BCN wishes Happy Birthday to FM Terence PD Chapman (19-vi-1956)
Terry became a FIDE Master in 2013. His peak rating was 2331 in October 2013.
The ever youthful Terry represents Barbican Youth in 4NCL.
We send best wishes to Michael & Jean (née Fey) Franklin, married sixty years ago this day, June 18th in 1960.
Michael played for a number of clubs in recent years, viz :
Richmond & Twickenham
Michael became a FIDE Master in 1980 and achieved his highest rating in the Elo era of 2345 in January 1979.
We are grateful to Leonard Barden for these words produced at short notice :
“Michael made his name as a young player first by his successes in the Saturday evening Gambit Guinea speed events at the Gambit chess cafe in Cannon Street which he often won ahead of master level rivals. He remained a strong speed player all his life.
Aaronson Masters at Harrow 1978, was his best individual success, sharing first place with IM Aldo Haik of France with (I think) an IM norm.
Michael was a regular British championship, Surrey, Hastings and London League player (forget club, Richmond? Clapham Common?) and was one of the first to play the London System (d4/Bf4) as as his regular opening with white.
He also had success as Black with the O’Kelly Sicilian 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 a6.
When Surrey won the counties championship a few years back they took the trophy specially to Michael’s home in Norbury, such was their regard.
Michael’s work career was in the Patent Office and he retired when they introduced computers as he doesn’t like them and does not use the internet at all.”
BCN wishes GM Paul Motwani Happy Birthday (13-vi-1962)
Here is his Wikipedia entry
BCN wishes Happy Birthday to WIM Natasha K Regan (12-vi-1971)
From Amazon :
“Natasha Regan was born in 1971 in London, the elder daughter of two Australian doctors. She studied Maths at Cambridge University, earned a half blue for chess, and edited the chess magazine “Dragon”. She debuted in the English Women’s chess Olympiad team in Manila, 1992.”
From Gambit Publications :
“Natasha Regan is a Women’s International Master from England who achieved a degree in mathematics from Cambridge University. While pursuing a successful career as an actuary in the insurance industry, she has raised a family and maintained a strong interest in chess and other board games, including Go.”
BCN wishes many Happy Returns to IM Jovanka Houska (10-vi-1980)
From Wikipedia :
Jovanka Houska is an English chess player with the titles International Master (IM) and Woman Grandmaster (WGM). She is an eight-time winner of the British Women’s Chess Championship.
From Chessgames.com :
“Jovanka Houska is an English IM and WGM. She is currently the highest-rated woman in England. British women’s champion in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011. Her brother is IM Miroslav Houska. She is the author of several books on the Caro-Kann Defense and Scandinavian Defense, and the co-author (with James Essinger) of the novel “The Mating Game.””
Jovanka was born in London and became a Women’s International Master in 1999, a Woman’s Grandmaster in 2000 and an International Master in 2005. Her peak rating was 2443 in July 2010 at the of 30.
She plays for 4NCL Wood Green and her brother is IM Miroslav Houska. Her father Mario plays for Slough.
BCN wishes Happy Birthday to GM Dharshan Kumaran (07-vi-1975)
His highest Elo rating was 2505 in January 1995 at the age of 20.
From Wikipedia :
Dharshan Kumaran (born 7 June 1975) is an English chess grandmaster. He won the World Under-12 Championship in 1986, the World Under-16 Championship in 1991, and finished 3rd equal in the World Under-20 Championship in 1994. He currently works as a neuroscience research scientist at DeepMind.
Here is Ingrid’s German Wikipedia entry
BCN wishes Happy Birthday to WIM Ingrid Lauterbach (06-vi-1960)
Ingrid became a WIM in 1987 and her peak rating was 2205 in July of 2000.
Ingrid plays for 4NCL Barbican.
From the rear cover we have :
“Francesco Rambaldi is an Italian Grandmaster who currently lives in St. Louis (USA) and plays for the Saint Louis University Chess Team. Shortly after graduating from high school, Francesco was awarded the Grandmaster title after winning the Wien International Open when he was 16 years old. Throughout his career, he found success at a national level both in youth championships, becoming Italian champion in the U10 (2009), U12 (2011) and U14 (2013) categories, and in open championships, becoming Italian Champion for Rapid and Blitz in 2016. Francesco also won numerous international opens including the previously mentioned Wien International Open (August 2015), the Bergamo International Open (July 2016), the Capo d’Orso International Chess Festival (June 2017) and the Panama Chess Rumble (November 2017).”
