Chess Questionnaire

Jul 22, 2007, 2:01 PM |

Copied the original questionnaire from SonofPearl

You can find SonofPearl's Chess Questionnaire by clicking here 

There is a chess questionnaire doing the rounds in the chess blogosphere at the moment.  Although I'm a patient sort, I'm not going to wait for it to be sent to me, so I thought I'd complete it anyway here on my blog! Laughing

1. How long have you been playing chess? Have you played it consistently since you started, or were there lulls in your play? How did these lulls affect your performance?

I have been playing since I was 13. I learnt it in high school. (secondary school). I played it consistently for about 10 years, participating in tournaments and winning various trophies and championships in Malawi. Then I stopped because I was focusing on work and other things. I have played 4 small tournaments in the USA. I came out on top on 3 of them. The lulls affected me quite a bit. I don't play or see things as fast as I used to. But the talent is still there.

2. Aside from playing games, what is your primary mode of training?

I would say, annotating games (Fischer's for the most part), and playing through GM games at I also analyze games at this site. It has been a while since I last read a chess book. I have Fritz 7 on my computer, but I am so anti-computer-chess that I don't use it except to play through other people's pgn games.

3. What is the single most helpful method of improvement that you have ever used?

Playing with players that were stronger than me. There were tons of them when I had just started. I was lucky that they were willing to play me whenever I wanted.

4. What is your favorite opening to play as white? As black against e4? As black against d4?

It used to be 1.e4. Now I have stopped playing it. I would like to grow in other areas/openings. In response to 1.e4, I would probably play the french defense or the Sicilian defence. Against 1.d4 I would play Kings Indian Defense or 1...c5 (not sure what the name is).

5. Who is your favorite chess player and why?

Fischer. He shows that study pays off. (He was extremely talented, but he also worked so hard.) Capablanca is a close second. He is closest to Fischer without the shenanigans. 

6. What is your favorite chess book?

I have to say "Exchanging to Win in the Endgame" by Gennady Nesis. First, because I met my best friend when I went to the library to get it for the second time!

I remember that I read it from cover to cover in 2 days. (Of course, I didn't do anything but set up the position and play through the moves...) To say that I was unbeatable is an understatement. I would look at a position, and I just knew when to simplify to the end. It also teaches you how to save lost positions by simplifying. Very helpful. 

7. What book would you recommend for a friend who knows only the rules of chess?

"Logical Chess Move by Move" - by Irving Chernev. Highly recommended to all beginners. I use this book as a model in annotating Fischer's games. It is classic, so I don't even come close. Knowing the reason behind each move trains you on what to look for in a position. How to explain your opponent's moves. Once you read it, a chess move will never be just another move again.

8. Do you play in in-person tournaments? What is your favorite tournament experience?

It has been a couple of months since I last played in a tournament (OTB or otherwise.) I have several "favorite" tournament experiences. Almost all of them have to do with the will to win. The one I can remember now, I had a won position, and I saw 5 or 6 moves to a mate or something very close to it. I was about to make my move, then I saw a mate in one. Without checking, I just played the move! I was about to get up and to shake my opponent's hand when he captured my rook with his Knight! Aw! So, I could resign, or I could play on. It took me 15 minutes to calm down and to make my next move. I determined that my position was so strong that loss of a Rook was not going to result in an immediate loss. Well, if it's one of my favorite, you should know that I won the game!

9. Please give us a link to what you consider your best two blog posts (on your own blog).

How to Improve at Chess: Tip 4 - "Do This and You Shall Live!" 

Annotated game#2: Thomason - Bobby Fischer

10. What proportion of total chess time should be spent studying openings for someone at your level?

Less time than what most people, including myself, actually spend.  I think less than 10%. (This is SonofPearl's answer, and I agree with him.)

You can find SonofPearl's Chess Questionnaire by clicking here

Perhaps other members would like to complete the Questionnaire on their own blogs?