As promised I am writing about the opening. I would like to point you to the four volume set called Chess Opening Essentials from New in Chess. 2nd Edition (English) written by Stefan Djuric, Dimitri Komarov, and Claudio Pantaleoni.
They say this is aimed at the club player and it is true that this is not a set of books for the expert or candidate master. Although, you can be sure they know what is in these volumes, at least as far as what they play regularly.
First a bit of honesty, I have the entire (original) Italian version. I came to the English version when I heard that New in Chess had updated it. After buying Volume I: the complete 1.e4 I can say this is true insofar as the binding is excellent, the paper white, the diagrams first class and the layout optimal. However, there is not much new material.
This is not the point of the book(s). They are written for the 1850 to U2050 player who is interested in getting an excellent overview of certain openings. The orginal Italian version is in 3 volumes and the NEW New in Chess is in four. The layout is superior in the English version and the paper of higher quality as are the diagrams. But content wise they is little if any difference.
The books will give you an excellent overview of each and every opening. They point out the main ideas of why the moves are played and do an excellent job of explaining the history of the opening. Case in point, the Dragon variation of the Sicilain, which I will come back too at the end of this review. At the end of each chapter they give several games of outstanding masters and world champions who have played these variations. So you get a real feel or taste of what opening was played what player in the past and now in the present.
The underlying title is: Understanding the basics. As I said this four volume set should give you a good overview of the basics and could be recommended to the passionate U1850. Certaintly this is a better choice than that €20 to €30 book on your favourite opening that promises you to be your killer app or secret weapon that will anihilate your nemsis at the club or the park blitz table.
Before you buy any of those 'promises' check this series out, go over the games in the chapters of the openings you like, and try some of your new found knowledge here on the server. You will not be disappointed.
Now I come to step II of this tirade of chess advise. If you will accept the premise that the point of the opening is not to maximise your position, but to get a position that you play better than or at least equal to your opponent than my next recommendation is GM Soltis' Pawn Structure Chess.
This is really a book for the over U1850 or in and around 2050+. It does an excellent job of explaining the ideas around the pawn structures that arise. Again, this is a book that you should buy before you buy the other Rubbage. You should know that the 2nd edition, Batsford vs. the McKay 1st edition, is actually an update. Soltis has really put in new material new games and changed the content structure. Soltis also caveats his work by saying that he has not covered the double pawns that arise from the Winawer French Bb4:c3; Rossolimo Sicilian Bb5:c6; and the Exchange Ruy Lopez formation. Hopefully, he is already writing another book on just these structures. As a substitute may I offer Ivan Sokolov's Middlegame Structures book. However, this is a book for the Fide Master Crowd and above. The analysis is indepth and the structures are complicated. Better start with Euwe or Grooten if you are looking for something for the U2050 player.
I will finish this on 30jun2013,... right now it is time to take a break. As Always comments are welcome. Keep it clean and to the point.
As Soltis quotes on the last page of the 1st edition of Pawn Structure: "Enough, there are still problems to be solved; the whole truth in chess is not by any means known yet - fortunately."
Thank you and,... stay tuned.
05nov2013: Thought I would take a shot at reviewing two strategy books on the market. And one Opening 'Manual' + games. Kind of busy, this week, but will get it online in the next 10 days.
Thank you for the views,...
22nov2013: This is getting to be a blog. I would like to turn your attention to a book I found by accident, "Soviet Middlegame Technique," by Peter Romanovsky. What turned me on to this book was the story behind it,...
Russian Champion survives the siege of Leningrad but his manuscript is lost or burned in the carnage of the burned and destroyed city. Family starves to death and Romanovsky is the sole survivor. Got to love it and hopefully after my review you will buy it.
Quality Chess puts this out and so you know the binding is solid, the paper good, (although a bit shiney in Halogen lighting), the diagrams plentiful, and the substance pure.
I am not sure if this is a great book, but Nimzowitsch himself in The Praxis of My System recommends it, (Wenn der Anfänger nicht zum Typ des Kombinieres gehört, dann sollte er zuallerest das Kombinieren lernen. Allen diesen Angängern empfehle ich das Studium des Buchs, "Das Mittelspiel"von P. Romanowski (zitat: How I became a GM, page 351, Die Praxis meines Systems, ED Rattmann). So along with the story, the Quality Chess Marketing gag / War Story, & Hr. Nimzowitsch's recommendation I bought the book.
