Happy Birthday Mark Crowther !

TWIC Founder, Mark Crowther
TWIC Founder, Mark Crowther

BCN wishes TWIC founder, Mark Crowther, all the best on his birthday.

From Wikipedia :

The Week in Chess (TWIC) is one of the first, if not the first, Internet-based chess news services. It is based in the United Kingdom.

TWIC has been edited by Mark Crowther since its inception in 1994.[1] It began as a weekly Usenet posting, with “TWIC 1” being posted to Usenet group rec.games.chess on 17 September 1994.[2] Later it moved to Crowther’s personal web site, then to chesscenter.com in 1997,[3] and in 2012 it moved to theweekinchess.com.[4]

It contains both chess news, and all the game scores from major events.

TWIC quickly became popular with professional chess players, because it allowed them to quickly get results and game scores, where previously they had relied on print publications.[5]

TWIC still exists as a weekly newsletter, although for important events the TWIC website is updated daily. It remains a popular site for up-to-date chess news.[6]

Happy Birthday GM Matthew Sadler !

GM Matthew Sadler
GM Matthew Sadler

BCN wishes GM Matthew Sadler all the best on his birthday, this day, in 1974.

From Wikipedia :

Sadler won the British Championship in 1995 at the age of 21 and again in 1997 (jointly with Michael Adams).[2] He represented England in the 1996 Chess Olympiad, scoring 10½/13 and winning a gold medal for the best score on board four (England finished fourth), and also played in 1998 scoring 7½/12. He made 7/9 on board four for England at the European Team Chess Championship in Pula in 1997.[3] His was the best individual score of the five-man English team and so contributed significantly to England’s first (and to date only) gold medal in a major competition.

For several years, he was the book reviewer for New in Chess magazine and also wrote books and articles for other chess magazines. In 2000, his book Queen’s Gambit Declined (published by Everyman) was awarded the British Chess Federation’s book of the year award.[4]

Latterly a resident of Amersfoort, Sadler returned to chess in 2010 to play in a rapidplay tournament held in nearby Wageningen. He won the event with a perfect score of 7/7, finishing ahead of grandmasters Jan Timman, Friso Nijboer and Daniel Fridman. In August 2011, Sadler continued his resurgence by winning the XIII Open Internacional D’Escacs de Sants, scoring 8½/10, ahead of several grandmasters including Jan Smeets. Right thereafter, in October 2011, he went on to compete in the Oslo Chess International; participants included ten other grandmasters, among them Sergei Tiviakov, Jon Ludvig Hammer and Sergey Volkov, all being 2600+ rated. Sadler won convincingly, with 8/9 points and a performance rating of 2849. Going into 2012, the gain in rating points elevated him to fourth rank amongst active English players and also lifted him back into the World Top 100.

In a January 2012 interview, Sadler stated that chess was now primarily a “hobby” for him.[5] While relishing his return to tournament play, Sadler noted that he was now an amateur, and would not be coming back as a professional. He contrasts his present lighthearted attitude with his demeanor during his time as a professional, when he was “working ten hours a day and incredibly intensively”.

Matthew Sadler
Matthew Sadler

GM Norm for Matthew Wadsworth

FM Matthew J Wadsworth
FM Matthew J Wadsworth

FM Matthew Wadsworth, one of England’s most promising young players, has earned his first Grandmaster norm from his excellent performance in the Four Nations Chess League (4NCL). Matthew, who is eighteen (nineteen in June), has a current FIDE standard play rating of 2413 and is ranked 34th amongst the active players in England (by FIDE rating) earning his FM title in 2016. Matthew has IMs norm under his belt but could leapfrog to Grandmaster status with further norms and by increasing his live rating to 2500. Most likely, however, is that the IM title will be ratified at the next FIDE Congress now that his live rating has topped 2400.

