Tag Archives: Thinkers Publishing

Chess Calculation Training for Kids and Club Players : Level 1 : Checkmating

Chess Calculation Training for Kids and Club Players : Level 1 : Checkmating
Chess Calculation Training for Kids and Club Players : Level 1 : Checkmating

Romain Édouard (born 28 November 1990) is a French grandmaster and is Editor-in-Chief of Thinkers Publishing.  Édouard has played for the French national team at the Olympiads of 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2018, won several major tournaments including equal first place in the 2015 World Open and Montreal Open 2015.

GM Romain Édouard
GM Romain Édouard

We previously reviewed Chess Calculation Training : Volume 3 : Legendary Games by the same author and were impressed (although the content was aimed at more experienced and higher rated players.)

As with every recent Thinkers Publishing publication high quality paper is used and the printing is clear. We were hoping that the excellent glossy paper of previous titles would be used but never mind.

The book can easily be laid flat next to the board and does not require weights to prevent it from “self-closing” (a particular bugbear of ours !). Each diagram is clear and the instructional text is typeset in two column format, which, we find, enables the reader to maintain their place easily. Figurine algebraic notation is used throughout and the diagrams are placed adjacent to the relevant text and each diagram has a “to move” indicator.

There is no index. However, for a tactics books this is less crucial. However, some readers might wish to list tactics from particular players…

We have reviewed several tactics books in the last few months and this one from GM Romain Edouard competes in the busy improving juniors and club players market.

There is another market sometimes not considered as important which is the adult player who does not play OTB (who does right now?) or even online but does enjoy solving chess problems : this book will satisfy these readers.

Noteworthy is the absence of patronising cartoons which can put off the more serious juniors and adults. For very young players these are fine but for probably 10 year olds plus these (IMHO) are not welcome.

The main content is divided into eight chapters :

  1. Check & Mate
  2. Check, Check & Mate
  3. A Few Checks & Mate
  4. Trap Your Opponents King
  5. Hit the Defender
  6. A Nasty Double Threat
  7. An Unexpected Blow
  8. A Few More Problems

Having scanned the index I was immediately drawn to Chapter 5 to look for unusual methods for the attacker!

However, Chapter 1 is the best place to start and consists of 48 carefully selected (i.e. a unique solution) mates in two, the first move always being a check.

Here is a nice example :

#8
Nezhmetdinov, R – Kotkov, Y

25.? +-

The solutions are grouped together at the end of each chapter avoiding the annoyance of stumbling into the solution when it appears on the same page.

You won’t need it but the solution to #8 is given as :

25. Re8+! Qxe8
25…Bxe8 26.Qg8#
26.Qxf6#

(for the history fans amongst us the above game was played at the 17th RSFSR Championship, Krasnodar, 1957.)

Chapter 2 contains 52 mates in three with all three attacker moves being check.

Chapter 3 ramps up the challenge with 40 examples of increasing number of checks to a maximum of 7. Here is a rather satisfying example from the 1987 New York Open. The attacker’s chess career was tragically cut short at the age of 22. He played this mating attack when eleven years old :

#21
Waitzkin, J – Frumkin, E

Mate in 7

26.?+-

The solution (should you need it) is at the foot of this review.

You might be thinking “if all the moves are check then the task is made easier”. Of course but this is a training book and the logical approach of Edouard provides for increasing the confidence of the student incrementally.

Chapter 4 (Trap Your Opponent’s King) serves up 32 positions in which the first move is quite often not a check but winning, nonetheless. Finding winning “quiet moves” is a skill level that is quite often beyond the less experienced or lower rated player and deserves serious study.

chess parents take note.

John Upham, Cove, Hampshire, 30th September, 2020

John Upham
John Upham

Book Details :

  • Hardcover : 152 pages
  • Publisher:Thinkers Publishing; 1 edition (19 May 2020)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9492510693
  • ISBN-13: 978-9492510693
  • Product Dimensions: 17.02 x 1.02 x 23.37 cm

Official web site of Thinkers Publishing

Chess Calculation Training for Kids and Club Players : Level 1 : Checkmating
Chess Calculation Training for Kids and Club Players : Level 1 : Checkmating

n.b. Solution to Chapter 3, position #21 :

