David Gaston first learned the rules of chess at age 5, but then he put the pieces away and didn’t touch them again for nearly a decade. It was around age 14 that he began to play chess seriously, jumping from a rating of about 850 to 1550 in under a year—in just four tournaments! Completely self-taught, he rose quickly to Expert level, and continues to improve to this day. His unorthodox attacking style is emblematic of the modern approach, fueled by preparation and hard work behind the scenes. Coming off wins in the 2016 Southwest Class Championships and the 2017 Winter Open. David is one of the few chess players who has won more prize money than he’s paid in entry fees over the course of his chess career. Though he still enjoys competing, he’s found time to teach, and is excited to share his secrets with any and all NTCA students.
Q: Who is your favorite chess player?
A: There are so many! But I’ll take Mikhail Botvinnik, because his devotion to finding truth in chess rings true with me, and who doesn’t love the Dutch Defense?
Q: What is your favorite chess opening?
A: Probably whichever one I most recently found an awesome opening novelty in. But I’ll always have a soft spot for the King’s Gambit.
Q: What is your most memorable chess moment?
A: In 2008, when I won the under-1600 section of the local summer open, as a player rated less than 1000—and with a perfect score. I gained 450 points from playing 4 games, every game was an upset of around 500 points or more!
Q: What is the best lesson you have learned through chess?
A: The value of hard work. I can’t tell you how many games I’ve made easy on myself by doing my homework (so to speak) beforehand, and coming to the chess board armed with a fully complete opening repertoire.