“This book presents a comprehensive, ready-to-use, and high-quality repertoire for Black against 1.e4. With meticulous analysis and in-depth explanations, the author demonstrates how the Caro-Kann Defense can be used successfully by players of any level. He also draws on his experience and on his trove of novel ideas to present a new take on the Caro-Kann: one that emphasizes Black’s dynamic options while maintaining a solid and flexible setup.”
As with every recent Thinkers Publishing publication high quality paper is used and the printing is clear. We had got used to glossy paper in previous titles but this one reverts to matt. Bring back glossy!
The book can easily be laid flat next to the board and does not require weights to prevent it from “self-closing” (a particular bugbear of ours !). Each diagram is clear and the instructional text is typeset in two column format, which, we find, enables the reader to maintain their place easily. Figurine algebraic notation is used throughout and the diagrams are placed adjacent to the relevant text.
A welcome addition is a bibliography which is normally absent from TP publications.
However, there is no index which, unfortunately, is a standard omission of Thinkers Publishing books. Some readers will be disappointed.
This first book from GM Francesco Rambaldi provides a more or less complete repertoire for Black versus 1.e4
In the BCN office we have examined books on the Caro-Kann that use various adjectives in their title :
First Steps, Move by Move, Dangerous Weapons, Main Line, Classical, Novelties, Dynamic, Understanding, Easy Guide, Grandmaster Secrets, Training, In Black & White, Krusher, Play the, Starting Out, Grandmaster Repertoire, Beating, New Ideas and finally Modernised. Revisited is a welcome addition!
Previously from Thinkers Publishing we had “The Modernized Caro-Kann” from GM Daniel Fernandez which focused on the Smyslov variation.
The main content is divided into seventeen chapters distributed amongst six parts as follows :
Each chapter’s content is treated in familiar Thinker’s Publishing style : variations are analysed in detail move by move with game references liberally sprinkled into the text. The explanations and discussion are detailed presenting the ideas in the position.
We kick-off with a thorough discussion of the third most popular line for White : the Advance variation.
Every Caro-Kann player should know that 3.e5 deserves much respect and accurate play from Black to avoid a painful experience : we quite agree that this should be the first chapter therefore. Rambaldi recommends the trendy 3…c5 which scores slightly better than the conventional 3…Bf5. There are 157 pages on 3…c5 alone with most emphasis on the critical 4. dxc5 including the very topical 5.a3 :
which is treated in great depth with new ideas for Black in a line that White in increasingly turning to.
We then turn to the main “meat and potatoes” of this book : the Korchnoi Variation. We have seen this line referred to as the Tartakower Variation in “Understanding the Caro-Kann Defence” by Keene, Soltis, Mednis, Peters and Kaplan (Pitman, 1980). Rambaldi dedicates 70 pages including more explanation of the ideas than for the other parts.
as the main line after
5…exf6 has hitherto largely been ignored in the Caro-Kann literature in favour of the Bronstein-Larsen variation, 5…gxf6, the Capablanca / Classical Variation of 4…Bf5 and Smyslov’s Variation of 4…Nd7. One might have to employ the Tardis and visit (from 1989) Jeremy Silman’s “The Dynamic Caro-Kann” to find any appreciable treatment. JS dubs 5…exf6 the Original Caro-Kann for those who are keen on labels. Rambaldi calls this the Open Caro-Kann, presumably after 3…dxe4.
The popular Two Knights Variation is treated with the reliable 3…Bg4 line and the Panov via Bg4 and Be6 ideas depending on White’s tries. Even the (in)famous double rook endgame (that rarely gets an outing these days at the highest levels) is given a detailed treatment. All of White’s ideas are covered in detail with appropriate recommendations for Black.
The so-called Pseudo-Panov
and the Fantasy Variations
are covered in adequate depth providing almost complete coverage from Black’s perspective.
