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I bought this book 1 year ago, but I have not read it yet. What can you say about the book compare to other popular chess strategy books? Did the book help you improve your game?
Great book when read in parallel with Nimzowitsch's My System. It is in fact a reassessment of Nimzowitsch's chess philosophy.
Some body please mail me @: E.email@example.com. On d best openings 4 black. It's urgent
The followup - Chess Strategy in Action - is even better.
Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy is an excellent book. BUT here is an important sentence from the first page of the introduction:
"The first point to make is that this is not an instructional book." (Watson's italics)
Watson is an excellent writer and the text and examples are clearer than in many instructional books. I think Watson is a better teacher -- without trying -- than some teachers giving it their all. But ultimately Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy is not a teaching book and it is a terrible choice for a first strategy book since the entire point of the book, made over and over and over again, is that classical principles of positional play are inadequate for high level competitive chess. A foundation in positional chess is a prerequisite. So, if you don't already have a firm grasp of positional chess 'rules' why read a critique of them? As a book about breaking the rules -- the ideal reader of this book IMO is a national master who plays a conservative game and needs to have his preconceptions shaken up a bit if he's to push on to greater heights... (in short, we should take up a collection and buy it for NM Ozzie Cobblepot )
I swear the whole book is a thorough, well-written, intelligently-supported-by-examples, exposition of this idea... "strong variations win chess games, and strong players know when to calculate strong variations accurately and creatively without reliance on (or hindrance from) the mental short-cut/blinders of so-called sound principle."
I'm sure he's right -- I'm also sure that for me, my rating has a lot of improvement left by playing better more correct more principled and accurate and deep (and better understood) positional chess than from finding the occassional correct anti-positional/dynamic move. (Although I do hi-five the cat when I find one!)
Mihai Suba's Dynamic Chess Strategy is much in the same vein as Watson by the way... although Suba's argument is for a fuller appreciation of active pieces and for "dynamic" assessment of positions rather than "static."
It's definitely not a book for those starting out. And the only real weakness of it is that sometimes Watson has a tendency to become a bit entangled in his own syntax.
But it's one of the best chess books I've ever read. A classic, and a joy from cover to cover (both of them actually!).
Between "Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy", or "Chess Strategy in Action", which one should I get (I can only get one, at least for now).
Start with Secrets.
I got "Secrets..." for Christmas, and honestly I'm pretty disappointed. As JG27Pyth pointed out, Watson explicitly says it's NOT an instructional book. It seems like his basic point is that there are no useful rules in chess anymore -- it's all about concrete analysis. Then he proves his point by giving a whole bunch of examples of modern games that blatantly violate Nimzowitch's rules. I agree with him that concrete analysis always trumps general rules, but I think it's still helpful for amateurs to have general rules in mind. (And in reality, you need to know a lot of rules in order to successfully assess concrete continuations.) For that reason I've found Silman's books about imbalances MUCH more helpful. Rather than just saying "rules are useless", Silman's point is that rules are helpful for understanding a position, and that rules + concrete analysis is the way to find the best continuation.
Just my two cents.
Having listened to a ton of people on here with 3-digit ratings blather on about general principles no end, I found Watson's outlook to be a quite refreshing change of pace.
The problem with just playing with the good old general principles as your guidelines is that you won't know whats happening when somebody blows up their own pawn structure to gain the initiative or sticks both knights on the side of the board to prevent critical pawn breaks/control important squares etc, etc. Modern chess at the highest levels is what they refer to as 'concrete' i.e. thats why you see middlegame positions explained by means of variations rather than words, which is why its tougher and tougher for us mere mortals to understand whats going on in a lot of games.
Watson's book basically explains this phenomenon, whether we can incorporate these ideas in our own games is another matter.
Or at least he outlines it (not sure there's really any way that it can be explained).
Slightly horrified by this... you have the book, you have not read it, you post asking other people's opinion? Read it, take from it what you will, judge for yourself. No-one else's opinion matters.
Including yours. (heehee!)
Of course :) My opinion on whether the book is useful to me matters but if I think the book is the best ever and essential reading, what use is that to the OP if he gets nothing out of it?
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