Chess  · 

Q&A with Optiver Chess Team’s Eline Roebers

At Optiver, chess is more than a game, it’s a reflection of the strategic, forward-thinking, and analytical mindset that’s key to our success in trading, risk management and engineering.

In December 2023, Optiver announced its partnership with chess International Master and current Dutch Women’s Champion, Eline Roebers. This partnership marked the formation of the Optiver Chess Team, pairing Eline with Anish Giri, reflecting Optiver’s commitment to fostering greater representation and support for women in both chess and STEM fields. One month after the team was formed, Eline defied expectations during their performance at the Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2024, with a personal-best victory in Round 5 against top-seeded Hans Niemann—the highest-rated player she has defeated to date.

This spring, Optiver is excited to be sponsoring the 2024 edition of the Dutch Student Chess Championship —one of the biggest chess events for students across the Netherlands—taking place on 14 April 2024, at Radboud University in Nijmegen. The event will feature a captivating open rapid chess tournament format, and participants will have the unique opportunity to play against Eline, who will be attending on behalf of the Optiver Chess Team.

In the run-up to her appearance at the tournament, Eline sat down with us to chat about her impressive chess career and her vision for women in chess and STEM.  

Q: Can you tell us about how you got started in chess? What initially drew you to the game?
My father taught me the game when I was about six years old. I don’t remember exactly what drew me to the game originally—and believe it or not, I still have difficulty pinpointing what continues to draw me to it! But even as a 6-year-old, I enjoyed the club evenings and the challenge of participating in tournaments.

Q: What have been some of the most memorable moments or achievements in your chess career so far? Is there a game that sticks out for you?
It may sound funny, but I don’t think I have one specific achievement that I would consider the most memorable or that stands out in a special way. Good performances and positive achievements all make me happy, because they all become good memories.

Q: What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your chess journey, and how have you overcome them?
Probably dealing with disappointment in general. Every game can turn around in just one move and sometimes this can happen after having a winning position for the whole game. When I didn’t win the World Youth Chess Championship in 2019 after two losses in the final two rounds, for a while it was hard for me to have that same passion for chess because this disappointment was so hard on me. Thankfully nowadays I can view losses with a bit more perspective.

Q: How do you see the skills used in chess translating to the world of trading and finance?
Chess is a game that forces you to stay focused until the very end, to make good strategic decisions and to avoid blundering in one move. I see this as similar to trading, as one has to stay alert in order to not lose money very quickly and to predict what will happen in the stock market.

Q: How has Optiver’s sponsorship impacted your chess career? What does this kind of support mean for your career?
It’s already proving a positive investment in my career. For now, while I’m still studying, the Optiver sponsorship has given me the opportunity to train more with world class trainers. And with more time to dedicate to chess after I finish my exams in May, I’ll get the chance to play in lots of open tournaments and train much more thanks to the sponsorship.

Q: From your perspective, how do you think the aspects of calculated risks and decision-making in chess might relate to similar decisions in trading or finance? And what other parallels do you see between chess and the trading industry?
I’m not familiar with trading first-hand of course, but I can see that in having to predict market reactions, one has to make educated guesses on what will happen and what will be the best decision—and then staying one or more steps ahead. In chess I can see a direct parallel in the decision-making involved: sometimes you decide you have to play it safe to get an okay result, whilst other times you see an opportunity to go all in—which is a risk that can result in either a win or a loss. In both chess and trading, either way it’s important to make your decisions based on well considered, solid logic.

Q: Chess, like the trading industry, has traditionally been male-dominated. How do you navigate this environment, and what changes would you like to see to encourage more women to participate?
For me, I have to say that navigating the male-dominated field was relatively easy as I have always had female friends in the chess world that I could relate to. I didn’t feel differently playing against men or women and had relatively few negative gender-gap experiences. In the past year or so however, many female players unfortunately weren’t as lucky as me in that sense. But I think organisers and chess federations have taken some positive steps to address this, for instance by designating a confidant for their tournaments.

Q: As a successful woman in a predominantly male field, how do you hope to inspire other young women and girls interested in chess or STEM?
I hope to show young women and girls that it’s possible to be good at something in a male-dominated field. Breaking barriers is a good thing.

Q: What advice would you give to young girls and women who are aspiring to become chess players or are interested in pursuing a career in STEM?
Enjoy the game or the job! If they do, then I want them to know there is absolutely no reason to doubt themselves. Building a successful career as a woman in these fields IS possible and I encourage them to work as hard as they can to achieve it.

Q: What is your vision for the future of women in chess and STEM? How do you think institutions and companies like Optiver can contribute to this vision?
The future is looking bright. In both the chess world and the job market, women’s salaries are getting more and more equal, and more women are proving that they are very capable in both fields. I think companies like Optiver can help by, for example, continuing to invest in women as they have for my sponsorship, and by ensuring a safe and welcoming environment for women to work in.

Want to know more about Optiver’s involvement in Chess?


Related Articles

  • Chess, News, Partnerships

    Masters and Challengers: Anish and Eline take on Tata Steel Chess 2024

    The Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2024 in Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands, was significant for the Optiver Chess Team, featuring Anish Giri defending his Masters title and Eline Roebers competing in the Challengers. This represented a major step for Optiver, showcasing our commitment to nurturing chess talent at various levels of expertise. Anish Giri: The defending […]

    Learn more
  • Chess, Partnerships

    Live from Tata Steel 2024: The Optiver Chess Team debut

    Dive into the Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2024 with Optiver’s daily coverage, spotlighting a landmark moment as our Chess Team makes its first major tournament appearance. In the Masters section, Anish Giri will defend his title, while Eline Roebers will showcase her talent in the Challengers group for the second year running. More than a […]

    Learn more
  • Chess, Partnerships

    Optiver announces chess sponsorship with International Master Eline Roebers

    We are excited to unveil a new chapter in Optiver’s commitment to the chess community with a new partnership with International Master Eline Roebers. This sponsorship not only strengthens our existing engagement with the chess community, led by our continuous support for chess Grandmaster Anish Giri, but also serves as an initiative to inspire the […]

    Learn more
  • Chess, Partnerships

    Optiver sponsors Anish Giri

    Strategy, problem solving and agility are why the game of chess and Optiver go hand in hand. Since 2016, Optiver has been a proud sponsor of Dutch champion and grandmaster Anish Giri. It takes excellent numerical skills and a passion for strategy to prove yourself and succeed in the world of trading. Applying this mindset […]

    Learn more
  • Chess, News, Partnerships

    Anish Giri on the Queen’s Gambit

    Much like the rest of us, Chess Grandmaster Anish Giri thoroughly enjoyed The Queen’s Gambit, the biggest scripted series on Netflix to date. Based on Walter Tevis’ 1983 book by the same name, The Queen’s Gambit follows the life of a young chess prodigy. Her success - against the odds- speaks to the importance of determination, family and staying true to yourself. The Queen's Gambit is of course a play on the chess opening of the same name – it starts with the moves: 1. d4 d5: 2. c4. It is one of the oldest openings and is still widely used today. We asked Anish a few questions about the Queen’s Gambit.

    Learn more