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I just ordered these 2 books from Amazon, what do you all think?
Simple Chess - Michael Stean
Zurich Internationl Chess Tournament, 1953
I did quite alot of research and as far as I can tell, these are 2 books that are widely considered to be some of the best of all time. I look forward to reading them. Have any of you read them?
both of them are great, you will learn a lot from it.
I have read many good things about the Stean book, but have not seen it myself.
The Zurich book by Bronstein is amazing; both entertaining and instructive, but may be overwhelming for some players. I have recently purchased the recently published (in English) Najdorf book on same tournament, and my early reading of the latter still leads my preference to the older Bronstein book, though some strong players (IM John Watson & John Donaldson) prefer the Najdorf edition.
I also recently learned that it was in this very same tournament that the Russian players cooperated with each other to try and keep Samuel Reshevsky from winning by making draws with themselves! There's a Wikipedia article on it
The following Candidates in Zurich 1953 was probably his best chance to qualify for a World Championship match, but he finished in joint second place with David Bronstein and Keres, two points behind Smyslov. Bronstein, in his last book, Secret Notes, published in 2007 just after his death the previous year, confirmed long-standing rumours by writing that the nine Soviet grandmasters (out of a field of 15 players) at Zurich were under orders from both their chess leadership and the KGB to not let Reshevsky win the tournament under any circumstances, with Smyslov being the preferred victor. When Reshevsky maintained his strong contention late into the two-month event, Bronstein claims that the Soviets prearranged several results in games amongst themselves to successfully prevent Reshevsky's overall victory, while also ensuring that Reshevsky faced the maximum test in his own games against the Soviet players
GM Boris Gulco - a former top Soviet chess player (now he lives in the U.S.) - wrote a book "The KGB plays Chess". GM Gulco was jailed for 7 years before he moved to the U.S. This seems to support Bronstein's claim.
Thankyou fyyOr for the link on Reshevsky.
To the TS, I suggest you read Stean book first..
Never really understood why Bronstein's book so highly regarded. The analysis seems a bit lazy to me for such a great player. A recent article by Marin in New in chess gives some explanation for this in terms of later editions of book tampered with by Soviet Authorities to give more praise of Botvinnik, and general praise of soviet method.
All the same think Nadjorf's book recently published in english for the first time is a lot better.
I actually have a pdf of Zurich 1953 that I kind of reviewed a little before I bought the book. It's a very well written book. Only thing I don't really like is the extended algebraic ie (Ng1-f3 instead of Nf3) but I'll get over that pretty quickly. I think the book has a great combination of relevant text and just enough variations not to drown the user out. Here's what Kasparov had to say about it
I read chess literature. But most modern books are short-lived. That's the difference between them and Bronstein's Zurich 1953!
After reading great reviews , i hated simple chess . Was a tiny book with basic stuff. just my opnion.
I have been going over Smyslov's gams from Zurich using both the Bronstein and Najdorf books. Combining both together gives a very rich analysis of each game with Najdorf giving more concrete varations than Bronstein, IMO. It is interesting also to see what aspects of each game both players highlight. So if you like the Bronstein book, I would definetly get the Najdorf book as well.
Yes, I agree with SLBM1959, and have both books. It's a fact though that the conclusions and even the "essence" of position as described by Bronstein are quite often wrong. Marin compares description of a Euwe v Kotov game in a New in chess article. Bronstein's incorrect basic conclusion that Euwe logically refuted an unsound attack/sac. Whilst Nadjorf finds many nice attack ideas that support idea that Kotov's play was sound. Bronstein just didn't dig deep anough in this game, which was strange because was an imaginative attacking player in own games.
I would not be surprised if there were efforts by the Soviet authorities to make Smyslov and his countrymen shine in Bronstein's book.
My early (and ongoing!) use of the Najdorf book parallel to the former still causes me to lean toward the Bronstein book, though there is plenty of value in the Najdorf book.
One must note that there are games in Bronstein's book that receive almost none (if any) notes, while Najdorf gives all games attention.
Here is a comparison between the two texts that highlight why Bronstein’s annotations fit my reading interest:
In round 6, Petrosian plays the King’s Indian Defense versus Najdorf. On move 12, black plays c7-c5, apparently to reinforce his knight on d4.
Bronstein writes: “A serious positional mistake…Black has an open file on the queenside and can force White to play b3…Black’s firther plan is connected with the advance of his a-pawn to attack b3. This attack could succeed if Black were able to keep his pawn once it reached a4. But how can he keep it? He has no light-square bishop, and all the Knight’s legal moves are taken away by Black’s next moves. It is also clear that the Knight cannot be maintained on d4, and that the light squares are under control of White’s KB. So it turns out neither of Black’s Knights has a good post…I recommend the reader examine the game in parallel with the Najdorf-Geller game in the 28th round. There black plays 12…Rb4! And after …Ne5, provoking White’s f4 and b3, he posts a Knight on c5, and, despite Najdorf’s ingenious counterplay on the Kingside, consistently carries out the attack on b3.”
Najdorf: "It was essential to leave the c5-square open for a knight. Geller in the aforementioned game played 12…Rb4."
Another example of Bronstein’s schematic style of annotating occurs in Gligoric-Smyslov, round12. After move 20, he writes “White’s counterchances lay in his pawn majority on the Queenside…But Smylsov holds the reins with an iron hand…His plan can be broken down into the following parts: 1) The immediate exchange of one Rook, leaving the other one for the possible fight against White’s Queenside pawns and to attack the e and c pawns. 2) The threat to create an outside passed pawn to deflect White’s Rook to the h-file so that his own Rookcan take over the d-file. 3) The advance of g4 to undermin White’s f-pawn the supporter of his e-pawn. 4) An attack on the e-pawn, tying down White’s pieces. 5) The dispatch of the King to win the opponent’s weak pawns.”
In the same game, after move 24, Najdorf writes: "A pawn ahead, Smyslov capitalizes on his advantages in exemplary fashion and finishes the game in impeccable style.”
(Disclaimer: I am "paraphrasing" Bronstein's notes from descriptive (in my book) to algebraic.)
Some interesting asides:
"Zurich" might seem to be outdated for intermediate players.
bump for answer
Also, I have since received both books. I've gone through all of Simple Chess and found it extremely instructive. I'll probably read it a few more times front to back, it's that good. It's not an opening/endgame book, it deals exclusively on middlegame concepts and is very good at delivering the message on them. It's a small book though, weighing in at only 160 pages. But I like it quite alot.
I can't wait for Zurich, I went through it only briefly and even though the long algebraic notation (Ng1-f3) is slightly annoying, I think I'm going to fall in love with it as well.
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