Rafal Zydek: “We should do it again, then!”

Stukje van de Scheveninger een Rubriek waarin Jan Willem Duijzer schrijft over de achtergronden van het schaken in de Haagse regio.

Rafal Zydek is a young Polish chessplayer at Haeghe Ooievaar. He recently graduated from the Royal Conservatoire in classical guitar.

Rafal, I am curious who taught you to play chess?

My father showed me how to play chess when I was a kid and he was my coach for couple of years. He used to be a very active club player for many years. He stimulated me to study and to take part in tournaments. I had some achievements but somehow I didn’t stay on the professional chess path…

You are from Polish descent. Where precisely do you come from? Why did you come to The Hague?

I am from Radlin, it is a small town in the Silesia region, in the southern part of Poland. Silesia is well-known for its mining industry and mining culture. We also speak our own dialect.  I came to The Hague to do my master degree in classical guitar in the Royal Conservatoire.

Recently  you graduated from the Conservatoire as a classical guitar player. Can you make a living out of that? Do you teach guitar or do you perform?

I am busy with a few things. I teach a bit and work in a business sector i.e. sales. But of course music and performing are my prime fields of interest. I try to organize my own concerts and find the opportunities to perform. Being a performer, especially in such a genre as classical music, is not the easiest job, but it’s rewarding and stimulating to stay creative.

During the last months you made a CD (French Inspirations), partly financed by Crowd Funding. Can you tell something about the CD?

This album has been my dream since I graduated Royal Conservatoire. It is my debut CD, so the challenge to produce the album all by myself was still quite exciting. ‘French Inspirations’ presents music by three significant French composers: Georges Migot, Henri Sauguet and Eugenne Bozza. They were very influential composers in France in their time. Unfortunately, their guitar music is almost unperformed and unrecorded. I got acquainted with their music during my studies in conservatoire. It is a very personal CD. It reminds me of the people that I met, who are my great friends now and the passion that has driven me to become a musician through the studies. Working on French Inspirations was a great pleasure and a challenge at the same time. Moreover, it was the first time that I got involved in crowd funding and it happened to be successful, I’m very happy that it has worked out.

picture from www.rafalzydek.com
Are you still a club player in The Hague? What is your level and do you still have ambitions in chess?

Yes, I play in Haeghe Ooievaar, but let’s say part-time only. Unfortunately, I don’t have time to play regularly, but I try to support the first team in external games, preferably somewhere on the lower boards… My actual level is around 1800 and of course I have a big desire to improve, but as mentioned the amount of various obligations slow my chess progress.

Once we together organized a special event “Polski Debiut”, the Polish Opening. It was fun, but we were not able to attract a lot of Polish chess players in the Hague area. Should we try again? And should clubs be more open towards ‘immigrants’, from Poland and other countries?

Definitely, it was a nice and important event. I think events like that are needed and should be regular. It gives an opportunity to get to know each other better and encourages to participate actively in the society. Events like the ‘Polish Opening’ are often a first cultural meeting point between immigrants and locals, an important step. I see also a great value in organizing events together. There is actually a really nice word in Dutch – samenleving, I would say that, it enriches our ‘samenleving’ enormously. We should do it again, then!
If clubs should be more open? I think they are open. The problem lies somewhere else. I think the clubs should find new ways to attract the immigrants to become regular players.

What was your best game ever?

The best game ever was when I beat my father for the first time and it wasn’t a win by his blunder.

Do you like The Hague (and why?)? Last word?

I certainly like The Hague. I think it is a calm city and I value it a lot. In addition, the ‘haring’ is quite good. (No doubt, Rafal refers to the first prize for fresh haring, recently won by the famous fishmonger Simonis; JW). Finally, I would like to wish all the readers a great chess season and exciting games!


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