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Your questions answered by Natalia Pogonina

  • WGM Natalia_Pogonina
  • on 3/25/11, 3:11 PM.

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The rules are simple - send us your questions and see them featured in Natalia's Q&As column!

Q1: I would like to know how you were able to keep on
your constant form. Do you still force yourself to have a game at a
moment when you are too physically exhausted? Or your knowledge on
memorizing details keeps you always abreast? 

A1: First of all, I do not have a "constant form". Sometimes I do relatively well, sometimes pretty badly. Secondly, I am not that much of a "memorizer". Knowing the main ideas of openings is more helpful at my level than cramming up 20-move lines. Thirdly, I am a responsible person and play even when being very tired or ill. I have quit just one tournament in my life (the doctors told me I would have to be operated unless I do that) and don't share the views of people who think it's ok to abandon the tournament after losing a chance to win a prize. However, the life of a chess professional is not that easy, so I wouldn't be too hard on them either.

Q2: I´d like to know what´s your opinion about the best non-comercial (shareware)
program to learn, play and study chess?

A2: I am not that much of an expert in shareware. Why? First of all, because I am a pro and tend to use top-notch software. Secondly,our time is more expensive than money. Let's say you are willing to invest 50 hours in studying chess using a shareware program. Why not spend $50 (that's $1/hour) and study WAY more efficiently? Sometimes you can "buy" 50 hours of time for just $50. Isn't it worth it?

However, when it comes to engines, as you probably know, Firebird and Houdini are at least on par with the top commercial engines, so you may want to try them out.

Q3: How often should one study tactics?

A3: I have answered that question before, but people ask it SO often, that it's worth repeating. Every day for 30-60 minutes. If that sounds like a lot for you, then at least 15 minutes (a few positions). Anyone can spare such an amount of time. However, don't overdo it: solving tactics for hours and hours will hurt your chess understanding, as you will probably be searching for a forced win even in equal or worse positions, which leads to quick losses. Therefore, as I have already said, one shouldn't spend more than an hour/day on tactics.

Q4: How is preparing for an open tournament (e.g. Aeroflot) different from preparing for a round robin (e.g. Wijk Aan Zee)?

A4: In round robins you usually know the line-up in advance and have a chance to prepare for each opponent beforehand. That is, create a chess dossier on him/her and choose the optimal strategy. In open tournaments things are less predictable.  Also, it largely depends on your goals. For example, top players who resort to rather solid openings in round robins (where participants are all of more or less the same level) have to try out something more risky in swiss events if they want to maintain their high ratings and win prizes. However, this refers to pros with a high level of self-discipline. Most people simply play chess and enjoy the activity without any special preparations. wink_smile.gif

Q5: Are there any museums in Moscow related to chess?

A5: As far as I know, the Moscow Chess Museum was founded in 1980 and is currently located at the same venue as the Central House of Chess Players (headquarters of the Russian Chess Federation). I am not sure it is currently open for visitors though...

Q6: How long have you known Levon Aronian? How would you assess his chances of becoming a World Champion?

A6: Since 2002, as we have been playing together at junior chess chamionships (Europe, World). I think his chances are high.

Q7: What is your next tournament?

A7:  The Women's Russian Club Cup in April. This is a strong team event with most Russian top players & many international stars.

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  • 15 months ago

    WGM Natalia_Pogonina

    Let’s stay in touch on social networks! Here are my official accounts:

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  • 4 years ago

    Elubas

    I found the bit about how studying "too many" tactics can actually hurt your understanding (there was a different thing I had in mind) quite an over-generalization -- how can you speak for so many people like that?

    In my opinion, you can't really unlearn something that you truly understand well -- such as certain positional concepts. That's why you don't unlearn how to ride a bike for example. When my mind is feeling slow, I can still play CC chess well (albeit somewhat more slowly; but of course that doesn't matter!), by using my understanding to lead me to the best moves I can find to my ability, when I have no time constraints to induce rush and urgency. It's just that I have to sift through it more slowly, but aside from that, my understanding takes me very far in CC, both tactically (sensing when there "must be a move") and positionally; no matter how tired I am, that understanding is never taken away from me.

    I suppose some people look for more crazy moves after lots of tactical training, but that certainly doesn't apply to everyone, because it doesn't to me. To me having lots of patterns just gives me more resources that I will only use when appropriate or truly appetizing; it helps me to see opportunities and to avoid danger, but tactics are just tools, that aren't always available; it's just nice to know how to use them.

    But then, I learned chess backwards: becoming obsessed with the positional stuff and using the tactics to fill in the gaps instead of the minor, fine-tuning positional subtleties. That could be it.

    The only problem I thought was that if you try to study too many your mind will overflow and not really understand many of the tactics; that is, well enough that in 5 years you'll still know how to use it -- just like being able to put a bike away for 5 years then come back to it with no problems! It'll just be going through the motions, but not fully absorbing everything. I think around 20-30 puzzles a day is ideal -- fills up the mind, but doesn't overstuff it. But of course, to do this daily and consistently is quite a lot.

  • 4 years ago

    IM Vlad_Akselrod

    Would you say that women are overrated or underrated compared to men?

  • 4 years ago

    MikeDoyle

    In an isolani position (white has IQP) sometimes black has opportunity to play ...Bb4xc3. And sometimes white will recapture with a rook (Rac1-Rxc3) and sometimes it is better to recapture with a pawn. Why? (don't just say tactics dictate haha). When white recaptures bxc3 black's move is often ...b5, to fix the white pawns on c3/d4 with light squared weaknesses. OK. But is it so bad if white is allowed to play c3-c4 in that position? Such cases are called "hanging pawns" and are an altogether different type of position. In a nutshell, what is the relationship between IQP and hanging pawns?

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