Tuesday 18 December 2012

Chess Reviews: 209

Time to round off this year's coverage of Everyman chess books with a brief look at three recent titles.

Kramnik: Move by Move
By Cyrus Lakdawala
416 pages
Everyman Chess

This is Cyrus Lakdawala's ninth book for Everyman and his seventh in the Move by Move series. I included his book on Capablanca in my round-up for CHESS magazine a couple of months ago.

Kramnik: Move by Move is very similar to the Capablanca book, with complete illustrative games presented with lucid and instructive annotations. Questions are asked, directly to the reader, at regular intervals throughout each game. Occasional exercises punctuate the notes also.

Following a short biographical introduction, the meat of the book comes in five chapters:

Kramnik on the Attack
Kramnik on Defence
Riding the Dynamic Element
Exploiting Imbalances
Accumulating Advantages
Kramnik on Endings

Queenless middlegames are a recurring feature in Kramnik's games, thanks largely due to his penchant for the Berlin Defence against the Spanish Game, which drew the teeth of Kasparov's opening weapons so effectively back in 2000 and played a major part in Vladimir's successful world title challenge. The Berlin is giving very good coverage, so fans of 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 Nf6 will be pleased, as will Catalan players and King's Indian slayers.

People who labour under the serious misapprehension that Kramnik is simply a dull player will have their eyes well and truly opened, especially when it comes to Kramnik on the Attack.

The book has a couple of weaknesses. I don't like the name contractions (e.g. 'Topa' for Topalov) which are a shade too familiar. There's also a tendency towards flowery language, with an abundance of similes giving the prose an overwritten air.

Nevertheless, it's an entertaining read and strong club players will find the annotations of great use.

The Greatest Ever Chess Strategies
By Sam Collins
176 pages
Everyman Chess

As the author puts it: ''This book is my attempt to make sense of the chess concepts which are floating around in my head.''

The concepts are split into four main chapters:

Dynamic Factors

The author looks at some instructive examples of chess strategies in action and presents numerous games of his own to show how he has been influenced by the greats.

It is written in a chatty style and improving club players should be able to pick up enough tips to improve their strategical thinking.

I do feel it has been rather bolted on to the 'Greatest Ever...' series, rather being an integral part of it. Somehow it lacks the cohesion of previous volumes, such as The Greatest Ever Chess Endgames, which I still think is the pick of the bunch.

The Complete Chess Workout II
By Richard Palliser
335 pages
Everyman Chess

Richard Palliser is back with a sequel to his first volume of the Complete Chess Workout. As the subtitle puts it, we are presented with ''Another 1200 puzzles to train your brain!''

I was surprised to find it was way back in 2007 when the first volume appeared. Time flies; a phenomenon confirmed when I tried to review this book quickly and ended up spending far more time than I had originally put aside trying to solve some of the puzzles. You know how it is; one can quickly polish off several of the easy starters, feel inspired and then dive into the harder puzzles whereupon several other pressing matters need to be put on hold.

The chapter titles show what to expect:

Warming Up
Opening Tricks and Traps
Skill in the Endgame
Loose Pieces and Overloading
Fiendish Calculation
Test Yourself

Richard has left no stone unturned in his desire to create an original collection of positions. There is very little overlap with other puzzle books, or even the puzzle pages of CHESS magazine (of which Richard is the editor). So readers wishing to subject themselves to this tough workout will have an abundance of fresh material to try.

The solutions are annotated (I know of quite a few puzzle books that don't bother) so they are more instructive.

OK, enough prose! Here are three of the puzzles for you to try. As usual, I won't give the answers. Give them a go!

From Warming Up.

Hawkins - Mah
British League 2012
White to play

From Attack!

Adams - Zhukova
Gibraltar 2012
White to play

From Fiendish Calculation.

Padurariu - Go
Amsterdam 2012
Black to play

Further details of all three books can be found on the Everyman Chess website.

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