Sunday, 3 August 2014

Chess Reviews: 241

Today we continue our look at new editions of older books.

This is the fourth edition of a very highly rated book, published by New in Chess. The first two editions came back in 2006 and the third appeared in 2008. This time, the work has been expanded significantly with the addition of a new section with nearly 300 new examples. Van Perlo's Endgame Tactics now runs to 607 pages (with ''more than 1,300 sparkling tricks and traps''); a real hand filler.

For those unfamiliar with any edition of Van Perlo's Endgame Tactics it takes a fun approach to presenting tactical snippets from real endgames, with (typically) three examples on each page. Sometimes the moves last just one or two more and sometimes the solution is longer, but they never outstay their welcome or run the risk of asking too much from the reader.

Naturally, there have been a few new editorial touches here and there to the existing material, but it's the new section that should be examined here. Back in 1998, Ger van Perlo submitted an additional 100 pages on rook endgames, which was not included in the original version of the book. Only now, for this fourth edition, has it found its home.

Rook endgames already made up one of four main sections in the previous editions, so here the new material is named ''More Rook Endgames'' and forms the new ''Part V''. Stylistically, one can't see the join, with the new material fitting seamlessly into the fold of the old. The new examples - augmented by exercises for the reader to solve - feature a plethora of scenarios, from rook and pawn endgames to problems based on a material imbalance (a difference of the exchange, for example).

Here's a couple of samples of the new material, plucked entirely at random from the wide selection.

Pisa Ferrer - Bellon Lopez, Barcelona 1984
''You'd swear that White could achieve a draw by stalemate after

1 Rd2+ Ke1 2 Rd1+ Kxf2 3 Re1

However, to the white player's deep distress Black found a counter-combination here. I guess you've seen it by now:

3 ...Rh1+!! 4 Rxh1 e3 5 Ra1 e2 6 Ra3 e1=Q 7 Rxf3 Ke2 and 7 moves later White resigned. That's how cruel the game can be!''

Reinderman - Visser, Hoogeveen 1998
 ''White got the idea to make an ultimate winning attempt:

1 h4?

He came to regret this after Black's reply:

1 ...Rf2+ 2 Kg4 Rxf4+!! 3 Kxf4 Kg7 

Suddenly the white rook is captured. After

4 Rxg6+ Kxg6

Black could start unwrapping the present.''

Clever stuff, in both cases - and absolutely indicative of what one can expect find throughout the book.

Of course, it is not possible to learn deep endgame strategies from this book. That's not the point of it at all. Yet the little tactical twists we encounter in each and every example will lead to a sense of familiarity through repetition of theme and this is what improving players should be looking to take from this treasure chest of endgame tactics. Apart from the instructional angle, this book offers pure entertainment. It's hard to believe any readers putting this book aside and still claiming endgames are boring.

Anyone with older editions needs to decided whether to upgrade to this one. Summing up the details given above, there's 140 new pages, approximately 300 new examples (''25% bigger'' says the cover blurb) and various bits and pieces among the earlier material has been tidied and tightened. Definitely worth an upgrade, in my opinion.

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