Audience: This is Expert / Candidate Master level. If your Combat Vision is weak then you need to see Averbakh: Tactics for Advanced players and or Pongo's 2 volume series on the combinatons and Mate# attacks.
Back to the subject at hand. Romanovsky's book is a class piece of instructional chess textbook. (I know, that is a poor sentence, but the Barbosa is starting to go to my head)
Let's get concrete: Chapter 3 - Play on the a-file. Evtifeev vs. Daniuszewski, St. Petersburg 1909. Not exactly household names, but the analysis of their errors reminds you of Nimzowitsch's analysis in Mein System, Berndtsson vs. Bjurulf, 1920, (again Rattmann, page 244); after Romanovsky leads you through the 'comedy of errors' that these two masters make, you really understand the ideas and after finishing the analysis, I was immediately reminded of Bronstein vs. Botvinnik, 1951 m22, where Sveshnikov comments in the notes to move 24.Ra1 "The only real possibility of maintaining the initiative is to exploit the a-file."..., further on, 28. Nd3! "Now Black's position collapses: he has no serious counterplay and the invasion on the a-file is unavoidable."
The entire book is filled with such Ah ha experiences. Romanovsky talks about tacking, Patzer Pawn Moves (Remember: You heard it here first); Central Control, 2 Bishops (the over the top BS); Major Piece Battles; the importance of the initiative (are you listening Rowson & Watson); and and and,..
Then you get a whole combination book (i.e. Part II) which I have not even been able to thoroughly cover, but as Nimzowitsch recommends above, you could do worse.
NOTE: Another really fine work is Tarrasch's Das Schachspiel (Available in English via Kindle), Concentrate and KNOW Diagrams #99-to-330, and you be well on your way to destroying all your club puppies at your local chess café.)
Caveat: Romanovsky work, demands work. Set up a board, move the pieces, write down your annotations, and then check them in the computer. Surprisingly, or not perhaps, most of Peter's analysis stands up to the TEST of Time. Unlike, some other middlegame theorists who have never won the championship of Russia.
There are probably flaws in this book, but if you are stuck at the Expert level and cannot make a dent toward that elusive FM title, then take a look, set up the pieces, write your analysis down, and learn what Every Russian School Boy KNOWzzz.
That's All Folks
My Second Book is from the Great Paul Keres, but the RED RED Wine is UB40ing me right now so better to sign off and see if I can lose some more Blitz games.
As Always, comments welcome. Be Fair, Be Objective, and if you are a Troll at least have the good sense to get a hair cut and take a shower. A manicure is also a nice idea too.
New In Chess app for the iPAD
NIC Magazine has finally made the jump into hyper space with its NIC app for the iPAD.
Normally, this blog is not for apps, but this one deserves your attention. The app downloads the current issue 2013/8 directly onto your iPAD or iPhone (Android users will have to wait a bit - now that is a change when OSx supplements the world of MicroSoft & Google).
Using an iPad Air (with Retina display) you get a wonderfully clear and easy to use magazine at your fingertips.
Additionally, you get the possiblility to click on a game annotation, (I am currently looking at Giri's Analysis of the 9th game between Anand and Carlsen), and play through the annotations and the game on an analysis board. If you are traveling and do not have a board available, this is optimal and the board is big enough so that you do not go blind trying to see it.
In the English Speaking World this is surely the Rolls Royce of Chess Magazines. So I was truly excited thinking that I could finally afford a yearly subscription.
I was soooo wrong. The yearly subscription is no different from the paid hard copy subscription. Bad Long Term Move. Cannot blame them,... Chess players are not known for their business acumen. One would expect at least a 40% reduction from the hard copy price. Afterall, you do not own the Virtual copy on your iPAD. Something to keep in mind with all the things you download today to include books, music, or other. You have a NO-Rights lease and so, paying the full cost for a virtual copy with no ownership rights is not a good way to spend your money.
A way to maybe give back something for the full subscription price might be to offer the right to see all back issues of NIC. That would at least incentivise the buyer. The current idea of paying the full price and ONLY getting the iPAD version is not very bright.
All said, down load the FREE issue. It's worth it. Clear and easy to use. (One hitch there is that if you want to move back and forth between the screens the page sometimes sticks, but this is a short term bug for sure.)
In general worth a look. Nicely done with the analysis diagrams and games, but like all Marketing Strategy Price is a factor. In this case too big for too little.