Gawain needs little introduction. One of England’s youngest ever Grandmasters and now a regular England international. Gawain was born in Skipton Yorkshire but has lived in exotic places like Italy and New Zealand. Gawain has played for White Rose for many years as well as York in the Woodhouse Cup.
I wanted to sacrifice pieces at every opportunity…
Let’s find out more about Gawain.
How and when did you start playing chess?
I learnt at the age of 4. My dad taught me to play – he had one of those very basic old chess computers! I wanted to (and to be honest still do) play any game and so my parents went through lots of them! My love of chess, though, was ignited by the Short-Kasparov match in London in 1993. Being able to follow it on tv was very exciting.
Kasparov – Short 1993
What is you favourite form of the game? Standard play, Quick play, Lightning or Correspondence.
Blitz chess (or lightning) is probably my main strength and a good way to unwind but it doesn’t compare to real standard chess. I find correspondence chess too dull – I consider chess more of a sport than an art and the use of computers during the game doesn’t interest me so much. However I do check them from time to time as correspondence chess comes up with some interesting novelties.
Which player(s) inspired you the most?
When I was growing up I loved following Alexander Morozevich. I wanted to sacrifice pieces at every opportunity and I modelled my style on him.
More recently I realised the shortcomings in always creating chaos so have tried to create a more universal style. However I have to say that Kasparov has to be my favourite – the way he dominated the chess scene for so long. His universal but generally aggressive style is one I try to emulate.
What is your proudest moment in your chess career so far?
It’s hard to say. Both IM and GM titles were of course very pleasing and I’m very happy to now be in the top 100 in the world. However, perhaps winning the Commonwealth Championship meant the most, even if it wasn’t the strongest tournament I’ve won.
Final Round – Commonwealth Championships
Over the years who has been your most difficult opponent / adversary and why?
I’m not sure who it is currently but I used to have a terrible score against Simon Williams.
GM Simon Williams
Whenever I played him we always got wild tactical messes, positions I enjoy but those positions are definitely his real strength. In recent games I’ve tried to keep it calm and thus my scores have improved.
Chess conjures up many interesting characters, have you ever had a strange or unusually funny experience at a chess event?
There are some erratic players out there but I find that generally the professional players are comparatively normal. I remember my Mum telling me about one of her games where she managed to promote her pawn to a queen of the opposite colour!
What is/are your favourite chess book(s)?
I have to confess that I didn’t read many chess books and instead played a lot of online chess which is only useful up to a point. However I think I have to add a little advert in here; for an aggressive player my Starting Out: Grand Prix Attack is a useful book
Starting out: Sicilian grand prix attack
The opening is based on a couple of strategic ideas and the book helps players understand the positions. That series of books by Everyman are directed towards intermediate players, not worrying on too much theory but instead focus on the important ideas in the opening. The Opening books by Quality Chess are very thorough and good for very serious players. I found the My Great Predecessors series by Kasparov very useful and interesting while improving the endgame is very important and therefore I would also recommend Mark Dvoretsky’s Endgame Manual. It’ll be very hard work but if you study it properly you’ll see a definite improvement in your play.
What is/are your favourite chess website(s)?
I generally go to www.chessvibes.com for my international news, then TWIC to download my week’s games. The ECForum is sometimes interesting to go to but the views expressed often get me rather riled up!
If you had a golden tip to for someone trying to improve their chess play what would it be?
Play as much as you can and analyse your games afterwards and find out where you went wrong. However I think it’s much better to look over it by yourself or with friends/ a coach first and only once you’ve looked over the lines by yourself should you turn the computer on and see what it offers. Otherwise it’s very easy just to blindly follow it’s top suggestion without learning anything.
You are already well travelled through your chess exploits but do you find time to travel away for a holiday away from chess or necessity mean you try to combine the two when you can?
A lot of the time I don’t get much time to explore the places I’m playing in – just the hotel room and the tournament venue. However recently my fiancée Sue has made me see more of the places, especially when she accompanies me. I’ve been very busy recently and not had much time but we did manage to go on a nice little holiday in Wales last Autumn and went to Thailand elephant riding a couple years ago.
What are your ambitions in chess?
At the moment I’m just playing and studying as much as possible. My short term goal was to get my rating up to 2650 and break into the top 100 by next Summer. I’ve just achieved that on the January list with a rating of 2653. Getting a rating of 2700+ is still special but for now I just want to get more experience playing elite opponents and hopefully get an invite to one of the prestigious round robin tournaments.
Finally, do you have a game you are particularly proud of? What makes it so significant for you? Can you please send me a copy.
I was very proud of my game against Klaus Bischoff from the European Union Championships in Liverpool 2006. This tournament got me my first GM norm and was my first win against a GM who hadn’t simply overpressed. The fact that I managed to successfully employ the Greek gift also helped
Chess Enthusiast, Entrepreneur, Stock Market Tycoon, Search & Social Media fanatic, I would describe myself as really, really ridiculously good looking, beyond measurable genius and above all else a jolly modest chap!