Chessbase recently interviewed the Dutch grandmaster, Erwin L’Ami. Here are a few extracts on a player who now specializes in Opening DVDs and being a trainer to some of the world’s best... Q: You are a chess professional – as a player, author and second. What fascinates you about chess? I like every aspect of it; the fight behind the board but also the more scientific approach when you are at home analyzing opening variations or one’s games. The immense depth of the game continues to fascinate me. Q: Do you still remember when the chess virus infected you? Very well! I have three older brothers so when it came to football or other physical activities it would be hard to compete with them. However, I quickly discovered I could beat them at chess... Q: Currently you support Anish Giri as a second and in the past you also helped Veselin Topalov as a second. What does a second do? A second tries to take away work that would otherwise lay on the shoulders of the player. The second prepares opening variations for the next game while the player can relax and unwind. Q: How much do top players such as Topalov and Giri work for chess? And what do they do? I worked with Topalov until 2011 so I don’t know how hard he is working to date, but obviously he used to definitely put his hours in! Anish has an enormous work ethic and can literally work from early morning until late everything. Players typically work on all aspects of the game: endgames, solving positions, analyzing games but the emphasis is definitely on opening preparation. Q: After the Gambit Guide you published a DVD about the Stonewall Dutch. What are the advantages of the Stonewall? In times when opening theory develops very, very fast it’s nice to be able to fall back on an opening that is more or less solely based on ideas. There is no need to memorize long variation, here understanding the position is more of the essence. I can imagine that speaks to the imagination of many players and it may be the reason for why the Stonewall-DVD has been selling as well as it does. Honestly, not much! Amateurs tend to spend most time in this area because results are immediately visible. It’s all short-term though, and longterm one would do better to spend the time on analyzing one’s games, endgames, solving etc. Q: But why study chess at all – would it not be easier and more fun to just play and simply enjoy the game? We are walking a very philosophical path now! Personally, I like to broaden my horizons and deepen my understanding of the game. I can’t imagine simply playing the game and not drawing any conclusions from it. Q: Can blitz help to improve one’s game or is it just fun and entertainment? If you take it serious, I think it can be a helpful tool to test new openings or play strong opponents. As a young player it was a great experience that I could just go online and play with grandmasters.