Matthew’s first ECF grade was 66A in 2007 (aged 7) and he played for Maidenhead in local leagues, St. Pirans’s School and then Reading School. Matthew joined 4NCL at an early age and played for AMCA (Andrew Martin Chess Academy) soon rising the ranks to the AMCA first team and he currently represents the Guildford 2 team in Division One of the Four Nations Chess League (4NCL). Matthew’s 4NCL results for the 2018-19 season were :

1. Fodor, Tamas Jr, draw
2. Ashton, Adam G, win
3. Gonda, Laszlo, draw
4. Kulon, Klaudia, win
5. Holland, James P, win
6. Stewart, Ashley, win
7. Ledger, Andrew J, win
8. Plat, Vojtech, loss
9. no game
10. Jackson, James P, win
11. no game

giving a performance of 7/9

One of the undoubted highlights of Matthews chess year was has draw with Oxford domiciled GM Hou Yifan, three times Women’s World Champion from China during the annual Varsity match, Matthew representing Cambridge.

FM Matthew J Wadsworth
FM Matthew J Wadsworth

Understanding Before Moving 1 : Ruy Lopez – Italian Structures

Understanding Before Moving 1: Ruy Lopez - Italian Structures
Understanding Before Moving 1: Ruy Lopez – Italian Structures

The author of this book Herman Grooten is an International master and has taught players such as Loek van Wely.

IM Herman Grooten (photograph : Harry Gielen)
IM Herman Grooten (photograph : Harry Gielen)

At the start of the book Grooten emphasises that many chess players memorise lots of opening theory but it does not improve their results as they do not understand the position when their opponent deviates from theory.

He explores the various pawn structures in variations of openings in the Ruy Lopez (Spanish Game) and (Giuoco Piano) Italian game.

The first variation he looks at is the so-called Berlin wall (Berlin Defence) which was used very successfully by Vladimir Kramnik in his World Championship match vs Gary Kasparov.

Knowing Kasparov was a great attacking player Kramnik chose a variation which leads to a Queenless middle game.
Although Black ends up with doubled pawns on the Queenside (as in the Ruy Lopez, Exchange Variation) his bishop pair is good compensation and his doubled pawns are not weak and easily exploited.

Grooten then shows what each side should be trying to achieve to progress their position.

In the Open Lopez the pawn structure is very different : White has a four to three pawn majority on the kingside and with a pawn on e5 and good use of the d4 he has good chances for an advantage and it is well known that Viktor Korchnoi played the Open Lopez in his famous match with Anatoly Karpov. Black has a four to three majority on the queenside but his c7 pawn is backwards and weak. If Black can play c5 then he will probably equalise but he normally cannot afford to play Nxd4 as after cxd4 his c7 pawn is very weak.

Next Grooten examines variations of the Closed Lopez where play typically goes 5 Be7 6 Re1 b5 7 Bb3 00 8 c3 d6 9 h3. Here the Zaitzev 9…Bb7 Chigorin 9…Na5 and Breyer 9…Nb8 are explored in detail. In all three of these famous lines the pawn structure is the same White pawns on c3 d4 and e4 Black pawns on c5 d6 and e5.
White normally can decide the structure by either playing d5 or d4xc5 or maintain tension with Nbd2 when Black can change the structure with c5xd4,
Paul Keres often did this in the Chigorin Variation.

Grooten looks in depth at the theory of the Two Knights where White plays 4 Ng5 including some variations in the main line 5 Na5 which I have not seen before and maybe are unusual and interesting.

Finally, He also looks at some interesting world class games the best of which is a win by Paul Keres over Mikhail Tal as Black in the Chigorin Variation.

In summary, this excellent book will appeal to club players who know these openings but are not sure what plan(s) to adopt in the consequent middle game.

