Posts Tagged ‘Carmen Kass’

Carmen Kass: My love of chess helped me to get to the top!

Agree or disagree?

She is the girl from TV with those impossibly long Max factor lashes; she is the model with the sassiest strut on the catwalk!
Carmen Kass is not like other supermodels. As well as occasional burger scoffer, she can also add politician, business woman, actress and president of Estonian Chess Federation to her lists of accomplishments.

There is no history of public meltdowns, no tantrums and no rock star boyfriends. Although she briefly dated Leonardo DiCaprio in the past, these days she is happily settled with Eric Lobron, a bespectacled, curly haired German chess grand master. The glamzon and the geek might make an odd couple, but not for Kass. “Everyone has to find the right one for them” she says matter of factly. “For me it was never about being the girlfriend of a rock star”.

Kass knows her own mind. She has done since the age of 14 when given the opportunity to enter a modelling competition in Milan, she faked her mother’s signature, needed for the young girl, to travel from her home town of Paide, in Estonia, to the Italian fashion capital. Now 31, she admits it was too young to leave the school and start a career but, as for many eastern European girls in the mid 90s, escape from a small town and its crushing lack of opportunity was her main motivation. She left the frugal home where she was raised by her mother (her father, a chess professor, lived apart), and didn’t return for three months. “I am very much an opportunist in the sense of what life brings me. I take chance”, she says.

Given her extraordinary youth, she could have been gobbled up by the fashion industry, but Kass always seemed to make smart career choices. “I never took at this as a life style. I always look at it as a business. A lot of models make a mistake of thinking their work is fun and glamorous and they burn themselves out”. By the age of 18 she had moved to Paris, where fine feline features and lean, athletic body (she cycles everywhere when at home in Germany or Estonia, but otherwise “I do nothing”) caught an eye of Anna Wintour.

She worked hard, made friends and quickly became one of the worlds most sought after faces, appearing in campaigns for Chanel, Gucci, D&G and Michael Kors. She is still a regular on the catwalks. Appearing alongside girls half of her age, where she deploys her killer walk: a wampish. Sassy, hip-swinging strut that rivals even Naomi Campbell’s.

Kass believes her love of chess, which she describes as “a game of tragedy” has helped her to get to the top- and stay there. “In life, we make decisions and we have choices,” she says. “Chess trains you to see through the head. You can make better choices, you can analyse good and bad, and you can see further. Life is a chain of command- basically, one thing leads to another and if you make the wrong move, there are consequences.”

She’s had business success as the owner of Estonia’s biggest model agency. And then there is a political career. In 2004 she joined the then ruling right wing Res Publica party in Estonia and stood for election to the European parliament. However MEP status evaded her, although she does not regret it, saying “a pretty dirty business, I learn that”.

These days she focuses her energy on persuading young people to vote and has become passionate about education, including her own. “One should never stop leaning. I did not do the 11th grade exam, but I am going back to school, because one day, I would like to go to university.” Philosophy and Law are her favourite subjects.

At this point of her career, Kass has earned the privilege of choosing exactly who she works for. Her latest gig is as face of Hoss Intropia – fast growing Spanish brand prides itself on choosing models who are more then just pretty faces, and Kass likes its focus on personality and individuality. “It’s not just about great clothing, they care about the substance of beauty as well,” she says.

In Kass, they have a great ambassador. But she is uncomfortable with being a role model. “I don’t think there should be role models,” she says. “Every individual has to find themselves. You can not live in exactly same way as somebody else. You can take the ideas and principles of something, but it’s never going to be exactly same for you. If you have a role model, you can get distracted from who you are”.




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Click on the images for a larger view.






Please click HERE to play through chess games of Alexandra. The link will open in a new window.

10 January 2009: News article about Alexandra…the link will open in a new window.


On this link on my blog, http://chessaleeinlondon.wordpress.com/2008/09/12/alexandra-kosteniuk-winner-of-nalchik/ you can follow the games played in the  World Women’s Chess Championships in  between Kosteniuk and Yifan. There’s also more pictures of her to see.

Alexandra Kosteniuk is one of the beauties in the world of Chess! In this video you can see the game she played against GM Zoltan Almasi. It’s a blitz. Fast chess, also known as, blitz chess, lightning chess, bullet chess and rapid chess, is a type of chess game in which each side is given less time to make their moves than under the normal tournament time controls of 60-150 minutes (1-2½ hours) per player.
Read HERE more about blitz chess.

Please click HERE for the official site of Alexandra Kosteniuk.

Alexandra Kosteniuk comments in detail her blitz game played in Moscow at the World Blitz Championships Qualifiers against one of the world’s top experts on the Berlin Wall defence.


The model Carmen Kass in a five-minute blitz match against Viswanathan Anand in 2004.


Read the review of this book here at the link at the bottom of this post….or click on the image to order the book.

Many of us, even those of us who don’t play either well or often, are familiar with chess. Some of us will be aware that some pieces are differently represented in different parts of the world, but I wonder how many of us are aware of the comparatively recent introduction of the queen?

Marilyn Yalom attempts three objectives in this interesting book. Firstly, and of most interest to me, she outlines a history of the game of chess and its likely spread across the world. Secondly, Dr Yalom explains the development of the piece currently known as the queen in most European chess play both in terms of its replacement of earlier pieces, and its emerging power. Finally, Dr Yalom makes a case for parallels between the emergence of the power of the chess queen and the rise of powerful female sovereigns in Europe.

While I am attracted to the notion of the role of the chess queen as a reflection of the rise of strong queens (such as Isabella of Castile), and a possible association with the cult of the Virgin Mary, this is of peripheral interest to me. What I did find fascinating was the history of the development of the game, especially the differences between cultures and countries. Dr Yalom advises that the chess queen did not appear on the board until about 1000: some 200 years after the game had been introduced to southern Europe. Yet, by 1497, the queen had developed from a weak piece (moving one square at a time on the diagonal) to the more formidable force that she is today.

Dr Yalom presents a wealth of information in this book. Whether you share her conclusions, her enthusiasm for the subject combined with her capacity to present a variety of interesting data in a readable and accessible way will make this an enjoyable read.

Those who are serious chess players may find some of the facts interesting. Those of us interested in the evolution of institutions of power and who choose to explore parallels between games of strategy and political realities should also enjoy this book.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith

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