Person of day - 14 SEPTEMBER 2023
Gregory Serper was born on 14thSeptember 1969 in Tashkent. He began to play chess when he was six and his first mentor was his grandfather. The talented young man qualified for the Uzbekistan championship when he was fifteen and he made a name for himself at the USSR juniors’ championship. Serper was noticed and invited to a class of the famous Botvinnik-Kasparov chess school.
The results of training with world champions became evident soon after. A year after enrolment, Serper became a master of sport of the USSR after performing spectacularly at the qualifying rounds in Pinsk. Gregory split 3rdplace with Alexey Yermolinskiy, finishing only a half-point behind Alexey Vyzmanavin and Viktor Kupreichik.
Serper has played in the Premier League of the Soviet championship and the Soviet tournament of young masters, while a dazzling performance at the Soviet U20 championship allowed him to play in the world junior championship. In faraway Manila, Vishy Anand came first, Vassily Ivanchuk came second and Serper came third. In the next world junior championship, he split 1st-4thplaces with Joel Lautier, Boris Gelfand and Vassily Ivanchuk, but he came third due to additional criteria. Serper was awarded the title of international master for this achievement.
The talented master was conscripted into the Red Army. He served in Novosibirsk, where he was trained by the celebrated Alexader Khasin. In 1989, Serper won a bronze medal at the Red Army championship and confidently won the European U20 championship. Alexey Dreev finished 1,5 points behind and Veselin Topalov 2,5!
Gregory Serper played in the last USSR championship in 1991. But the player from Tashkent remembers the 1992 Olympiad in Manila most clearly. There, he led the Uzbekistani team, which came second, with only Russia ahead of it. Serper won 8,5 points out of 13, winning a “silver” game against Boris Alterman in the final round. As a result of a Tournament of Nations, FIDE awarded him the title of grandmaster, after his rating reached 2600. Gregory was also invited to a super tournament in Dortmund.
With the team from Novosibirsk, Serper won the 1994 Russian championship and played in the European Cup. As silver medallists of the Olympiad, the Uzbek chess players took part in the 1993 World team championship, where Gregory drew against Alexei Shirov and Vladimir Kramnik.
A few years later, in January 1996, Serper moved to the USA with his family. Soon after, Gregory won the prestigious World Open in 1999, before reaching the final of the knockout US championship in that same year, where he lost to Boris Gulko.
As a silver medallist of the US championship, he played in the 2000 knockout world championship, where he won two matched before losing to Alexander Grischuk. In the 2000s, Gregory’s playing time declined as he became a renowned trainer in America.
“If you go into any book shop and browse the chess section, you will see that most of the books today are written about openings. In addition, my years in chess revealed to me that most of a chess player’s home library is devoted to books on openings. If we add modern databases, which will tell you what moves grandmasters make in a specific position, you might think that most players perform perfect openings nowadays, with a minimum number of mistakes. Of course, any experienced player knows that is not the case. Thousands of games are won and lost in fewer than 20 moves. I think that is because most books and databases only show how to play certain specific positions. In other words, they teach you how to play, not how to think.” (G. Serper)
Serper is a popular author on Chess.com, where he writes under the nickname of “Gserper”.