An Interview with GM Nigel Davies

An Interview with GM Nigel Davies

| 14 | Chess Players

Nigel Davies is a Grandmaster from England, a popular and prolific chess author and an experienced coach.  He also authored the recent Chess Mentor course, "Understanding the Colle-Zukertort" and is currently playing in a vote chess game against the members of


Q. Could you tell us a little about your background and what first drew you to chess?

A. I come from a very musical family, but didn't take to a particular instrument. With chess it was different, I liked it from the start.
Q. What do you consider to be your greatest chess achievements?

A. The GM title is probably my best overall achievement, though my best tournament was in Wrexham 1994. I went half a point over the GM norm whilst helping to organise the thing.
Q. What do you consider to be your best game?

A. If correspondence games count it's a game I played as White against Tadeus Wilczek played in 2004. If they don't then maybe my game against Stepak played in Israel in 1991.
Q. You're an experienced chess coach.  Can you tell us more about your TigerChess enterprise?

A. Yes, I launched a coaching business back in 1994, though at the time it was known as Checkerwise. It had just one service at the time, a 'Game Assessment'.  I then designed a course entitled 'The Power-Chess Program' which was originally printed out and sent out to clients on a monthly basis. This was later cut down and turned into two books of the same name and I renamed the business 'Tigerchess'.
Q. Which do you enjoy more:  playing or coaching?

A. That depends quite a lot on the student and the tournament! But I wouldn't teach chess for fun.

Q. Can any amateur player, with correct tuition, achieve the master title?

A. I think the question needs to be rephrased. Any improvement in chess will be a function of the time someone has available and their overall ability. Good coaching can save people a lot of time by keeping them to what's important.
Q. You wrote the 2 volume Gambiteer books which give a gambit repertoire for White and Black.  Do you advocate playing gambits to your students?

A. My main aim with the Gambiteer series was to encourage club players to have more fun in the openings. These lines are very playable at club level, but stronger players tend to look down on them because they're not used by the top players. This prejudice showed through in some of the reviews, which kind of confirmed my suspicion position that many strong players have never seen a club players game!  I tend to downplay the importance of opening choice as long term improvement is usually related to an improvement in either a player's understanding or vision. Having said that I do recommend some of the lines in the Gambiteer books to some of my students.
Q. Why did you agree to play the vote-chess game against members?

A. The proprietor of the site asked me!
Q. Without giving anything away, how do you feel the vote-chess game is going?!

A. It seems to be proving quite popular!
Q. You have experience working as a trader on the financial markets. Are there any transferable skills between the markets and chess?

A. I think if you master any difficult art there's a degree of 'self-mastery' involved. This in turn is transferable.  Chess and markets also contain common elements such as logic, fear, greed and deception! So some of the things markets do will be quite familiar to chess players once they master the new vocabulary.
Q. Do you think that chess has broader educational benefits?  Should it be taught in schools?

A. Yes, very much so, and it does seem that this realisation is catching on. The next step will be to phase out much of the useless academia!
Q. What is your opinion of chess variants?  Do you play any variants such as chess960?
A. I have enough trouble with the form I try to play!
Q. Do you feel that chess computers have been a good or bad influence on chess?

A. Some good, others that are not so good. The main problem is that chess may not be 'big' enough to withstand their number crunching investigation without becoming somehow obsolete. But it has some time left.
Q. Do you feel that women-only chess events are a good thing for women's chess?

A. I'm a believer in free markets, so as long as any tournaments are required they are probably a good thing!

Q. Do you have any advice for chess parents?

A. They should make sure the kids are ENJOYING their chess and actually LIKE TO PLAY. Unfortunately the junior scene seems highly geared to results rather than enjoyment or the beauty of the game.
Q. You have authored many chess books and DVDs – which ones are you most proud of?

A. I always feel I haven't authored it yet! But soon...
Q. If you could invite any 4 people (living or dead, chess players or not) to a fantasy dinner party, who would they be and why?

A. This is a tricky one because many of the people I most admire (eg Victor Korchnoi) could be difficult guests! OK, I'm going to pick Margaret Thatcher, Tammy Bruce (an American authoress), Baron Eugene Fersen and Emanuel Lasker.

In case any of them weren't able to make it I'll take Jesus as a substitute. He'd probably be the only one humble enough to help with the washing up.
Q. Do you have any unfulfilled ambitions, chess related or otherwise?

A. It would be nice to become the oldest ever British Champion! I think Fazekas has the record, but I'd need to confirm that.
Q. What are your immediate plans in terms of participating in chess events? Do you have any tournaments coming up?

A. I'll play in the British Championships in August; it's going to be nearby, in Liverpool. Before that I might play in a couple of weekend tournaments to keep my hand in.
Q. If you could give one piece of advice to keen amateur chess players, what would it be?

A. Not to focus too much on openings. Players tend to play the openings better as their overall understanding improves.
Thanks again for your time.  I hope the questions were interesting and not too onerous to answer. Smile
A. You're welcome!

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