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Exclusive interview with the Georgian WGM Keti Tsatsalashvili

Everyone in open minded and friendly, and the food is amazing!!

At the closing ceremony of the 9th Beirut Open championship, where everyone was enjoying the delicious buffet, I seized the opportunity to have a blitz interview with the Georgian WGM Kei Tsatsalashvili, who enjoyed the entourage as well as the chess ambiance that dominated the event.

  • Tell us more about you, where are you from?

I was born in Telavi Georgia, on June 10, 1992

  • When did you step in the world of Chess?

I started playing Chess when I was 8 years old, but I knew about it way before since practically my whole family played this game and we’ve always had plenty of chess boards around the house.

  • When did you realize that Chess was your passion?

It happened during an under 10 championship in Georgia. I remember this girl who won the second place and as a reward she was offered a trip to Barcelona for the European championship. I was really impressed by the fact that Chess allowed for players to travel, so next year, when I was 9 years old, I became a Chess Champion and I travelled to play Chess, which was really entertaining, especially that I skipped school for it.

  • Who’s found out about your great potential in chess?

It was my grandmother who discovered my potential in chess since she was crazy and really passionate about this game, she wanted her daughter to be a chess player but since I’m the first girl in her family, she made sure I attended afterschool chess classes. Then when it became more serious on the level of technique, we hired a coach.

  • What are the titles that you have earned as a chess player?

I am world champion under 16, European champion under 18, World and European Vice-champion for two times, Georgian champion for 6 times.

  • What was your impression of the tournament in which you participated in Beirut?

Everything went so good with me. At the beginning I was not ready to play Chess, my trainer insisted I participate so we practiced for a month and I’m very happy that I came here. I played against local players. They have low ranking/rating but they play at a higher level than indicated by their rank which is normal for players that don’t participate in open tournaments. I think they should participate more in such events that can help them reflect their true chess levels.

  • What are your thoughts about Lebanon?

I didn’t have any information about Lebanon, and I’m really impressed because it was the opposite of what I thought it would be: Everyone is open minded and friendly, and the food is amazing.

  • What do you think about the FIDE system that organizes women championships almost every year, and men championships every two to three years?

In general, women are not involved as much as men are. Also, prizes dedicated to women chess players are considered to be low. It’s also hard for women to participate since they have to keep balance between their daily jobs, their family and focusing on playing chess.


  • What do you do for a living to be able to keep up with chess and work?

I was studying for 4 years at university and I wasn’t that involved in chess, so I only played 3 tournaments at that time. After finishing my studies I got more involved in chess and I also dived into my professional field since I got a job at the Georgian Parliament in Business and economic center. I liked my job but there was something missing in my life, since as a chess player I got used to travelling and many other things, which created gaps that needed to be filled in my career. And even with all the travelling I did that was related to my job, I felt like I have missed the feeling of winning and surprisingly also losing in chess. So before my Masters studies, I decided to take two years to focus on chess and see how it goes.

  • What do you think about Hou Yifan’s approach of playing for open gender?

Chess can be mixed, you know. It’s her decision and if she thinks it’s best for her then that’s what it is. She’s a really strong woman and has very good results when playing against men.

  • Thank you very much for your time!

Thank you too.


After the 9th round of the event, and before the closing ceremony, Keti was worried about her performance if it permits her to achieve an IM (International Master for Men) norm, as she faced over the board some low rated players during the event. After finishing the interview, I ran to the Chief Arbiter to check with him this possibility. And guess what. She made it! Congratulations Keti!!


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