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Mastering Chess Logic

Mastering Chess Logic, Joshua Sheng, Guannan Song, Everyman Chess, 10th September 2021, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1781946237
Mastering Chess Logic, Joshua Sheng, Guannan Song, Everyman Chess, 10th September 2021, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1781946237

Here is the publishers blurb from the rear cover :

“What exactly makes the greatest players of all time, such as Magnus Carlsen, Bobby Fischer, and Garry Kasparov stand out from the rest? The basic aspects of chess (calculation, study of opening theory, and technical endgame ability) are of course of great importance. However, the more mysterious part of chess ability lies within the thought process.”

In particular: * How does one evaluate certain moves to be better than others? * How does one improve their feel of the game? This book will tackle this woefully underexplored aspect of chess: the logic behind the game. It will explain how chess works at a fundamental level. Topics include:

  • What to think about when evaluating a position.
  • How to formulate and execute plans.
  • How to generate and make use of the initiative.

The reader also has plenty of opportunities to test their decision-making by attempting 270 practical exercises. These are mostly designed to develop understanding, as the justification of the moves is more important than the actual correct answer.”

and about the authors :

Guannan Song is a FIDE Master with one International Master norm from Canada. He won the 2010 Canadian Youth Chess Championship and scored bronze at the 2015 North American Junior Chess Championships. He also played for Team Canada at the 2010 World Youth Chess Championship and the 2014 World Youth U16 Chess Olympiad. He represents Western University on board 1 of its Championship team and led his team to 2nd place at the 2019 Canadian University Chess Championship.

Joshua Sheng Joshua Sheng is an International Master with one Grandmaster norm from Santa Monica, California. He tied for first in the 2016 North American Junior Chess Championships and placed third in the 2019 U.S. Junior Chess Championships. He graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2021. Joshua has been a serious chess coach for many years, and this is his first book.

As with every recent Everyman Chess publication high quality paper is used and the printing is clear. Each diagram is clear as is the instructional text. Figurine algebraic notation is used throughout and the diagrams are placed adjacent to the relevant text.

The book consists of six chapters viz:

  1. Building Blocks
  2. Know What You Have
  3. Mise en Place
  4. The Big Game
  5. Beginning and End
  6. Solutions

A video review has appeared on YouTube.

Before going further you may Look Inside via Amazon.

 

The authors might not be very well known to you, so perhaps we should find out more.

The publishers tell us that ‘Joshua has been a serious chess coach for many years’ and that ‘Guannan is an experienced chess coach’.  But according to FIDE Joshua was born in 2000 and Guannan in 1998. They haven’t been alive many years, let alone been serious chess coaches for many years. Some of us have been teaching chess (although in my case not very seriously) since 1972. Not only before they were born,  but perhaps even before their parents were born.

Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and take a look inside.

From the authors’ introduction:

This book will be arranged primarily into sections where games will be analysed and your authors will talk. The talking and exposition will predominantly be done in the first person to ease communication. The beliefs and opinions held will generally be shared by both authors, although the primary voice will be Joshua’s. At the end of each of the first four chapters, there will be 30 practical exercises intending to reinforce your  understanding of the relevant topics. Chapter 5 will consist of another 150 exercises representing a more comprehensive synthesis of the explored material and are designed to test your overall knowledge and understanding. For the most part, we have intentionally avoided mentioning the end result or the game continuation after the point of interest from those exercises, as doing so might distract the reader from the primary point of them – developing your understanding. What matters is the decision-making process at the critical position shown in each puzzle.

What we have here is a book aimed mainly, I would say, at players between about 1500 and 2000 strength, although many of the puzzles demonstrate much stronger players making poor decisions.

It’s relatively easy, I suppose, to write books about openings, tactics or endings, but strategy, being a rather nebulous topic, is much harder to write about.

Other recent books, for example those by Erik Kislik, have discussed logic in chess, but these have, for the most part, been aimed at higher rated players.

There have been other books looking at strategy at this level – an excellent and much quoted example is Michael Stean’s book Simple Chess. The authors have also used Jeremy Silman’s rightly popular How to Reassess your Chess and make frequent references to imbalances in their explanatory material. These days we’re very much into interactive learning, so we expect quizzes to be incorporated so that we can test our understanding of the book’s content.

This book, then, looks like it fills a gap in the market as an interactive instructional book on logic and strategy for club standard players.

The first chapter, Building Blocks, introduces the reader to some basic concepts: material (including compensation), piece activity, piece improvement, pawn structure and space. In each case a few simple examples are provided, which are aimed more at 1500 than 2000 rated players.

Then, we move onto some quiz questions to test your understanding. All the puzzle positions in this book have been taken from games played between 2019 and 2021, so it’s very unlikely that you’ll have seen many – or any – of them before.

Here’s the first question, with Black to play (Arabidze – Jojua, Tblisi 2019). What would you recommend?

The answer (in part):

20… Bh6!

Black finds a great opportunity to force a trade of dark-squared bishops, getting rid of his weak blunted piece on g7 and its strong counterpart on e3. A lax move like 20… Ke7? would lose the opportunity to trade bishops after 21. Bf2. 

Of course you also have to see that Bxc4 fails tactically. There’s an assumption throughout the book that you have a reasonable level of tactical ability.

Chapter 2, Know What You Have, looks at positional evaluations. The authors use the acronym MAPS (Material, Activity, Pawn structure and king Safety) to lead you to your desired destination. This is taught by means of four games. We have Botvinnik – Capablanca (Netherlands 1938), which, if you’ve read a lot of chess books, you’ll have seen many times before, followed by Geller – Euwe (Zurich 1953), which again you may well have seen on many previous occasions. The chapter concludes with two recent games played by Joshua Sheng.

In Q35 (Grinberg – Ipatov, chess.com 2021) it’s again Black’s move.

In this instance Black got it wrong.

17… Be5?

Black protects his d6-pawn but gives away his two-bishop advantage. 17… Re6! was a greatly superior way to continue. A subsequent …Qe8 would place insurmountable pressure on e4. After 18. Rbd1 Qe8 19. Qb3 b5 20. Bxd6 c4 Black retains the bishop pair, recovers the pawn on the next move, and maintains pressure on White’s position.

Chapter 3, Mise En Scene, talks about identifying candidate moves, using a combination of calculation and evaluation. So they’re been reading Kotov as well as Silman, then? This time we have five example games: three from Sheng, plus Fischer – Spassky 1972 Game 6 (like Botvinnik – Capablanca, one of the most anthologised games of all time) and Tal – Rantanen from 1979.

In Chapter 4, The Big Game, we look at the initiative. The games are Kasparov – Andersson from 1981, Hydra – Ponomariov from 2005, and another three from Sheng.