26.Qxg7+! Kxg7 27. Bf6+ Kg6

27…Kh6 28.Rh3+ Kg6 delays mate by one move

28. Rg3+ Kh6

28…Kh5 29.Rg5+ Kh4 30.Nf3#

29.Bg7+ Kh5 30.Rg5+ Kh4 31.Nf3#

The Modernized Grünfeld Defense

The Modernized Grünfeld Defense
The Modernized Grünfeld Defense

From the rear cover :

“Yaroslav Zherebukh was born in July 1993 in Lviv, Ukraine. He earned the Grandmaster title in January of 2009 at 15.5 years of age. In 2011 Yaro participated in the World Cup where he was seeded 97 th out of 128 contestants. He won his first three matches against Pavel Eljanov, Ruben Felgaer and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov before losing to David Navara. In 2013 he moved to the United States shifting his focus to coaching and academics. In 2017 he competed in the US Championship in 2017 where he scored a spectacular win over world #2 Fabiano Caruana and qualified to the 2017 World Cup! He has coached a plethora of talented American youths including world class GM Jeffery Xiong. Besides his chess activities, Yaro holds an MA in financial economics from Saint Louis University and has experience working for private equity firms in New York City.”

GM Yaroslav Zherebukh
GM Yaroslav Zherebukh

Also from the rear cover

“The Modernized Grünfeld Defense will be extremely helpful for any chess player looking for a reliable lifetime repertoire against White’s 1.d4. It will benefit current Grünfeld players as Yaro unveils his analysis and numerous novelties waiting to be played over the board.”

This new book on the Grünfeld, a welcome addition to Thinkers Publishing’s “Modernized” series, is written by a 2600+ GM who plays the defence himself. It is a repertoire book,  with the author recommending which variation (and sometimes a choice of variations) to play against each system that White may employ.

The book is arranged into five parts (Exchange Variation, 4Nf3, other 4th moves etc) each containing several chapters for the main sub-variations. There is no overall index of variations, but the reader can quite easily navigate to a particular line by using the Table of Contents and then the Guide at the beginning of each chapter.

The book is very up-to-date (one chapter is devoted to 5 h4) and includes much of Zherebukh’s own analysis and many of his novelties. He typically recommends combative lines which have been much tested in practice. When he does recommend an ambitious sideline (such as 5 …dxc4 in the 5 Bg5 variation) he also provides analysis of the less ambitious “main” line (5 …Ne4 in that example).

This excerpt from the book is, I think, quite typical of Zherebukh’s style. It arises from a rare line in the 7 Bb5+ variation:

Position after: 9…b5

10. Bb3
10 Bc2 b4N A cute novelty, although not terribly important as only 6 games have reached this position according to the ChessBase online database. Still, let’s enjoy the underlying idea. 11. cxb4 a5!

Position after: 11…a5!

A) 12. bxa5 c5=+ The last three pawn moves remind me of checkers: Black is begging White to take all of the pawns to get to the grand prize, the d-pawn.

B) 12. Bd2 axb4 13. Bxb4 c5! And yet one more pretty pawn sacrifice.

Position afer 13… c5!

14. Bxc5 [14.dxc5 Bxa1 15.Qxa1 Ba6 -+] 14 …Na6 The bishop on c5 suddenly doesn’t have any good squares. Note that it cannot retreat to a3 because we would win it after the devastating … Qa5+ followed by …Qxa3. If 15.Rb1 Nxc5 16.dxc5 Qa5+ 17.Qd2 Qxc5 18.Bd3 Be6 -/+ we are about to capture the extra pawn White currently enjoys and then our bishop pair would be vastly superior to White’s knight and bishop.

The material is well-presented and the repertoire suggestions are both aggressive and sound.

The book has some interesting features which I believe add value to the actual chess content. For example, it contains a “Conclusion” in which the author describes, in one or two paragraphs, what was covered in each of the 16 chapters with a couple of additional insights about the variation the chapter covers. For example, about the 4,e3 variation he writes:

While this system is not the most ambitious and is commonly played to avoid the major theoretical battles, I still recommend memorising the precise move orders for Black. In my opinion, White may have some venom in the 5.Nf3 6.b4 system which I suggest studying in detail.

Also, Zherebukh gives some tips on how to learn openings and how to memorise them, including some specifics on how to use software or web sites to achieve this and how he himself prepares to use a newly-learnt opening. (I should point out that the book itself does not rely on software or online content.)

As someone who has been playing the Grünfeld recently, I very much like this book and I can recommend it it to anyone who is seeking to take up the Grünfeld, or who is already playing it.

Colin Purdon, August 23rd 2020

Colin Purdon
Colin Purdon

Book Details :

  • Flexicover : 302 pages
  • Publisher: Thinkers Publishing; 1 edition (14 July 2020)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9492510790
  • ISBN-13: 978-9492510792
  • Product Dimensions: 17 x 23.5 cm

Official web site of Thinkers Publishing

The Modernized Grünfeld Defense
The Modernized Grünfeld Defense

The Grandmaster Mindset

The Grandmaster Mindset
The Grandmaster Mindset

From the book’s rear cover :

“By going through the chapters, you will get acquainted with my way of grandmaster type thinking. I can assure you of one thing: there are better and weaker grandmasters, but you won’t find a GM who is playing without ideas or, let’s say, without his way of thinking! As you will find out, I am basically trying to detect the problem or goal of the position and then I am starting to scan factors which can lead to the solution. That process you will find in many examples in the book. GM Alojzije Jankovic, April 2020.”

“Alojzije Jankovic (1983) is a Grandmaster and FIDE trainer from Croatia. In 2010 he shared first place in the Croatian National Championship, was national champion in 2015, shared third place with Croatia in the European Team Championships 2017 and played for Croatia in the Chess Olympiad. He won several international tournaments and also hosts weekly the broadcast ‘Chess commentary’, Croatian national tv, third channel. This is his second book for Thinkers Publishing, after his successful co-edition with GM Zdenko Kozul on the ‘Richter Rauzer Reborn‘ updated version 2019.”

GM Alojzije Jankovic
GM Alojzije Jankovic

As with every recent Thinkers Publishing 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 ours !). Each diagram is clear and the instructional text is typeset in two column format, which, we find, enables the reader to maintain their place easily. Figurine algebraic notation is used throughout and the diagrams are placed adjacent to the relevant text and each diagram has a “to move” indicator.

A bibliography of sources along with suggestions for further reading would have been helpful.

 

I was rather confused when I first saw this book. The title, The Grandmaster Mindset, suggests a book for advanced players , while the subtitle A First Course in Chess Improvement suggests a book for novices.

Let’s take a look inside and find out.

The first chapter concerns pins. We start off with Légal’s Mate, which is important for novices but hardly necessary for advanced players.

En passant, we learn what Jankovic means by the Grandmaster Mindset. First, you assess the position, just as recommended by many other authors, such as Silman. Then you look for candidate moves: you consider all checks, captures and threats, as recommended by Kotov and many others, including me, over the past half century or so. Other authors, notably Willy Hendriks, will tell you to ignore protocols of this nature, to use your intuition and ‘move first, think later’.

We soon find ourselves in deeper waters, and by the end of the chapter we’re faced with a beautiful endgame study (M Matouš 1975) which is analysed in depth.

The second chapter, Candidate Moves, only seems to repeat the lessons from Chapter 1: if you assess the position and look for forcing moves you can find brilliant queen sacrifices.

Chapter 3, the longest in the book, brings with it a change of scenery. Useful endings: we have some pawn endings, rook against pawn, queen against rook, the bishop and knight checkmate explained in some detail, and finally rook against knight, again at length.

We’re back to tactics in Chapter 4, Knight Geometry.

This is Zvjaginsev-Schwarz (Novi Sad 2016).

White won with the aesthetically pleasing 44. Rxa6!! bxa6 45. b7 Qd8 46. Qxh6+!! Kxh6 47. Nxf7+. Beautiful, to be sure, with symmetrical major piece sacrifices on a6 and h6, but the queen sacrifice wasn’t necessary: 45. f4 Rg6 46. b7 was just as effective. (Note that 44. f4 also worked, but not, in the game, 46. f4? Qa5! and Black has a perpetual.) Perhaps this might have been mentioned.

The tactical ideas continue: Back Rank Mate (Chapter 5), Lure the King (Chapter 6: sacrificing a piece to expose the enemy king to danger), Unexpected Moves (Chapter 7: a collection of fairly random examples which you can discover by looking for Checks, Captures and Threats), Power of the Rooks (Chapter 8), Sudden Attack on the King (Chapter 9).

