Philemon Thomas is an Albany, NY native who has been playing competitive chess for 14 years. During this period, Philemon has endured ups and downs, but his evident passion for the game has always kept him coming back to the board. In March of 2020, all of his hard work culminated with Philemon earning the title of USCF Master! This places him in the 98.8 percentile of US Chess’ tournament players, and he also is the first African-American chess master who is based in the Albany area. To hear the study tips and advice that Philemon has picked along this journey, please tune in to the interview. More details and timestamps can be found below. For embedded hyperlinks, you can go to the podcast website here:
2:30- We begin by learning a bit more about how Philemon got hooked on chess and what he has done to improve over the years.
Mentioned: Townsend Park in Albany NY, Franklin-Mercantile Chess Club in Philadelphia, Washington Square Park in New York City, Union Square in NYC
7:50- What books helped Philemon along the way?
Mentioned: My System by Nimzowitch, The Art of Attack , IM Jeremy Silman, IM Mark Dvoretsky’s Endgame Manual , Darryl Perkins, Bobby Rotter, Aanarian Stevens, Smyslov Endgame Virtuoso, Dave Finneman
15:50- Patreon supporter of the podcast, Firas Siraf of the Apprenchess Twitch channel writes in to ask what lessons Philemon has learned from his chess learning experiences. Another listener asks about how he fights through plateaus.
Mentioned: The Life and Games of Mikhail Tal
23:30- How does Philemon divide his chess study time? What his approach to chess openings?
Mentioned: CT-Art, The Magic of Chess Tactics by GM Karsten Muller
30:30- We walk through Philemon’s rating graph and he discusses the obstacles he encountered at various rating levels. Here is his rating graph: http://www.uschess.org/datapage/ratings_graph.php?memid=13312957
36:00- We discuss Philemon’s different approaches to different time controls.
43:00- When did Philemon set the goal of earning the USCF Master title? What are his current goals?
45:00- Does Philemon think that chess is less popular amongst African-Americans than people of other backgrounds?
47:00- Philemon gives a few more chess recommendations based on his experiences.
Mentioned: Think Like a Grandmaster by Alexander Kotov, Chess Books Recaptured: Podcast talking Think Like a Grandmaster with NM Christopher Chabris
50:00- Thanks so much to Philemon for joining the show. You can contact him or track his progress via his Facebook account:
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