Monday, 15 February 2010

Chess Reviews: 130

Chess Exam: Matches against Chess Legends
You vs. Bobby Fischer

By IM Igor Khmelnitsky
192 pages

Play the match, rate yourself, improve your game!

Most chess players enjoy reading about Fischer. This new book presents an opportunity to (almost) play the 11th World Champion in a series of matches.

The contents are arranged thus:

About the Author
Preface - a Note to the Reader
About Robert James Fischer
Warning - Disclaimer
Chess Symbols
The Warm-Up
Final Comments: How to Take the Exam
Rating Tables
Afterword: What is the Next Step?

It's not often that books carry disclaimers; here there are two main points of interest. Firstly, the author admits that he is not a chess historian and that the biographical notes on Fischer have been taken from Wikipedia.

Secondly: 'This text should be used only as a general guide and not as an ultimate source of chess training information'.

Before attempting one of the main matches, readers are advised to 'warm-up' with a number of simpler examples. There are 20 such warm-up positions and here's one of them:

You are White against Fischer and the position has been reached after his 24th move, 24 …Qa2-a5

What is Fischer’s threat and how would you address it?

Suitably warmed up, the reader is then invited to assess some weightier positions in what is the bulk of the book.

Here's a sample from the exam section. Students are advised to spend 20 minutes on each main game and then make a decision about the way forward.

After 44...Nd4-b3

How do you evaluate the position?

A White is Winning

B Draw

C Black is Winning

How would you respond? Why?

A 45 Kc3-d3
B 45 Kc3xb3
C 45 Ra6-a8
D 45 Ra6xa3

I won't give the answers here, because that will make the task too easy.

The late, great Bob Wade was a fan of such multi-choice answers and I think the format works very well. Readers are given plenty to think about and should benefit from being 'forced' to analyse down the different lines.

The page after each test position provides a full explanation of what is going on, offering 'Quick observations', 'Summary', relevant variations and a score chart to mark the student's answer. The chart reveals whether the game would have ended in a win, draw or a loss based on the answers given.

The full game scores are given later on in the book, to provide full context.

There are also some bonus tests and then a tie-breaker, giving the reader the chance to pick between two positions. The choice will settle the match - one way or another - in the event of tied contest.

Production-wise, the book has a very nice, clear layout and the material is well presented.

The exams can be taken - and enjoyed - by all chess fans, but I think players in the strong club/county categories would benefit more than others. Fischer fans of any level will, of course, want to snap up a copy as soon as possible.

For further details on this interesting new book, pop along to:

Missed a review? Pop along to my archive:

No comments: