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Monday, September 26, 2011

Nice chess interview with Chess Hall of Fame inductee GM Andrew Soltis

Chess blog for latest chess news and chess trivia (c) Alexandra Kosteniuk, 2011

Hello everyone,

Here is a nice chess interview with GM Andrew (Andy) Soltis Interview by Jim Eade (U.S. Chess Trust president). GM Soltis was the new inductee - along with GM Boris Gulko - at the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame that (re)opened in Saint Louis recently. 

"I don’t know when I was hooked, or why for that matter. Maybe it was for the reason Botvinnik gave: Some people like to think and chess is the best way to satisfy the urge." - GM Andy Soltis

Jim Eade: You were born in Hazelton, PA. in 1947. How did you learn to play chess?
GM Andrew (Andy) Soltis: I learned the moves from a book. I’ve forgotten the name but I had taken it out of the children’s section of the public library in the Astoria, Queens section of New York, where my family was living. I didn’t know anyone who played, much less anyone who could teach me, so for about four years chess remained one of many games I knew how to play but didn’t take seriously.

JE: How old were you, and who were your biggest influences?
AS: I must have been about 10 when I learned. Today that would put me about four years behind the curve for aspiring players. I never had a chess lesson, a teacher, coach or trainer. I remember when I read a Paul Keres column in Chess Life, in 1972, in which he said the way to become a strong player is to work with a strong instructor. He added that this must have been the way young masters of the day got strong. He named Karpov, Tukmakov, Huebner and several others _ including Soltis. I just smiled.

JE: When you first started, where could you play?
AS: I finally got to play around 1961 when there was a meeting, at the same Astoria library, of amateurs who wanted to start a chess club. They eventually rented quarters at a local church but the club only lasted a year or so. I also discovered that chess moves could be recorded and they appeared regularly in the New York Times, thanks to Hermann (cq) Helms. But I didn’t know what to make of, say, the opening moves of the Botvinnik-Tal world championship rematch. After all, why would anyone play 1 c4 to start a game? And what would possess his opponent to reply 1…g6 ?

JE: What was the organized chess scene like back when you first got involved?
AS: There wasn’t much of anything that could be called “organized.” The biggest events, by far, were the annual U.S. Championship, usually held around Christmastime at a midtown hotel, and the final Met League match, which was almost always a showdown between the Marshall and Manhattan clubs. I was a wallboard boy for a few games of one U.S. Championship and played regularly in the Met League, starting in the B division. My first big thrill was announcing a mate in eight moves, beginning with a rook sacrifice, against Bill Fredericks on first board in a Jamaica Chess Club-Marshall B team match. A few weeks later when Fischer spoke at the Marshall club, Carrie Marshall introduced me to Bobby and mentioned that game. “Eight moves?” he said. How could I give up chess after that?

Click Here to Read the Entire Interview >>

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