Ryan Emmett:- Hi Yelena. Thanks for
agreeing to answer some questions for Chess.com! I understand that you come
from a chess-playing family and learnt to play chess at a very young age. Could
you tell us more about your early chess experiences and your family?
Yelena Dembo:- It
is possible to write a whole book about it! All of it would be very interesting
and very useful. My mum is a USSR Master, linguist and journalist. My dad is
her (and my) trainer, a pianist (a graduate of Leningrad's Academy), a
journalist, writer and psychologist.
Even before my birth my
parents created a special system for teaching children. My dad called this
system: "How to make a talented child out of normal one". Later on he gave
lectures about it in different Universities and Institutes of Russia. Chess was
definitely a very important aspect of this system. So, I won my first chess
event among boys under 12 when I was only 3 years and 9 months old!
IM Yelena Dembo
won the Women's GM tournament in Athens 2003
Ryan Emmett:- So would you describe
yourself as a child prodigy? Did you have any other talents and interests that
competed with chess for your attention when you were growing up?
Yelena Dembo:- Of
course, I was a prodigy besides chess, when I was two-and-a-half years old I
read books in Russian and soon started reading in English. I could run and walk
over 10 km in one day, was playing the piano a little and could sing very well.
My dad says that my musical talent wasn't worse than my chess one.
Your family emigrated to Israel when you were just 7 years old. Why did they
emigrate and how did life change for you?
Yelena Dembo:- We
emigrated from the USSR because the country was collapsing. It is necessary to
Of course, my life changed a
lot. In the USSR we lived very well from an economic point of view. For
example, we had our own flat, a very good car, a garage, both my parents worked
in great places. When we came to Israel, we became incredibly poor - we didn't
have anything as it was possible to take out of USSR only $60 per person.
Did your chess studies affect your schooling when you were growing up? When did
you decide to become a professional chess player and was it a difficult
Yelena Dembo:- Of
course, chess was affecting school and school was affecting chess! Especially in
a new country with a very difficult language! It is very easy to answer the 2nd
question: after winning the first event when I was 3 years and 9 months old it
became clear that we need to concentrate on this.
You are quite a globetrotter - you now live in Greece with your husband. Could
you tell us more about him and how you met?
Yelena Dembo:- I
am indeed a globetrotter but for 4 years now I live in Athens with my husband
and my parents. My husband is an FM with 2300+ Elo, his name is Sotiris, he is
33 years old and he works in a logistics company as a business consultant. He is
also a FIDE arbiter and a chess organizer who organized many world and European
junior championships as well as many other International events.
And now about the "love story". Four and a half years ago he invited me online
to play in an upcoming "Acropolis" tournament in Athens where I played very
successfully, sharing 1st-2nd places and found Sotiris!
IM Yelena Dembo