"My favourite player is Akiba Rubinstein because of his perfect technique and very rich understanding of chess'.
When did you learn chess and who taught you?
I learnt chess at 4 – my father taught me.
When did you begin playing tournaments and how did you do?
I began playing in tournaments at age 7 and my results were bad till I was 8. After that, my progress was very fast.
When did you begin making legitimate progress in your game and How?
Probably from 9 years old, I studied games of old masters like Siegbert Tarrasch and improved calculation with simple tactical themes.
Can you recall a specific turning point? (a game, event, working with a chess coach, etc..)
Working with Vladimir Grabinsky since the end of 2003 has helped me very much. He is a well-known chess coach and has taught around 10 GMs.
What are your top book recommendations for beginner to intermediate players?
I don’t know what to say to English-speaking people because my first books were in Ukrainian and Russian. But if you can find a book “64 урока” (in English “64 lessons”) – believe me, your progress will be fast.
What are your top book recommendations for advanced players? (2200+)
Andrey Volokitin and Vladimir Grabinsky “Perfect your chess” and Jacob Aagard “Practical chess defence”
How did you become a GM? (What tournaments, did you have a chess coach, etc..)
It was a long journey composed of many tournaments and REGULAR (important thing!) trainings. If you want to make real progress you must play in strong tournaments, which are a bit stronger than one’s current level. For example, if you’re an FM – you have to play mostly with IM’s and if you’re IM – you have to play mostly with GM’s. And also with a coach – personal or not – your progress is faster.
I achieved my GM norms in two strong open tournaments in Russia – “Moscow Open” and “Voronezh Open” each time with a score of 5.5/9 with average rating of opponents around 2540-2550; and in a round-robin grandmaster tournament in Ukraine with score 7.5/11 without losses. Vladimir Grabinsky helped me in my efforts.
What was your exact study regimen when you were working towards GM?
I studied openings and worked hard on my calculation – at least 2 hours a day, openings took 3-4 hours a day. Three times a week I had group training sessions with my chess coach together with other IM’s and GM’s. Each training was around 2 hours.
What is your study routine now? (how is it different?)
Now I’m not working with a coach, I have some sparrings with other Grandmasters. I study openings and rarely work on my calculation skills. Also I became interested in some specific strategy methods, and I started learning old games again like many years ago.
What is next in your chess career?
I want to reach TOP 100 and try to achieve this goal in the nearest future.
Do you have any charity causes that you would like to promote?
Not yet. But if I become some well-known person, not only in the chess-world, I will promote chess, first in my city and next in my country.
Nature or Nurture: Do you think top chess players are born with a natural ability/gift or do they become so talented through hard work and the right environment?
Approximately 70% gift + 30% hard work = top player. That’s what I think about all top players. Without one of those important components it’s impossible to become a top player.
How do you feel about cheating in chess? (specific deterrents/punishments?)
Cheaters must be disqualified for a long period like 3-5 years. In that case nobody will cheat.
Who is your favorite player and why?
My favourite player is Akiba Rubinstein because of his perfect technique and very rich understanding of chess.
Original interview http://www.onlinechesslessons.net/2011/10/02/yaroslav-zhrebukh-chess-interview/