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Your questions answered by Natalia Pogonina

  • WGM Natalia_Pogonina
  • on 6/12/11, 8:34 AM.

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

Q1: What do you think of the recently completed Candidates and would you like to see a challenger determined differently?

A1: As far as I can judge from message boards (both Russian and English), this tournament was deemed by the general public as boring and disappointing due to a large number of draws, early elimination of the favorites and Carlsen's refusal to take part. However, draws are part of the game, and I also agree with Grischuk that the aim of such events is to determine the challenger, not simply confirm what the fans want. Gelfand's victory was well-deserved and yet another proof that loyalty to chess can pay off even if you are over 40 y.o.

Regarding the format: I believe a double round robin would work best.

Q2: How strong should a chess coach be? Does it make sense to hire a non-titled one?

A2: The three main questions you should ask yourself when choosing a coach are: a) is he qualified enough in the chess sense to teach? b) does he know how to teach? c) is he motivated well to work hard? Of course, a non-titled player can teach one the rules and basics, but if you are planning to become a titled player or at least a strong club player, you had better find someone with a title. Also, keep in mind item b) - not all strong players are good at teaching. Some of them lack the social skills and experience, or simply detest the process itself. Thirdly, motivation is extremely important. Payment is only part of it. The perfect situation is when a coach is genuinely interested in the student's progress and not just getting his paycheck for showing opening traps two hours a week.

Q3: How long will the Russian domination in chess last?

A3: It's hard to say how chess will change in the future, so it's not easy to answer this question. Generally speaking, chess is most popular in countries that: a) respect intelligence b) care for sport achievements c) are relatively poor (chess doesn't require too much investments as compared to many other sports) d) have a specific set of values - not financial success-based. Based on that, I believe Russia, China and India will have good chances in the future. Chess.com had a similar poll - here are the results.

Q4: What do you like more: opening/middlegame/endgame?

A4: The terms are very relative. Nowadays when we say that we are "working on openings" we often mean opening, middlegame, and sometimes even endgame. However, I prefer creativity and improvisation to home preparation, so the answer is probably middlegame.

Q5: How do I get a FIDE rating? I know I will have to play in a tournament, but how to I check whether it's FIDE-rated?

A5: You had better ask the organizer if the tournament is rated by FIDE and review the rules here. Also, don't forget to check out if the event is on the official list, as all the events are pre-registered nowadays. In June FIDE decided to publish rating lists monthly, so you won't have to wait long. Good luck!
 
Q6: What was your biggest upset/win?

A6:  Do you mean the most painful defeats/pleasant victories? Or technical difference between ratings, i.e. winning against someone rated 200 points above (300 points below)? Anyway, sorry, I don't keep track of such statistics. regular_smile.gif

Q7: What do you think of FIDE's decision to decrease the rating floor to 1000?

A7:  I find it dubious. The point was probably to attract new fees and increase the player base. However, I don't see why anyone would want to get a rating in that range. 1000 is, I guess, the level of a person who has played a few friendly games in his life (i.e. complete beginner). Why would they want to attend a serious open and play with clocks for hours each day to get rated? Also, some quick Maths: it's easy to get to 1600 after playing and studying chess for a year (that's a 600 points boost). And if you get a 1000 rating, by winning a game against an equally-rated opponent one gets 7.5 points. That is, to gain 600 points one will have to win 80 consecutive tournament games! Naturally, that's unlikely, so the way from 1000 to 1600 will probably take many-many years instead of one. Not to mention that underrated players are a pain in the neck for pros, who eventually lose rating points on them.

For example, when I got my first rating (2159 in year 1999) the floor was 2000, and people who had an international rating were considered "cool". Club players were after national classes (A, B,C, etc.), not rating. It actually made more sense, in my opinion.

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