Chapter 10  is entitled Burying, which is a new one to me. The explanation, that it’s a very important tactical element when attacking the opponent’s king,  didn’t leave me much wiser. It seems to be something to do with taking away the king’s escape squares, but who knows?

In this position (Dizdarevic-Miles Biel 1985) Tony played a classic double bishop sacrifice: 13… Bxh2+! 14. Kxh2 Qh4+ 15. Kg1. Now after the immediate and obvious 15… Bxg2, 16. f3 defends. Instead, 15… Bf3!! (‘Burying!’) 16. Nd2 Bxg2!, and as the queen can no longer defend along the second rank, Black wins in short order.

There’s more to come: Underpromotion to a Knight in Chapter 11, and Different Tactical Motives in Chapter 12, but the whole book seems to me fairly random.

If you want to see some beautiful and spectacular chess, you’ll find a lot of great examples in this book: some hackneyed (the queen sac and knight fork from the 1966 Petrosian-Spassky match must have been in almost every tactics book for the past half century, and the Topalov-Shirov bishops of opposite colours ending for the past 20 years) but many unfamiliar.

Jankovic, by and large, explains his examples well and has an attractively friendly style of writing.

However, for this reviewer at least, the whole is rather less than the sum of its parts. With its mixture of elementary and advanced examples the book’s target market is not clear. The ‘Grandmaster Mindset’ advice (assess the position and consider candidate moves looking at checks, captures and threats) is far from original and, you might think, rather too simplistic. The contents seem fairly random (showy sacrifices, with some technical endings thrown in for good measure) but typical of what appears to pass for chess tuition in some circles. I’ll be writing a lot more about this at some point in the future.

It would require quite a lot of fleshing out, but there were potentially two much more useful books here. A book on finding tactical surprises, using the examples here but with the addition of exercises for the reader to solve. And then a much expanded version of Chapter 3 dealing with technical endings.

A qualified recommendation, then, but perhaps a missed opportunity which would have benefited from a more proactive approach from the publishers.

Richard James, Twickenham 13th August 2020

Richard James
. Richard James

Book Details :

  • Hardcover : 200 pages
  • Publisher:Thinkers Publishing; 1 edition (14 July 2020)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10:9492510774
  • ISBN-13:978-9492510778
  • Product Dimensions: 16.8 x 1.8 x 23.4 cm

Official web site of Thinkers Publishing

The Grandmaster Mindset
The Grandmaster Mindset

Fundamental Chess Strategy in 100 Games

Fundamental Chess Strategy in 100 Games
Fundamental Chess Strategy in 100 Games

Boroljub Zlatanovic was born in Cuprija, Serbia, 05 August 1977 • Meet chess in 4 years old watching father and his brother playing • Entered first club “Radnicki” Cuprija in 7 years • FM since 1994 ( however, it was recognized in 1998) • Serbian youth champion in 1995 • Champion of Belgrade University in 2001 and 2002 • Many times won Serbian team championship (in youth competition also) • IM since 2014 • FT since 2015 • Winner of many open, blitz and rapid and internet events • Professional coach for more than 15 years • Author and contributor in American chess magazine since 2019

FM Boroljub Zlatanovic
FM Boroljub Zlatanovic

From the rear cover :

“This book would bring something new into your chess library. In computer era focus is usually on openings. Watching broadcasts new generations rather choose games with favorite opening played seeking for some interesting idea or even brilliant novelty. I offer and recommend different concept, based on famous Soviet chess school. Focus should be on understanding strategy concepts, principles and inner logic. Fashionable opening lines will be forgotten (or re-evaluated) sooner or later, but understanding cannot be lost and can be only upgraded. It is sad to see some player well equipped with opening lines, unable to realize big positional advantage in deep endgame. So, our advice is to learn about Strategy and Logic. The book is highly recommended for club players, advanced players and masters, although even higher rated players can find a lot of useful things for themselves. There is no doubt lower rated players will learn a lot about thinking process and making decisions, while some logical principles can be good advice for strong players also.”

Another review :

“Zlatanovic uses a light touch of his notes, limiting the complexity of his analysis and working to clearly explain the logic of positional decisions and ideas. Using examples both well-known and less studied, class and club players are taught quite a bit about basic positional play. I certainly leaned a thing of two. Johh Hartmann – Chess Life – April 2020.”

