Hi, my name is Adam Dorrance. I am 22 years old and am currently in Year 3 of Mechanical Engineering at Dalhousie University. My dad taught me how to play when I was 4 years old, and I eventually started to play in local clubs and scholastic tournaments.
Throughout my scholastic years I was a 12-time Provincial grade champion, 8-time National grade champion (as well as three 2nd place finishes and one 3rd), and was named the Canadian Chess Challenge MVP 4 or 5 times.
In 2013, I represented Team Canada in the U16 division at the World Youth Chess Championships held in Al Ain, UAE. I again represented Canada at the 2016 U18 World Youth Chess Championships held in Halkidiki, Greece. In this tournament in Greece I played very well, finishing in the top 20 in my section. I was awarded the title of National Master in 2014.
The best player I have ever beaten came in an online game where I bested GM Mamedyarov, a top-5 player in the world. It was not a very long time control though! 🙂
Tell us about your journey into becoming a chess player. Was it a particular individual who inspired you or was chess something you found yourself?
My dad taught my brother and I how to play chess when we were quite young. Our parents would spend their time taking us to clubs and tournaments, and are the main reason we accomplished so much in our chess careers. Other people that have helped my chess tremendously over the years are Ian Ross, Gary Ng, and Tom O’Donnell.
What is your favorite part of chess? Creating solid pawn structures? Finding checkmates against the enemy king? Figuring out complex endgame tactics?
This answer is probably a little outside the box, but my favourite part of chess has always been getting to travel with my family and making new friends along the way.
Our family’s trips to Nationals were always the main highlight of every year. I’ll never forget all the train rides, flights, and long drives to tournaments, as well as having so much fun staying in the different hotels with my family along the way. I still remember getting yelled at for playing mini sticks with Lucas in the halls of the very fancy Fairmont Royal York Hotel in Toronto!
As an added bonus, because our parents made sure we were very prepared for the tournaments we played in, we were quite successful in them. Getting to cheer on my brother Lucas, and watch him win multiple National trophies, will always be one of my favourite chess memories. Throughout the years, I have also had the chance to make so many new friends from different provinces, and different countries. I am still in touch with many of them periodically. I think chess is a wonderful way to meet new people and experience different cultures.
Who is your favourite chess player, and why?
My favourite chess player is Vladimir Kramnik. I always enjoyed the fact that he was a tactical player playing the Catalan, which was something I tried to emulate. I also love reading about past greats such as Fischer and Reshevsky. I like seeing how playing styles have changed since then and am always in awe of how talented those players were in an era without computers, databases, and the internet!
What is your favourite part about the NSSCA tournaments and events? Is it the competition? Or is it perhaps seeing your friends and socializing at tournaments?
I always enjoyed seeing my friends at NSSCA tournaments. Since there are few over the board tournaments in Nova Scotia, I always looked forward to getting to see friends I hadn’t seen in months.
Do you have a favorite chess opening? If so, which one is your favorite and why?
My favourite chess opening is the Catalan. I have played it since I was little and have always been very successful with it. It is not very hard to learn, but can be a quite dangerous weapon against an unprepared opponent.
How far would you like to go in chess? Do you want to become a chess master or do you see yourself simply playing casually for fun?
I am not too concerned on achieving more chess titles, especially since I haven’t played chess seriously since I started university. However, when I get a bit older I would love to see if I could try to get an IM or even a GM title. But, it may be more of a dream than a reality :).
I also look forward to give back to chess in Nova Scotia, since it provided so much to me as a kid. I want to eventually (when I am not so busy with school) travel to Nationals as a coach and share my experiences with the team.
Improving at chess can be difficult! Are there any things you do at home or with others that has helped you improve your chess skills?
I improved the most by doing puzzles. I would recommend Jeff Coakley’s puzzle books, as those are the ones that I did growing up. I think there are many good websites providing free puzzles as well.
I would also say that playing games online is needed, alongside doing puzzles, to improve your chess. In order to see the board more clearly, get better at calculating, and get more comfortable playing different positions, playing many online games is essential. But make sure they are longer in length (atleast 15-min, or equivalent time controls) as blitz and bullet chess will not be as helpful (athough they are very fun :)).
How has playing the game of chess impacted other areas of your life?
Like I said before, I’ve made many great friends and learned about many different cultures through my travels in chess. I wouldn’t trade some of those experiences for anything.
Other than that, I think chess has really helped my memorization skills. Having to learn hundreds upon hundreds of positions in different openings really puts your brain to work 🙂 I think this has helped me in areas of my life where memorization is important, such as school.
Besides chess, what other sports or activities do you do?
I have always been a pretty active individual. I played hockey, soccer, and golf growing up, and was on a swim team. In high school I was on the junior provincial triathlon team and competed at national junior events.