Here’s one of them. (Click on any move for a pop-up window.)

Chapter 5 offers the reader 150 puzzles based on the lessons from earlier in the book.

Here’s another question: Q243 (Wall – Greet, Dublin 2019). It’s Black’s move again.

This is yet another question to do with trading bishops. Here, Richmond top board IM Gavin Wall chose to trade off his bad bishop, but this time he was mistaken.

19. Bc1?

At a glance, White holds a space advantage and control over the c-file. However, with this move, White starts to remove important defenders from his d4-pawn, giving Black a way back into the game. Though it looks like White is trading away a bad bishop for Black’s good bishop, the white bishop on b2 is actually a strong defensive piece. Better was 19. Bd3!, preparing h3-g4 or Nc3-Bxf5-Nxd5.

There’s a lot to admire about this book. There are very few books of this nature on the market providing interactive strategic instruction for club level players. As a 1900-2000 player myself I thought it was pitched at the right level for me, and would be accessible, if challenging, for ambitious and hard-working players from, say, 1500 upwards. The positions have been expertly chosen and the solutions are well explained giving just the right level of detail.

Having said that, introducing Chapters 2-4 through a seemingly fairly random selection of games (a combination of old chestnuts which many readers will have seen before and games by one of the authors) is not the only way to approach this topic. A different approach would have been to provide more specific advice and demonstrate some worked examples with more detailed explanations of thought processes before moving onto the quiz questions.

Again, another approach to questioning which would make the book more suitable for 1500 strength players (but perhaps less suitable for 2000 strength players) would have been to ask leading questions or provide multiple choices rather than just asking you for the next move.

The authors write engagingly and annotate well: I look forward to reading more from them in the future. If the concept appeals, and you think from the examples that it’s written at the right level for you, this book can be warmly recommended. As usual from Everyman, the publishing standards are exemplary.

 

Richard James, Twickenham 18th January 2022

Richard James
Richard James

Book Details :

  • Paperback : 256 pages
  • Publisher: Everyman Chess (10 Sept. 2021)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 178194623X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1781946237
  • Product Dimensions: 17.15 x 1.5 x 24.18 cm

Official web site of Everyman Chess

Mastering Chess Logic, Joshua Sheng, Guannan Song, Everyman Chess, 10th September 2021, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1781946237
Mastering Chess Logic, Joshua Sheng, Guannan Song, Everyman Chess, 10th September 2021, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1781946237

Movers and Takers: A Chess History of Streatham and Brixton 1871-2021

From the Introduction:

Movers and Takers is the 150-year story of Streatham and Brixton Chess Club, and of chess in our neighbourhood.

It begins with two separate clubs in Victorian times – one in north Brixton, the other in Streatham – amid the outburst of enthusiasm for chess in the expanding suburbs. The two clubs amalgamated half way through the story. Movers and Takers charts the cycles of ups and downs, the periods of feast and famine, the championship victories, and the dismal defeats of these clubs over a century and a half up to the present day.

You will meet the characters who made up the club during its long journey. There have been strong players who changed the club’s fortunes before they moved on. And there have been many average ones, who have yet been the lifeblood of the club, devoted to their passion, who sustained it through thick and thin. You will also meet players who, though not members, have passed through our neighbourhood while leaving their footprint on the wider chess landscape. They may grab our attention for that they did off the board as much as on it.

 

Streatham and Brixton Chess Club celebrated its 150th birthday last year, and one of their members, Martin Smith, has written a history of chess in that part of South London, taking the club through the Victorian era, two world wars, the English Chess Explosion and into a global pandemic.

The book was written for The Streatham Society, a local amenity group whose publications include volumes on local history, so its target market is residents and historians as much as chess players. There is, however, a selection of games at the end, roughly one for each decade of the club’s history, featuring a wide range of players, from world champions down to small children.

The current club traces its history to a club in North Brixton, originally named Endeavour, which appears to have been founded in 1871. By 1875 it was already considered one of the strongest suburban clubs, although at the time, in the very early days of chess clubs outside city centres, it was very much weaker than those in central London. It then went into hibernation for a few years before starting up again in 1879 and, within a few years, dropping Endeavour and becoming just Brixton Chess Club.

The club thrived, and was, albeit with some ups and downs recorded here, a powerful force in Surrey chess up to the First World War and on into the 1920s and beyond.

Brixton’s more genteel suburban neighbour, Streatham, acquired its chess club in 1886, but for much of its history it was not as strong as its more northerly counterpart. But by the 1930s, while Brixton’s fortunes were fading, Streatham was flourishing. Both clubs suspended activities during the Second World War, and, once competitive chess resumed, they agreed to merge, becoming the Streatham and Brixton club well known today in Surrey, London and national chess circles.

Martin Smith’s book offers an engrossing whistle-stop tour of 150 years of South London chess history. We meet a lot of famous people who have pushed pawns in this part of our capital, whether as residents, club members or visiting simul givers, from the likes of Staunton and Lasker, through to Harry Golombek in the inter-war years and Ray Keene in the 1960s, and then the likes of Julian Hodgson and Daniel King from the club’s more recent glory days. We also meet a variety of colourful characters such as occultist Aleister Crowley and Broadmoor problemist Walter Stephens, as well as a whole host of devoted administrators and organisers, the often unsung heroes who are the backbone of any successful club.

The Felce dynasty were prominent as organisers in Surrey chess for three generations. Here’s Harold, their strongest player, defending coolly against an unsound sacrifice to score a notable victory against the great Sultan Khan. Click on any more to display the game in a pop-up window.

The author does an excellent job of placing the club within its local community. We learn about the changing role of chess in society through the Victorian era and how this was reflected in the growth of clubs such as Brixton and the development of leagues in London and Surrey. There’s also a lot about the girls and women who played chess in the area: there were a surprising number, from Vera Menchik through to 1960s girl star Linda Bott (seen, below, at the age of 8) and beyond. Junior chess in general, of course, plays a big part in the latter half of the story: we learn about the popularity of chess in local schools, the pioneering books for young children written by Ray Bott and Stanley Morrison, and the sterling work done by Nigel Povah (whose grandfather was a prominent Streatham administrator) in coaching top juniors and introducing them to the club.

I wonder whether Linda’s 20th move in this game was an oversight (it’s very easy to miss backward diagonal moves) or a move displaying precocious tactical awareness. Only she would know.

Works like this are important in explaining the background behind club chess, and, if the subject appeals, this book won’t fail to please. You might see it as complementing my Minor Pieces articles, particularly those involved with Richmond and Twickenham players, and, given that Martin and I have discussed our respective ideas over several pints during the course of his research, you’ll understand where we’re both coming from. It’s very well written and copiously illustrated throughout: the expertly chosen photographs and press cuttings add enormously to the story.