As with every recent Thinkers Publishing 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 ours !). Each diagram is clear and the instructional text is typeset in two column format, which, we find, enables the reader to maintain their place easily. Figurine algebraic notation is used throughout and the diagrams are placed adjacent to the relevant text and each diagram has a “to move” indicator.

There is no index which, unfortunately, is a standard omission of Thinkers Publishing books. Also missing is a bibliography.

This is a massive book, over 500 pages and is a collection of classic games, with instructive notes. It is more or less designed for the club player. There is a bit of blurb on the back cover stating that the book will be useful to advanced players and masters, but I am not at all sure about that.

I cannot see advanced players buying this book.

Apparently, the book is based on the same principles as the famous Soviet school of chess. Strategy, logic and understanding should take pride of place, even in our computer era. I agree, but I don’t need the Soviet school of chess to tell me that. I can work that out for myself.

The book is beautifully produced and is very easy to read. It retails at a whopping £29.95 in the UK.

As there are so many books of the same type around, what I was looking for was a bit of originality. At the very least , all of the games should have been from the last 20 years, trying to unravel the complexity of the modern game.

What I found were games that I almost all seen before. There are only 15 games in the entire book that come from the period 2000-2020. None from Magnus Carlsen, for instance. This was disappointing.

Players under 1800 will get the most out of this book and trainers will have a ready source of lesson plans, if they are willing to make what is a hefty investment.

I give this book 3 out of 5 stars.

Three out of Five Stars

IM Andrew Martin, Bramley, Surrey 4th August 2020

IM Andrew Martin
IM Andrew Martin

Book Details :

  • Hardcover : 512 pages
  • Publisher:Thinkers Publishing; 1 edition (19 Mar. 2020)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10:9492510685
  • ISBN-13:978-9492510686
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 3.6 x 23.4 cm

Official web site of Thinkers Publishing

Fundamental Chess Strategy in 100 Games
Fundamental Chess Strategy in 100 Games

The Modernized Delayed Benoni

The Modernized Delayed Benoni
The Modernized Delayed Benoni

Ivan Ivanisevic, born in 1977, started playing chess when he was 5 years old, while watching his grandfather and father play. At the age of 10 he started working with IM Petar Smederevac, the coach of the national team of former Yugoslavia, who is probably the real reason why he started playing professionally. Before he reached the age of 20 years old, he shared 1st place in the Championship of the former Yugoslavia. In 1999 he won the title of Grandmaster. Since 1998 he is a member of the national team, and since 2007 continually playing on the first board. Four times he was the Champion of Serbia. He won many tournaments, from which we remember mostly following: Saint Petersburg 2014, Skopje 2015, sharing 1-5 place in Dubai 2015, Vršac, the Bora Kostić Memorial, 2006, Nova Gorica 2007, Bergamo 2014, Kavala 2007, Podgorica, 2011 becoming the Balkan champion and Kozloduy, the rapid championship of Danube 2012. He was also participant of the World Cup in 2011. This this second book for Thinkers Published, after he co-authored the most acclaimed ‘Taimanov Bible’ from 2017.

GM Ivan Ivanisevic
GM Ivan Ivanisevic

From the rear cover :

“The Modernized Delayed Benoni is much more than the title makes you think! I like the author’s approach very much: it is a mixture of a personal journey and a theoretical manual. The author has been probably the main exponent of this line for the past ten years and he uses many of his games to illustrate the variations he has recommended. Although the book is again extremely detailed, there is careful attention to move orders and enough passages of explanations to make much of it understandable for non-experts. An excellent effort. GM Matthew Sadler, NIC Magazine 2020/4.

My aim in this book is to show that the Delayed Benoni is equally as attractive as its cousin, the Modern Benoni. For some reason – perhaps because “Modern” sounds more exciting than “Delayed”? – my favorite Benoni has been neglected for years, receiving scant coverage in chess publications.”

As with every recent Thinkers Publishing 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 ours !). Each diagram is clear and the instructional text is typeset in two column format, which, we find, enables the reader to maintain their place easily. Figurine algebraic notation is used throughout and the diagrams are placed adjacent to the relevant text and each diagram has a “to move” indicator.

