The Office of a Chess Grandmaster

“I enter my office, just like anyone else in any other line of work.” Ilya Georgovic, Chess Grandmaster, explains how his unique work environment is not actually as unusual as it first seems.

By Paul Pinder | 24th May 2019

“When I am sat at the match table, I enter into my orbit, and exclude from my thoughts everything else. It is important to me that my chair is the right size and height, and I give special attention to this. Some players prefer a swivel seat but I like a fixed chair, but with arm support. Lighting needs to be right too; the board must be well lit but without shadows, and no glare. I like to be able to see the auditorium too, as I will often zone out from the game and relax my eyes by scanning the room, calculating combinations and options for my pieces in my head. “

The arbiters are well versed in the particular requirements of each player. Ilya himself insists on his scorepad and pen be placed to the left of the board, and a bottle of sparkling water to the right. The electronic clock timer is always located to the centre left, a fixture of the ‘office’ rather than an optional extra.

“Some venues carpet the playing area. In large arenas this is not the case, and the sound of players feet on hard flooring, as they pace between moves, can be distracting to some, including me.

“I always like to dress for ‘work’- and this is my work- and so wear shirt and smart jacket. It helps me stay focused on the job in hand, as games may last up to 5 hours without a break and so discipline is essential. Only after the game is over, and the scoresheets checked and signed, and press conference duties are complete, will I loosen my shirt and leave the ‘office environment’ to wind down and relax. I will later often work from home in the evening, to analyse prepare for my match the next day.”

Ready for another hard day at the office.