were very strong. The championship was really tense, but I managed somehow to stay cool-headed.
All games were interesting, but I want to highlight two of them: the ones Katsiaryna Beinenson and Aliaksandra Shaban. I remember the game with Beinenson because I managed to make many moves according to the main line. My coach and I prepared from a game of Nakamura and I played the opening well. Then I surrounded my opponent’s queen and she had to sacrifice a pawn.
With Shaban I got an advantage in the opening and played a combination, after which I got a winning position queen versus two rooks. Then I made a mistake and my opponent had chances for a draw, but she did not take advantage of the situation. And soon I won.
The first title you won when you were only 12. Can you compare the emotions of the title then and the title now?
The emotions from each new victory are very positive. Undoubtedly, big wins are best remembered. The first victory in the championship of the Republic of Belarus brought strong positive emotions and this victory made me stronger as a person and added self-confidence to me. The second National title was also very pleasant, but not so unexpected. I was ready for the championship of the Republic of Belarus and understood that I had high chances of winning.
What was your first big tournament? And your first important medal?
My first international tournament was in Batumi at the European Championship for girls under 8 years old. However, my first significant medal at international level came in Riga in 2018 – it was the bronze medal at 3rd place in the European Youth Championship, girls U12.
At the Belarus championship you played with official rating 2033 ELO. Does the rating reflect your actual strength?
There are few tournaments valid for rating in Belarus. Due to the situation in the world there is currently no opportunity to participate in European tournaments too. But as soon as the situation improves and we return to our normal routine, I can catch up.
How do you manage to combine school and chess?
It is very difficult to combine school and chess. I spend most of my time competing, so I don’t have much time and energy left for school. I try to do my homework and keep up with the program by attending extracurricular activities. The teachers are very understanding of my hobby and do their best to help me with the progress in the school curriculum. My favorite subject is mathematics. Possibly it is connected to the fact fact that chess makes you think logically and make quick and balanced decisions.
When did you start playing chess?
I got acquainted with the game of chess at the age of 5. In the kindergarten, a girl with a chess set came to our group. I was very interested in the pieces. I wanted to learn how to play. My Mom bought me a chess set and signed me up for classes with my first coach Tatiana Sergeevna Berlin.
Currently you mentioned that you train with Vlad Katashuk. How important is he in your progress?
My coach Vladislav Viktorovich Katashuk is an integral part of my victories. He helps me select openings and finds weaknesses of my opponents. When the results are not going my way, he is always there to cheer me up.
Do you want to be a professional chess player?
I cannot answer this question yet, even to myself. In fact, playing chess at a professional level requires constant hard work, takes up most of the time and effort, and adds physical and emotional stress. At the same time, I really enjoy playing chess!