Today we have an interesting interview with a chess mentor a FIDE master from Russia Mr. Viktor Neustroev, he kindly accepted our invitations and gave us valuable information about his journey and how he became a chess master, you will get to know his story and learn from it on how to combine chess, high studies and family responsibilities.
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I am a 35 years old FIDE Master from Novosibirsk, Russia. I started playing chess early, but then had a break from it after completing my bachelor’s degree in economics, and I got back to it only after several years. I achieved FIDE Master level (2305) during the tournament in Montenegro in 2019. My daughter Alice is also a chess player, and I coached her when she became the champion of Siberia among girls under 9 years old in 2017.
What Attracted You To The Game Of Chess?
I was introduced to chess around the age of five. My cousin and I were taught to play by our grandfather. We quickly learned the rules and started showing interest. My cousin then went to a chess school, he was one year older than me, and I started going there at the age of 7. I was curious to see my cousin and grandpa play, and it seemed very interesting to me. When I took part, I mostly lost. I only started winning after the beginning of my studies at the chess school.
What did I like about chess? At first, I liked active games, like hide-and-seek, running around with my cousins, playing soccer, etc. I could play chess, but I preferred physical activities to it. I only started to show bigger interest in it when my grandpa sent me to a chess school at the age of 7.
Tell Us About Your Chess Journey?
At the age of seven, I was taken to chess school. In my school years, I played in the city and regional tournaments participated in the Siberian Championship. I made progress and won prizes.
Then there was a serious break: almost 15 years did not participate in official FIDE competitions. Studying at the university took a lot of time, but I played for the university team. Then the work began. Chess remained a hobby. Once I took part in a tournament in Tunisia. There I realized that I wanted to get back to playing. Then there was Moscow Open – the largest tournament in Europe. And in 2019, I became the champion of the city of Novosibirsk. In the same year, I went to Europe with my daughter to relax and play. I played well, increased my rating, and set a goal to become a FIDE master. After that, I played in Europe for the ranking. In November 2019, I was awarded the title of FIDE master.
My ambitions, for now, are getting the title of FIDE Trainer and International Master. I see these goals as achievable, probably I would need a year or so to make it happen. Now I’m developing my chess school and don’t have so much time for my own improvement as a player, my students are a priority for me at the moment.
What Project Do You Work On?
Right now I am coaching students all over the world in English and Russian. I am developing new online products, such as educational chess courses for those players that are not able to hire a coach. I organize free webinars weekly and regularly update my blog, Instagram, and YouTube channel with chess tips and tricks.
Who Is The Greatest Player Of All Time?
Garry Kasparov. There is no one like him, he was always far ahead of his competitors. For now, Magnus Carlsen is an outgoing player, but only if he stays the world champion for several more years, let’s say 6 years. Garry Kasparov held this title for a long time though, I’m impressed by him. I’m also so influenced by him because I was watching his games when growing up.
How To Teach Children The Chess Game?
My daughter Alice is now 12 years old, she started learning how to play early. At first, she watched me work with other students, then she began to show interest herself. She messes around with me and the learning process suffers from this.
It is not necessary to start teaching children chess before 5 years, but you need to take into account individual characteristics. The youngest student I have was only 4 years and 3 months when we started studying.
It’s great if parents or other relatives are interested in chess themselves. You can play in front of the child, showing genuine interest. Invite the child to participate, tell him about the figures. Ask your child to “chop” other people’s figures. Sessions should be short, no more than 10-15 minutes. The child needs to be carried away, but not to get bored. If everything is done correctly, he will look forward to the next “lesson”.
What are the most important rules when playing chess?
The most important rule is discipline. Follow the recommendations of your coach. Every time before making a move, choose between at least 3 candidate moves and try to predict your opponent’s next move. Every time he makes a move ask yourself “What’s the idea behind this move?” “What is his plan?” “Should I ignore and continue my plan or first disrupt his plan and then continue with my own?”
What Stops People From Improving?
It seems to me that a lot of players do not analyze their games after completing them and this is a vital part of development. Studying your games, analyzing them in order to improve in the future is extremely important. This is something you need to do on your own, and I have released a free guide on self-studying chess (https://tricksofchess.teachable.com/p/tricks-of-chess-5-tips-for-solving-puzzles) that can help you gain the needed skills without a coach.
What Openings Do You Recommend For Beginners?
I recommend playing open positions for beginners, maybe gambits. They should sacrifice the pieces in order to gain the initiative because it’s much easier to play for initiative for beginners. E4 white and c5 for black. Najdorf Variation, Dragon, Kan or Paulsen Sicilian lines. E4 is the first move and open position. It can be Evan’s Gambit, for example, maybe a Scotch game, because the position is quite open there. It would be easier to navigate in open positions for a beginner. The value of the mistake in such positions is high, so the player will be doing a lot of thinking and consequently progress because of that.
How To Reduce The Blundering Rate For Beginners?
Let me explain the procedure of doing this exercise. First of all, you define what your chess level is. If you are a complete beginner, I recommend putting just a few pieces into the box. If you are just an amateur with Elo about 1000, 4-5 pieces of each color is a good option to start this exercise.
Put chosen pieces inside the box and shake it, open it and drop the pieces onto the board. The next step is to put these pieces on the squares they dropped to (or just the squares nearby). Now when the position is set up your task is to analyze what each piece can capture starting with white pieces and then with black.
Can it capture for free? Or the enemy piece is protected by another one? This what you should also answer during this analysis.
Please, do this exercise regularly increasing the number of pieces you use and after a few weeks, you’ll realize that you stop (or almost stop) blundering your pieces in 1 move.
One more thing about blunders. A player should always have a dialogue with himself and ask questions. What would my opponent do if I played this move? What would I do if I were him? Answering these questions helps a lot.
How To Learn Chess Strategy?
The best way to learn the strategy is to analyze your games with a coach and discuss the plans that you could apply but didn’t. Ask your coach to explain why this or that plan works and how to come up with it. It comes with experience. The other thing you can do is watch a course or read a book devoted to understanding and planning in chess.
these books could help you a lot, Garry Kasparov Teaches Chess, Tim Harding – Better Chess for Average Players, Roman Pelts – The Comprehensive Program of Chess Training (vol. II), John Nunn – Understanding Chess Endgames and Aron Nimzowitsch – My System.
Final world for all chess players all around the world?
If you want to progress in chess, first of all, you should have the desire to do so. No one should force you to play chess and progress in it. If you enjoy playing and studying the games, then you would definitely be good at learning and improving your skills more and more. It’s just important to pick the right plan of studying for you in order to develop your skills. A coach could make such a plan or you could try to do that yourself: get it from books, get yourself a mentor with a rating higher than 2000. There are also educational video courses, but if talk about beginners, you should solve a lot of puzzles. At least 50 per week.