Career gambit to winning silver alongside Anand

Create your free account

By clicking “Register”, you agree to our
terms of service and privacy policy

Log in


Reset password

Career gambit to winning silver alongside Anand

Alexander Shapiro went from quitting his job to taking center stage with the chess superstars, all within 2 months! Discover his incredible journey here!

Success Story | 3 min read
Career gambit to winning silver alongside Anand

“Around a year ago, I played well at a tournament in Jerusalem. Emil Sutovsky, whom I know very well, was there too. He offered me to join his team – Freedom.” says Alexander Shapiro, a data scientist professional with a 1947 Rapid elo.

Saying yes would mean playing in the same team as the legendary Viswanathan Anand, Daniil Dubov, Richard Rapport, Vidit Gujrathi, among others, at the World Rapid Team Chess Championship 2023, as every team had to field 1 player below 2000 elo in their line-up.

“I saw this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. So I quit my job, accepted Emil’s offer, and decided to study chess for about 2 months.”

Freedom team at the World Rapid Teams in Dusseldorf Germany
Alexander (far right) and team Freedom – Can you guess all the players? | Source: FIDE

“Then I was looking for the courses and books when I found ChessMood. It was by far the best.”

Preparing his best with ChessMood

Alexander committed to train seriously before the World Rapid Team Championship.

“I watched the Tactic Ninja 3 times, most of the Daily Lessons and brushed up some openings. Psychologically, the course on Saving Lost Positions was unbelievably helpful. You get lost positions and need to know how to cope with it.”

“I also watched some classics with their commentaries, Avetik's course with his games, where his charisma is through the roof! It was all very helpful in many aspects.”

The right mindset at the World Rapid Team Championship

“My strategy was simple – to do my best. In such events, it’s always a team effort.”

He had the ideal mindset – detached from the result, focussed on his inputs and helping his team win.

Captain Sutovsky

“I also got great help from Emil, our team captain. He helped me prepare, fix some mistakes, explained how to play in difficult positions, how not to give up, how to continue fighting, how not to tilt.”

Emil Sutovesky Team Captain of Freedom
Emil Sutovsky played a key role as the captain of Freedom | Source: FIDE

“Also, I didn't feel any pressure despite being around superstars almost 700 elo higher. The psychological support from the team was amazing.”

Support would also come from a specific group of spectators.

The Viswanathan Anand and Vidit Gujrathi effect

“Sometimes, I came to the round before all others. The Indian supporters would wish me luck because Anand and Vidit were on the same team 😄”

Anand and Vidit at the World Rapid Teams 2023 in Germany
Thanks to the 2 Indian stars, the Freedom team had a big fan base | Source: Chessbase India

“I understand why Anand is such a legend and a hero. During dinners, we would have amazing conversations about life, about everything. He's a wonderful person and plays amazing chess on the top level.”

Being surrounded by many chess superstars, Alexander witnessed first-hand how their minds work.

Opening genius Dubov

“During one of the dinners, I gave the following position to Daniil Dubov."

Position from Caro Kann Exchange and Dubov's crazy spot
Black to play

It’s from the Caro-Kann exchange, covered in our ‘Attack with the Caro-Kann Exchange’ course. If you’ve watched the course, you might know the crazy engine move Black has to find to keep the balance.

“It took Dubov about 5 seconds to find the best move – Kd7! It was something alien-level!”

Daniil Dubov at the World Rapid Team Championship
GM Daniil Dubov is a creative genius | Source: FIDE

Learning from the Super Grandmasters

“I also got several real-time lessons with perseverance and how you should defend some tough positions.”

“The top players have an immense level of concentration. They give their 100%.”

“Even when you're talking to them during the tournament, it's like half of their mind is conversing with you and the other half is analyzing chess somewhere.”

Alexander’s contribution in critical rounds

With the right mindset and a team that believed in him, Alexander chipped in with important contributions at critical moments.

“I won twice in the matches where our team made a draw. Since it was a team effort, I was useful in those matches.”

Winning silver

The Freedom team also had a fantastic run.

“Before the last round, we were in the 2nd place. And to keep it, we had to not lose.”

On Alexander’s board, there was this position with White to move.

Position from the final round game of Alexander Shapiro

“I had sacrificed a piece and got two strong passers. I played 31.Bc1! and the whole f-line became protected from any infiltration. It was similar to the domination ideas around open files from some studies I solved on ChessMood.”

Alexander went on to win the game, the first result for the team in the final round.

“My teammates saw it, and I was extremely happy because this win would boost their spirits and allow them to play more safely.”

It did. Eventually, Team Freedom won the final round. With the victory, they also bagged the Silver medal at the World Rapid Team Championship!

Team Freedom wins silver medal at the World Rapid Teams 2023 Germany
Alexander in the middle, surrounded by superstars! | Source: Niki Riga

“There was some celebration with cocktails and dinner, but I couldn't join. I was so tired and so happy that I couldn't celebrate. I gave it all I had!”


You can share your congratulatory messages with Alexander under this forum thread.

Originally published Sep 05, 2023

This website uses cookies. To learn more, visit our Cookie Policy.