Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Chess Reviews: 158

Continuing our round up of recent Quality Chess books, today the attention is switched to titles connected by their aim to provide instruction for improving players.

Attacking Manual 1
Revised and Expanded Edition
By GM Jacob Aagaard
320 pages
Quality Chess

This book introduces the author's global principles, '...relevant in all kinds of positions. A good understanding of them will certainly improve your attacking chess'. In simple terms, they are:

1) Include all your pieces in the attack
2) Momentum
3) Colour schemes
4) Numbers over Size
5) Attack the weakest point in your opponent's position
6) Attack the strongest point in your opponent's position
7) Evolution and revolution

Each principle receives a chapter in the spotlight, augmented by colourful titles; for example, 'Include all your pieces in the attack' becomes 'Bring all your Toys to the Nursery Party'.

The chapters start with a series of preview diagrams, about which the reader is encouraged to do some initial thinking. This is an innovative idea and a very interesting one.

There follows a short discussion on the general principle of the chapter and then well-annotated examples of the principle in action.

The second half of the book features a fine selection of attacking games, annotated in depth. 50 training exercises conclude a very interesting work.

There's plenty of prose and it's in the author's punchy, pithy and direct style. Here's a little example, from the start of one of the author's games against Bo Lindberg. The opening moves were: 1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 b5?!

'My opponent is a very creative young man, who in our last encounter answered 1 e4 with 1 ...Nc6. I therefore decided to prepare for the game by reading a rather colourful novel about Lucifer coming to Earth, taking human form, writing a movie-script about man's fall from grace and smoking about 60 cigarettes a day.

Having said all of this, I dislike moves that compromise the pawn structure in such a definite way.'

Interesting ideas jump off the page. This is eye-catching material at its best. The following example shows three stunning shots - all from the same game! You'll need to see the book for the annotations; here's the basic shots...

Kathona - Gublis
Correspondence 1989/90

17 Rh8+!!

20 Nxd5!!

21 Rc7+!!

The first edition of this book - which I haven't seen - was apparently somewhat flawed, with a number of mistakes, so this revised and expanded edition is obviously the one interested readers should track down.

Attacking Manual 2
By GM Jacob Aagaard
461 pages
Quality Chess

The story continues in manual 2, which is considerably chunkier than it's brother.

'Where Volume One was about the laws of dynamics, the font of all attacks, and to some limited extent an original work, Volume Two was always meant to be a perfection of existing work on the attack.'

'This volume is intended to cover all of attacking technique, by which I mean what to do once the attack is up and running'.

Understanding Mating Attacks
Typical Piece Play
Typical Pawn Play
King Safety
Intuitive Sacrifices and Enduring Initiative

The format is similar to that seen on volume one. It presents an extremely impressive collection of attacking power at the chess board. Despite the complex nature of some of the material on show here, the variations don't lead the reader too far up the garden path; the prose is of such quality that the truth doesn't have to be buried in endless thickets of moves.

Some of the ideas are most unusual, such as this delicate touch.

Brooks - Kaidanov
New York 1990

23 ...Rh2!!

'A fantastic piece of prophylaxis in the attack'.

White was hoping for 23 ...Qh4 24 Qg2 Rh2 25 Qf3 with a draw.

This is an excellent two-volume set - and that's not just my opinion; they have recently been the joint recipients of the 'ECF Book of the Year' award (details here). They can be rightly considered as the flagships of the Quality Chess productions.

Soviet Chess Strategy
By GM Alexey Suetin
240 pages
Quality Chess

Soviet Chess Strategy is '...a collection of Suetin's finest writing in what was a long and distinguished career'.

GM Alexey Suetin was a strong player and a coach of some renown; he helped Petrosian become World Champion. This book, part of the 'Chess Classics' series, (which includes Nimzowitsch's 'My System'), presents Suetin's instructive articles on the following subjects:

General Questions of Strategy and Tactic
The Chess Game as a Unified Process of Struggle
Foundations of Positional Play
The Centre - Typical Pawn Structures
The Dynamics of the Chess Struggle
Modern Positional Play
The Attack - Affinity between Strategic and Tactical Methods
Methods of Defence - Switching from Defence to Attack

Appendix: From the Book ''The Middlegame in Chess''
Dynamics should be Dynamic

The majority of illustrative games are from long ago, with the 1950s being a particularly well-represented decade.

There are numerous anecdotal snippets which will not be found elsewhere, such as this unusual observation of a young Mikhail Tal:

'From my own observations I may say that tenacity in defence is just as good a ''litmus test'' for genuine chess talent (and for a chess fighter, of course!) as the ability to attack. I cannot help recalling the first time I met Mikhail Tal. It was at the USSR Team Championship in 1953, and he was only just sixteen. Playing against experienced masters was not easy for him, but it was his exceptional tenacity in defence that stood out - perhaps more than his art of attack which was later to become famous'.

Prose explanations mix well with game snippets throughout the book to demonstrate particular themes.