Colin Lyne, Farnborough, Hampshire, May 1st, 2019

Colin Lyne
Colin Lyne

Book Details :

  • Paperback : 144 pages
  • Publisher: Thinkers Publishing (9th January 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9492510375
  • ISBN-13: 978-9492510372
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 1.9 x 23.5 cm

Official web site of Thinkers Publishing

Understanding Before Moving 1: Ruy Lopez - Italian Structures
Understanding Before Moving 1: Ruy Lopez – Italian Structures

Chess Gamer, Volume 1 : The Awakening 1989-1996

Chess Gamer, Volume 1 : The Awakening 1989-1996
Chess Gamer, Volume 1 : The Awakening 1989-1996

Gata Kamsky was born in 1974 in Siberia. When moved to Leningrad he became a student of the renowned veteran trainer, who  had coached since about 1945, witness Spassky and Korchnoi ! and author (‘Improve Your Chess Results’ and ‘The King’s Gambit’ with Viktor K), Vladimir Zak. At 12 he won the USSR Junior Championship. However, early journeys into the top game were not always successful and his fast track was criticised even by Botvinnik himself.

Gata Kamsky with Father
Gata Kamsky with Father

His father brought Gata up alone and loomed large in the prodigy’s life, Kamsky Senior even stopping Short in his tracks (“Where is your father?”). He was moved to the USA in 1989 but, sadly, has recently stated that he was never fully accepted. He became GM shortly afterwards.

GM Gata Kamsky
GM Gata Kamsky

Although a  1996 FIDE World Championship challenger, he lost a well contested match versus Karpov, whereupon Kamsky Senior announced Gata intention to pursue a career in medicine. He had withdrawn from the game, was seeking a teenage bride, and by order!

This book deals with the first part of an incredible career up to  1996. It centres on 22 games, all against fellow grandmasters, all with very deep notes. The text lacks an index. No attempt is made to list his tournament record, or give family photos or reminiscence. It is the first of two volumes, the second yet to appear.

The Two K's
The Two K’s

A recent interview on ‘Perpetual Chess Podcast’ saw Gata labeling himself an advocate of the Lasker School. He emerges from an era when preparation might even be considered cheating. a big fan of endgame studies. Further, he is revealed as almost humble, of great depth who, the introduction to his book states, as author, seems to want to be compared with Fischer. I don’t agree but, BCN, as ever, welcomes correspondence here.

GM Gata Kamsky
GM Gata Kamsky

Potential buyers of this book, which is subtitled ‘Awakening’ should definitely listen in to his interview and please let us know what you think.

James Pratt
James Pratt

James Pratt, Basingstoke, April 2019

Book Details:

  • Paperback : 315 pages
  • Publisher : Thinkers Publishing 28th April 2019
  • Language : English
  • ISBN-10 : 9492510286
  • ISBN-13 : 978-9492510280
  • Product Dimensions : 17.1 x 1.9 x 23.5 cm/li>

Official web site of  http://www.thinkerspublishing.com

Chess Gamer, Volume 1 : The Awakening 1989-1996
Chess Gamer, Volume 1 : The Awakening 1989-1996

The Chigorin Bible : A Classic Defence to the Ruy Lopez

The Chigorin Bible: A Classic Defence to the Ruy Lopez
The Chigorin Bible: A Classic Defence to the Ruy Lopez

The Chigorin defence to the Ruy Lopez comes about when black plays the closed 5…Be7 variation and play continues 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 00 9.h3 now black unleashes 9…Na5.

The opening is named after the Russian player Mikhail Ivanovich Chigorin (1850 to 1908) who twice played Wilhelm Steinitz for the world title, losing on both occasions.

The authors of the book are Dutch Grandmaster Ivan Sokolov and Spanish (appropriately enough !) Grandmaster Ivan Salgado Lopez.

GM Ivan Sokolov
GM Ivan Sokolov
GM Ivan Salgado Lopez
GM Ivan Salgado Lopez

Anyone playing the black side of 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 has to face the problem of how to get equality after 3.Bb5 undoubtedly the most challenging move. White’s normal strategy will often be to play for a kingside attack and therefore black needs to find a good defence that gives him equal chances and the opportunity to take over the initiative if white goes astray. The two Ivans offer a defence to the Ruy Lopez that seems to do that and one which is a lot more interesting than the (in my opinion) boring (according to many!) Berlin Defence.

