The ISP Chess Tournament: An interview with Berta from El Altillo International School

With the ISP Chess Tournament 2022 coming up, we’re delighted to share an interview with El Altillo International School student, Berta. During the ISP Chess Tournament last year, Berta placed as top chess player in the Senior Category. We asked her about her experience during the tournament and what she enjoys the most about chess.

An interview with Berta from El Altillo International School

Berta

How does it feel to be a top chess player at the first ISP Chess Tournament?

It feels great. I was quite unsure of our team´s ability to perform well at first, but surprisingly, as the tournament went on, we quickly gained confidence in what we were able to achieve and finally were able to succeed. Personally, it is an honour to have been the face of the team, but really it was a combined effort.

What was the best moment for you during the ISP Chess Tournament?

The emotion that could be felt in the room. Once the clock was winding down and we realised we had a shot a first place, you could see the emotion on everyone´s faces, especially our coach Dani, as well as the school principal.

What were some of the challenges you faced and how did you overcome those?

For me, it was mainly dealing with the pressure and overcoming the different hurdles that presented themselves during the tournament. For instance, I lost my first game, and I had to quickly recover and put aside any fear or doubt and push through.

When did you start playing Chess?

I started playing at age four, under the tutelage of my grandmother. Also, thanks to the chess programme at school I was able to quickly grow in terms of my chess abilities.

Who is your favourite Chess player?

From what I saw early on in chess-themed movies, I believed Bobby Fischer was the greatest player of all time. However, as I grew up my favourite player became Judit Polgar, mainly because she showed me that chess is a game designed for all genders and also because I admire her aggressive playing style that I have tried to replicate when I play chess.

What have you learnt from playing Chess?

Chess has taught me a great deal of things. It has taught me human values such as coping with stress, knowing how to deal with big losses and most of all how to fight for what you want, in spite of how difficult it may seem at first

Do you think that playing chess has helped you with your studies? If so, how?

Chess has taught me many transferrable skills that I´ve been able to use in many different facets of life. In my studies, chess has helped me a lot with my decision making and making critical and logical decisions. In chess, a lot of games require you to always look for the best move and this is quite helpful when it comes to solving math problems at school.

Have you seen the Netflix show The Queen’s Gambit, and do you like it?

I think it was great representation of chess and the amount of intensity and fun that goes into it. For many, I think the show helped them to understand that chess is much more than a boring board game and that you can express yourself through chess. Also, since the main character, Beth, is a woman, I feel the show managed to kill two birds with one stone since it also showed how a talented young female can quickly gain access into the world of chess.

Chess is a predominant male sport. How would you encourage a more diverse level of engagement in the game?

As hard as it may be to change the current paradigm surrounding women´s involvement in chess, I believe it is crucial for prominent female chess players to keep on inspiring young girls to get involved in chess and to alleviate that fear of joining a sport dominated by men. A great example of this are the Botez sisters.

What would you say to other ISP students thinking of taking part in the programme or playing chess?

I would highly encourage it. I believe chess is truly a wonderful sport which I could go on about for hours, but to keep it brief, all I will say is go and try it for yourself. Playing chess competitively will also introduce you to the tenacious side to chess. In many ways it resembles a boxing fight with no physical injuries, so I would imagine it´s a much better way of duelling it out with your friends!

Having just taken the EBAU (Spanish exams to access the university), what would you like to study in the future?

I would like to pursue a degree in Mathematical Engineering. Preparing for the EBAU these past two years have proven to be rather difficult, but now I hope to specialise even further by learning more about one of my favourite subjects at school.

Would you like to continue playing Chess professionally?

I have played chess professionally from the age of 8 to 17, and as much as I would like to continue, realistically, I would require extensive hours of training and I prefer to keep enjoying chess as a pastime.

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