I’m sure it would have been easy (perhaps even easier) for Martin to have written a book two or three times its length, and as a chess player you’d perhaps like to have seen more chess as well, but, given the limitations of writing primarily for a non-chess playing readership, he has done an outstanding job in compressing the story into a relatively short volume. Perhaps he might consider an expanded version for private publication.

I did spot a few minor mistakes: misspelt or incorrect names and incorrect dates, for example, but this won’t spoil your enjoyment of the book. Strongly recommended for anyone with any interest at all in the history of British – and London – chess over the past 150 years.

If you’d like to buy a copy, the book can be ordered by providing a postal address to SFChess@btinternet.com, who will provide a/c details for payment of £12.50 plus £2.50 P&P.

Richard James, Twickenham 14 January 2022

Richard James

  • Published: November 2021
  • Publisher: Local History Publications for The Streatham Society in association with Streatham and Brixton Chess Club.
  • Softcover 116 pages (A4)
  • ISBN 978 1 910722 17 6

Chess Buccaneer: The Life and Games of Manuel Bosboom

Chess Buccaneer: The Life and Games of Manuel Bosboom, Merijn van Delft & Peter Boel, New in Chess, 31st December 2021, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-9056919818
Chess Buccaneer: The Life and Games of Manuel Bosboom, Merijn van Delft & Peter Boel, New in Chess, 31st December 2021, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-9056919818

From the publisher:

“There aren’t many chess players who can say they’ve both beaten Garry Kasparov in an official blitz game and crushed Peter Leko in a classical game in 26 moves. And who regularly win blitz tournaments high on marihuana. But then Manuel Bosboom is not an ordinary chess player.

The Dutch International Master never made it to the top in chess, but over the course of his swashbuckling career he has produced an astonishing amount of brilliantly creative games. When Manuel Bosboom enters the room, a smile appears on every chess players face. Not only is he an exuberantly colourful player, he also leads an unconventional existence. His enthusiasm for the game and zest for life are highly contagious.

This book offers a captivating collection of games and it also describes the adventurous life of the Wizard from Zaanstad, who grew up and still lives in a picturesque shed next to a 17th century windmill on the famous Zaanse Schans. You will be treated to many a stunning chess move, a wealth of hilarious but also touching stories and a vivid impression of the Dutch chess scene in the late 20th and early 21st century.

Merijn van Delft is an International Master from the Netherlands. He has been a chess trainer for more than two decades and created instructional material both online and offline.

Peter Boel is a FIDE Master and a sports journalist who works as an editor with New In Chess. He is the author of two collections of short stories (in Dutch).”

 

My last review introduced you to a Chess Crusader. Now we have a Chess Buccaneer.

The Dutch IM Manuel Bosboom has been a cult figure in his native country for several decades, renowned for his bohemian lifestyle, adventurous and creative play, erratic results and brilliance at blitz. He came to the notice of a wider public recently when some of his games were featured in David Smerdon’s wonderful book The Complete Chess Swindler. Now we have a whole volume devoted to his life and games, written by two of his friends, Peter Boel, who was responsible for the biography, and Merijn van Delft, who provided the annotations.

Bosboom himself provides a foreword.

Meanwhile, I developed an affection for players like Alexander Alekhine, Mikhail Tal and Leonid Stein. My games became wilder, often leaving the opponent wondering: was this move a blunder or a sacrifice?! I didn’t mind! From my many blitz games I learned that you just had to keep going, regardless of the situation. A diehard attitude, quick board view and deft movements earned me a reputation in  blitz.

He concludes:

Follow your Heart and use your Mind. Play without Dogma!

You’re promised some entertaining games, then, and that’s exactly what you’ll get.

From the authors’ preface:

If Manuel Bosboom didn’t exist, he would have to be invented. His unique, fascinating personality is bound to enrapture every true chess fan.

The book features 66 amazing games, as well as a number of other striking fragments that have been gathered and annotated by Peter in the chapters ‘Swindles’ and ‘Curiouser’. And of course we couldn’t leave out a collection of 36 combinations that the reader can try his hand at solving, with three different levels of difficulty. 

We mixed this explosive material into a heady cocktail that we hope will get you pleasantly tipsy, and no hangover!

Chess is an adventure with many beautiful vistas. The great appeal of Manuel Bosboom is that he shows us that you can do things differently – in chess as well as in life. This is a marvellous gift for which we will never be able to thank him enough.

Chapter 1 takes us to the 1999 Wijk aan Zee blitz tournament, and demonstrates the game in which Bosboom beat none other than Garry Kasparov.

We then take a chronological journey through our subject’s life. Bosboom, born in 1963, comes from a Jewish socialist working-class family – the name was originally Nussbaum – and his father, Adriaan, is a talented, but commercially unsuccessful, painter.

Chapters 2 and 3 take him through his childhood and career up to 1990. At this time he favoured openings such as the King’s Gambit, so you’ll see a lot of romantic chess in these games, with brilliantly creative attacking play alongside mutual blunders.

Bosboom is famous for his early attacks with his g- and h-pawns, which sometimes result in sparkling miniatures such as this game. (Click on any move and a pop-up board will magically appear.)

Chapter 4, Manuel versus Computer, must be one of the shortest chapters ever to appear in a chess book. Just a four-move game. You’ll discover the reason later in the book.

Chapter 5 takes Bosboom through the 1990s, when he was perhaps, at the peak of his strength. He was now producing positional as well as tactical masterpieces.

I particularly enjoyed this game against Sofia Polgar.

Chapter 6 again interrupts the narration, this time for a short collection of swindles. Then Chapter 7 takes Bosboom from 2001 through to 2006.

We don’t just get Manuel Bosboom’s wins: there are draws and losses as well, such as this extraordinary game, played in the Dutch League. Bosboom was, as  he often is, broke at the time so couldn’t afford the bus to the tournament venue, only just managing to arrive before the default time.

Chapter 8 is the obligatory (for this publisher, it seems) Combinations chapter, and then Chapter 9 takes us up to the present day.

Finally, Chapter 10 is entitled ‘Curiouser’.

Here are some episodes from Manuel’s chess life that may be even curiouser than what you have seen so far. Since ‘correctness’ is not a very prevalent characteristic in this chapter, the comments have been done in a slightly more ‘enthusiastic’ style than elsewhere in this book!

This is from Bosboom – Dvoirys (Leeuwarden 1997).

(Dvoirys) seemed to know nothing but chess in his life and would only mumble an unintelligible reply every time you asked him something.

The game concluded: 35. Rf5! Rf7 36. Be4! Rgg7 37. Rxe5

Dvoirys sat aghast, staring at the ruins of his position. Then he started fumbling with a big chocolate bar he had put beside the board, and suddenly squeezed it to pieces. These then fell out of his hands and onto the floor, and Bosboom watched in amazement how Dvoirys knelt down and started crawling around to collect all the pieces of chocolate.

It seems almost de rigueur these days that every chess book should include Hilarious Anecdotes, and this book, as you might expect, is no exception. They’re more likely to involve alcohol or marijuana (or marihuana, as preferred by the back cover) than chocolate, though.

For someone like me, who leads a very sober and boring life, and plays very sober and boring chess, it comes as quite a shock to meet someone like Manuel Bosboom who is, in both respects, my polar opposite. He is, I suppose very much a product of the Dutch counter-culture in that respect.

It’s again fascinating, from the UK perspective, to learn about the difference between Dutch and British chess culture. Here chess is seen very much as a game played either by small children in primary schools or by old men in draughty church halls, but in the Netherlands it seems very different. It’s also interesting to learn that Bosboom makes much of his meagre income from winning cash prizes in blitz tournaments: something almost unknown here, although it’s good to see that some enterprising organisers are now running blitz events with substantial cash prizes.

This book is well structured, well written (the English is not always entirely idiomatic, but no matter) and well produced. Merijn van Delft is rapidly earning a reputation as one of the best chess writers around and his annotations here are excellent, pitched at just the right level to be accessible to all readers.

The world needs eccentrics, and the chess world benefits enormously from the presence of the likes of Manuel Bosboom. Playing through his games – his fiascos as well as his successes – will, if you follow his example, add creativity and excitement to your chess. Whether it will also improve your rating is, I suppose, another matter entirely.

I really enjoyed this book in every respect. Bosboom’s life and games are both enormously entertaining and often wildly funny. The authors have done a fine and important job in bringing his colourful personality and chess moves to our attention.

This book, then, is very highly recommended for players of all strengths. Even if you’ve never heard of Manuel Bosboom, do yourself a favour and give it a try.

 

Richard James, Twickenham 6 January 2022

Richard James
. Richard James

Book Details:

  • Softcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: New In Chess (25 Oct 2021)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10:9056919814
  • ISBN-13:978-9056919818
  • Product Dimensions: ‎17.02 x 23.11 cm

Official web site of New in Chess

Chess Buccaneer: The Life and Games of Manuel Bosboom, Merijn van Delft & Peter Boel, New in Chess, 31st December 2021, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-9056919818
Chess Buccaneer: The Life and Games of Manuel Bosboom, Merijn van Delft & Peter Boel, New in Chess, 31st December 2021, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-9056919818

Everyone’s First Chess Workbook: Fundamental Tactics and Checkmates for Improvers

Everyone’s First Chess Workbook: Peter Giannatos

Everyone's First Chess Workbook: Fundamental Tactics and Checkmates for Improvers, Peter Giannatos, New in Chess, New In chess (6 Sept. 2021), ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-9056919887
Everyone’s First Chess Workbook: Fundamental Tactics and Checkmates for Improvers, Peter Giannatos, New in Chess, New In chess (6 Sept. 2021), ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-9056919887

From the publisher’s blurb:

“Working on chess tactics and checkmates will help you win more games. It develops your pattern recognition and your board vision’ your ability to capitalize on opportunities.

This Workbook features a complete set of fundamental tactics, checkmate patterns, exercises, hints, and solutions. Peter Giannatos selected 738 exercises based on ten years of experience with thousands of pupils at the prize-winning Charlotte Chess Center. All problems are clean, without unnecessary fluff that detracts from their instructive value.

The Workbook has ample room for writing down the solutions to the exercises. This is helpful for both students and coaches, who can assign homework from the book without having to worry about being unable to review the solutions. And writing down the correct chess moves will greatly accelerate your learning process.

Everyone’s First Chess Workbook offers you a treasure trove of chess knowledge and more than enough lessons to keep you busy for a year!”

“Peter Giannatos is the founder and executive director of the Charlotte Chess Center & Scholastic Academy, in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA. Peter has been teaching and organizing chess for more than 10 years. As a teenager, he boosted his chess rating from 589 to over 2000 USCF in less than four years. Since then, Peter has achieved both the FIDE Master title and the US Chess National Master title. He now spends most of his time teaching his students the same techniques he used to rapidly improve.”

Peter Giannatos
Peter Giannatos

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”.

Figurine algebraic notation is used throughout and the diagrams are placed adjacent to the relevant text. Being a workbook the layout is quite different to most from New in Chess. It is superbly laid out and attractively produced.

We are constantly reminded that size does not matter when it comes to chess books, however, this new book from New in Chess immediately creates an impression. Weighing in at just under a kilogram and sporting dimensions of 22 x 2 x 28 cm this must be NICs largest publication for a very long time.

This is a workbook containing generous space for the recording of answers to the puzzles  and the making of notes. Usually there are three positions per page with the positions occupying the left hand column and the answer space the right hand column. The carefully worded solutions are all contained in Part IV meaning bumping into the solutions accidentally is easily avoided.

Before we go further we may Look Inside which included the following Table of Contents:

Table of Contents. Part 1
Table of Contents. Part 1
Table of Contents. Part 2
Table of Contents. Part 2

The author has assembled a collection of 738 exercises of which 692 are examined by way of a test and the balance are examples.

The approach is to

  1. Provide a definition of what the exercise theme is about,
  2. Give around a dozen “Guided Examples” in which there is a strong hint
  3. Set around 20 or more test exercises with no hint

If you solve tactics puzzles on a regular basis then the bulk of the exercises will not challenge you with the exceptions of Chapters 20, Combinations/Setting Up Tactics and the interesting Chapter 21, Finish Like The World Champions.

Chapter 19 is very much in the style of the legendary book, Art of Attack in Chess by Vladimir Vuković in that the author provides examples of named checkmating patterns introducing the “Kill Box” and Vuković’s checkmates not mentioned by name in the original book. To find out what these are you will need to buy the book!

In our opinion, this is the perfect trainer for

  • Adult beginners
  • Adults returning to the game after a long lay-off
  • Juniors of secondary school age
  • coaches / teachers needing examples for their students

The explanations are crystal clear with no undefined jargon or strange expressions.

Firstly, we liked the correct use of terminology in that all pieces are shown giving forks including pawns and kings. Some texts believe that the label “fork” should be reserved purely for knights and that the other pieces deliver double attacks: Hurrah for this correct approach.

Secondly, the author differentiates between skewer and X-Ray and clearly shows the difference. For example this (#205) is a skewer:

once Black has found the correct move. On the other hand, this (#354), with Black to move,

is designated as an X-Ray tactic.

The bonus section of the book has to be Chapter 21, Finish Like the World Champions, which features 47 exercises from games of the sixteen world champions from Steinitz to Carlsen. Part of the exercise is to describe the themes used in the example. Here is a nice finish from the tenth World Champion, Boris Vasilievich Spasski in the 1960 game from Kislovodsk, Kuznetsov vs Spasski:

In summary, Peter Giannatos has created a unique and instructive trainer for a market that has been little satisfied and that is the post-Queen’s Gambit / lockdown created adult beginner. It has been superbly produced by New in Chess in a format quite new to them.

So, if you know of adults new or returning to chess then you could easily recommend this. Juniors of secondary school age new to chess will also benefit.

An excellent piece of work!

John Upham, Cove, Hampshire, January 5th 2022

John Upham
John Upham

Book Details :

  • Hardcover : 344 pages
  • Publisher:New In chess (6 Sept. 2021)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10:9056919881
  • ISBN-13:978-9056919887
  • Product Dimensions:  22 x 2 x 28 cm and 0.995 Kg

Official web site of New in Chess

Everyone's First Chess Workbook: Fundamental Tactics and Checkmates for Improvers, Peter Giannatos, New in Chess, New In chess (6 Sept. 2021), ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-9056919887
Everyone’s First Chess Workbook: Fundamental Tactics and Checkmates for Improvers, Peter Giannatos, New in Chess, New In chess (6 Sept. 2021), ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-9056919887

600 Modern Chess Puzzles

600 Modern Chess Puzzles : Martyn Kravtsiv

600 Modern Chess Puzzles, Martyn Kravtsiv, Gambit Publications Ltd., 16th September 2020, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1911465478
600 Modern Chess Puzzles, Martyn Kravtsiv, Gambit Publications Ltd., 16th September 2020, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1911465478

Blurb from the publisher:

“The easiest, quickest and most effective way to improve your overall game is to increase your tactical vision. Many good positions are lost because a key moment is passed by and a player misses the opportunity to win by a beautiful combination. This book is designed simply to help you improve your play by seeing tactics better.” – Martyn Kravtsiv

Written along similar lines to Gambit’s earlier Ultimate Chess Puzzle Book, this new work presents 600 puzzles, mostly from the last two years, that are chosen for instructive value and maximum training benefit. To ensure that few will be familiar to readers, Kravtsiv has deliberately chosen positions from obscure games or from analysis. If you find the right answers, it will be because you worked them out yourself!

The solutions feature plenty of verbal explanations of the key points, and cover most of the logical but incorrect answers. The book is completed with a set of ‘no clues’ tests, and an index of themes that will be useful to coaches and those looking to focus on specific aspects of tactics – or just seeking extra clues!”

GM Martyn Kravtsiv
GM Martyn Kravtsiv

From the rear cover:

“The author is an experienced grandmaster from Lviv, Ukraine. His tournament results include tied first places at Cappelle in 2012 and the 2015 Ukrainian Championship, as well as being blitz champion of the 2008 World Mind Sports Games (at age 17). He represented his country at the 2017 World Team Championship and was a coach for the team that won silver medals at the 2016 Olympiad.”

Gambit Publications have their own YouTube channel to promote and publicise their products. Here we have GM John Nunn introducing this book :

Before going further we suggest you make use of the Look Inside option. This will reveal the Table of Contents.

Also, you may download a pdf sample.

Just like “Snakes on a Plane” you might imagine, from the title, you know what this book is about without reading it: well let us see!

The first mystery to clear up is what does the author mean by “Puzzles”? Almost all 600 positions presented are taken from actual gameplay during 2018 and 2019 or from analysis derived from those games. Strangely, there is a tranche from 2012
mostly from the author’s own games.

If you do have a phobia of problems, fairies or endgame studies etc then have no fear here: there are none of these.

From the “Warming Up” Chapter we have position #36:

Theodor Kenneskog – Klavs Stabulnieks, 48th Rilton Cup, Stockholm, 2nd January 2019

Does Black have a way to get the upper hand?

*(We have added the previous move arrow and these are not shown in the book.)

71 warming up puzzles of multiple themes are followed by solutions with explanations which is the continuing pattern for each chapter.

Chapter 3 contains 29 forced mates and here is an example, #92:

Vahe Danielyan – Chinna Reddy Mehar, Novi Sad, 20th April 2019

Can you see White’s mating idea?

Rather pleasing!

Chapter 3, Your Choice, asks the solver to select between two plausible options more reminiscent of one’s thinking in a practical game situation when the clock is ticking. Here is an example (#106):

Marc Narciso Dublan – Kratvtsiv, Olivier Gonzalez Memorial, Madrid, 8th September 2012

Choose between 74…Ke4 and 74…Kg5

Chapter 4 (“Getting Tricky”) ups the ante and the difficulty is raised followed by 58 endgame puzzles graded into four levels.

Here is example #283:

Anthony Fred Saidy – Thomas Kung, Bay Area Open, Burlingame, 3rd January 2019

The game ended in a draw. Show how Black could have done better.

Tough Nuts is the title of Chapter 6 containing 43 challenging positions for example #313:

Jonathan Hawkins – Bogdan Lalic, Hastings 2018/19, 5th January 2019 (Analysis)

Black has a beautiful path to victory. Can you find it?

Chapter 7 is a tougher version of Chapter 3.

In Part 2 the book changes tack slightly in that the clue or clues for each position are not present. You are placed in a much more game like situation thinking for yourself. The Part is broken down into sections of Not Too Hard, Tricky Tasks, Endgame Challenges and finally Chapter 11 entitled Nightmare! including #562 featuring Hastings once more:

Thomas Villiers – PU Midhun, 98th Hastings Masters, 4th January 2019

Unfortunately, White did not find the killer blow and went on to lose.

The exercises are followed by an Index of Themes which is a clever touch removing this “clue” from the position as posed.

As is to be expected from a Gambit publication the explanations are crystal clear and instructive and expertly translated and edited by Graham Burgess. Petra Nunn does an excellent job of typesetting.

To have found 600 instructive puzzles from 2018, 2019 and 2012 is a real achievement and then to organise them for a range of students makes this book both enjoyable and hard work!

The author has produced another reliable publication from the Gambit stable and we are sure he will be asked to produce another in due course. We particularly liked the puzzles that created a  game-like feel to the task. Highly recommended.

John Upham, Cove, Hampshire, December 28th 2021

John Upham
John Upham

Book Details :

  • Hardcover :160 pages
  • Publisher:Gambit Publications Ltd (16 Sept. 2020)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10:1911465473
  • ISBN-13:978-1911465478
  • Product Dimensions: 17.15 x 1.65 x 24.77 cm

Official web site of Gambit Publications Ltd.

