Monday, 23 December 2013

Chess Reviews: 227

Time for Christmas round up! Over the next week we will be having a regular look at the latest chess books and DVDs. There's a lot to get through...

Winning Chess
Irving Chernev and Fred Reinfeld
229 pages

Batsford have increased their output of late and are now releasing vintage classics alongside new books. Both of today's offerings are aimed at improving club players and were written by experts in the field.

I don't know how many books were written by Irving Chernev and Fred Reinfeld. The latter was described as ''Man of a Hundred Books'' by Arnold Denker in his ''The Bobby Fischer I Knew and Other Stories'' book but the real number is probably even higher. 

This one is based on the premise that ''the proper use of combination play is the secret of winning chess'' and the authors present a considerable amount of positions, arranged by theme, for the reader to consider.

The examples cover a tactical cornucopia all the way from basic pins and forks to combined operations, surprise moves and, finally, complete illustrative games. In total, there are 332 tactical positions to solve and six full games to study. 

Here's a couple of examples to try. Both are White to play and win.


I have deliberately avoided mentioning which chapter the examples have been taken from to make it slightly more difficult to solve them.

Winning Chess is a useful book for juniors and coaches. If the given examples are too easy to solve, then readers are already at a level higher than the book's wisdom can offer and they would be better off studying the Soltis book.

100 Chess Master Trade Secrets
By Andrew Soltis
216 pages

Andrew Soltis is a natural successor to both Reinfeld and Chernev. He already has a number of club player-friendly books out under the Batsford umbrella and this is very much in the same vein. It is aimed at a higher level than Winning Chess

This time, he offers advice in four key areas, split into the following (fairly self-explanatory) chapters:

Twenty Five Key Priyomes
Twenty Five Must-Know Endgame Techniques
Twenty Five Crucial Sacrifices
Twenty Five Exact Endings

Incidentally, priyome is a word from Russian, meaning strategic devices which depend on pawn structure. Here's a famous example, taken from 100 Chess Master Trade Secrets. The quoted notes should give an indication of the general style of the whole book.
Botvinnik vs. Gligoric
Moscow, 1956
''Black has just played  ...Nh6. His goal is to occupy d4 with a knight. But there's a drawback: After 1 h4! Black cannot play 1 ...h5. The knight move is a priyome tipoff. When a master sees ...g6 and ...Nh6 he at least looks at h2-h4. It's simple pattern recognition.

There followed 1 ...d6 2 d3 Rb8. Black lacked an easy defense on the kingside because 2 ...Bg4 3 h5! Bxh5? loses a piece (4 Bxh6 Bxh6 5 g4!).

The game went 3 h5 Bd7 and then 4 Bxh6 Bxh6 5 hxg6 hxg6

White played the dramatic 6 Qc1!. It's based on 6 ...Bxc1?? 7 Rxh8 mate. After the forced 6 ...Bg7 and 7 Rxh8+ Bxh8 8 Qh6 Black could have defended better with 8 ...Bf6 but lost after 8 ...Bxc3+ 9 bxc3 e6?  White can mount a strong attack with 10 Kd2 and Rh1/Ng5.'' (1-0, 30 - Botvinnik's sole win with white against Gligoric).

It's good to see Batsford increasing their chess output. They still have a long way to go catch the trade leaders but they are making a determined effort to bridge the gap.

Both of today's books are offer entertainment and instruction and are best read in short bursts, with readers picking out four or five chunks at a time.

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