All posts by John Upham

Dr. John Upham is a co-founder of British Chess News and the IT Manager.

1001 Chess Exercises for Club Players : The Tactics Workbook that Also Explains All Key Concepts

1001 Chess Exercises for Club Players : Frank Erwich

1001 Chess Exercises for Club Players
1001 Chess Exercises for Club Players

“Tactics is knowing what to do when there is something to do; strategy is knowing what to do when there is nothing to do.” – Savielly Tartakower

Every chess player enjoys (or should !) solving and practising tactics and, let’s be pragmatic, most games at mortal level are decided by executing them if the conditions are right. Creating suitable conditions is, of course, another book or books and I’m confident New in Chess will publish such material in due course.

FIDE Master Frank Erwich is a a professional chess teacher for the Royal Dutch Chess Federations, coach and active player. In 2012 he established a teaching company and, from his own web site :

He works as an editor for New in Chess, he helps with the development of material for chess books and chess apps, he writes about chess (including author of 1001 Chess Exercises for Club Players and the e-book Basic Chess rules for Kids ), he makes online lessons for starting chess players and he is regularly active as a coach during a chess tournament (including during the European Youth Championship in 2014, 2015 and 2016).

FM Frank Erwich
FM Frank Erwich

So, what is 1001 Chess Exercises for Club Players about ?

The author has identified 1001(!) positions from recent tournament praxis the majority of which are from the last ten years. This, in itself, is a tour de force as many previous tactics books bring a strong sense of déjà vu. He has categorised them into ten groupings viz :

  1. Elimination of the Defence
  2. Double Attack
  3. Discovered Attack
  4. Skewer (or x-ray for our USA readers !)
  5. Pin
  6. Trapping a piece
  7. Promotion
  8. Draw
  9. Mate
  10. Defending

and then follows these with a chapter entitled “Mix” which combines many of the previous themes and of course, a Solutions to each exercise chapter.

As with every recent New in Chess publication high quality paper is used and the printing is clear. 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 mine !). Each diagram clearly shows who is to move and the instructional text is typeset in two column format, which, I 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.

You might have noticed that in the list of categories the author has inserted “Trapping a piece” and “Defending” which are welcome (not often discussed) themes among the more familiar ones.

Each chapter kicks-off with a description of the theme in question followed by high quality examples. All jargon and terms are explained in detail making each section self-contained eliminating the need to go elsewhere to cross-reference. Sometimes the author invents his own terminology (such as “away” and “chasing”) in cases where there is a need and all is carefully explained.

Following the instructional text and examples there are, on average 100 test positions given as groups of twelve per page. Each diagram clearly indicates who is to move and underneath most is a hint such as “magnet + double check”. I prefer to hide the hint but some will value these clues. Of course, after say a dozen in one section, one gets a feel for what is expected and this forms part of the training. Each solution provides useful analysis (which has been engine checked) plus contextual information about the source game, players and event.

To give you some idea of the content here is an excerpt from the training section on Elimination of the Defence :

“We conclude this chapter with a spectacular move:

Li Chao, 2746
Nigel Short, 2666
Baku ol 2016 (7) (analysis)

36. Qe6!
This is called a Novotny Interference! The queen is sacrificed on a square where it can be captured in four ways, but whichever black piece makes the capture, it interferes with the range of the other pieces:

36…Rxe6 (and Nxe6) interupts the a2-g8 diagonal and allows 37.Rg8#, while 36…Bxe6 closes off the sixth rank and runs into 37.Bxf6+ Rg7 38.Bxg7#.36…Rg7 prevents immediate mate, but after37.Bxf6 Black will also have to lay down his king before long.”

Here is one of the more challenging exercises :

The hint is “away + material”

and the solution is :

31…Qe5! 32.Qxe5 32.Qd2 Rxc1+ 33.Qxc1 Qxd4+ -+. 32…Rxc1+ 33.Kf2 Rxe5 34.Nxf6 Kxf6 35. Rxd7 Re7 -+ Jonkman Inza – K. Arnold, Assen ch-NED jr W 2019 (analysis).”

Finally, a detailed glossary in itself provides learning opportunities to improve one’s knowledge.

It was a pleasure to work through the exercises and they provided ideas for my student lessons and coaching. Possibly the most enjoyable section was Chapter 11 entitled “Mix”. This is the best test of what has gone before since there is no declared theme, and, more often than not, no visible hint. You are on your own and you might start a chess timer with each new position to provide motivation and test your speed and accuracy of solution.

