Dapo Adu, an international chess player, currently based in Maryland, USA, has represented his country of origin, Nigeria, in several chess competitions including the Olympics.
During his 15-year journey as a professional chess player, Dapo Adu has traveled several countries all over the world to compete in various championships. In 1994, Dapo participated in his first Chess Olympiad in Moscow, Russia. He then went on to participate in several other championships, including the African Team Chess Championship, World Chess Championship, All African Games, and the African Individual Chess Championship. In addition, Dapo has played several tournaments across the United States, winning Maryland Chess Champion several times.
Exclusive Interview with Dapo Adu
Q: (Bode Ojo) Congratulations on your achievement thus far. You’ve managed to play this game of chess very well, and you’ve represented your country of origin well.
Thanks very much.
Q: How did you start playing this game, and did you know then that you were going to be very good at it?
I was taught the game of chess by my older brother, Olubunmi Adu, in the late 80s, and after that we had several battles for a while before I was able to catch up with him. After being able to defeat him, I took on the strongest players in my area then and slowly from being the lowest rated player, I became the top rated player in my area, Jakande Estate Abesan in Lagos State, Nigeria
Q: Well, you’re clearly a very brilliant and intellectual individual. How many moves ahead do you calculate on the chess board?
Chess Players get that question a lot, but actually the extent of how many moves you make depends on the position in front of you. Some positions require just to be able to see about one to two moves, while some positions you need to be able to see about ten moves ahead with a couple of side variations, which might equally be as long as ten moves or less, sometimes more.
Q: Do you see chess as a game of combat or a game of art?
I see it as both. When I sit across anyone over a game of chess, I want to win the game. It’s a fight, it’s combat, it’s a clash of wits, it’s either I get your king or you get mine. There is only going to be one king standing at the end of the game; that’s my goal. But sometimes games end in a draw. The art part is the ability to create a combination (forced sequence of moves) which might entail sacrificing some chess pieces like your knight, rook, or even queen for the ultimate goal of checkmating the king. It is like an artist with his brush on a canvass.
Q: Do you then prepare at all for all these games? You seem to just have the instincts and skills within.
Oh yes, I prepare for the games. Like the great Emmanuel Lasker (second World Champion) said, skills can take you that far, you cannot rely basically on the skills; you have to strive to learn other parts of the game, mostly the theory aspect.
Q: How many hours do you spend preparing for this game in your youth days, compared to now?
Very good question. I used to study for about 6 hours a day back home in Nigeria. I love to study and then go to tournaments to show what I study. At some point in Nigerian chess, I was known as a theoretician. I could tell you by looking at a position who played a game, his/her opponent, year game played and where….but now, I HARDLY study for one good hour at a stretch. I do more teaching than playing nowadays, but I still have a lot of hopes of being Nigeria’s first Grandmaster of Chess. Just a lot of work to put in, and of course getting a sponsorship is the most important.
Q: Which has been your best chess playing years and whom would you consider your strongest rival of your time?
My best chess-playing year would be 1996. I won almost all the tournaments in Nigeria that year, although I became Nigerian National Champion in 1995. Odion Aikhoje was my strongest rival. He was the testing ground for most of my studying then. Anytime I study some games or position, I get to use it against him. This pretty much helped us both. He always relied on his talent, which did help him out a lot then. But I always told him his talent is no match for a well-prepared theoretician. He is currently based in London now. For a while we both were the two top rated players in Nigeria for a long time.
Q: What are your plans to participate in these two professional chess organizations FIDE and PCA?
Well I play in FIDE events all the time. PCA was formed when Garry Kasparov and Nigel Short broke away from FIDE in 1993 to play their World Championship Match. PCA means Professional Chess Association.
Q: Chess preparation via computers is rapidly growing. What are your thoughts towards chess playing varieties like Chess Genius and Fritz?
Chess playing computers are on the rise. Right now the best Chess players are no match for the computers. The strongest computer playing chess now is Deep Rybka 3.
Q: Most of the thirteen world champions originated from Russia. What is their social status there?
They were well respected and looked up to. Even the Russian government had huge interest in who is who among the best in the country.
Q: Whom do you consider as the strongest player now, Kasparov or Karpov?
Q: What do you like to say about chess in India, also believed to be the birthplace of chess?
Chess in India is actually experiencing a huge boom. I think India has the highest number of junior players in the world, and I think this is largely due to the effect of the current World Champion GM Visiwananthan Anand. The second highest female player in the world now and ever is an India GM Koneru Humpy.
Q: What are your general comments and experience with regards to playing chess for a country like Nigeria?
I love to play for my country. It is always something I look forward to and enjoy, but it has not been fun most of the time; it has been very frustrating.
Q: Off the chess record, you share the same last name as the legendary singer/artiste (Sade Adu), and you both seem to have hailed from the same hometown. Are you related to her?
Sade is my first cousin. She is the daughter of my dad’s late brother Uncle Bisi Adu.
Interview by Bode Ojo for Golden ICONS Inc. Golden ICONS is a celebrity, lifestyle, inspirational and entertainment magazine tailored to embrace and highlight the outstanding deeds of ICONS and Citizens of Africa, America and Europe.