600 Modern Chess Puzzles, Martyn Kravtsiv, Gambit Publications Ltd., 16th September 2020, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1911465478
600 Modern Chess Puzzles, Martyn Kravtsiv, Gambit Publications Ltd., 16th September 2020, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1911465478

I Was a Victim of Bobby Fischer

I Was a Victim of Bobby Fischer, Mark Taimanov, Quality Chess, 29th November 2021, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1784831608
I Was a Victim of Bobby Fischer, Mark Taimanov, Quality Chess, 29th November 2021, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1784831608

From the publisher:

“In 1971 Robert James Fischer defeated Mark Taimanov by the sensational score of 6-0 in Vancouver, but the match games were far more competitive and tension-filled than the final score would suggest.

Twenty years later Taimanov put pen to paper, reflecting on the experience. Exactly 50 years after the match, this is the first English translation of Taimanov’s original Russian text. Taimanov provides a richly detailed, honest and emotional account of the drama on and off the board. Despite the catastrophic match score, his love for the game of chess is evident throughout.

Taimanov also discusses his early acquaintance with Fischer from 1960, including detailed annotations of both of their pre-1971 games, as well as the personal consequences of the match result. With fascinating additional archive material and analytical contributions from some of the brightest young stars of the American chess scene today, I was a Victim of Bobby Fischer is the ultimate insight into one of the most famous matches in chess history.”

End of blurb…

Isaac Boleslavsky plays Mark Taimanov in round one of the 24th USSR Championship on January 21st 1957. Peace broke out after fifteen moves of a Nimzo-Indian Defence
Isaac Boleslavsky plays Mark Taimanov in round one of the 24th USSR Championship on January 21st 1957. Peace broke out after fifteen moves of a Nimzo-Indian Defence

Quality Chess live up to their name by being one of the few publishers who offer a hardback as well as softback version of all of their titles.

The production values are superb. You could save a few pence and opt for the paperback version but we would definitely treat ourselves with a Christmas / New Year present and savour the hardback. In addition, high quality paper is used and the printing is clear. The weight of this paper gives the book an even better feel to it as the pages are turned.

The book can easily be laid flat next to the board and does not require weights to prevent it from “self-closing”. Each diagram is clear and the instructional text is typeset in two column format, which, we find, enables the reader to readily maintain their place. Figurine algebraic notation is used and the diagrams are placed adjacent to the relevant text.

A small (and insignificant) quibble: the diagrams (except for Chapter 19, Interesting Positions) do not have a “to move” indicator (but they do have coordinates).

Before we take our first look at this book Quality Chess have provided a pdf excerpt.

Over the years there have been numerous books with Taimanov somewhere in the title but almost all are concerned with his famous variation of the Sicilian Defence:

We are aware of two English language books covering Taimanov’s career.  One is Taimanov’s Selected Games published in 1995 by Everyman Chess covering 60(!) games selected and annotated by MT.  The second is Smyslov, Bronstein, Geller, Taimanov and Averbakh: A Chess Multibiography (McFarland, 2021) with 220 Games by Andrew Soltis reviewed here.

This Quality Chess title helps to address this surprising shortfall.

The title is perhaps the first worthy discussion point and we learn the interesting reason for it. Is it clear from the outset just how in regard MT held Fischer when he wrote this manuscript in 1993.

You might think that the events of 1971 had left a bitter taste with MT, and degree of resentment,  especially when we read in Chapter 5 of his post match treatment by the Soviet authorities. The latter even restricted his career in music which was gratuitously cruel. There is no evidence of that here, in fact, quite the opposite. Taimanov stipulated in his will that should the book be published then “I Was a Victim of Bobby Fischer” must be its title.

Let us not forget that Taimanov jointly holds (and will always) a record with Efim Geller of twenty-three appearences in the Soviet Championships apart from his many other achievements on the chess board.

Taimanov played Fischer a total of eight times and their first meeting was on June 4th, 1960 in the good air of Buenos Aires.

This game was a monumental battle (drawn after eighty-seven moves) when Fischer was a mere seventeen and MT was a more plausible thirty-four.

Here is the game devoid of any notes simply because you really should treat yourself to the fourteen(!) pages of glorious annotations including 20 diagrams. What a struggle!

Much of the book is taken up with discussion of Fischer’s development and eventually his downfall (but nether MT nor Spike Milligan played any part) and this is particularly apposite on the eve of the Reykjavik match 50th anniversary.

Chapters 6-12 cover each game of the 1971 match (ten games were planned) in Vancouver. Each game is very much worthy of close study and a model of sporting attitude from the loser. It is painful to see how well Taimanov plays compared with the game results. At no point did he “do a Nepo” and collapse into a heap. His emotions and reactions to the match are rather revealing.

Chapter 13(!) discusses the causes of Fischer’s eventual reclusion comparing RJFs fate with players of the past with an update in Chapter 14 on more recent events.

You might predict “That must be the end of the book”. Well, not at all. Part IV contains the substantial Appendices which include additional deeply annotated games of Taimanov and of Fischer, a biography of MT and a fascinating interview of MT from 2016.

Almost last and by no means least we have Chapter 19 which presents a number of key positions from the previously discussed games and the reader is asked a pertinent question about each.

Here is an example (#10):

 

Lutikov – Taimanov, 37th USSR Championships, Moscow

After White’s rook lift on move 25:

“We will look at three positions from this complicated game, all of them very interesting. In the first, Black has a difficult strategic decision to make”

Chapter 20 (titled “Thoughts and Solutions”) takes the Chapter 19 positions and analyses them in detail courtesy of a team of strong players (Shankland, Liang, Xiong and Aagaard) providing their individual opinions of each position. This is really rather innovative and most welcome. Note that these “thoughts”  are not usurped by reams of unwelcome engine analysis.

In summary, this is a significant book quite unlike any other we have read. Beautifully produced it brings you into the mind of a great chessplayer and person who gave his all and was treated appallingly.

We commend to you this book without doubt: you will not be disappointed. One of our favourites of 2021.

