‘I love the feeling that chess gives me. It’s like creating something, and all of your decisions matter,’ Alexandra Naira Prado Serrano explains, as she sits down with the Atlantic Dispatch. ‘Sometimes, the adrenaline you feel in complicated situations is fun, and trying to complicate your opponent is entertaining.’
Born in Bolivia and now residing in beautiful France, Alexandra is a woman, of unending talents; a Candidate Master, content creator, Chess.Com Partner and streamer, she has been a junior national champion multiple times in her home country and has participated in numerous international chess tournaments. She also happens to have represented Bolivia twice in the Chess Olympiad. No small feat in a country with a population of over 12 million people.
Chess is defined as a game played between two opponents on opposite sides of a board containing 64 squares of alternating colours. Each player has 16 pieces: 1 king, 1 queen, 2 rooks, 2 bishops, 2 knights, and 8 pawns. The goal being to checkmate your opponent’s King. When you speak to Alexandra, you quickly realise it is so much more than that.
She describes the game of 64 squares so poetically that it could come straight from the pages of a Pablo Neruda novel. They enlight and illuminate the imagination, painting a picture so vivid, that you cant help but help but be captivated.’The happiness or sadness when you realise how the game will end, the desire to defeat your opponent, to find the best move, to solve tactical and crazy positions, it teaches you to get up after a defeat.’
The Atlantic Dispatch had the pleasure of Alexandra’s company as she discussed what chess means to her, how it has become such a huge part of her life and why it is enjoying such a renaissance.
CHESS MEANS EVERYTHING TO ME
Since I was a child, chess has been a mystery to me, and even today I have tried to solve this mystery by relating it to art, to a battlefield, or as universes of minds expressed through moves. Chess has given me the opportunity to cross paths with wonderful people in the world and make incredible friends. Now I realise that chess means everything to me.
I first became interested in chess when I was 7 years old. My parents took me to many extracurricular activities, and one day they took me to a chess school called “El Palacio del Ajedrez.” It was there, a German teacher taught me and many other children how to play. At first, I was terrible at the game and the other children were more advanced than I was, but it’s true that consistency helped me to surpass myself and become one of the best chess players in my country.
I went to one of my first chess tournaments when I was 10 years old. I was so happy to travel and make new friends and play chess. I played several games and I wasn’t keeping track of how many I won and lost, I was just enjoying it. At the time of the awards ceremony, I was sitting next to my new friends I had made, and in one moment, I heard my name being called to the podium. I wasn’t sure because they pronounced my name wrong, but my friends told me it was me. I had no idea that I had won. When I got to the stage, they gave me a second-place trophy, and I was the happiest girl at that moment because it was unexpected. My teacher was happy, and my parents were happy when I got home.
ENTERTAINMENT HAS CHANGED THE WAY PEOPLE CONNECT WITH EACH OTHER
I think one of the reasons why more people, especially young people, are now more interested in chess is because, in the past, it was seen as a boring game that lasted for hours and days, and was only played by old, highly intelligent individuals. However, this has changed completely, because there is now fast and online chess. Entertainment has also changed the way people connect with each other, thanks to internet streaming. You can feel the emotions, watch live tournaments, learn more easily and have fun, and interact with your favourite streamer. Another factor that I have noticed is that chess is subject in some countries schools.
One of the other main reasons was the release of the Queen’s Gambit series during the COVID lockdown, which was of the most viewed miniseries worldwide, it featured a girl who becomes a chess prodigy. It inspired many people to play chess, and many people searched for new ways to entertain themselves during this period of uncertainty. It was also a show that intrigued many people with its mystery, determination, dreams, and how we can see the world of chess.
Then we have people like Magnus Carlsen, the world champion, who has been one of the biggest reasons for chess reaching a new generation and has had a huge influence on the world of chess, as well as other players like Hikaru Nakamura, the Botez sisters, Levy, and many others in recent times.
DANGEROUS AND DECEPTIVE IN COMPLICATED SITUATIONS
I mostly play online now because I enjoy streaming, but I used to play more over the board in person in tournaments because I liked to compete frequently. This year, I am planning to be back on the physical board and travel to open tournaments. I really miss the experience of playing in chess events and hanging out with friends from the chess world.
My favourite opening move in chess is the King’s Indian Defence because I enjoy sharp and double-edged positions, which I find entertaining because I like to attempt an attack. My favourite piece I’d have to say is the Knight because it can manoeuvre well and its movements can be tricky to calculate, making it dangerous and deceptive in complicated situations or when time is running out.
Since I was a child, chess has been a mystery to me, and even today I have tried to solve this mystery by relating it to art, or to a battlefield, or as universes of minds expressed through moves.
– Alexandra Naira Prado Serrano
IT HELPS YOU TO OPEN YOUR MIND
I would recommend chess to anybody because it improves critical thinking and problem-solving skills, as chess requires the ability to find the best moves in various situations or problems presented on the board. It also helps to develop creativity, concentration, discipline, and patience. That’s why in ancient times, warriors, kings, and politicians knew how to play because it was considered a game of intellectual strategy and class. It also benefits psychomental development, which aids learning, and It helps you to open your mind, in your everyday life.
Playing chess is a great way to meet new people, make friends, and have fun. It’s a social activity that can be played online or in person, and it can be a great way to connect with others who share the same interests. Aside from playing chess, I also enjoy many interests. I love creating content and expressing myself through streaming and drawing. I’m also passionate about learning new languages and exploring different cultures, and I enjoy travelling and watching movies. Additionally, I have a keen interest in learning about the history of various countries such as England, the USA, Germany, Egypt, and Greece and more, Through my projects, I also have a dream to connect people and get them interested in the 64-square game.
As our time with Alexandra comes to an end, you are left with no doubt that you are in the presence of a passionate, intriguing, intelligent and wonderfully curious mind. She is incredibly astute and equipped with a magnetic and alluring personality, which is as thought-provoking as the magnificent game of 64 squares. It is her thirst and desire to learn, which has brought her so much success and what makes her such a dangerous opponent. You would be a fool to ever think of underestimating her. She is the embodiment of the Queen’s Gambit.
Thank you very much to Alexandra for her time. You can follow her on social media here