Monday, October 13, 2008

Conrad Holt

I got a chance to ask Conrad a few questions, at the Midwest Class Championships but before we get to that a few facts:

Age : 15
Rating : 2262
Home town : Wichita, Kansas
Number of tournaments to get from 1600-2000 : six in 10 months
Number of tournaments to get from 2000-2200 : nine in 8 months

Click here for Conrad's USCF history

You seem to have made the difficult transition from expert to master fairly easily, what helped you most to achieve this?

Conrad: Playing on ICC (mostly 3, 5 and 15 min. games) & studying opening books.

Do you have a coach?

Conrad: No

What's your record against GMs?

Conrad: I played GM for the fist time in round 1 and drew him. (Dmitry Gurevich)
(Conrad finished with 2.5/5.0 with losses to
Yury Shulman & Benjamin Finegold)

Click here to see Fingold's analysis of his win over Holt

When do you think you will become a GM?

Conrad: In 2 years.

When is your next tournament?

Conrad: Not sure, but I will participate in the next US Chess School


  1. To become a GM in two years? I find that very optimistic. Yes, even with the talent he has.

  2. Optimism is the way to go! Ivan, could you kindly email me some pictures from the tournament including the one of the young midwest prodigy? Thanks,


  3. 15 tourneys in 18 month.
    That's 5 tourneys in 6 month/half-year time.

    Ivan, maybe you should study more and play less...


  4. In order to get better by playing Blitz on ICC one would have to be able to correct mistakes and not repeat them.

    Obviously Conrad can do that, most others can't

    Chess Guy

  5. Some interesting points here...

    - You don't need a coach to become a master player;
    - You don't need to play a lot of tournaments to get better at chess (an average of 2.5 tourneys for a 100 rating points gain);
    - playing blitz online is not soo bad at all;
    - the study of opening books in particular is very effective to get better in chess (including the study of typical positions arising after the openings I guess...);
    - and obviously there are a lot of good opening books around....


  6. Conrad's brain may be "wired" for chess.

    For the rest of us doing what he does will not work :(

  7. To Chess Guy:

    Many juniors get better just by playing blitz online. It's not hard to do...

  8. The point I am trying to make is that hundreds of thousands of people play blitz on ICC, but very few can actually use this to get better.

    Can you explain this?


  9. I went to a chess class where IM Finegold analyzed his victory over Holt. It was an amazing game, well-played by both sides, with various pieces en prise, including a poisoned queen. No doubt the kid has enormous talent. I don't know about GM in 2 years, but I wouldn't say IM is out of the question. The game is posted on Finegold's blog:

    Took him 4 but thats outstanding!!

  11. Hey, it took him 3.5 years, so he failed at his goal! bwahhaha.

    This is an amazingly remarkable climb.

    "with various pieces en prise"

    I think that players who are going somewhere fast are going to be risk-takers right out of the opening and not afraid to offer sham-sacs (lots of things en-prise) or real sacs to improve their chances. Without pushing the envelope, in some area of understanding the game, I think that one hits a ceiling somewhere.

  12. I think it's more likely that he used blitz to quickly implement opening knowledge (or tactics) which he had learned from books rather than the other way around.

    I don't think chess is about mistakes, so much as it is about understanding. By the time you recognize a mistake it is probably too late. Understanding avoids getting into that situation in the first place.

  13. Love how he busts all the traditional thinking and sites his improvement occurring with online blitz and opening books. Funny. Number 1 indicator of his impending succes was his obvious talent and absolute certainty he would achieve GM.