Ilja Zaragatski produces videos for chess24’s German site. Born in Leningrad, he started to learn chess from his father at the age of only four, before three years later emigrating to West Germany with his family. In his youth he played very successfully for the German team SG Bochum 31 and won the German Junior Team Championship four times. His greatest individual achievement was winning the German U18 Championship – at the age of 16.
On leaving school Ilja focused on studying Economics and Sociology at the University of Cologne, though at the same time he matured as a chess player. He gained the International Master title in 2007, and then in the following years successfully notched up the three Grandmaster norms required so that when his rating climbed above 2500 in 2013 he was finally awarded the Grandmaster title. The same year also marked a turning point in the young player's career, as he graduated from university.
Ilja is popular and cuts a fine figure off the board as well, as shown by his being voted Mister European Club Cup at that event in Plovdiv in 2010.
Photo: Georgios Souleidis