There is no index which, unfortunately, is a standard omission of Thinkers Publishing books. Also missing is a bibliography.

The Modernized Delayed Benoni is written by Grandmaster Ivan Ivanisevic, with an important contribution by GM Ivan Sokolov. It is an excellent 240 page book, produced by Thinkers Publishing.

There is a lot of detailed analysis here, complimented by plenty of relevant text. The book revives a system in the Benoni which has not been given the respect it deserves over the years.

This is not a beginner’s manual and strong players will get the most out of it.

The book focuses on the move order 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 c5 3 d5 g6!

as a way of getting to positions which are dynamic, relatively unexplored and suitable for playing for the win as Black.

Let’s take a look at some of these ideas…

Having digested a lot of this book, I’ve been trying the Black system online. Virtually all strong players meet it in the same way :

IM Andrew Martin, Bramley, Surrey 21st July 2020

IM Andrew Martin
IM Andrew Martin

Book Details :

  • Hardcover : 236 pages
  • Publisher:  Thinkers Publishing; 01 edition (30 Jan. 2020)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9492510650
  • ISBN-13: 978-9492510655
  • Product Dimensions: 17 x 23.5 cm

Official web site of Thinkers Publishing

The Modernized Delayed Benoni
The Modernized Delayed Benoni

Your Jungle Guide to Rook Endings

Your Jungle Guide to Rook Endings
Your Jungle Guide to Rook Endings

Your Jungle Guide to Rook Endings : Efstratios Grivas

“After a bad opening, there is hope for the middle game. After a bad middle game, there is hope for the endgame. But once you are in the endgame, the moment of truth has arrived.” – Edmar Mednis

GM Efstratios Grivas
GM Efstratios Grivas

“Efstratios Grivas (30.03.1966) is a highly experienced chess trainer and chess author. He has been awarded by the International Chess Federation (FIDE) the titles of International Chess Grandmaster, FIDE Senior Trainer, International Chess Arbiter and International Chess Organiser.

His main successes over the board are the Silver Medal Olympiad 1998 (3rd Board), the Gold Medal European Team Championship 1989 (3rd Board) and the 4th Position World Junior Championship U.20 1985. He has also won 5 Balkan Medals (2 Gold – 1 Silver – 2 Bronze) and he was 3 times Winner of the International ‘Acropolis’ Tournament. He has also in his credit the 28 times first position in Greek Individual & Team Championships and he has won various international tournaments as well. He has been awarded five FIDE Medals in the Annual FIDE Awards (Winner of the FIDE Boleslavsky Medal 2009 & 2015 (best author) – Winner of the FIDE Euwe Medal 2011 & 2012 (best junior trainer) – Winner of the FIDE Razuvaev Medal 2014 (Trainers’ education) and has been a professional Lecturer at FIDE Seminars for Training & Certifying Trainers.

He has written more than 100 Books in Arabic, English, Greek, Italian, Spanish & Turkish. Since 2009 he is the Secretary of the FIDE Trainers’ Commission and since 2012 the Director of the FIDE Grivas Chess International Academy (Athens).”

From the rear cover :

“To learn and to play endgames well the chess player must love endgames’ – Lev Psakhis. Different kinds of endgames have specific characteristics and rules. Every serious player must know many typical positions and main principles of all types of endings. That knowledge should help us during the game, but it is not enough to become a good player, not yet. There just too many different endings, some of them with two or more pieces, some are very complex. To be comfortable and play well those complex endings require specific knowledge and specific ways of thinking. We will call it ‘endgame thinking’.

I chose to write a book on advanced rook endings as I simply did not wish to write another book that would be like the many already available. I have done my best to present analysis and articles I have written over the past 10-15 years. Th is work has been presented in my daily coaching sessions, seminars, workshops, etc. The material has helped a lot of trainees to develop into quite strong players gaining international titles and championships. Now, it is your turn to taste and enjoy it!”

As with every recent Thinkers Publishing 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 ours !). Each diagram is clear and the instructional text is typeset in two column format, which, we find, enables the reader to maintain their place easily. Figurine algebraic notation is used throughout and the diagrams are placed adjacent to the relevant text and each diagram has a “to move” indicator.

This is a superb book packed full of instructive examples which I cannot praise enough. The book has clearly been extensively researched with Efstratios Grivas showcasing his credentials as a world class trainer.

