Simona Nayberg: World Youth Spotlight

Simona Nayberg at the World Youth, currently underway, wearing jacket by sponsor Two Sigma

15-year-old Simona Nayberg is currently competing at the World Youth in Haldiki, Greece. Simona, who hails from San Francisco, California created ChessBrainGames, a tactics website. Jennifer Shahade talked to the young player and entrepreneur about how to get better at puzzle solving, and why she created her own tactics website.

Jennifer Shahade (JS)-Why did you start Chess Brain Games?

Simona Nayberg (SN)- I wanted to create a unique tactics website where people could practice solving chess puzzles that were collected from strong chess players around the world.It would be amazing to see chess players around the world connect because of a passion they share and motivate people to get more involved with chess because of my website. 

JS-  As the author of Play Like A Girl, I’ve also combed over tons of games to find fresh tactical gems. I was thrilled to see so many games from girls and women in your collection. What are some of your favorite puzzles on the site?

Girls at the 2015 K-12 Championships holding copies of Play Like a Girl

SN-My favorite puzzles are from Kirill Chukavin from Estonia (“Beginner” category), Kenneth Solomon from South Africa (“Intermediate” category), and Olga Badelka from Belarus (“Advanced” category).

White to Move

White to Move

Black to Move

JS-  Tell us about playing in the World Youth Championship, currently underway in Haldiki, Greece. How are you preparing? What are you most looking forward to?
SN-This is going to be my fourth World Youth  and to prepare, I played in more tournaments and analyzed my own games in depth. I am looking forward to seeing all my international friends again, as this will be the first time I’ll get to see them this year!

Simona at the 2017 World Youth Championships

JS- In the all girls US Chess School camp I ran with my brother in the summer, we ran a very difficult problem solving contest, except instead of a “competition” it was a cooperation, meaning that girls had to solve positions as a team, with the stronger solver working on the tougher problems, etc. Do you think this is a challenge girls may be particularly adept at?

SN-Regardless of being a boy or girl, I think that a challenge like this is a good idea because it motivates you to solve your share of tactics and continue solving even harder ones. Without challenging yourself, you will not improve.

JS-What are your favorite puzzle books/websites, besides your own?
SN-I like chesstempo and chess24, as well as Martin Weteschnik’s Chess Tactics from Scratch: Understanding Chess Tactics.

JS-How do you recommend people use your website to improve most rapidly?
SN-Don’t rush before you move a piece and look at the entire board before choosing the most precise move. Since the answer appears after three incorrect attempts, try to solve the puzzle by yourself and don’t try to unlock the answer as soon as possible.

To contribute to Chess Brain Games and see your tactics on the site, please email Simona at [email protected]. To follow Simona’s progress at the World Youth check out the official site or her tournament profile on 


    • As of now there is a white or black circle next to each puzzle indicating whose turn it is. Perhaps that circle wasn’t there last night when you posted?

      • Hi Stephen. It’s very possible I didn’t see the circle, let alone what that circle signified. In any event Black’s winning combination is very nice indeed. Look at all the variations!

        • Hi Peter! Indeed the, circles are always there but you are right we should add a note at the bottom of each diagram as they are not always so obvious. Thanks for your feedback and I agree that third problem is stunning and I’ve never seen anything quite like it.

          • Hi Jennifer! A thought occurred to me which might cook this beautiful combination. After 1…Re1+2Rxe1Qxc2+3Kxc2Nd4+4Kb1Nc3+5bxc3Rb8+White could play6Bb7(two can play the clearance game)Rxb77Qb4. Now what? If this is indeed a cook then I’m very sad.

  1. Hi Jennifer! Sorry for the Halloween scare…I forgot Black’s Knight on d4 blocks White’s Queen from getting to b4. No cook! A beautiful combination is saved!

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