David Adelberg Interview

Posted: January 23rd, 2009 by Daniel Rensch

Because so many of Arizona’s scholastic chess players are beginning to establish themselves on the National Stage, ACE Chess decided it was time to sit down with one of the young men leading the way: David Adelberg.

David Adelberg is a 12 year old chess prodigy from Scottsdale, Arizona. He is currently ranked 5th in the Nation for his age, and was recently recognized as an All-American Chess Team member at the 2008 Grade National Championships in Orlando. As his Coach, Nikolay Andrianov, would tell you, David is one of the hardest working kids in the chess world. With a natural aptitude for the game, and an un-teachable work ethic, David has established himself as the brightest star in the Arizona scholastic chess scene. A regular ACE Chess Trekker, and a reigning All-Star of the Master Trek Grand Prix Cup Series, David has raised the bar for a generation of young chess players here in Arizona.

Fresh off his return from Vung Tao, Vietnam, where he finished an extremely impressive 19th place over all (tied for 6th) in the Under 12 division at the World Youth Chess Championship, Danny Rensch caught up with him at the local Master Trek Grand Prix Cup tournament on December 6th. They talked about chess, school, life etc. Here is the interview with a few extra notes from your writer.

*NOTE: Questions are in bold, and David’s comments are in italics.

DR: Let’s start with some of the obvious questions. When, where and how did you learn to play chess?

DA: Cheyene Elementary. Chess Emporium had a program there I think. I was in Kindergarten (5 years old).

DR: Did you know right away that this was a game you loved?

DA: Yeah. I was immediately obsessed I think. It was funny though, because I won first place in my first two tournaments but then I didn’t place first in any tournament for the next two years. I was still obsessed though. Our local school program got a little boring when I started beating the teacher.

DR: So is that when Nikolay stepped in? How much have you enjoyed Nikolay as a Chess Coach?

Nikolay Andrianov

Nikolay Andrianov

DA: Well, first I started using Chess Master 5000 I think. But yeah, when I started working with Nikolay I went from 800 rated to 1700 USCF in a little over a year. Nikolay is great, and I definitely don’t think I would have gotten better that quickly without him.

DR: How long have you been working with Nikolay?

DA: About two and ½ years.

DR: So, a jump from 800 to 2000 in two and ½ years. Pretty impressive!

DR: OK, so let’s talk a little about your recent trip to Vung Tao (Vietnam). Outside of the chess, what was your favorite experience?

DA: Well it is hard to say. The chess is so demanding, we didn’t really get out that much…

DR: I know what you mean. Whenever I talk with family about the places I’ve gone, it always sounds better than it is. They don’t know that I spend the entire trip locked up in a hotel room studying, or in the playing hall. But there had to be something, right?

DA: Uuumm. Oh, yeah I liked the Presidential Palace. I guess it used to be the headquarters for the Southern Vietnamese Military. It was pretty cool.

DR: Traveling to this type of prestigious event, they usually send a Coaching Staff with you. Who was your favorite to work with, and did you enjoy the experience of learning from some of the leading Chess Coaches and Grand Masters in the U.S.?

Vung Tao

Vung Tao

DA: Well, there were a few GMs and Chess Coaches there. I know John Fedorwicz was there, Dmitry Gurevich, Aviv Fridman, but really I only worked with Armen Ambartsoumian. He was good a good Coach, though a little harsh at times.

DR: So a different teaching style from Nikolay then?

DA: Yeah, definitely.

DR: Now that you’ve returned, what is your tournament schedule?

DA: I don’t really know. My mom pretty much tells me where to go, and my Dad usually takes me.

DR: Well that sounds like a good system! You will be playing in the K-12 Grade Championship though right?

DA: Oh yeah, yeah there’s that one. (For the record, David finished 1st place in the Blitz Tournament, and tied for 2nd in the main event.)

DR: Well, as the year comes to a close, how do you feel about your progress?

DA: Well, I didn’t really gain that many rating points this year. In fact I almost lost. I know I am improving, but other things are really hard. I mean, my school is probably the hardest thing I have ever experienced.

DR: Is it that bad?

DA: I have hours of homework every night, so it is tough.

(For the record, David has now switched schools, thus enabling him to have more time for all of life’s activities. And yes, chess is one of those activities :)…)

DR: Well what about your goals for the future? Do you have the goal of becoming a Grand Master?

David Adelberg

David Adelberg

DA: That would be nice. But I just want to get better. I want to see how good I can get.

DR: So in terms of other activities, do you have any other interests?

DA: Well, I used to play Tennis but I don’t really have time anymore. I liked it, but school and chess are pretty much all I have time for. And that’s OK with me.

DR: Sounds good to me. For our readers, and especially other young players trying to improve, let’s talk a little about your study habits and what you do in your daily chess life. How do you study?

DA: Lessons with Nikolay. I use Chessbase a lot. I use Rybka to analyze some positions. I just got Rybka 3. Really I just go over my games, and I like to study openings.

DR: So what is your favorite part of the game to study?

DA: I like Openings.

DR: Who are your all time favorite Chess Players?

DA: Uumm. I don’t know. A lot of people think of those. I guess I would have to say Botvinnik. I also like Smyslov’s games.

DR: Those are pretty good choices. Those guys both played very positional games, but I think they saw tactics pretty well too, being World Champs and all…

DR: What else would you attribute to your rapid improvement?

DA: Well, I just played a lot. These tournaments (Master Treks) definitely helped because it is the only place in the state where I can play against 2000 plus players really. Although, it is a little harder now because I am one of the highest rated players, besides Joel. We need to get some higher rated players here!

DR: I will work on that!

DR: OK, what can you tell us about your family?

DA: Well, Steven plays here and he just won first place in the 700-999 Section recently, and now he is playing in the 1000-1299.

DR: What about the rest of your family? You have another younger brother, Matthew right? Does he play yet?

DA: Yeah, he is learning. He doesn’t really get it yet but maybe soon. He is only 5.

DR: That’s how old you were though. Any chance chess runs in the family?

DA: Yeah. Maybe…

DR: All right buddy, thanks for doing this. Keep up the good work.

DA: Well, yeah thanks a lot.

Greg Shahade

Greg Shahade

Worthy of note, and one of the only topics we didn’t discuss, is David’s participation in the U.S. Chess School this January. In fact, the Adelberg family played host for the event, much like ACE Chess did back in 2006. David participated in a week long Training Session with reigning U.S. Champion: Grand Master Yuri Shulman. Knowing Yuri personally, I can say that his teaching skills and great sense of humor are rivaled by few in the “Chess World”.

Dan Adelberg, David’s father, told me the event was a great success. I had the chance to stop by on Sunday morning and visit with U.S. Chess School founder, Gregory Shahade, who told me that America’s chess future is a bright one! More information about the U.S. Chess School, as well as information about what it would take to earn an invite, can be found by visiting www.USChessSchool.com.

When it comes to the future of American Chess, not enough can be said about the importance of talented, hardworking, and friendly young chess players. David fits the description for all three. We hope you have enjoyed this article.

Danny Rensch
American Chess Events, LLC.