Firstly, I was surprised to learn that this opening variation was first played by (1910 World Championship Challenger) Carl Schlechter in 1902 and his opponent was Dr. Siegbert Tarrasch. Chigorin himself played the defence twice but it was Akiba Rubinstein who made the opening popular playing it many times against world class opponents. Later on Capablanca, Lasker, Botvinnik, Euwe, Reshevsky and particularly Paul Keres all helped to make it a popular response to the Spanish Opening.

The book starts out by discussing early games and detailing middle game plans for Black. The first variation to be discussed in detail is 10.Bc2 c5 11.d4 Qc7 12.Nbd2 citing the stem game Lasker vs Tarrasch giving an excellent example of how black should play the position. A whole chapter then looks at the games of Paul Keres (most of which he won) however it does not include his famous game v Robert James Fischer (Zurich 1959) which is nevertheless analysed in another chapter : Fischer won that historic encounter.
An attractive (and unusual ) feature of this book is that it also points out best lines for White to play rather than simply evangelizing the Chigorin Variation from Black’s perspective. An example of this is when black chooses 11…Bb7 over 11…Qc7 and after 12.d5! it is difficult for black to activate the bishop or the knight on a5.
A better 11th move for Black is Nd7 which features in several games. Here again the author’s point out that 12.d5 is playing into blacks’ hand as he plays Nb6 intending f5. A better try is 12.a4 as a number of high level games demonstrate.

The latter part of the book discusses much theory and sums up which lines are promising for each player and which are to be avoided.

Summing up, I would say that this is an excellent book and any player studying it is likely to be better prepared than their opponent for sure.

Colin Lyne, Farnborough, Hampshire, April 16th, 2019

Colin Lyne
Colin Lyne

Book Details :

  • Paperback : 349 pages
  • Publisher: Thinkers Publishing (4th March 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9492510413
  • ISBN-13: 978-9492510419
  • Product Dimensions: 17.3 x 1.3 x 23.4 cm

Official web site of Thinkers Publishing

The Chigorin Bible: A Classic Defence to the Ruy Lopez
The Chigorin Bible: A Classic Defence to the Ruy Lopez

My Magic Years With Topalov

My Magic Years with Topalov
My Magic Years with Topalov

After four years, ending in 2014, of  working with the Bulgarian Grandmaster, Veselin Topalov, the second (“a Second generally has to work at night, often all night”) to the former FIDE World Champion speaks of his duties, preparation and with colour (“He fought like a lion for 71 moves”). It is a tale of dedication and loyalty to a seemingly fearsome character. (Presumably this could not have been written whilst the author, who is also the Managing Editor of Thinkers series, was under contract?!)

Chapters: A World Apart. The Start of Our Co-operation. Learning the Job. Zug More Success! Tough Times in Thessalonika. Rollercoaster in Beijing! Preparing for the Candidates. The Candidates Tournament. A Few Novelties More. Exercises 24 positions and Solutions.

Many annotated games, mostly recent, no Rabars but ratings quoted. Use of smaller diagrams in notes (good!). A few cartoons and 7 crosstables. Very artistic colour cover. No index.

Digestible and thorough and, happily, honest. The author has been a French grandmaster for the last decade.

James Pratt
James Pratt

James Pratt, Basingstoke, April 2019

Book Details:

  • Paperback: 310 pages
  • Publisher: Thinkers Publishing 28th April 2019
  • Language: English
  • ISBN: 9492510448
  • ISBN-13: 978-9492510440
  • Product Dimensions: 17 x 2 x 23.4 cm
  • 31 black and white photographs

Official web site of  http://www.thinkerspublishing.com

My Magic Years with Topalov
My Magic Years with Topalov

Together with the Candidates : Budapest 1950 to Berlin 2018

Together with the Candidates
Together with the Candidates

This is a relaxed and almost carefree publication written by a grandmaster little known to me, though I imagine readers of BCN will not confuse him with Gennady Kuzmin (b.1946). Alexey was, in fact, born in 1963 and is sensibly introduced on the back of this weighty paperback, a recent arrival from Thinkers Publishing who are, in turn, a new publisher in the realm of the Royal Game.

