Keeping the Initiative
Harmonizing the Army
Locating the Weak Point
Hanging the Tempo
Playing to Your Strengths
The oldest is Short v Timman (Tilburg 1991). This is the famous game in which GM Short’s King went on a remarkable march to directly participate in the startling denouement. White played: 31 Kh2!! 32 Kg3! 33 Kf4! and 34 Kg5! Black’s moves are largely irrelevant.
Nor is the idea of a outrageous looking King journey confined to the scenario of a Kingside attack Long ago, GM Keres used one to win an endgame…
This is a very nice selection of attacking games, with the emphasis on fun rather than deep analysis and totally correct play.
The author’s ethos is demonstrated consistently throughout the book; here’s a case in point:
In annotating Black’s 30...dxe4?!!, GM Williams has this to say:
‘Your computer will not suggest this move, as it isn’t fact sound. Nevertheless, the human imagination produces many ideas that will remain unfathomable to computers for a long time, and in my opinion there will always be scope for the creative input that only human players can add to the game. Even if this input is not ‘correct’ in the technical sense, I would always prefer to see entertaining chess’.
It all makes for an entertaining book, too.
Gambit’s book covers continue to impress. The Black King looks helpless and very afraid as a brutal-looking spiked hammer is about to smash into him.
The Art of Attacking Chess
By GM Zenon Franco
This time, the poor King looks to be in a lot of trouble as a UFO does its best to obliterate him with a death ray. It turns out to be quite fitting, as many Kings find themselves in serious trouble throughout the book.
The 256 pages are split into the following chapters:
The King in the Centre
Attacking the King (Same-Side Castling)
Exploiting Temporary Advantages
The Power of the f5-Knight
Manoeuvring with the Major Pieces
Solutions to Exercises
Here’s a couple of samples:
White to move
(From the chapter ‘Exploiting Temporary Advantages’)
White to move
(From the chapter ‘Miscellaneous Themes’)
As usual, I’m not going to give you the answers in this column but some hard work on these positions will be well rewarded.
Sparkling games and amazing combinations abound in this fine work. Playing through the astonishing illustrative encounters could well inspire you, dear reader, to look a little deeper in your own tactical battles.
The exercises reach an advanced level and provide excellent study material for keen students. They would work best with a friend or trainer revealing the answers move by move.
The Easiest Sicilian
By GM Atanas Kolev & GM Trajko Nedev
Over the last few years, ‘Chess Stars’ have established themselves as a publisher of highly regarded chess books and I am delighted to welcome them to Marsh Towers.
What is the ‘Easiest Sicilian’? The attractive cover makes things clear, with the proud e-pawn spinning on its head on the e5 square, dazzling friend and foe alike and leaving Knights with their mouths open in surprise at its audacity. The pride of the foot soldier is augmented by the disco mirror-ball effect. No Najdorfs today; Black not only decides not to defend b5, he also has the temerity to virtually force a Knight to that very square.
In the introduction, GM Atanas Kolev explains how the book came to be named. At first, this new work on the Sveshnikov Variation was set be called ‘The Most Controversial Sicilian’ but then ‘I realised how easy it was to include it in one’s repertoire!’
‘We are already in the Middlegame, but independent play is still far ahead. Furthermore, Black’s plan is obvious. He wants to push f5 right away or after …g6 in case White plays 17 Ne3. Strategically, the Sveshnikov is a rather simple opening. You read part 3 and 4, leaf through the Quick Repertoire chapters of the other parts of the book, and you are ready to test a whole new Sicilian!’
To further support the claims to add this sharp line to one’s repertoire, the author goes on to say:
‘Currently I do not see any serious theoretical problems for Black’.
This is a repertoire book rather than a comprehensive coverage of all Sveshnikov lines. The focus is definitely on providing a practical manual, designed to get the reader up and running with a fully workable opening as quickly as possible. To do this requires a very careful selection and presentation of material.
