Thursday, November 6, 2008

Interview with Queens Pioneer IM Dmitri ("Sugar") Shneider

Elizabeth Vicary: You just got back from China. Tell us a story from your time there.

Dmitri Shneider: I have to say it was one of the most incredible tournaments I've ever been a part of. Being part of a team is always more fun than playing individually, and the competition was quite strong with the stakes being some of the highest that I’ve had the pleasure of competing for.
One moment really stands out in my mind though. It was in the playoffs, during the first round against Ukraine. I wasn’t even playing, which made it more intense, as I had to watch the games get down to the final minute, where every move was the difference between the win and a loss of the individual game, as well as, potentially, the match.

So I was watching Shaba's game against Korobov (top 100 GM), which was opposite-colored bishops with queens when he was up some pawns but his king was in constant danger. It was incredible how they both had less than a minute left and we're down 2-1, and Shaba just kept on pushing and pushing and pushing, opening up his king with g5, and then h4 (which looked crazy, but brilliant). And then white's king came to d6, and they both queened, and at some point they made moves with less than 5 seconds on the clock. I normally don't get too excited with regards to chess (when playing, there’s not that much time to get nervous as it’s necessary to focus on the board; while in all the team tourneys I’ve played in, it was never really that close or the stakes weren't that high)... and here its just going down to the wire, and Shaba's really just playing his heart out, and if he wins the match is tied, if he loses we're in quite a hole. And I’m like, he has to have mate, but he couldn’t find one, and they both get 2nd queens, and you have to figure something has to give... but unfortunately within a few moves everything was traded and a theoretical draw occurred with only the rook pawn and the wrong colored bishop against the lone king.

And it’s like wow, that was exciting. My heart was just beating the last 10 minutes of that match. Definitely wish there was more chess like that, and thinking well, everyday should be more like that. Definitely super impressed with Shaba there.

Elizabeth Vicary says: With his chess or his nerves or both?

Dmitri Shneider says: His nerves, his chess (I’m sure he had wins somewhere, but he just kept putting pressure, taking risks, but somehow staying alive), his whole demeanor as he gave it 100%, there was no holding back. That's why he's a world class player: he knew that there was only one result and he didn't give up until the position on the board made him.

Elizabeth Vicary says: How was the chess you played there? I understand you were the only American to win in the Armageddon final vs. Iran? Was that your best game?

Dmitri Shneider says: I played ok. I'm semi-retired now, as work doesn't give me much time to play often. I definitely made lots of mistakes, and my rustiness was evident. I played some good games, but the games I lost were horrible. I made moves and miscalculations that I never would have when I was playing regularly.... The game against Iran, I knew that I could beat that guy, and my mind was clear. I was in the zone. I don't think it was the highest quality game, but I put lots of pressure on him from the beginning, and I was more or less always in control, even with black; and I feel like I was just the better player that game... Whether it was my best game is hard to judge, as I made lots of mistakes the whole tournament. I did enjoy the finish against the Mexican player where I sacked the queen and it turns out he has to resign a few moves later.

Elizabeth Vicary says: So you graduated from UTD a year and a half ago with a degree in finance(?) What’s your life been like since you move back to New York? Job? Apartment? Social life?

Dmitri Shneider says: I have a B.S. in finance, and a minor in economics. I took some time off after I graduated to play some tourneys in Europe, as well as a few strong open/invitationals in US. I felt like I needed to get it all out of my system before going corporate (that and I had no idea what I wanted to do, so it gave me a little bit of time to figure it out).

NY is amazing... I love my apartment, and the Upper West Side. Central Park (especially now in the autumn) is the most beautiful thing in the world. I'm pretty lucky to be working at J.P. Morgan, (especially since it sometimes it feels that Wall St. is crashing down), but also because I work with some very smart and friendly people and have developed some great relationships within our analyst class.
Elizabeth Vicary says: What exactly do you do day-to-day at your job?

Dmitri Shneider says: I work for the Private Bank at J.P. Morgan, helping manage money for ultra high-net worth clients. I analyze data, a lot of it, follow the stock market, make sure that everything is running smoothly, so that our Portfolio Managers can do their job as best they can.

Elizabeth Vicary says: How much time do you spend at work? What do you do on weekends?

Dmitri Shneider says: My hours are pretty good for finance: I get in by 8am and leave by 6:30-7pm unless I have urgent things to finish up.

Social life is great. I mean how can it not be in NYC? On weekends, I try to do all the things I didn’t get a chance to during the week: i.e. going for a run in the park/ gym, laundry, groceries as well as just catching up with friends, going for brunch, catching an indie at Lincoln Center. Obviously the night life is awesome and now that it’s fall, its NY Giants and Entourage time…Weekends go by wayyyyyy too fast.

Elizabeth Vicary says: Do you see yourself returning to competitive chess in America?

Dmitri Shneider says: Well, I didn’t plan on returning anytime soon, but China has been an inspiration, so I'm hoping to try to qualify for the U.S. Championship. I’ll definitely play USATE as I’ve missed only twice since I was 10 years old.

Elizabeth Vicary says: Has it been announced how you can qualify for the US Champs?