John Upham, Cove, Hampshire, 23rd December, 2021

John Upham
John Upham

Book Details:

  • Paperback : 248 pages
  • Publisher: Quality Chess UK LLP (29 Nov. 2021)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10:1784831603
  • ISBN-13:978-1784831608
  • Product Dimensions: 17.2 x 1.22 x 24.18 cm

Official web site of Quality Chess

I Was a Victim of Bobby Fischer, Mark Taimanov, Quality Chess, 29th November 2021, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1784831608
I Was a Victim of Bobby Fischer, Mark Taimanov, Quality Chess, 29th November 2021, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1784831608

Chess Crusader: confessions of an amateur chess-player

The Chess Crusader. Carl Portman, The Conrad Press, 22nd July 2021, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1913567866
The Chess Crusader. Carl Portman, The Conrad Press, 22nd July 2021, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1913567866

From the publisher’s blurb:

“Funny and brutal. A big-hearted book, I enjoyed it.’ Stuart Conquest, Grandmaster

‘Carl is gifted as both a natural entertainer and storyteller. Although this memoir is primarily about chess, the tales in it are filled with a frank and refreshing honesty that will literally have your heart racing with adventure.’ Jovanka Houska, International Master

Chess Crusader is an absolutely fascinating memoir, and most emphatically not only a book for chess players.

It reveals how chess is a metaphor for life, and how skills honed at the chess board can be applied in many real-life situations. This compelling chronicle takes you from Birmingham to Moscow, and plunges you into the life of an author with a remarkable original mind, while also highlighting the hazards of stealing a half-cooked sausage from a deranged German.

It’s a lively, enthralling account of a colourful life dominated by the black and white squares of the chessboard, and their relation to the wider issues of a troubled childhood and the challenges of work, women, love and loss. It’s a tale of adversity, but also of achievement and new friendships and experiences.”

After 30 years working with the Ministry of Defence, Carl Portman took early retirement to concentrate on freelance photography, chess coaching, natural history travel, writing and lecturing. He is a keen arachnologist, owns a large collection of live tarantulas and scorpions, and has bred some of the rarest arachnids in the world. Married to his childhood friend Susan, they also have three border collie dogs. Born in Birmingham, (a proud Brummie) he now lives in Oxfordshire.

Carl Portman, Chess in Prisons, Engish Chess Federation, The beneficial impact of chess on prisoners, London Chess Conference 2015, Day One, Courtesy of John Upham Photography
Carl Portman, Chess in Prisons, English Chess Federation, The beneficial impact of chess on prisoners, London Chess Conference 2015, Day One, Courtesy of John Upham Photography

Before going further you might wish to Look Inside.

 

Carl Portman’s work promoting chess in prisons (if you haven’t read his previous book Chess Behind Bars you should certainly do so) makes him one of the most inspirational figures in British chess.

Now he offers us an autobiography in which his life in chess features prominently. Carl was born on a Birmingham council estate in 1964 and, when he was still very young, his father left home, never to return. When he was 12, his mother, an alcoholic, remarried. Her new husband was a psychopath who was physically, verbally and emotionally abusive to both Carl and his mother.

Carl didn’t come from a chess-playing background, and was introduced to chess by John Lenton, a teacher at his secondary school. He soon became obsessed with the game, as he tells us, eventually becoming school champion.

Chess would therefore be my mental opiate; the living embodiment of disappearing down the rabbit hole. I played it in class, on the bus, in exams, in the toilets, in the playground, the chess club and in my room at home. 

It would be the one thing I could turn to when the horrors of home life [were] raging around me. What a gift this was, from nowhere. Chess would never let me down.

Carl takes us through his eventful life, from his abusive stepfather through two marriages, from his schooldays into his working life, most notably 30 years working in logistics for the Ministry  of Defence, including several years in Germany. One of the highlighs of his chess career was captaining his country in the NATO team championships in 2017 and 2018. We learn about his other interests: football (he’s a passionate Aston Villa supporter), heavy metal music and nature. There are many hilarious anecdotes to entertain you. He also tells about his serious health problems and how he learnt to live with them.

One thing Carl enjoys is meeting his heroes: he relates stories of travelling to France to play in a simul against Karpov, and arranging tuition from Mickey Adams and Jovanka Houska, as well as playing chess against the astronomer Patrick Moore.

In his last chapter he sums up as follows:

In this book, I have openly shared my experiences about the wonder of finding chess in my formative years and how it has shaped and influenced my life. The people I have met and the places I have visited have been wonderfully life-enriching, and the mental nourishment that the game provides is so powerful that I cannot quantify it.

Carl’s determination to remain upbeat and optimistic, whatever life throws at him, can only be an example to us all.

If you want some chess, there’s a short games selection at the back. Carl is particularly proud of this game from the 2017 NATO championships. He had the worst of things for most of the game, but his opponent mistakenly transposed into a losing pawn ending. ‘Never give up’ is his motto both in chess and in life.

It may not be great literature but the book’s a great read which will be enjoyed by most chess players. As no knowledge of the game is necessary for most of it, it could also be an ideal last-minute Christmas present for that special non-player in your life who, you think, ought to learn more about the delights of your favourite game. Be warned, though, that it’s not really suitable for younger children, nor for your Great Aunt Edna who doesn’t like books with naughty words. Carl is never afraid to speak his mind, even if he makes enemies in the process, and if you’re, like me, a politically correct, woke liberal, you’ll find words and opinions which might make you uneasy. If they make you think as well it might not be a bad idea.

Personally, I could have done without pages 231 to 254, which describe various types of annoying chess player, a negative chapter, most of which we’ve all read many times before, in what is otherwise a positive book. Omitting that chapter would, for me, have made it an even stronger book than it is already.

Books of this nature should be supported, though, so, if you think you’ll enjoy it, do give it a try.

I also see this book as part of a trilogy comprising the other two books I’ve reviewed recently, all deeply and at times brutally personal and confessional books by English chess players who, just as I did, developed a chess obsession in their teens. David LeMoir is a master standard player born, like me, in 1950. Carl Portman is, like me, a fairly strong club player, born in 1964. Daniel Gormally is a grandmaster born in 1976. Three players very different players, with very different personalities and lives, born half a generation apart from each other, whose stories, when put together, tell you a lot about chess in England over the past half century. I, of course, have my story as well: a very different story again, but I haven’t as yet had the courage to tell it. Maybe one day.

I would also suggest that Carl has, over the years, both put more into chess and got more out of chess than many much higher rated players. Yet, with today’s obsession with prodigies and champions, young people, like Carl, and also, to an extent, like me, from non-academic, non-chess backgrounds are no longer attracted to the game. Promoting chess at secondary school level may not be an efficient way of finding grandmasters, but Carl is living proof that it can offer transformation, redemption and salvation. I’ll be writing much more about this over the next few months.

 Richard James, Twickenham 20th December 2021

Richard James
. Richard James

Book Details :

  • Softcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: The Conrad Press (22 July 2021)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10:1913567869
  • ISBN-13:978-1913567866
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.5 x 19.8 cm

Official web site of The Conrad Press

The Chess Crusader. Carl Portman, The Conrad Press, 22nd July 2021, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1913567866
The Chess Crusader. Carl Portman, The Conrad Press, 22nd July 2021, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1913567866

Edgard Colle: Caissa’s Wounded Warrior

Edgard Colle: Caissa's Wounded Warrior, Taylor Kingston. Russell Enterprises, 20th April 2021, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1949859270
Edgard Colle: Caissa’s Wounded Warrior, Taylor Kingston. Russell Enterprises, 20th April 2021, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1949859270

Edgard Colle: Caissa’s Wounded Warrior : Taylor Kingston

From the publisher:

“One of Caissa’s Brightest Stars!

