Alice O'Gorman interviewed her brother, FM Tom O'Gorman, for us for the latest biography of a top Irish chess player. Tom was of course one of the youngest ever Irish players to receive the FM title and came very close to his first IM norm last year. These biographies were common in the past and we hope to re-establish them to give people an insight into Ireland's top players as to how they train and improve and to hear about their favourite chess moments.
Could you tell me about how you learnt to play chess?
I got into chess by joining my school chess club which was run by Michael Crowe. I started playing schools tournaments and Leinster tournaments before getting involved in the events ran by Alex Baburin which I enjoyed a lot.
How would you describe your style of play ?
I try not to have a style of play, being universal is always the aim. I can be too materialistic at times. I tend to enjoy unbalanced positions, especially ones I can play intuitively as I am not an extremely precise calculator.
What sort of work do you do to improve your game?
A large part of my training is analyzing my own games, especially without a computer. Like all players I spend a lot of time on openings and try to have a wide repertoire, so maintaining that is time-consuming. I analyse the games of strong players to get ideas as well, you can learn a lot from the games of strong players. To top it off I do studies and puzzles to improve calculation. The occasional puzzle rush is also fun!
What are your best memories from chess tournaments?
Either my recent win against GM Simon Williams (2471) which can be found in this article, which was fantastic as it was my first win against a GM. My win vs IM Mads Hansen (2445) could also be my best memory as it was the game which won me my FM title.
What are your goals at the moment for chess?
My next goals are to get my rating back above 2300 and to start consistently playing around that strength, as currently I am very inconsistent and to gain IM norms.
What resources would you recommend for improving your game?
Resources I would recommend for improving are: Soltis's two books on what it takes to become a master and grandmaster, Aagard's books, Negi's books for 1.e4 players and Avrukh's for 1.d4, Shen's opening DVDs, Books by Dvoretsky - particularly his endgame manual and Studies for Practical players. For less advanced players (although it can and should be read at any level) My System is an important read. Think like a Grandmaster by Alexander Kotov is also very interesting but the advice is tremendously difficult to follow.
I also like New In Chess, I think it is an excellent magazine and the analysis is top quality. For fun, I would recommend books like the My Great Predecessors Series and tactics collections such as Improve your Chess Tactics by Neishtadt. Books like The Best Move are also fun and informative. Three tremendous books I'd also recommend are Tal-Botvinnik 1960, The Montreal Tournament of Stars 1979 and Zurich International Chess Tournament 1953, I've always liked tournament books.
What are your favourite things about the Irish chess scene?
There are some great things about Irish chess. The norm tournaments are really good, and I enjoy playing them hugely. The recent increase in the standard of certain tournaments is also great, notably the Gonzaga Chess Classic and the Irish Chess Championships.