Sherwood, Russell Tuesday, October 1, 2019
I hope I don’t bore you, personally I’ve never really considered myself interview material but here goes!
I am a member of that rare species, the female correspondence chess player, soon to be even rarer after the latest ICCF cull, sorry what was I thinking, of course I meant rule change.
I have been playing chess since I was around five; I am self-taught with a bit of basic guidance from my mum at the start.
I have always loved the game and played over the board for my schools and at a local chess club. It didn’t enter my head until I was much older that this was unusual for a girl, I honestly don’t think it entered the heads of the boys I played with either, we all just wanted to play the game and win!
When my family moved to Snowdonia I pretty much stopped playing chess, logistics was an issue. I did flirt briefly with postal chess, but found it a bit slow and increasingly expensive for a student’s pocket.
With academia and professional qualifications behind me, I found I had more spare time and this reignited my passion for the game. I very quickly realised how things had moved on in the intervening time. I joined a couple of internet clubs and started my CC career. I had a very steep learning curve; brain and book are no match for computer programs and databases. My ego became, slightly dented, but I decided to stick with it and learn how to survive in this modern arena, and as they say, the rest is history.
I find my relationship with my chessboard has changed and like so many others, the draws drive me crazy, but I think to play our game well you need a lot of skill. It is not enough to follow the computer blindly as everyone has at least one; it`s the players who combine their own flare with that of the programs and hardware that seem to get the best results.
The highlight of my CC career to date is being awarded the Lady Grandmaster title, every chess player dreams of being a grandmaster and even though I would one day like to drop the Lady from the front, I will be happy with this if I go no further.
In my humble opinion aspiring players need to do there research; ask themselves why certain players can still produce better than average results. What Openings are they using? Where did that unexpected move come from and why was it unexpected? They also need to invest in a reasonable computer and keep their software up to date. Time and tide wait for no man or woman!
When starting a tournament, I usually get a buzz of excitement. It’s a clean start an opportunity to show what you can do. My strategy depends on the event, if I’m playing for a team securing at least a draw is the priority, you don’t want to let your team mates hard work come to nothing because of your dropped points. In norm events the strategy is tailored to the required score for the sort after norm, there is little point in playing solid draws when you need at least two or three wins. That said you must always keep an eye on the rating after all that is what gets us in a position to try for the norms in the first place.
When selecting moves I usually, if possible pick three I think are promising and then work with them to see where they take me. I’m still trying to perfect this!
The draws in CC are a problem but it is still possible to get results if you work hard, but I don’t think there is a magic formula. My current strategy is to cut my game load and work harder on the games I play, it will take a while and has meant saying no this season to a number of events.
My future aspirations are to achieve the IM title and be the last Ladies world Champion (if I make it to the final, it’s in the lap of the gods)
My favourite opening is a tricky question to answer; it is more a question of which openings work in CC. I do enjoy the KID but with mixed results!
If I could ask a question of a legendary player, it would go to Bobby Fisher.
Did you realise when Donald Byrne played 11, Bg5 in the game of the century that you had the game, were you that good so young?
As you can see from the answer to your previous question, I am a Fisher fan so I have read and re read until the pages fell out: Fisher v Spassky Reykjavik 1972.
My favourite living player is Vladimir Kramnik but posthumously it’s Mr Fisher the flawed genius, if you can have one without the other!
Updated Tuesday, October 1, 2019 by Russell Sherwood