The coverage of the King’s Indian Attack is disappointingly thin, almost superficial. OK, so 2.d3 is rather uncommon but, nonetheless, a better treatment would have been welcome.
In summary, we have roughly 400 pages of quality analysis with in-depth explanations and new ideas for Black. There is a fresh (and not before time) treatment of the Korchnoi Variation and excellent coverage of the Advance, Two Knights, Panov and Exchange Variations. Of course, these are the lines you will face day-to-day.
Rambaldi recommends the unusual 4…Nf6!? move order in the Exchange Variation :
rather than the more common 4…Nc6 (and 5…Qc7) with the idea to develop the c8 bishop more quickly : interesting!
Rambaldi is a welcome new writer with a friendly style. He is not afraid to disagree with previous authors and present his own ideas.
We would recommend this book as a stand-alone treatment of the Caro-Kann. If you have played 4…Bf5 and / or 4…Nd7 and want to freshen up repertoire then why not consider 4…Nf6 ? It is less drawish and more ambitious if you need to play for the full point with Black.
John Upham, Cove, Hampshire, 5th June, 2020
Book Details :
Official web site of Thinkers Publishing
On the Origin of Good Moves: A Skeptic’s Guide at Getting Better at Chess : Willy Hendriks
“Willy Hendriks (1966) is an International Master who has been working as a chess trainer for over 25 years. His acclaimed bestseller ‘Move First, Think Later’ won the English Chess Federation Book of the Year Award.”
From the rear cover :
“The way a beginner develops into a strong chess player closely resembles the progress of the game of chess itself. This popular idea is the reason why many renowned chess instructors such as former World Champions Garry Kasparov and Max Euwe, emphasize the importance of studying the history of chess.
Willy Hendriks agrees that there is much to be learned from the pioneers of our game. He challenges, however, the conventional view on what the stages in the advancement of chess actually have been. Among the various articles of faith that Hendriks questions is Wilhelm Steinitz’s reputation as the discoverer of the laws of positional chess.
In The Origin of Good Moves Hendriks undertakes a groundbreaking investigative journey into the history of chess. He explains what actually happened, creates fresh perspectives, finds new heroes, and reveals the real driving force behind improvement in chess: evolution.
This thought-provoking book is full of beautiful and instructive ‘new’ material from the old days. With plenty of exercises, the reader is invited to put themselves in the shoes of the old masters. Never before has the study of the history of chess been so entertaining and rewarding.”
What we have here is a hugely ambitious work covering the development of chess ideas over a period of almost 300 years, from roughly 1600 to 1900, from Greco to Tarrasch. Willy Hendriks considers the evolution of both tactical and positional concepts, as well as covering, to a lesser extent, opening theory.
A number of authors over the years, from Réti onwards, have attempted something similar but Hendriks takes the genre to a new level. His view is that previous authors, using a small sample of Famous Games, have presented a crude and misleading view of ‘the history of improvement in chess’. Chess, he believes, has evolved in very much the same way as species evolve.
Hendriks’ previous book, Move First, Think Later, (MFTL) proved controversial. It attracted the attention of the ECF Book of the Year panel, but there were others who considered it highly dangerous. A confrontational title and controversial, extremist views on how chess should be taught. My own views, are, as they are on most subjects, somewhere in the middle, but I still found it an entertaining read. You’ll find a typically well considered review by John Watson here.
Just as in MFTL, each of the 36 chapters is preceded by some exercises which readers might like to attempt before reading on.
Here’s one from Chapter 1:
Finding the answer won’t be difficult for any experienced player, but it was Greco who was the first to play, or at any rate publish, a Bxh7+ sacrifice. Ideas like this, and there are many, positional as well as tactical, throughout the book, gradually become better and better known until they become part of every serious player’s armoury, which is how standards improve. We’re all standing on the shoulders of giants, but it takes genius to be the first.
When we think of Greco we probably think of brilliant miniatures against opponents who either misplayed the opening or made tactical oversights, but Hendriks maintains there’s a lot more to him than that. “If you play over all the games by Greco you cannot but be amazed by the enormous strength of this player and by the importance and variety of his ideas.” In the first chapter we look at some of his tactical ideas, but in Chapter 2, where he is billed as the Nimzowitsch of the 17th century, we discover that Greco was also aware of some relatively sophisticated positional ideas.