In summary this is an excellent book that goes highly recommended. If I hadn’t had it to review then I would have purchased it anyway ! It it much than more than “just another tactics book”.

John Upham, Cove, Hampshire, June 20th 2019

John Upham
John Upham

Book Details :

  • Hardcover : 192 pages
  • Publisher: New In chess (3 April 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9056918192
  • ISBN-13: 978-9056918194
  • Product Dimensions: 16.9 x 1.2 x 24 cm

Official web site of New in Chess

1001 Chess Exercises for Club Players
1001 Chess Exercises for Club Players

Birthday Wishes to GM Jonathan Levitt

GM Jonathan Levitt
GM Jonathan Levitt

From Wikipedia :

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.

Genius in Chess
Genius in Chess
GM Jonathan Levitt
GM Jonathan Levitt

Many Happy Returns Nigel Short !

GM Nigel David Short
GM Nigel David Short

From Wikipedia :

Nigel David Short MBE (born 1 June 1965) is an English chess grandmaster, columnist, coach, commentator and, since October 2018, Vice-President of FIDE. Short earned the Grandmaster title at the age of 19, and was ranked third in the world by FIDE from January 1988 to July 1989. In 1993 he became the first English player to play a World Chess Championship match, when he qualified to play Garry Kasparov in the World Chess Championship 1993 in London, where Kasparov won 12½ to 7½.

Nigel Short
Nigel Short
Nigel Short
Nigel Short

Happy Birthday IM John Cox

IM John Cox
IM John Cox

BCN sends best wishes to IM John Cox on his birthday, this day, in 1962.

From Wikipedia :

John J Cox (22 May 1962) is a British chess player who holds the title of International Master which he earned in 2005.[1] His peak Elo rating of 2423 was achieved in January 2006.

Cox was among the strong juniors in the 1970s and 1980s and finished tied for first in a British U18 championship. The need to earn a living made Cox leave the chess scene for several years. During this time he also played bridge. He eventually returned to chess after the hiatus.[1]

Books
Cox has written a number of well-received chess books, and he has contributed to the New in Chess yearbooks.

Four of his books were published by Everyman Chess, three of them introductory level books in the Starting Out series. His 2004 book on the Alekhine’s Defence, Starting Out: Alekhine’s Defence was credited by Watson as his main source on the Alekhine,[1] and Carsten Hansen’s review for the Chess Cafe credited the book for readability, an easy-going tone, and excellent annotations.[2] Since the book was written, Cox has largely abandoned the Alekhine because of perceived trouble for Black in the Four Pawns Attack variation. Cox has since taken up 1.e4 e5.[1]

A manual for Black on Queen’s Pawn Game sidelines such as the Colle System and Trompowsky Attack was published in 2005 under the title Dealing with 1 d4 deviations.[3] The idea of this book was proposed by Cox who believed there was a niche for a book on how to deal with these openings which are common at the club level.[1]

The 2006 White opening repertoire book Starting Out: 1 d4! also received high marks in reviews by Hansen and Watson, despite some skepticism of Cox’s opening selections which included highly theoretical and complex variations. Cox recommended playing to use mainline openings and to avoid deliberately playing inferior sidelines.[3][4] Watson also remarked the recommendation of such difficult lines for an amateur audience, but Cox notes that the complex mainlines may well appeal to players of club level strength.[1]

The 2007 book Starting Out: Sicilian Sveshnikov also received top marks from Hansen, who praised Cox’s communication of the difficult lines which are a feature of the Sveshnikov line.[5]

Cox’s book for Quality Chess, The Berlin Wall which is about the solid Berlin Variation of the Ruy Lopez got top marks for its writing and thoroughness.[6]

Starting out  1.d4 ! by John Cox
Starting out 1.d4 ! by John Cox

McFarland Books

McFarland Books
McFarland Books

BCN is delighted to have received recent publications from McFarland Books. They are :

British Chess Literature to 1914 : A Handbook for Historians by Tim Harding

British Chess Literature to 1914 : A Handbook for Historians
British Chess Literature to 1914 : A Handbook for Historians

and

Tal, Petrosian, Spassky and Korchnoi : A Chess Multibiography with 207 Games by Andrew Soltis

Tal, Petrosian, Spassky and Korchnoi : A Chess Multibiography with 207 Games
Tal, Petrosian, Spassky and Korchnoi : A Chess Multibiography with 207 Games