Foreign visitors of the World Cup site, watching the games on a daily basis, hear a pleasant man’s voice that is explaining them all the peculiarities of the battles between the best chess players of the planet.
However, the spectators do not know everything, like who is this person — Konstantin Landa except for the fact that he is a Russian Grandmaster. I think that this is the high time to reveal our commentator! So, ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce to you a successful chess player, analyst and simply a very nice guy Kostya Landa!
Konstantin started his story from speaking about his parents. His father is a Doctor in Technical sciences and a very respected in the scientific world personality: one of his elaborations won in the competition of Russian innovations in the year 2010. His mother used to work as pediatrician. Despite the fact that they have very serious occupation, his parents always spared time for sport. They are volleyball players and used to play for the national team of Omsk.
Initially they wanted that their only son goes info this kind of sport. However, small Kostya was a very active boy and at one moment his parents took the decision to sign their son in the sport section that would help him to become more diligent and that would «calm him down» a bit. This is exactly when they have come up with an idea to take their son to chess school.
The first coach of the future Grandmaster was Konstantin Isakov — the old front-line solder with a lot of medals all over his chest. It was him who negotiated with the administration of the chess school to accept the 5-year-old boy to the section, because the age limit started only from 7 years old.
«I think that this age difference between me and my section comrades became the starting point in my chess development. I began growing very fast together with them. Of course, at first I lost, but I hung tough on it, defended myself and gradually started defeating them », — Kostya is recalling.
«When I was 6 years old I played in simultaneous game with the USSR Champion Vitaly Tseshkovsky and drew the game. That was exactly the moment when my parents decided that if such a small boy managed to draw the game playing Black against the champion of the country, it means that chess is his vocation. So, this was the way my chess career began. I started participating in the tournaments during which my father used to send telegrams that said something like this: «Kostya won the first game!», to which my mother used to answer: «Hourray! My congratulations!»
At the age of 13 I had a chance to go to Kasparov’s school. There were 12 people at the first session where I was invited along with such popular nowadays chess players as Shirov, Svidler and Kramnik. I was so modest and this was the reason for the fact that my performances at the demonstration board left much to be desired. Afterwards my father simply told me that I had to pull myself together and to show the brilliant play. I realized that if I don’t manage to outplay Garry Kasparov in this session, I have to forget about great future for sure! I had a very difficult task — to outplay the God (as it seemed to me at that moment) of the ancient game, and moreover, I had to do that with Black. During the game I sacrificed a pawn and Kasparov tried to save extra material, but made a slight mistake in the arrangement of his pieces. I managed to get in a blow and implemented the play into the endgame with an extra pawn; we have postponed the game. During dinner Kasparov recalled that he had a postponed game against me and said: «If you wrote down the move h6-h5, I resign. And if you did not — we will continue playing ». At this moment I jumped up and said: «I did write down the move h6-h5!» Afterwards I had a feeling as if I defeated the God himself! I still consider this victory one of my main achievements in sport».
— You live in Germany since many years already. How did it happen? — In 1999 when it seemed that it did not work out for me in Russia at all, I got an opportunity to move to Germany for good. I took advantage of it and never regretted it. The chess world became even closer to me, because at the time the main tournaments were held in the center of Europe. Besides, I wanted to realize my professional potential as a programmer. Upon arrival in Germany I finished the courses in CDI Institute and got the diploma in «Microsoft MCSE и CNA». However, things did not come around as it was expected, luckily for the software world (laughing) and chess at one point overcame. While I was taking courses in the institute, I had an opportunity to train the young International Master Arkady Naiditch. This is when my training career started. Approximately in three years he became chess player number 1 in Germany and started showing brilliant results in international tournaments. Namely, in the year 2005 he won the super tournament in Dortmund having left Kramnik and other strongest grandmasters behind.
— Whom else you can brag about as your brilliant pupils?
All my charges are very talented and gifted people. Among them there is Russian chess player Alexandra Kosteniuk. At the end of 2008 she became the World Champion, bringing a female chess crown back to Russia. Also I was working with Evgeny Alexeev, ex Russian Champion. My Italian pupil Daniel Vocaturo became a winner of the prestige tournament in Wijk aan Zee in February 2011. Besides I am a coach of the National Iranian team, they participated in the Chess Olympiad last year here. My team performed brilliantly, showing the best result in the history of Iranian chess.
I am inviting everyone who would like to know more about my work as a coach to visit my website (Russian language) http://chesslanda.com.
— This is not your first visit to Khanty-Mansiysk. What impressions do you have?
I like the city. Here the hospitality is always very warm, a perfect atmosphere and wonderful weather. In autumn it is just fantastic. By the way my father took a little part in construction of the Okrug Clinics in the city. He left his trace in the history of Khanty-Mansiysk development. In general Khanty Mansiysk itself and Siberia in general is like my motherland. A lot of my friends from Omsk live and work here. Usually when I come to Khanty-Mansiysk as a participant or a coach, I visit my friends who live in the neighbor city Nefteyugansk. Unfortunately this time I don’t manage to do it, the time table of a commentator is very dense.
— How long are you working as a commentator?
I work as an online commentator in the format of the Cup for the first time. Usually I comment chess games online on the Russian site www.chesspro.ru just in writing. That is why this time it is a sort of new experiment for me.
— How did you get an offer to work as an expert at the World Cup?
Rather unexpectedly. We were on the phone with my old friend, Press officer of the World Cup Nikita Kim. He invited me to take part in the interesting project: to comment games online for the English speaking audience. Nikita warned me that this is for the first time when Russian experts will comment the chess games in English during the tournament. To accept this tempting offer, I had to refuse an offer to work at the Open tournament in Sardinia as well as the 5 star hotel at the seaside. But the challenge which I heard in Nikita’s voice made me sacrifice. It was decided to invite a beautiful chess player Anna Sharevich as my partner in this difficult work. She had other plans as well. She was going to the USA to get prepared for her exams. But at the last moment she changed her tickets being sure that it will be much more interesting in Khanty Mansiysk. It is an interesting work indeed! Having participated in this experiment, we have gained an invaluable experience. — How did you establish the relations with your colleagues?
Though I am now on another «side of the barricade», everything is new and unusual for me. I think I will remember this for good. We have wonderful team. I would like to pay many compliments to our dear women who work with us in organization of this tournament in severe Siberia.
— Yesterday there was a sidereal hour for you and Anna Sharevich — you showed who you are to the entire world. Don’t you want to work in TV now?
After this World Cup I feel that I am able to do more. I think if I get an offer to work online on TV, I would accept it with pleasure.
— Tell me about your family. Do you have wife, children?
I am married; we have a 6-year-old daughter Katya. She is beautiful girl, very talented. I try to find time to teach her how to play chess. She makes progress. For instance lately Katya won a match against one grown up German gentleman with a score: 2:0.
As for my parents, they also moved from Omsk to Germany. Grandmother baby-sits her lovely granddaughter and my younger sister Maria helps us in upbringing Katya.
— How does your family spend free time? What kind of relaxation do you prefer?
Unfortunately I don’t have an opportunity to spend a lot of time at home. But if we organize a family holiday, we go to country barbeque. Nature, fresh air and my favorite girls — this is what I need to be happy. I wish I could spend more time with them. I do hope that one day I will have this opportunity.