Mention the name “Colle” and many if not most chessplayers think about an opening that is both easy to play as well as one with dynamic potential. Rarely is any thought given to the man himself.

Plug the word “Colle” into your favourite search engine, and, if you are lucky, you might find a reprint of the slim 1936 book by Fred Reinfeld, Colle’s Chess Masterpieces. Books on the Colle System – of which there are many – will be your main search results. However, Belgian master Edgard Colle is much more than a name connected to an opening system. He was one of the most dynamic and active chess players of the 1920s and early 1930s.

Though his international career lasted barely ten years, Colle played in more than 50 tournaments, as well as a dozen matches. Moreover, he played exciting and beautiful chess, full of life, vigour, imagination and creativity. As with such greats as Pillsbury and Charousek, it was a tragedy for the game that his life was cut short, at just age 34.

Author Taylor Kingston has examined hundreds of Colle’s games, in an effort to understand his skills and style, his strengths and weaknesses, and present an informed, balanced picture of him as a player.

Colle emerges as a courageous, audacious, and tenacious fighter, who transcended the limitations his frail body imposed, to battle the giants of his day and topple many of them. 110 of Colle’s best, most interesting, and representative games have been given deep and exacting computer analysis. This often revealed important aspects completely overlooked by earlier annotators, and overturned their analytical verdicts. But the computer’s iron logic is tempered always with a sympathetic understanding that Colle played, in the best sense, a very human kind of chess.

Though not intended as a tutorial on the Colle System, the book of course has many instructive examples of that opening. Additionally, there are several memorial tributes, biographical information about many of Colle’s opponents, his known tournament and match record, and all his available tournament crosstables. We invite the reader to get acquainted with this wounded but valiant warrior, whom Hans Kmoch called a “chess master with the body of a doomed man and the spirit of an immortal hero.” You are invited to explore the fascinating, fighting chess of one of the great tactical masters.”

Taylor Kingston
Taylor Kingston

“Taylor Kingston has been a chess enthusiast since his teens. His historical articles have appeared in many chess journals, including Chess Life, New In Chess, Inside Chess, and Kingpin. He is the editor of the recently released Emanuel Lasker: A Reader. In this book, he combines history and analysis in a new look at one of the early 20th century’s most variable but brightest stars.”

End of blurb

We recently reviewed the author’s first book, Emanuel Lasker: A Reader, A Zeal to Understand which has been well received.

Edgard (not Edgar) Colle’s name is well known to most chess players through his highly popular opening (of two main variants), The Colle System. You might argue that this was the club player’s opening of choice possibly usurped, in recent times, by the unfortunately ubiquitous London System.

However, rather unfairly, Colle himself is almost certainly not as well known as he deserves to be. Players of all levels really ought to take time to study his games with both colours since his attacking style is rather attractive and instructive.

The biographies section of the BCN library somewhat disappointingly only had one other book about Colle and that was the not-so-easy to obtain “Colle Plays The Colle System” by Adam Harvey published by Chess Enterprises in 2002.

Colle Plays The Colle System, Adam Harvey, Chess Enterprises, 2002, ISBN 0-945470-88-6
Colle Plays The Colle System, Adam Harvey, Chess Enterprises, 2002, ISBN 0-945470-88-6

but the above tome spends very little text on the master himself and only covers games with the white pieces and the Colle System.

Taylor Kingston’s book (also available as a Kindle eBook) is divided into two main parts as follows :

  1. Part I: Biographical Basics, Historical Background, Colleague’s Reminiscences and Memorial Tributes
  2. Part II: Annotated Games

and each of these is further sub-divided.

To see the extensive Table of Contents you may Look Inside the Kindle edition.

The book kicks off with a rather insightful Foreword from GM Andrew Soltis suggesting ECs lack of eminence stems from his premature early demise aged 34.

Pages 12 – 28 present biographical material from varied sources, some fairly obscure. We like obscure sources!

Fairly quickly (page 29) we find ourselves at Part II and the Annotated Games and this part, in turn, is divided into eleven sections with the following titles:

  1. Marvellous Miniatures
  2. An abundance of Brilliances
  3. Colle Lucks Out
  4. Follies, Failures, and Might-Have-Been
  5. Colle and the Endgame
  6. Colle and Positional Play
  7. Colle’s Fighting Games
  8. Salvaging the Draw
  9. Colle and Yates
  10. Colle’s Gem
  11. Swan Song

Each game is complete with historical background and context allowing one to learn more of Colle, his opponents and the tournaments they met at. The text is joyfully sprinkled with monochrome photographs of many opponents and potted biographies including that of Englishman George M. Norman (1880 – 1966) with whom we were unfamiliar until this book.

Follies, Failures, and Might-Have-Been” is particularly unusual since the author selects games where our hero goes astray and does not win in crushing fashion but loses himself providing a healthy balance. The opposition here includes players such as Euwe, Capablanca, Nimzovitsch, Vidmar and Tartakower so nothing to be ashamed of.

Colle and the Endgame” was another delightful chapter and perhaps not to be expected. Here is a game (here not annotated by TK but by Fred Reinfeld) from Budapest 1929 between Akiba Rubinstein and EC:

 

You will need to buy the book to appreciate the authors fuller annotations.

From the chapter “Colle’s Gem” we could not resist giving you this game but, again, without TKs superb annotations:

Wonderful stuff indeed but please enjoy the full author annotations.

In summary, this is a delightful book that all in the BCN office wanted to take home. In many ways this volume could of easily been a McFarland publication with a hard cover to be found in a library and all the gravitas that publisher brings. Hats off to Russell Enterprises for landing this one.

If you haven’t realised by now this one of our favourite books of 2021.

John Upham, Cove, Hampshire 15th December 2021

John Upham
John Upham

Book Details :

  • Softcover : 272 pages
  • Publisher:  Russell Enterprises (20 April 2021)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1949859274
  • ISBN-13: 978-1949859270
  • Product Dimensions: 15.24 x 1.27 x 22.86 cm

Official web site of Russell Enterprises

Edgard Colle: Caissa's Wounded Warrior, Taylor Kingston. Russell Enterprises, 20th April 2021, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1949859270
Edgard Colle: Caissa’s Wounded Warrior, Taylor Kingston. Russell Enterprises, 20th April 2021, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1949859270