Dmitri Shneider says: No, I’m still trying to figure that out.

Elizabeth Vicary: You mentioned that you played a lot post-college. Tell me about that.

Dmitri Shneider says: Post-college playing was great. I played incredibly well at Pardubice Open in the Czech Republic in the summer 2007 and missed a norm by half a point. I was in a really good spot-- had something like 6/7, and I was playing GM Potkin and he offered me a draw. And doing the calculations before the game, I knew that if I won, I’d make the norm immediately, and if I drew I’d probably play down with black and would have to win. But if I lost there was a chance I’d get too low of a player and would be out of the running. My position was better, so I had to play on, and in time pressure I blundered a pawn and lost. Sometimes, I second-guess that decision to decline... but if the position is better have to play on no matter what, so overall pretty sure I would do the same thing again.

Elizabeth Vicary says: If it was so great, then why had you decided (pre-China) not to return to competitive chess?

Dmitri Shneider says: I was super busy the whole year. There are so many things to do in NYC that chess kind of takes a backseat. However, after periods of rest, there’s always an urge to come back. Hopefully, U.S. Championship will be the event that gets me back into it.

Elizabeth Vicary says: How different is the experience of playing for Queens? How did you come to play for Queens instead of the NY Knights?

Dmitri Shneider says: Well, Dallas is a college team, and we played in the Student Union. So we'd have people always coming back and watching our games, somewhat distracting sometimes... and that’s why in our first year we didn't do as well as could have.

How I ended up on Queens originally, was that last year I was traveling post-grad but decided I wanted to play USCL very late and Alex was gracious enough to find a spot for me on the team, albeit as an alternate since it was past the submission deadline. So I played 2 games and won both, which felt great.

Queens is very professional, and I have to thank Alex Stripunsky for making sure everything is running smoothly. Strip treats the players very well, and the conditions are great, so if I was to play again, I'd play for Queens.

Elizabeth Vicary says: How exactly does he treat the players well?

Dmitri Shneider says: He's just very respectful, and if people want to play he tries to accommodate them as much as possible. I know some other managers don't quite have that same mentality.

Elizabeth Vicary says: Let’s discuss the upcoming USCL playoffs. If you were team manager, who would you play, both for Queens and for Boston? Who do you think would win this match, board by board?

Dmitri Shneider says: We have a few good lineups that we can use. I think Strip absolutely has to play, and then it’s either me, Eli or Alex with Ostrovskiy on 4.
For Boston, I’m not quite sure who they have besides Larry and Eugene (and I think Sammour plays for them), so I don’t know about their board 3+4. But I would think that board one is a close match and board 2 we're slight underdogs but we're favorite on 3 and slight underdogs on 4. So we'd need to hold 2 and 4, while maximizing on 3

Elizabeth Vicary says: one sec… possible lineups…
1st / 2nd: Two of Christiansen / Perelshteyn / Sammour-Hasbun
3rd: Esserman
4th: Krasik

1st: Christiansen / Perelshteyn / Sammour-Hasbun
2nd / 3rd: Two of Vigorito / Shmelov / Riordan / Esserman
4th: Krasik

1st: Christiansen / Perelshteyn / Sammour-Hasbun
2nd: Shmelov
3rd: Riordan
4th: Esserman

Dmitri Shneider says: Okay, well Larry and Eugene must play. I don’t see any other lineup giving us any trouble, and we should be the favorites against this one as well.

Elizabeth Vicary says: So let's say it's Larry - Alex, you- Eugene, Esserman – Vovsha/ Lenderman, Ostrovskiy- Krasik?

Dmitri Shneider says: If that occurred, I’d have to hold Eugene, and Vovsha has to beat Esserman and Ostrovskiy would need to hold Krasik… with Larry and Alex being a toss up. But we'd have white on 2 and 4. If we play our best, we have to be favorites here. And, of course, we have draw odds.

As an aside, Boston Blitz blogs are funny. They're kind of ridiculous… written in a very amateurish way.

Elizabeth Vicary says: The whole thing or something in particular? I must say I enjoy their videos.

Dmitri Shneider says: The whole thing is pretty ridiculous. I guess some people are insecure and need to talk themselves up to feel good.

Elizabeth Vicary says: Any response to Krasik’s recent words?

Dmitri Shneider says: I forget what he said, don't really keep that stuff in my memory, let me double check…

Elizabeth Vicary says: I believe he called you "not Karpov."

Dmitri Shneider says: Who is? Anyway, we'll see how much we learned our lesson next week.

Elizabeth Vicary says: Who would predict to win Carolina- NY? Miami – Seattle? San Fran- Dallas? The East? The West? The Finals?

Dmitri Shneider says: NY. Miami. Dallas (my upset pick) and Queens winning it all, obviously.

Elizabeth Vicary says: You think NY beats Carolina, even though Carolina dominated all season and NY just snuck in?

Dmitri Shneider says: I think NY has momentum, and now that they finally got their act together, they're just a very good team. Gotta go with the hot hand.