GM Alexey Kuzmin
GM Alexey Kuzmin

The subject matter is the Candidates tournaments and matches – almost all staged within FIDE – and bears the sub-title ‘Budapest 1950 to Berlin 2018’.

Certainly the book, which features test positions, crosstables, black and white photos, no index, a very artistic aqua marine cover, six chapters, a key to symbols and, of course, well annotated games, should be of interest to many players. Not all the games are from candidates matches or tournaments but this surely doesn’t matter. And I did say it has relaxed in approach.

Younger readers will, I hope, enjoy a bit of history as the qualification history is relived and the old names, so many champions from the time of Botvinnik onwards, are resurrected respectfully and with relish.

I spotted a few mistakes. The numbering of the Tests, which surely might have been sequential, is the same in each chapter. Jussupow called himself Yusupov as long ago as 1986 and some of the photos are so dark that they are hardly worthwhile.

I would like to like this book but it is a bit of a mix, a hotch-potch, at least in my opinion. Certainly it is pleasantly free from misprints and original in concept.

James Pratt
James Pratt

James Pratt, Basingstoke, April 2019

Book Details :

  • Papercover : 280 pages
  • Publisher: Thinkers Publishing, (1st January 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9492510359
  • ISBN-13: 978-9492510358
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 2.5 x 24.1 cm

Official web site of  http://www.thinkerspublishing.com

Together with the Candidates : Budapest 1950 to Berlin 2018
Together with the Candidates : Budapest 1950 to Berlin 2018

Chess Opening Traps for Kids

Chess Opening Traps for Kids : Graham Burgess

Chess Opening Traps for Kids
Chess Opening Traps for Kids

FIDE Master Graham Burgess needs no introduction to readers of English language chess books ! Minnesota, USA based, Graham has authored more than twenty five books and edited at least 250 and is editorial director of Gambit Publications Ltd. In 1994 Graham set a world record for marathon blitz playing and has been champion of the Danish region of Funen !

FM Graham Burgess
FM Graham Burgess

Readers may remember “101 Chess Opening Surprises” published in 1998, also by Gambit Publications, was well received and added to GKBs reputation for originality, accuracy and encyclopedic knowledge of openings.

Chess Opening Traps for Kids is the fifth in a series of “for Kids” books and is robustly (!) hardbound in a convenient size such that weights are not need to keep it propped open (unlike some A5 paperbacks) meaning studying with this book is more convenient than with many books. The layout and printing is clear (as you would expect with Gambit) with numerous diagrams at key moments in each, relatively short, game. In essence, players under 18 (for whom this book is intended) will find it easy to dip in out of and it can be used without a board (although BCN would always recommend following each game on a “proper” board).

As you would expect with Gambit, the notation is English short form algebraic using figurines for pieces. One slight criticism is that the diagrams do not have “whose move it is” indicator. We know that many readers like to see this on all diagrams. However, each diagram does have coordinates; welcome for the junior readership.

Graham has identified and described 100 unique themes (usually tactical) that lead to relatively short wins out of the opening, many of which could be termed “miniatures”. An example theme is “Drag the King Out with Nxf7” : “Sometimes players leave f7 so weak that a knight sacrifice on that square wins by force. The signs to look out for are a queen that can invade on e6 and other pieces ready to support the raid.” Under this theme the author presents three examples (typical for each theme) from different openings plus supporting analysis and explanation.

A range of openings are demonstrated that yield a similar trap. For example, The Siberian Trap is shown from the usual perspective of the Sicilian Defence and the Queen’s Gambit Accepted. In the main, the author does not get bogged down giving details of who were the players of the games and when and where they were played but does in a few cases where the players are especially well known.

The author’s explanations and language are clear, concise and presented with a friendly and engaging style. There are numerous cross references to other themes when an idea uses a previously mentioned one. All of this contributes to the learning experience and the pattern recognition aspects of chess that are especially important for young players in their formative years. Thankfully, there is no recourse to engine evaluations and the emphasis is to use one’s personal brain engine in making an assessment. (One of our bugbears as chess teachers and coaches is juniors increasingly relying on engine assessments rather than their own brains).

