Player Profiling: Fy Antenaina Rakotomaharo

This profiling goes to some of the most outstanding chess players on the African continent. And today, we profile International Master Fy Rakotomaharo of Madagascar, a brilliantly handsome and joy filled young man, who shows his prowess in the game time and time again, whether it is online or over the board.

IM Fy at the African Junior Chess Championship in Ghana| Image Courtesy: Ogunsiku Babatunde
  • Kindly tell us about yourself (where you are from, what you do, where you study, what you study, where you were given birth to, any other information)

My name is Fy Antenaina Rakotomaharo, I’m 20, I’m from Madagascar and I was born there. I moved to France, which was where I got to improve my chess, and where I got my IM title at the age of 17 years and 1 month. I also study computer science at a university in Paris, which ensures that I keep my head level with the world even though chess is my key area of specialization.

The Concentration of the Malagasy!
  • Seeing as the Africa Individual Chess Championship has been postponed until further notice, what was your goal for the event and what next for you?

Yes, it’s a pity considering the fact that I also wanted to come to Nigeria, because I’ve never been there!

It’s just like in every tournament, I always fight and try to play some interesting games and to win of course, if it’s possible. So my goal for the event was to win it and as it’s postponed, I have more time to prepare for it really well.

What is your favorite opening line, as white and as black?

I really like MVL’s style, so definitely Greunfeld and Sicilian Najdorf as black and 1. e4 as white as I mostly play open games.

IM Fy at the Batumi Chess Olympiad, 2018

What is your plan for the remainder of the year?

I wanted to play some strong tournaments but because of the coronavirus, it wasn’t possible. But maybe it’s also a good thing to take some rest from tournaments and use the time especially to train hard.

For the past years, I probably played too much and became tired, so successes didn’t really happen as I had hoped. For the remainder year, I said okay, I will continue my training (since March) to become more and more confident during the upcoming tournaments.

I have not planned for tournaments right now, except for maybe just some online tournaments and of course my daily training.

The Brilliant African Chess Assassin!
  • How many hours would you say you put into training?

Since March I did like 6 hours every day I think. It depends on motivations and form, but I spent many hours than during normal days. You could also get big motivations by not training alone!

This happened to me since March, when I did training sessions with a friend (GM), and it was very helpful for both of us, for our chess motivation, and sharing experiences, which just shows how far I have also come.

How do you plan to achieve the grandmaster title?

I need norms first, I was close recently but I guess I allowed some distractions before the end of the tournament, which I understand better now.

Sometimes I take a lot of pressure during important games and it’s not so good. I was planning to get the title by the end of 2020, but maybe it Is late now, because there are no physical tournaments, so hopefully, I will get this title next year.

I think I need to be focused until the end of each tournament that I play and also to enjoy the games and being with good company is very important to be successful.

IM Fy
  • In your opinion, what do you think Africans need to do differently to attain more highly rated players and Grandmasters?

If I said training hard, it would be difficult, because sometimes you could train hard but you don’t know if it is good or not, if it’s helpful or not. So, when one trains alone, it is very hard to improve at some level I think.

For instance, from 2000 to reach 2400, that was my case, I had a regular coach from 2014 until 2017, which helped me to gain the 400 ELO points I needed. After some experiences with the coach you would know how to train alone, what to do and so on.

But of course, what you could do, and what you must do without a coach, is some basic training like solving blindfold puzzles, tactics, strategy, etc, for you to be better in calculations. When it comes to openings, plan ideas, and endgames which I can say are the most important things in chess, it’s very important to have a coach because they have many experiences on these sets of information.

  • A word for the general public?

Thanks for the interview and I hope in the future we will have a lot of world renowned players in Africa.

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