Paul Truong is one of the best speed chess players in the nation, and plays frequently on chess.net under the handle of truong. He also conducts free online lectures every other Tuesday.
CFK: When did you begin playing chess?
When I was 5. At age 5 1/2 I was the 4-time undefeated National Junior (under 21) Champion of South Vietnam for 1970-1974. I achieved the title of USCF Life Master at age 15.
CFK: You certainly took to the game quite early! What got you started?
My dad taught me the moves, but he did not play chess well.
CFK: Did you have a coach that you studied with, or did you learn from books?
Unfortunately, I never had a coach or books. I played solely by instinct and practiced a lot.
CFK: You've said a lot about how you play by instinct instead of pondering and concentrating on every move. Can this instinct be taught and developed or is it inborn?
Instinct comes with experience and training. An inborn talent can help at an early age, but there's no replacement for good training.
CFK: What do you consider to be the best way for kids interested in chess to improve their skills?
First, start with learning the endgame. Then work on planning in the middlegame and tactics. The opening should only be studied after you have a solid knowledge of the middlegame.
CFK: Endgame complexities seems a pretty hefty weight for a casual player to lift right when they start. Do you have any suggestions to make it simpler? And what specific parts of the endgame do you feel are important? Minor piece endgames? Pawn strategies? Mating patterns?
All of them are important and should be learned in order to play well. The Russians train this way with excellent results.
CFK: What books would you recommend?
My System, by Aron Nimzowitch.
CFK: What is your opinion on the place of speed chess in the development of a young player's skills?
It's great, but it doesn't take the place of normal training. But with the Internet and computer technology, it has the potential to help a youngster a great deal.
CFK: What type of ratio should be used to ensure a good balance?
75% training and slow games, 25% blitz.
CFK: Do you consider chess variants (like Bughouse chess) to be beneficial?
Not at all.
CFK: Do you have any other hobbies or activities that you enjoy?
I used to play semi-pro tennis and many other sports.
CFK: Has your proficiency in chess helped you in other areas of your life?
Definetely. My organizational and thinking skills have been helped a lot by playing chess.
CFK: Wonderful! Would you like to leave us with any "words of wisdom"?
Win with grace, lose with dignity, and, above all, have fun!