Monday, 27 March 2006

Chess reviews: 11

Devious Chess
How To Bend The Rules And Win

By FM Amatzia Avni
Batsford Chess

FIDE Master Amatzia Avni is a psychologist whose previous books centre on the psychological aspect of chess.

He starts off the introduction thus:

‘We live in an age where many people are bored with their lives and are looking for change. Some desire to live in another country; others yearn to change their workplace; there are those who would gladly adopt another family or be adopted by one. A poem by the Israeli Yona Wallach expresses the hope that there might exist another kind of sex…
In short, people are averse to routine and search feverishly elsewhere, towards anything or anyone who will inject some excitement into their world.
I wonder: Is there a ‘different’ kind of chess?’

Avni goes on to advocate an unconventional - or devious - approach to chess, based on criteria such as ‘sailing in uncharted waters’, ‘lacking familiar anchors and stratagems‘, ‘materially unbalanced’ et al.

The first eight chapters concentrate on the methods of devious chess, such as ‘Coffeehouse Chess’, ‘Peculiar Moves’ and ‘Twists and Turns’. Then comes an interesting chapter on ‘Confronting Devious Chess’. Perhaps your opponent has read this book and is trying to be just as devious; what can you do? Avni recommends four methods to keep the tricksters at bay: ‘Preventing’, ‘Ignoring’, ‘Simplification’ and ‘Refutation’. However, it is never easy, over the board, knowing which method to apply against a tricky opponent.

The book is rounded off with a selection of complete illustrative games and some further tips on how to become a devious player.

The author has gathered some excellent material to demonstrate his ideas. Lots of the examples really do catch the eye.

From Chapter Four: Not So Elementary, My Dear Watson’

Bogoljubow was not just an overweight clown who lost a couple of world championship matches to Alekhine to help the latter avoid a rematch with Capablanca, but a very fine and distinguished player who knew a thing or two about devious chess.

Bogoljubow - Rellstab 1940
Black needs another move to castle his King into safety. Bogoljubow ensures it will never happen with the remarkable 15 Bg6!! 15 …Nxc4 16 Rxe6+; 15 …Ke7 16 Nxd6 Qxd6 17 Qxd6+ Kxd6 18 Bxf7 Bd5 19 Rad1 ‘and Black is torn apart’. Rellstab tried 15 …hxg6 but didn’t last much longer…16 Nxd6+ Ke7 17 Nxb7 Qc7 18 Qd5 Rh5 19 Qe4 Nc6 20 g4 1-0

In is often easy to get excited towards the end of a game in which one feels everything is going well, as shown in chapter seven: ‘The Trap vs The Blunder Dilemma’

Adorjan v Hubner
Game 9 Candidates’ QF 1980

Adorjan looked set to equalise the score with one game remaining. 62 …Rxh3 is simple and good but Adorjan must have thought that Hubner had blundered into this position, allowing a fatal Rook exchange. However, after 62 …Rc5?? He was shocked to find he had fallen for a stalemate trap after 63 Kxh4 when he has nothing better than to conclude the game with 63 …Rxg5 stalemate.

The next position is very tricky, despite the paucity of material.

Dvoris v Svidler
Russian Championship 1997

How can Black win? With a bit of devious play, of course. He needs a zugzwang and he can only do this by stalemating the King, thus forcing something lese to move. The trick is to advance on the King with Queen, but making sure they are always a Knight’s move away. 61 Kb7 Qd6! 62 Kc8 Qe7! 0-1 White sees what is happening and gives up. The winning technique is shown in the line: 63 Kb8 Qd7 64 Ka8 Qc7 65 Bd5 Qd6 66 Bf7 Qb6 and something finally drops off.

As ever with this sort of book, the question remains as to whether or not it really will make you think and play differently. I suppose it depends on your capacity to learn and if you can adopt the demonstrated ideas for use in your own games, which will certainly require the loosening of a few of your chess inhibitions. If you play through the examples in this book you will at least get a reasonable idea of the sort of things that are possible. The book could always be used to provide relatively light-hearted chess entertainment.

For details of this and all other Batsford chess books, please visit:

Happy reading!
March 2006

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