The next few chapters continue Hendriks’ revisionist view of chess history. Philidor in Chapters 3 and 4, La Bourdonnais and McDonnell in Chapter 5, Staunton and Saint Amant in Chapter 6. Generally speaking, the book is free from mistakes, but here the magazine Le Palamède is sometimes awarded the wrong definite article. On p85 it’s both right and wrong within four lines.
In Chapter 7 we visit London in 1851 and look at some of the chess played in the first international tournament of modern times. The next two chapters then spin off to take a couple of detours.
Chapter 8 features a positional idea: the pawn formation labelled by Hans Kmoch (whose book Pawn Power in Chess Hendriks seems to admire, although it would have been helpful if the publishers had used the English title) the Wyvill Formation – doubled c-pawns such as White might acquire in the Nimzo-Indian. The English player Elijah Williams, a man ahead of his time, demonstrated how to fight against this in his games against the eponymous Marmaduke Wyvill and Howard Staunton.
In this rather modern looking position Williams played Ba3 against Staunton (Hendriks points out that Na4 and Qf2 were also strong), winning the c5 pawn and, eventually, the game.
We then look at some much more recent examples of games featuring this formation.
Chapter 9 returns to London and riffs off in a tactical direction.
This is a position from another Elijah Williams game. Here, he was Black against Johann Löwenthal. White, to move, decided Black might be threatening Bxh3, so played Bf4 to prevent the sacrifice, later losing after a blunder. Staunton, writing in the tournament book, considered it a mistaken precaution. Hendriks demonstrates that the sacrifice would have been sound, and spends the rest of the chapter looking at precursors and more recent examples of the same tactical idea.
Chapter 10 is a brief visit to India in the company of John Cochrane, where opening theory developed very differently – an interesting topic in its own right.
We then move on to Paul Morphy, the hero of the next few chapters. Chapter 13, Anderssen versus Morphy, will raise a few eyebrows. We all know what to think, don’t we? Both men were tactical geniuses but Morphy was also a positional genius, while Anderssen, a representative of the romantic school of chess, was just a high class hacker. Hendriks, acknowledging Mihail Marin, who first made the point some years ago, explains that the opposite was closer to the truth. We all know Anderssen’s brilliant Immortal and Evergreen Games, but they were casual encounters where he could afford to take risks. In tournament games he sometimes experimented with more modern openings and ideas while Morphy stuck resolutely to 1. e4 e5. The difference between them was not that Morphy was a better positional player but that he was more accurate and efficient.
As we continue through the 19th century we meet Steinitz and reach what, in some ways, is the heart of the book. Because Morphy gave up serious chess before Steinitz achieved prominence, it’s easy to forget that the latter was a year older.
Very many writers over the years, from Lasker onwards, have portrayed Steinitz as the father of modern positional chess. Hendriks begs to differ. Steinitz never wrote down his principles: it was Lasker who did this, attaching Steinitz’s name to them. Hendriks demonstrates that most of his ideas were generally known before his time. His only genuinely new idea was to do with using the king as a strong piece in the opening, and that didn’t stand the test of time. Chapter 25 deals with this.
The first exercise at the start of the chapter poses an intriguing question. “Your opponent in the coming World Championship match is prepared to play this position as Black at least four times against you. Do you accept?”
Well, you certainly should as, after Nb6, White is clearly much better, even though Steinitz stubbornly insisted that Black was fine.
Here is the infamous Steinitz Gambit after White’s 5th move. Steinitz played it a lot but, although White does quite well with it over the board, it really is as bad as it looks.
As we approach the end of the 19th century, it’s time for Hendriks to start drawing conclusions. Comparisons are often made between today’s players and those from the past. If Magnus Carlsen were to travel back in time, how would he fare against Lasker, Morphy or Philidor? Here’s Hendriks, in Chapter 28: “If I might venture a wild guess regarding the average strength of say the top five or top ten players throughout the (19th) century I would say it gradually went from about 2000 around the thirties to 2400 near the end of the century.”
This sounds about right to me, but even near the end of the century, top players were making horrendous blunders which would shame a 1400 player, let alone a 2400 player.
