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?
By the time I was six, I knew the chess board and how the pieces moved. .I grew up in a chess household in Maine, where the royal game was the antidote to cabin fever in the winter . My father ran the local club. On occasion, our household would be invaded with the chess team as Brunswick was preparing to rival against Portland. I wanted to join my father’s club but he warned me that the competition was fierce as they played for blood ( ratings). I was 13 before I could finally give the old man a good game and prove my worthiness to join the club. By the time I was in high school, I was playing on the Brunswick team club matches. I also started a chess team at the high school and by the time I graduated I was the top student in the State of Maine ( by some fortune of good luck, there was only one other competitor at the time… this was back in the 70’s)
I played a bit in my post college days and even tied for third place in the Down east open back in the mid to late 1980’s…. then life hit. I took a hiatus while settling into a career, wife and kids. I briefly resurfaced while coaching chess in Worcester but went back under during other life events ( divorce). As life settled out, I came back in 2004 only to discover the competition was fierce and I was rusty. I’ve been removing the rust ever since.
2. Aside from playing games, what is your primary mode of training?
My primary mode of training is to do tactical training with CT-Art 3.0. I’ve done the seven circles and continue with this method as a means of staying sharp. I am starting to use Studies 2.0 by the same folks who do CT-Art 3.0 as I am doing more studies and training with end games. For openings I generate table bases in chess base and port them to Bookup to practice variations.
3. What is the single most helpful method of improvement that you have ever used?
Today? I’d have to say the tactical training with CT-Art 3.0. That’s why I still do the circles. I jumped 250 rating points after doing them. Now I seek to get off this plateau by doing endgames and self annotating my games.
4. What is your favorite opening to play as white? As black against e4? As black against d4?
Secrets…. Hmmm… I like the Sodium 1. Na3…. But I play 1.e4 these days. I used to be a 1.d4 player and have “crossed over” almost a year ago now. For black, I play the Caro-Kan and Slav.
5. Who is your favorite chess player and why?
Aaron Nimzovitch, I liked his positional style of play.
6. What is your favorite chess book?
Jonathon Rowson's Chess for Zebras: Thinking Differently about Black and White
Made me realize I had too many books and not enough practice. I stopped searching for new books ( unless specific to my opening) and started more on the practical approach by learning through application of these ideas locked in myhead.
7. What book would you recommend for a friend who knows only the rules of chess?
Aaron Nimzovitch's My System: 21st Century Edition
8. Do you play in in-person tournaments? What is your favorite tournament experience?
Yes… World Open 34
9. Please give us a link to what you consider your best two blog posts (on your own blog).
Fear and loathing...
10. What proportion of total chess time should be spent studying openings for someone at your level?