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im intrested in his analysis books on lesser known masters but im not sure what his level of strength is so i dont know if his analysis is reliable.
Well, frankly when I first saw that name I thought you'd made it up. But sure enough, there the guy was on google. My assumption is that if he was master strength it would've mentioned that somewhere in the items I looked at, but I didn't see anything along those lines. He seems to be more a historian anyway than a player in the trenches. So you might want to take any analyses he puts out with a grain of salt. On the other hand, nowadays people can readily crunch things with computers, so the actual variations he gives will probably tend to be pretty sound (I would assume).
Well, Urcan has a regular online column at ChessCafe. You can check his writing style and notes there. His books are just the same - focused on obscure players with fascinating lives. If you are looking for instructional notes, get a Kasparov game book collection. Historians like Urcan bring to life unknown games (often imperfect and played by lesser known individuals) and he is one of the few who offers some decent annotations. He did this in most of his chess history books. While he is primarily a chess historian, FIDE rating history indicates as a junior, when he was active, he reached Elo 2220 at his peak. There are not many chess historians able to play that sort of reasonably strong chess. You will not be disappointed buying his books but if you are interested in pure chess games, better buy yourself a game collection of some famed master. Obscure masters seldom played truly brilliant chess anyway.
I still think his name is an elaborate joke.
Btw, he doesn't write "analysis books". He authored chess biographies. Big difference. Here is a sample of Urcan's column/chess history writing/game analysis:
Reliable enough for ya?
Should be "Olympiu", IMHO.
he is FIDE rated at 2050 so not an idiot
was 2158 early on.
his name is romanian
Is Kasparov reliable?
But as a 2050 player, Olympics analysis wont help you as much as.. lets say a NM or FM.
depends on what you mean by analysis. as long as they know their limits they can do a lot. he writes historical stuff NOT theoretical surveys designed to refute or revive an opening line.
I concur completely with Kingster76. Urcan's not at all an obscure historian, but, in fact, rather respected among people I know. I'm not sure what anaysis book you mean, but analysis is tricky business, often effectively included in historical works, such as by Tim Harding for example, but usually, even then, it isn't normally used to understand theory or variations but to illustrate something.
I love batgirl's historical knowledge of chess, truly a treasure on chess.com
Julius Finn was a highly interesting character in chess around the turn of the 20th century in New York and a fine blindfold player too. I doubt you can go wrong with Urcan's book if you like history. I haven't read it, but I doubt the analysis is heavy judging for Urcan's other writing that I've read. So if your looking for lines in the Ruy Lopez, look elsewhere, but if you was a very good chess-specific read, then it might be worth your while.
Anyone remember the fictional character Ostap Bender?
Tal told an amusing story about Ostap Bender in reaction to Fischer's love of 1) e4. Tal said 1) e4 was the recommended first move of Ostap Bender, and then Tal either recounted (or the author provided the missing info) that Ostap Bender was a chess swindler in Russia who said he'd teach everyone how to be a master at chess, collected the money in advance and then left town. 1) e4 was Bender's recommended opening. I think that was the only chess knowledge anyone ever got from Bender lol
The author wrote the following about his game annotations in Julius Finn (page xi):
"The main purpose of these [author's] annotations is to provide the reader with a basic grasp of the critical moments of each gme. Extensive instructional annotations are beyond the scope of this work. The author made use of Rybka 2.2 in double-checking some of the variations appearing in the annotations."
Most of the games contain exact annotations backed by computer analysis in critical junctures. You won't find any blunders and the lines given are pretty entertaining. However, he doesn't go into great Dvoretsky-like detail. It would be counter-productive considering the objectives and nature of his works on chess history and considering Julius Finn's actual strength. He was no Tal. I have the book and I enjoyed it. Good story, nearly 100 unknown games, connections to Marshall, Pillsbury, Lasker, Capablanca, and lots of the other lesser known US players. In conclusion, yes, he is quite reliable in terms of annotations let alone his ability to produce well-documented biographies of little known masters. Armed with an engine, could you improve on the annotations given as in offering further lines of play, additional ideas? Yes, of course. But you can do that with any other chess game in history, even those that had been annotated again and again for the past 50 years. Basically, no book/chess game is imune to that treatment.
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