'One other fact I would like to emphasize is that young practitioners of the dynamic treatment are anything but one-sided in their undertakings. They not only sacrifice material for the attack and the initiative. Far from it - in many cases, with just as much success, they deliberately incur an attack, counting on repulsing it and exploiting the material sacrificed by the opponent. It all depends on the requirements of the position'.

This leads on to the following snippet:

Shamkovich - Korchnoi
Leningrad 1960

'White's attack seems about to decide the game.

22 Bxe7

This looks crushing. What is Black to do now? He cannot play 22 ...Kxe7, on account of 23 Qxg7+ and mate. But Grandmaster Korchnoi, the virtuoso of counterplay, finds an ingenious resource, making it a good deal more complicated for his opponent to exploit the assets of his position.'

22 ...Bxg2+!

...and after: 23 Kxg2 Nf4+ 24 Rxf4 Rxf4 25 Rd1 Qc6+ 26 Kg3 Qa4 27 c6+? bxc6 28 Qxg7 Rf3+! 'young' Korchnoi even went on to win after further errors by White.

The explanations and examples are all to the point and - despite the book being virtually a time capsule - still perfectly valid in 2010. It is available in a very nice hardback edition in addition to the standard softcover.

Quality Chess Puzzle Book
By GM John Shaw
352 pages
Quality Chess

This is a very interesting book. It is apparent that some serious work has gone in to creating a challenging series of puzzles with a certain freshness about them. Old favourites - more a test of memory than chess skill - are virtually absent. Over 700 of the 735 puzzles being from games played later than the year 2000 and some are even from 2010.

The book has other interesting ideas too.

'We often start the action a little earlier than usual, in a position where the big punch is some moves in the future. The reader thus has has to find the introductory moves that make the tactic work'.

The material is split into the following chapters:

Contributions from our Readers
Thematic Combinations
Simple but not Easy
Missed Opportunities
Blitz Games
Winning the Endgame
European Team Championship 2010
Drawing the Endgame
Puzzles with Two Solutions
More Missed Opportunities
Brain Crushers

I particularly enjoy looking at puzzles in which very strong players missed opportunities. Such puzzles are great for training purposes too; juniors can be inspired to improve on the play of World Champions.

Here's a couple of examples.

Leko - Svidler
Monte Carlo (Blindfold) 2005

White's 26 Rf2?? wasn't the best move. 26 Rg6+! would have mated in three moves.

Jakovenko - Alekseev
Russia Ch. Playoff 2006

34 Nf5?? was played, missing the much stronger 34 Nc4! Qd8 35 Nxd6!!

The puzzles are, on the whole, new and fresh. Achieving what it set out to do, this really is a Quality chess puzzle book.

Build Up Your Chess 3
By GM Artur Yusupov
300 pages
Quality Chess

This series if books is based on GM Yusupov's training course at his chess academy.

'The reader will receive the necessary basic knowledge in six areas of the game - tactics, positional play, strategy, the calculation of variations the opening and the endgame'.

Each chapter features a specific area in which students are encouraged to build up their chess. These range from opening ideas (the basis of a repertoire for White starting with 1 d4 and 2 Nf3 and some notes on the French Defence from the point of view of the second player are included in this volume) to middlegame combinations and endgame theory. A number of illustrative games and positions prepare the reader for a series of exercises. If a low score is achieved, it is recommended that the chapter is read again and the exercises repeated.

Boost Your Chess 1
The Fundamentals
By GM Artur Yusupov
265 pages
Quality Chess

The 'Boost Your Chess' trilogy takes things a step further. The format is the same but the material is aimed at a slightly higher level.

Subjects covered in volume 1 include 'The Windmill', 'Opening Traps' and 'Stalemate Combinations', alongside 21 others.

Boost Your Chess 2
Beyond the Basics
By GM Artur Yusupov
285 pages
Quality Chess

24 new lessons are provided in this volume, including an 'Opening Repertoire for Black against 1 d4', 'Blockade' and 'Typical mistakes in the endgame'.

Here's an exercise for you to try. It comes from the chapter 'Dragging the king out'. Black to move - drag away!

As usual with books such as these, readers will obtain the maximum benefit only if they are prepared to put in maximum effort.

Trainers and teachers will find a huge amount of ready made lesson plans at their disposal.

'Chess Reviews 159' will follow soon and it will take a look at several opening books produced by Quality Chess.

For further details regarding Quality Chess books, please pop along to their website.

1 comment:

dfan said...

The Yusupov series is presented very confusingly and you made an easy mistake to make.

See http://www.qualitychess.co.uk/docs/14/artur_yusupovs_awardwinning_training_course/ for the details, but in short, the intended reading order of the books, from easiest to hardest, is:

Build Up Your Chess 1
Boost Your Chess 1
[Chess Evolution 1]
Build Up Your Chess 2
Boost Your Chess 2
[Chess Evolution 2]
Build Up Your Chess 3
[Boost Your Chess 3]
[Chess Evolution 3]

where titles in brackets have not been published yet. So Boost Your Chess 1 is actually significantly easier than Build Up Your Chess 3.