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Your questions answered by Natalia Pogonina-8

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Written by Natalia Pogonina   
Saturday, 15 May 2010
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It's time for the weekly Q&As! Feel free to send me new ones:

Q1: What is your favorite opening?

A1: Historically it has been the Dragon, which I have been playing for years. However, if you employ only one opening, it's very easy for the opponent to prepare for the game against you and obtain a preferable position as White. Therefore, currently I have a larger variety of openings for Black.

Q2: How do I create a plan?
A2: This question is almost as general as "how do I play chess well?". One should feel the position and its main factors (material, open lines, king safety, weak and strong squares, etc.). Understanding what is really important is an indicator of mastery. To give a simple example, if you are having the opponent's king mated, you may forget about material (e.g. sacrifice a queen). And in a quiet ending one may be happy to create a passed pawn, slowly improve the position of one piece, etc. By estimating the priority of the factors one can choose what plan to implement. It's not possible to compose a table "when to care about what", one should consider each position individually.

Q3: How to look for a move? How do you understand when to play for a win, or where a draw is enough?

A3: First of all, it depends on the tournament situation. Sometimes only a win suits you, so you have to take chances in drawn positions, try to somehow outplay or trick your opponent. In the general case White is supposed to have some advantage from the opening. Then, during the game, one compares his own play to that of his/her opponent. If you are playing equally well, White will still have a small edge. If your opponent makes a mistake, you are supposed to be better. And so on. With Black you start with a small disadvantage. If things go well, you may at some point feel that the position became equal (if your opponent didn't play that well), or you are even better (if he blundered).


Q4: You have had great success in your chess career and have probably set goals along the way. What are your current chess goals?
A4: This year my main priority is to show good results at the Women World Championship, Chess Olympiad, Women Blitz Championship and at some other events. Also, I need to improve by playing against strong male grandmasters, and finally score the GM norms to get rid of the W in my title.

Q5: On what does my initial FIDE rating depend?
A5: This is the official article on this issue at the FIDE Handbook. Briefly, it depends on the rating of your opponents and your score against them.

Q6: Who are the favorites at US Chess Championship?
A6: The clear favorite is Nakamura, but Kamsky and Onischuk are very formidable too. One also can't forget about Shulman and Akobian, as well as some experienced players and chess prodigies. If I was to pick one, I'd say it's Hikaru.

Q7: What do you think about the results of Anand-Topalov?
A7: It's been a great match, one of the most exciting ones in the history of chess. Anand proved that he can play extremely well and stable. Topalov also deserves praise for his fighting spirit and play. However, I believe the home turf has served him badly: he was so motivated to win the last game that he has virtually committed a chess suicide instead of taking the draw. Also, it's very strange that Veselin (according to his interview) didn't pay any attention to rapid and blitz training. In modern chess that's a must.

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Last Updated ( Saturday, 15 May 2010 )
 
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