To provide full coverage of 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 Nc6 it is essential to cover some key third move alternatives, namely:
However, there is no room for the tricky gambit 3 b4
‘These can all be a bit of pain for Sicilian lovers. The lower the opponent’s rating is, the higher the probability of getting some Anti-Sicilian with Bb5’.
26 pages are devoted to 3 Bb5 and the system given is a combative one:
1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 Nf6 and Black is hoping to induce e4-e5, leading to more unbalanced positions than a lower-rated White might be hoping for.
There is a ghost from a previous book haunting the ‘Complete Games’ section for 3 Bb5; the leading diagram and header text claims to be covering a variation from the Taimanov Variation.
The majority of the 240 pages are naturally devoted to the main lines of the Sveshnikov Variation itself. Full coverage is given of all the main lines, including attempts by White to blast Black off the board after:
11 Nxb5 and 11 Bxb5 both require specialist knowledge.
To show the complexity of these lines, five other moves are given at this point, namely:
11 Qd3, 11 g3, 11 exf5, 11 c3 and 11 Bd3
All of White’s standard deviations on moves six and seven are covered in detail too; these are quite likely to appear at club level.
The Novosibirsk Variation is analysed at the end of the book:
1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 e5 6 Ndb5 d6 7 Bg5 a6 8 Na3 b5 9 Bxf6 gxf6 10 Nd5 Bg7.
Black plans a quick …Ne7, to challenge the White Knight before thinking about …f7-f5.
‘The most unpleasant approach is when White calmly develops, reinforcing the key point e4 by f3, and preparing to produce a passed pawn on the Queenside by c4 at an opportunity.’ Consequently, ‘…it is very difficult for Black to obtain counterplay. That is why we do not recommend the Novosibirsk variation as a main line’.
‘I suppose that players above ELO 1900 will benefit most of this book’ says GM Kolev. I would pitch the level a little bit higher than that (with the possible exception of very keen juniors) and would dispute the claim of the Sveshnikov being ‘The Easiest Sicilian’; the lines are very complex and some of the moves look like they should be copyrighted only to GM Shirov.
However, this is a very well presented book and anyone who is prepared to put in some serious work will certainly benefit from the material produced.
The Wisest Things Ever Said About Chess
By GM Andrew Soltis
It’s been a long time since a Batsford chess book arrived at Marsh Towers
‘This fascinating book gathers together the most astute insights on chess ever uttered, culled from three centuries of the world’s greatest players.’
There are 288 such quotes, typically one per page, with a game snippet to support each maxim.
The quotes are split into 17 chapters, from ‘Attack’ to ‘Tournament Tactics’.
Here’s a couple of examples:
‘A two-move trap in the sixth hour is often more effective than a ten-move combination in the second hour.’
‘One way of looking at this remark, by Georg Marco and Carl Schlechter in the Karlsbad 1907 tournament book, is that the players are more prone to err when they get tired. Fatigue seems to effect tactical sight more than logic, intuition or one’s sense of strategy and general principles'.
'There’s an additional reason that sixth-hour traps succeed. As the game approaches an end, players become more and more convinced of its likely outcome. This can blind them to two-movers.’
That was not the first time Kasparov had exchanged off into a won King and pawn ending, as shown by this famous example:
European Championship 1980
36 Bxf6 gxf6 37 Rd1! 1-0
Rather just being a random selection of quotes, the chosen ones all offer practical advice.
'Defenders blunder more than attackers
'Don’t try and force the issue until you are sure of winning '
There’s an interesting postscript to Steinitz’s ‘The player with the advantage must attack’. Kramnik is quoted a saying that Karpov had the unique ability of somehow improving his position further instead of going for the attack. ‘In my opinion, there were no other players before or after him who were able to do this’.
This is very good book for browsing and is somewhat reminiscent of Fred Reinfeld on a very good day. It's well produced and easy on the eye but one curious omission, especially for a book dealing with quotes, is a bibliography.
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