A famous example: Chigorin-Steinitz from the 23rd game of their 1892 World Championship match.
Rxb7, for example, wins for White, but Chigorin’s choice of Bb4 proved rather unsuccessful.
Chapters 31 and 32, in which Hendriks links his discoveries to his teaching methods outlined in MFTL, might prove controversial to some. In Chapter 31 he explains why he believes that creating plans is overrated, and in Chapter 32 he tells you that, contrary to the recommendations of other teachers, you should spend a lot of time studying openings. Of course you might not agree, but it’s often worthwhile listening to those who have well thought out views which differ from yours.
Finally, we reach Chapter 36. Here’s how Hendriks concludes:
“The human history of chess, with all its theoretical struggles and its remarkable personalities, is a fascinating one. However, the general theories that supposedly unify and systematize all those pieces are in my opinion more the result than the cause of the progress made, and as a guide to finding the best moves they are of only limited use.
“As in nature, variety and complexity in chess aren’t the result of some sort of plan from above. It works the other way around, on all levels, even the individual one. As soon as you start looking at a position, all those basic bits of knowledge you gathered before start working. They come up with plans and moves to be played. You can almost sit by and wonder. And watch the good moves replicate.”
I’ve said before that we’re fortunate to be living in a golden age for chess literature, and On the Origin of Good Moves goes right in somewhere very near the top of my favourite chess books of all time. I found it well researched, endlessly fascinating, always thought provoking, often digressive, sometimes provocative and sometimes extremely funny. (Humour in chess books seems to be something of a Dutch speciality: think of Donner and Tim Krabbé.) It’s well produced, and enlivened by copious illustrations, some of only tangential relevance (soldiers in the Franco-Prussian War, a police telephone box, Charles Darwin). If you have any interest at all in the development of chess ideas this will be an essential purchase. If you want to improve your rating you’ll find a lot of inspiring suggestions, although you might not agree with all of them, a lot of great chess, much of which will probably be unfamiliar to you, and a lot of beautiful moves. You’ll find quite a lot of rather bad chess as well, but it all adds to the fun.
Five stars and a top recommendation from me. I do hope you enjoy it as much as I did. It’s certainly a book I’ll return to over and over again.
You can read some sample pages here.
Richard James, Twickenham 3rd June 2020
Book Details :
Official web site of New in Chess
BCN wishes happy birthday to GM Jonathan Paul Levitt (03-vi-1963)
From Wikipedia (Dutch version) :
Jonathan Levitt , Jon, (born in 1963) is a British chess player . In 1984 he became a FIDE International Master and in 1994 a FIDE Grand Master.
Levitt wrote chess anecdotes on the (no longer existing) chess portal kasparovchess.com . He also has a chess column in “Oxford Today”. Levitt is also known for his talent tests and he is also a chess teacher. Moreover, he is a master in endgame studies. He takes chess photos, some of which can be seen in Wikipedia.
Levitt is also the author of several chess books: “Secrets of Spectacular Chess”, “Genius in Chess”, “Advice on Improving Your Game”. He also makes chess videos for the internet.
From chessgames.com :
“Jonathan Paul Levitt was born in Southwark (London), England. Awarded the IM title in 1984, he is now a GM (1991) and a composer of problems. Winner of the Staunton Memorial in 2005. His notable works as an author include “Secrets of Spectacular Chess” and “Genius in Chess”.”
Jonathan achieved a peak rating of 2495 in January 1989 at the age of 26 and lives in Ipswich.
According to BCM, August 1994, page 430 in “News from the British Isles”:
“BCF International Grader, George Smith, informs us that Jonathan Levitt of North London, 2425 on the July 1994 FIDE list, has gained the GM title. This is the result of a second application by the BCF. Jonathan made his final norm in August 1990, and a conditional award was made in November of that year. Tracking back recently, it was proved that his July 1988 rating should have been 2510, taking into account two events which were rated late due to early cut-off dates. FIDE has agreed recent rulings could be applied retrospectively.”
He shared 1st place the GLC Masters in 1986 with 10.5/15 with Neil McDonald :
and was first equal with Jonathan Speelman in the Third Staunton Memorial in 2005 :
Here is his personal web site