Wednesday, 10 October 2018

English Chess Federation Book of the Year 2018

English Chess Federation
Book of the Year 2018

The quality of many of the books received this year was high, but not all made it to the shortlist. Similarly, the selection of the winner from the shortlist proved extremely difficult, as all four of the candidates were not only of high quality but also contrasting subject matter – Alekhine’s Odessa Secrets; a very good book on the Carlsen v Karjakin World Championship; and Small Steps to Giant Improvements, a study on pawns which had a remarkable, positive effect on the writer’s (Shankland) playing career. The winner stood out for its original approach and quality of writing.

The winner
Under the Surface
Jan Markos
Quality Chess pp285 Hardback £23.99

The author, GM Jan Markos, is a distinguished Slovakian academic working in the field of critical decision making and brings to his chess book the influence of his background. This is shown in the chapter titles of Part 1 – About the Laws of the Chess Board: Three Faces of a Piece; Hierarchy on the Board; Infection; Policemen of the Chess Board. Under the Surface is not a traditional chess text book, but rather a travelogue covering a wide variety of chess subjects, with insightful references and analogies to life away from the chess board. One example – the famous Mischel marshmallow experiment with children (read the book to find out what it was) is shown to be applicable to chess playing!

Markos is also a GM, so the chess examples from his own and contemporary master play are serious and relevant to the narration. ‘The Secret Life of Rooks’ is an exemplary explanation of their characteristics and the best way to use them. Chapter 10 features ‘Anatoly Karpov’s Billiard Balls’, where Markos is stimulated to find a feature of bishop play not previously mentioned in text books.

Apart from chess positions and playing, other subjects are covered including ‘Quality and Style’ and ‘Searching for Beauty’, the latter discussing a survey he undertook on a Czech chess web site.

One of the most interesting sections is Part 6 ‘About Computers’. A chapter shows computer limitations, another shows how computers can create original strategies, a third the potentially misleading effects of computer-based statistics. An extremely stimulating chapter is titled ‘The Magician from Brno’, who turns out to be the world No.1 in the International Correspondence Chess Federation. And how does he win correspondence games when all players use powerful computers? By using human judgement and intuition in conjunction with his computers – an encouraging conclusion!

Quality Chess deserve recognition for persuading Markos to write ‘Under the Surface’, and producing the resulting book to a very high standard. All in all an original, fascinating and very worthy winner of the 2018 Book of the Year.
Ray Edwards, Julian Farrand & Sean Marsh, 8th October 2018

Monday, 1 October 2018

Project 30 Tournaments

KO Championship 
Round 1

Paul Weightman v Sean Cassidy

Graham Edwards v Richard Harris

Mike Creaney v Peter Harker

Rayelynn Posadas v Kevin Waterman

Mike Pointon v John Garnett

David Baillie v Brian Whitaker

Sean Marsh v Royce Parker

Matt Jackman v Bye

Each of the rounds will feature one game played at the normal time limit (36 moves in 90 minutes followed by an extra 15 minutes on each clock to play to a finish). Colours will be decided immediately before the games in the usual fashion.

Drawn games will require a replay with colours reversed, which can be played at any time limit agreed by both opponents. If both players cannot reach agreement then the aforementioned timings will be used.

Rapidplay Match Championship 
Round 1

Graham Edwards v Sean Marsh

Royce Parker v Mike Pointon

Peter Harker v Richard Harris

David Baillie v John Garnett

Bernie Price v Rayelynn Posadas

Kevin Waterman v Mike Creaney

Sean Cassidy v Paul Weightman

Matt Jackman v Bye

The first round will feature two games will be played (one with each colour) with 30 minutes on each clock. Players winning their mini-matches will progress to the next round. Players losing their mini-matches will be eliminated. In the event of a 1-1 tie, the players will contest two five-minute games and keep on doing so if further scores of 1-1 are recorded.

The second round will feature Rapidplay matches of four games, the semi-final will feature six games and the final will feature eight games, with all of these rounds following the same tiebreak method as the first round (if required).

All games in this round need to be played by 30 November 2018.