Book Review:: Capablanca A Primer of Checkmate

Book Review:: Capablanca A Primer of Checkmate

Capablanca: A Primer of Checkmate

By Friso Del Rosario (chess.com’s friscodelrosario)

Mongoose Press 2010

ISBN 978-1-9362377-02-5

176 pages $19.95

Capablanca is usually thought of as an endgame specialist and great strategic thinker, and his games are often studied in order to enrich skills in those areas. However, he was a great attacking player as well and this new book by Frisco del Rosario, one of the Bay Area’s top teachers and a professional writer, concentrates on that aspect of his play. 58 games are presented, showing the art of attack and specifically various types of checkmates employed by the 3rd  World Champion.  Not all of the games are by Capablanca, Frisco includes a few introductory games by other players, but the book is really a treasure trove of masterpieces by the world champion. A wide variety of openings are seen, with special attention paid to Capablanca’s favorite Queen's Gambit. The games are grouped according to themes, mostly different types of checkmate patterns.

As usual, Frisco's prose is eminently readable and he displays his talent as a writer. His comments are clear and easy to understand but also include artistic uses of metaphors and language. The book is a joy to read and you'll have a lot of fun while learning from Capablanca’s games. Even if you are quite familiar with the games of this champion, some of the games in the collection will be new to you as they were to me. The notes are mostly prose, not cluttered with long analytical variations. The point of this book is to teach, not to provide some sort of definitive analysis of Capablanca’s games. These days,  computers are better at giving long analytical lines and it is the task of the writer to explain the key concepts and show how they are used in each game and Frisco is excellent at doing both.

Just like his previous book on Morphy, I recommend this book to both students and teachers. It contains wonderful material that is certain to elevate the level of play of players at most amateur levels.

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