Having worked through the 100 themes the student is presented with 48 exercises (with solutions) that test the students understanding (not memory) of what they hopefully have learnt.

Finally there are useful tips on further improvement and how to make progress.

In summary, this is an excellent book with much original material presented in a clear and friendly way and therefore to be recommended.

One negative comment we would make concerns the cover. “Never judge a book by its cover” we are told and you might look at this book cover and think it was suitable for say primary aged children. I would say not but I would suggest it suitable from secondary aged children. I would say strong juniors from 12 upwards would read this book and enjoy it.

Apart from the “move indicator” we would like to see an index of openings from which the theme examples were obtained.

The title and cover might, perhaps, put off the adult club player market. However, the content is totally suitable for adult club players upto say 180 ECF or 2000 Elo.

John Upham, Cove, Hampshire, April 5th 2019

John Upham
John Upham

Book Details :

  • Hardcover : 128 pages
  • Publisher: Gambit Publications Ltd. (1st February 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1911465279
  • ISBN-13: 978-1911465270
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 1.3 x 22.9 cm

Official web site of Gambit Publications Ltd.

Chess Opening Traps for Kids
Chess Opening Traps for Kids

The Modernized Caro-Kann

The Modernized Caro-Kann : Daniel Fernandez

The Modernized Caro-Kann
The Modernized Caro-Kann

This book, written by the young English GM Daniel Fernandez and published by Thinkers Publishing, is (as the sub-title suggests) a repertoire book for Black players of the Caro-Kann defence. As such, Fernandez does not cover all possible black lines, but instead he recommends lines against each of the systems that White can employ against the Caro-Kann – and in many instances he recommends more than one line so that the reader can choose according to preference.

GM Daniel Fernandez
GM Daniel Fernandez

His repertoire consists of one or two solid (but not sterile) lines against each system, but additionally he throws in the occasional not-so-sound line (and always warns that he is doing this) that can be tried as a surprise weapon, or perhaps at faster time controls.

This is an excellent book, Fernandez manages to mix detailed analysis, explanations and personal opinion in a way which makes the book readable and enjoyable to go through (and believe me, some of the analysis is very detailed). The book is well produced and organised, and quite substantial at 416 pages. There is no detailed Index of Variations (usually a bugbear of mine!), but it is easy to find the line you’re looking for from the Table of Contents and the beginning of the book and a mini-Table of Contents page at the beginning of each chapter for the sub-variations.

I would highly recommend this book for anyone thinking about taking up the Caro-Kann, and for that matter to anyone who already plays it – it is one of the best opening books I have seen.

It is difficult to discuss this book without comparing it to Jovanka Houska’s book “The Caro-Kann” produced by Everyman Chess. Both books are recent (Houska 2015, Fernandez 2018) repertoire books by top English players who play the Caro themselves. (It is the Houska book that I used when I started using the Caro a couple of years ago.) In my opinion, both books are top-notch and provide the prospective Caro player with a good repertoire. If asked which book I would recommend this prospective Caro player to buy I would answer “both of them” – despite the overlap there are substantial differences in some lines (for example Houska recommends 4 …Bf5 after 1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 dxe4 4 Nxe4 whereas Fernandez recommends 4 …Nd7 here) and this gives players more choice over the lines they select. Of course, if budget does not permit buying both books then either one will do the job. I would be reluctant to choose only one of these excellent books, so I will not do so.

In summary: The Modernized Caro-Kann is an excellent choice for prospective Caro-Kann players, or indeed for those who already play the Caro-Kann and are looking to update their repertoire.

Colin Purdon, March 4th 2019

Colin Purdon
Colin Purdon

Book Details :

  • Hardcover : 416 pages
  • Publisher: Thinkers Publishing (8 Sept. 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9492510251
  • ISBN-13: 978-9492510259
  • Product Dimensions: 17.1 x 2.5 x 24.1 cm

Official web site of Thinkers Publishing

available

The content of the book is available as a training course as part of ChessAble