Elizabeth Vicary says: Okay, thanks a lot for the interview and good luck next Wednesday. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Dmitri Shneider says: Just that I'm glad Queens has given me an opportunity to stay in touch with the game, since I don't have much time to play. And that Greg Shahade is a genius for starting this whole enchilada and getting the country's best players involved. Pass da sugar.


Anonymous said...

very entertaining interview! loved it.

Anonymous said...

And where is the fabulously, professionally written Queens Pioneers blog?



Anonymous said...

Elizabeth: The interviews are great! How do you conduct them? Email, IM? Or are they spoken conversations that you record and transcribe?

Elizabeth Vicary said...

Thank you! For the most part they are IM type conversations (ICC, Skype chat etc), that I edit into interview format, send to the person to appove or change, and then post. Really the credit should go to the interviewees for being interesting.

The Donaldson interview was by email bcause he was leaving the country and we couldn't find a good time.

Upcoming: Carolina's Craig Jones, New York's Irina Krush, Seattle's Slava Mikhailiouk.

Chris said...

"Elizabeth Vicary says: Okay, thanks a lot for the interview and good luck next Wednesday."

Yeh, good luck on Wednesday Dmitry! (Shame the USCL interviewer doesn't even know what day the play-offs will take place...)

And I second Matt, where are the professional Queens blog posts? You surely aren't meaning the ones from Lenderman??? (Although at least he made the effort, unlike the rest of Queens. I also remember there were great plans for a website... oh well.)

However, you could clear up a question I have. Should your last name have a C in it or not? Schneider or Shneider? I'd like to spell it the correct way, whichever that is!

Anonymous said...

If you read the above article which was written by Lenderman blasting Stripunsky and the entire Queens organization you come to the conclusion that not everything is so "sugary" down there: either Schnieder is a liar or that Lenderman is disgruntled... which one is Dmitri?

Anonymous said...

Dmitry is a great person and a fabulous teammate and great professional. Like for Alex STripunsky I have great respect for him. People still don't understand one simple thing. Just for one fact or one negative quality of a person or a manager, or one or two mistakes a player or manager might've down, doesn't mean he/she is a bad manager. Unfortunately too many of you people who read blogs, as soon as you see any kind of little criticizms, you jump on it so quickly, without realizing the overall content of the whole letter. And it's well known that the only place you can write anything "negative" is in the middle of the essay, letter, blog, whatever it is. So no, I am NOT disgruntled, and Dmitry is NOT a liar. I don't want to hear this stuff again!

Ilya said...

Alex, you called Stripunsky "a true proffesional" before too in your interview I believe?! Then you blasted him, basically calling him an idiot for picking the wrong rating list and allowing his students to play whenever they wished and not when it was in the best interest of the team. I would say you had something on your chest and I admire you for honestly talking about it, there is no need to pussyfoot , be a man and stand by your words. I guess Boston is in big trouble going up against a Queens team full of such "true proffesionals"

Just in case anyone is curious here is the article

Anonymous said...

"Dmitri Shneider says: The whole thing is pretty ridiculous. I guess some people are insecure and need to talk themselves up to feel good."

Couldn't agree more...

Anonymous said...

But Ilya, just if Alex makes a mistake or a misjudgement doesn't mean he's an idiot. I think he's a professional, and that's my opinion. The only thing I don't like what I said in my blog was the phrase of "babying students" because that's subjective, not objective, it was my opinon, and I wish I can take that back. The rest of it, I was just stating honest facts, and answering other peoples' qusetions honestly. By the way, if a person maybe isn't so organized or "stubborn, it doesn't mean he/she isn't professional. The words have different meanings and they're not direct opposites. Professionality means always coming on time, always have the equipment working, always submitting the lists on time, always following the rules, always keeping in touch or for the most part, that's how I define true professionality, and of course helping us prepare very well for every game, and every match, and giving good pep talks, and not to forget himself playing the best he can every game and preparing very well. Those all things are what I define "professionalty. Hope this clears this issue forever.


Ilya said...

Alex, thank you.. yeah this sure clarifies it ,Stripunsky is proffesional but unorganized... Since we are being so frank here could you do me a huge favor and tell me how to play vs this monster Queens team who is comprised of all these proffesionals who have proffesional preparation and proffesional pep talks, all this proffesionalism intimidates me you know.

Anonymous said...

Hmm, I wonder what a chess pep talk sounds like. Could Alex please elaborate on that?

Anonymous said...

It sounds like these, hey queens go checkmate these mother f...king b..tches check check fork then skewer him. take the f...kin Queen out and mate him.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

NO, I think it goes like this: Listen up Queens, we gotta smoke em out of them holes...everyone cover their man, aight huddle up, one two there--GO Queens!

Elizabeth Vicary said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

just in case Ilya is following this, professional is spelled with one f...amateur.

Anonymous said...

Shneider says "As an aside, Boston Blitz blogs are funny. They're kind of ridiculous… written in a very amateurish way"

Dmitri have you read your own blog dude?


Mike Klein said...

hey lizzie,

now that north carolina is officially a blue state, show some love to the cobras. the team is progressive in more ways that one...

mikey k

Anonymous said...

Shneider you and your team sucked some major d..k tonight.