Interview with IM Andrzej Szerlak (POL)

Sherwood, Russell  Wednesday, June 17, 2020

I am 63 years old, I live in Poland, in Lubin close to the border with Ukraine, work in the City Hal, I have a daughter and son who are now completely independent people.

I played and still play only Correspondence Chess, I did not have time for another form of competition, or maybe, I did not feel like it, I do not regret my choice.

I played the first Correspondence Chess tournament in 1976,playing in the semi-finals of my city championships,I still remember some games played there, later I abandoned chess and returned to them several times, now I actively participate in chess life continuously from 2014.

Correspondence Chess gives me a substitute for real rivalry and, because they take place away from other people, they allow me to experience the sadness of failure or joy of victory only with my loved ones And of course thanks to them I met many fantastic, clever and unusual people. 

I think that I am now at the peak of my chess career, because victories come to me more and more difficult, probably because the rivals are also getting stronger. Therefore, I do not plan my career any more, although I hope that I will be able to play many successful tournaments or even an interesting game .

I think the best chess teacher is practice, which is why I recommend playing as many games as possible with those who have more skills than us. Well, and studying books, but mainly classics - less analysis in them, more wise and needed advice.  

Before starting the tournament, I don't work out how to play it, sometimes I change the way the game openings, and I think that's all. 

It's no secret that in today's correspondence chess, chess engines play a big role in making decisions about making moves, but ultimately it is the man who makes the move. After assessing the position, I try to find my moves, then verify them with the engine, if my idea according to the engine it's OK, no problem, but if the engine has a different concept of the game, I analyse the position using a different engine, or in terms of the consequences of making a move - I like positions with uneven material on the chessboard, I'm not afraid of simplifications and I subconsciously strive for such a game.  

Certainly, the draw plague is dangerous for chess, but I have the impression that it concerns the whole of this sport discipline. Well, more and more available aids such as literature, computer programs, more and more effective teaching of the game makes the level difference practically blurred. That the chance of victory is given by non-sport factors such as the will to fight, ambition, perseverance and devoting time to the game at the expense of other pleasures such as watching TV. In my case, sometimes it brings good results.  

I don't have great aspirations about my chess successes any more. I would like to play a little more, maybe I could win something there, the greatest joy is hearing from a rival after a game of words such as "it was my most exciting game in my life" - and that's it happened more than once.  

I don't think I have favourite chess openings, I think that with wide access to chess knowledge, it doesn't matter, it's important to play items that suit us, match our style of play and bring us success, recently they are English White and Black Sicilian Defence and Slav Defence - openings perhaps without a great philosophy, but allowing you to run an interesting game not without sharper moments  

I think I would like to meet Paul Morphy the most and ask him how he likes today's chess  

My favourite chess book is-Aron Nimzowitsch-My System  

I will not be original and say that Robert Fischer, I admire him for his will to fight and face the entire galaxy of Soviet players, not only at the chessboard. Maybe this statement is a bit of a policy, but for someone who lived in Eastern Europe at that time it was important moments and the real hope Fischer gave.   

I do not know if you need to change something in correspondence chess, we are a large group of enthusiasts of chess, I think that our ranks are not shrinking, we lead a lively tournament life, we have our many chess friendships - it is all right

Updated Wednesday, June 17, 2020 by Russell Sherwood

Welsh Correspondence Chess FederationBritish Correspondence Chess AssociationClergy Correspondence Chess ClubSchemingMind Internet Correspondence Chess ClubSocial Correspondence Chess AssociationNational Correspondence Chess ClubWelsh Chess UnionInternational Correspondence Chess Association