Saturday, July 14, 2007

david vigorito's questionnaire

ooh I like question games, so what the heck...

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 learned to play when I was around 8, but I did not start playing tournaments until I was about 16. of course, now we know that one must become a GM by 16 to have any real hope of becoming a decent player. My biggest "lull" was around 1988, and unfortunately coincided with the '88 US Open in Boston. I was 18 years old, so I may have had other things on my mind... Since then my activity level have gone up and down. I have never seen a drastic change based on my tournament activity.

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

I browse a lot of books. I am generally too lazy to set up a board, but I have a good visual memory.

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

to play! I think the main reason I became a master in a relatively short span was that in the late 80's there were decent size tournaments in NE all of the time. Another important thing to do is analyse your games. I do not do this enough. A common bad habit is not analysing your wins critically. It is more fun to pretend that you won because you did everything right, and that is rarely the case.

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

Is this the question I am supposed to not answer because my opponents may prepare for me? Oh well. As White, 1.d4, 1.c4, 1.Nf3. I do not play 1.e4 much because in my opinion, playing 1.e4 takes too much work unless you want to play stupid gimmicky lines. Against 1.e4, the Najdorf Sicilian. It is so good that Kasparov played it almost exclusively, without worrying that there was no element of surprise. Against 1.d4, the King's Indian. Unfortunately, it is no Najdorf, and it is not the best opening. But when it works, it is fun.

5. Who are your favorite chess players and why?

Kramnik. His games from the late 90's are great examples of power chess. I know he draws a lot of games now, but not losing is not such a bad trait to have. Kasparov, of course. No explanation needed. Topalov - the player, not the person. Locally, there are too many good guys to name. For the BCC crowd I'll name Mac*space*Intyre, LT, and Bernardo.

6. What is your favorite chess book?

Challenging the Nimzo-Indian? haha, just kidding. Half a Century of Chess by Botvinnik was ones of my favourites as a lad.

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

There was some book called something like Kasparov Teaches Chess. It was some really cool games that illustrate the potential beauty in chess very well. And then there are some other lessons of some sort.

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

in-person? you mean like a normal tournament? yes, I do. My favourite experience was probably the 1997 World Open. I beat 3 GM's in a row and drew Smirin with Black en route to my first IM norm. I was .5 off the GM norm. I was rated only 2359 and it all caused a buzz. Unfortunately I lost with Black (my second in a row) to Kudrin in the last round without much of a fight, so it ended on a real downer. Winning 5 must-win games for my last two IM norms and winning the MA Open for the first time were nice too.

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


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

At my level, quite a bit. I have lost too many games to GMs because I was busted out of the opening. The higher you go, the more time you need to spend. For most club players, you should only spend enough time that you can feel comfortable in your openings. It is much better to learn a few real openings than to play junk lines and have to switch them up every six months.

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