“I Love Singapore!”
A Facebook Chat with WGM Irene Kharisma Sukandar
by tv box malaysia Editors
Considered by many the princess of Indonesian chess, the 18-year-old Irene Kharisma Sukandar is a prodigy all right. Hailing from Bekasi, West Java, she became Indonesia’s first Woman Grandmaster following her brilliant play at Dresden Olympiad in 2008. Excellent profiles of her appeared published in The Jakarta Post. While for the past couple of weeks, Irene was busy playing in two IM-norm tournaments in Brunei, between her rounds she kindly agreed to a Facebook interview with the SCN editors. A good moment to celebrate, by the way: in Brunei Irene made two International Master norms one after another!
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SCN: How did you learn chess and why did you like it?
Irene Kharsima Sukandar: My dad taught me to play this game. At first, I’ve tried to play other sports such as table tennis, swimming, running, and badminton but finally ended up in chess. Actually my dad was a national athlete of table tennis and he wanted his kids to have some sport activities. My older brother, Kaisar Jenius Hakiki, is also a chess player, not a good one but not bad either. His rating now is 2251. It was not clear how I ended up liking this game, because I was a very hyperactive child. But I do like challenges and I like to think over something that can hardly be solved.
When did you start to play in tournaments?
I started playing tournaments at the age of eight. My first trip abroad was in 2001 when I played in the Asean Age Group G10 in Malaysia.
What do you remember about your first good chess results?
I do remember about winning the National Championship Girls 14 when I was just 9. It was back in 2001.
Did your parents support you all the way while a child?
Yes, they did and I’m very thankful for it. They supported me all the way and made me who I am today.
When did you start receiving coaching and how did that work in Indonesia?
I started learning chess with a coach when I was eight years old. My dad provided me with a trainer. When I made significant improvement, I got different coaches until I went to the chess school that belongs to Mr. Utut Adianto. I’ve spent some years there.
How did you find the Adianto’s chess school? Did you enjoy it?

I think Adianto chess school tops any other chess school in Indonesia. It’s the best. I enjoyed a lot studying there and it took about five years because I got into the National Squad.
How popular is chess in Indonesia?
Chess in Indonesia nowadays is quite popular compared to some decades ago. I see many young players interested to play this game and it really made us happy. Of course all of us are very supportive to make it even more popular.
You have been to Singapore quite a number of times. What do you think about this country? Got any friends here?
I love Singapore! It is a very well-organized country in every possible way. Yes, I got many friends there. Some of them are actually my best friends.
You have travelled quite a bit in your chess journeys. Which country you like the most?
Definitely France! Despite the language barrier.
How do you prepare for your chess events?
No specific preparation, but – of course – I mostly work on openings before playing each game.
You have met many chess personalities. Which one left the biggest impression upon you?
The one with a tough mental strength that can’t be downed easily and always sees from the positive side if something bad happens.
Recently at some IM Tournaments in Brunei, you scored two International Master norms. From your experience, is it difficult to play against men over the board?
I find it harder to play against women.
What do you do in your free time? How do you relax?
I enjoy reading books; I love literature so sometimes I make some poets for my own self and friends.
Favorite music? Food?
I can enjoy every kind of music, but I prefer the slow tempos. I love seafood.
What advice do you have for smaller girls who wish one day to become Women Grandmasters?
My advice: Don’t wish to become a Women Grandmaster!
You’ve got to be better than that!
What chess games of yours you consider the very best?
Probably one of the two below:
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