The “Inspiration Cup” was one of the highlights of this year’s festival where, for the very first time, the popular partner game of “Hand & Brain” took place between 4 Grandmaster couples. Viewers could watch the tournament LIVE ONLINE with real-time commentary by two of the world’s most colourful commentators, IMs Anna Rudolf and Lawrence Trent.
For those that don’t know, “Hand & Brain” is a very entertaining chess variant where in a team of two players, one player is the “hand” and the other is the “brain”. The “brain” calls out a piece (let’s say a pawn) and the “hand” has to decide which pawn to move and where. Things can get completely out of hand (pardon the pun!) if the “brain” and “hand” are not on the same page!
Grand Master Mihail Marin & Woman FIDE Master Marina Yugina, married couple
Av. FIDE rating 2322
Born in 1988 in Saint Petersburg, the capital of Russian culture, Mariya Yugina showed talent early on for both chess and art. A silver medal winner at the under 18 girls Russian Chess Championship, holder of the Woman Fide Master title, Mariya now splits her time between chess and painting. Indeed Mariya won a host of prizes in painting and graphics contests in her early years, and has had two personal art exhibitions in Bucharest (at the Sigma Gallery in 2018 and Elite Prof Art in 2019). Mariya enjoys travelling around Europe with her husband GM Mihail Marin where she spends time playing in tournaments and pursuing her career in art.
Mihail Marin is considered one of the greatest writers and theoreticians in modern chess history. Having earned his GM title in 1993, winning 3 Romanian championships and participating in a dozen Olympiads for Romania (including an individual bronze medal in 1988), Marin is best known for his outstanding published works such as “Learn From the Legends: Chess Champions at their best”; “The Engish Opening” and “Reggio Emilia” winning numerous Book of the Year awards. Jeremy Silman, one of the most revered chess writers and trainers in the world, called Marin “one of the world’s finest chess writers” and said he “couldn’t recall having seen a better book in the last two decades than Learn from the Legends”.
Grand Master Matthew Sadler & Woman International Master Natasha Regan, co-authors
Av. FIDE rating 2314
Having studied mathematics at Cambridge University, Natasha Regan is an insurance and risk management professional and an accomplished games player. She has represented England at both chess (Olympiads at Manila 1992, and Moscow 1994) and Go (World Mind Games, Beijing 2008) and is a 7-times UK Pair Go champion. Natasha lives with her partner and three children. Her son, Oscar, shares a love of games and recently took bronze in the European under 16 Bridge Pairs Championships.
Two-times British Champion Matthew Sadler is one of England’s strongest chess players. He was ranked 14th in the world in 1997 before turning his back on professional chess and switching to a career in IT in 1999. In 2010 he returned to the game as an amateur and he was ranked 48th in the world on the July 2018 rating list. Matthew is the author of six chess books, of which two have won the prestigious ECF Book of the Year award, most recently in 2016 with Chess for Life, co-written with Women’s International Master (WIM) Natasha Regan.
Grand Master Yona Kosashvili & International Master Sofia Polgar, married couple
Av. FIDE rating 2490
Sofia Polgar, although perhaps not as well known as her sisters Judit and Susan, is without question a chess legend in her own right. Born in Budapest in 1974 and living in Israel since 1995, Sofia is a double gold medal winner for Hungary, International Master, Woman Grandmaster and scored one of the finest individual women’s results of all time when she won the ‘Magistrale di Roma’ tournament in 1989 with an astounding 8.5/9! At the time this was a record breaking elo performance of over 2900. She also scored a handful of silver medal performances at the World Rapid Championships and World U-20 Championships but has since turned her attention to art and education where she has co-authored several educational chess books with her sister Judit, including the BELMA award winning Chess Palace Series, used by thousands of children in Hungary and Europe.
Yona Kosashvili is one of the very few people in the world to have earned the titles of MD and GM. By day, Yona is a committed orthopedic surgeon specialist and although he never turned professional, in 1995 he was ranked among the best 100 chess players in the world. Yona was crowned Israeli Champion in 1991 and 1993, representing his country in numerous chess Olympiads not to mention winning a handful of international chess tournaments when he was an active player. In addition to competing, Yona is successful chess trainer: In fact, one of his students won the Under 14 World Junior Championship in 1992. His book for chess trainers was adopted by the Israeli Chess Federation as its official trainers' guide. In 1995, Yona became the director of the European Junior Chess Championship and International Chess Festival. Luckily for both of us, the Polgar Sisters were invited and as they say, the rest is history.
Grand Master Artur Kogan & Woman International Master Tatiana Plachkinova, married couple
Av. FIDE rating 2263
WIM Tatiana Plachkinova, born in the same town as former World Champion Veselin Topalov, showed signs of real talent for chess at an early age. She won the national youth u12,u14, u16, u18 and u20 titles and secured her WIM title in 2003. Married to GM Arthur Kogan she, like her husband, is multilingual having graduated from the English Language School in Bulgaria, and now speaks over 7 languages fluently. Tatiana has participated in and won a number of individual and team championships in Spain and, with her husband, helps run and teach at the Olala chess school.
GM Arthur Kogan, born in Ukraine though immigrating to Israel at the age of two, is one of chess’ most colourful and effervescent Grandmasters. Now a resident of Tarragona, Arthur is married to WIM Tatiana Plachkinova and has two children. Arthur, though a fantastic player in his own right, is most well known for his innovative OLALACHESS method, a technique which emphasizes the importance of positive thinking and creating harmony on the chess board. Kogan coined the phrase “make your pieces smile” and has worked as a trainer with some of the world’s top GMs including GMs Caruana, Nakamura, Radjabov, as well as being the head coach of a number of national teams.