The book starts off with four well thought out introductory sections: 1. The Endgame which briefly discusses the historical literature and computer evolution of the endgames. In this section, the author introduces his useful boxed SOS Tips which remind the reader of the salient points of a particular lesson or section.

2. The Golden Rules Of the Endgame which every player should know.  I like the way that Grivas acknowledges other authors’ contributions to the evolution of our endgame understanding and this is clearly shown here and in Chapter 4 Extra Passed Pawn.

3. Rook Endgame Principles which lists the five main rules of rook endgames which is particularly useful for less experienced players.

4.Evaluation – Plan – Execution which discusses the role of planning followed by an excellent seven point SOS tip box.

Now we come to the meat of the book which is divided into nine chapters:

Chapter 1 – basic knowledge which covers the Lucena, Philidor and Vancura positions and their offshoots. If you only read one chapter of any book on rook endgames, I suggest this one.

Diagram 13 shows that even a future current world champion can blunder in a basic position:

Levon Aronian v Magnus Carlsen
Levon Aronian v Magnus Carlsen

This is a drawn ending as black’s king is on the short side and his rook has sufficient checking distance.

Aronian’s last move was the cunning waiting move 73.Rd7-d6!

The only drawing move here is 73… Kg6! for example, if 74.Rd7 Kg7 75.Kd6+ Kf6 76. e7 Kf7=

Carlsen replied with the “obvious” check 73… Ra7+ and resigned instantly after 74. Ke8. He resigned because of 74… Ra8+ 75.Rd8 Ra6 76.e7

The reviewer can say that he knew this trap from Levenfish & Smyslov and admits to feeling slightly smug!

Chapter 2 is entitled Extraordinary endings and covers three interesting and diverse areas:

  1. Rook and A + H pawns v Rook
  2. Rook vs 3 connected pawns
  3. 2 Rooks v R + 3 connected pawns

My preference would have been to restructure this chapter as Rook v Pawns and put the other two sections into later separate chapters. Nevertheless all the material is extremely useful. The ending of Rook v 3 pawns is fairly common and the diagram below shows a typical occurrence:

Colin Crouch - Luke McShane England 1999
Colin Crouch – Luke McShane England 1999

This is an “optimal drawn position” (Grivas). White must prevent the rook from getting behind the pawns which wins for black.

White played 68.Kb4? which loses, keeping the king on the second or third rank was fine. 68… Rh4+? (68…Rh3 or Rh1 wins) 69. Kb3 Kc5 70. Ka3! Kb6 71. Kb3 Kc5 72. Ka3! Rh3+ 73. Kb2 Kb6 74. Ka2! (only move) Ka5 75. Kb2 Rg3 76. Kc2? (76.Ka2! Kc4 77.c7 Ra3+ 78.Kb2 Rb3+ 79.Ka2 with a perpetual check) Rg4? (76…Kb4 wins 77.Kd2 Rg8! 78.Kd3 Kxa4 79. Kc4 Ka5 8-.Kc5 Rg5+ wins) 77. Kb3 Rb4+ 78. Kc3! Rb1 79. Kc2 Rf1 80. Kb3? (80.Kb2 draws) Ra1! winning

Colin Crouch - Luke McShane England 1999
Colin Crouch – Luke McShane England 1999

81.Kc4  Rxa4+ 82. Kc5 Ra1 83. c7 Rc1+ 84. Kd6 Kb6 0-1

Chapter 3 Same Side is one of the core chapters which deals with pawn up positions when all the pawns are on one side. These positions occur very frequently and are sometimes misplayed by world class players. I like the way the author systematically discusses the different structures with drawing and winning mechanisms and then shows pertintent examples from real games. Diagram 51 discusses the famous endgame Capablanca  – Yates Hastings 1930 in great depth which shows that even the great Cuban player made several mistakes after achieving a winning game from a drawn 4 v 3 endgame shown below. A quick flavour of the coverage is given below.

Capablanca - Yates Hastings 1930
Capablanca – Yates Hastings 1930

The game continued 38…Rb4, 39.Ra5 Rc4 (39…h5! is the standard move to ease the defence.) 40.g4! squeezing, but black can still hold 40… h6 41. Kg3 Rc1 42. Kg2 Rc4 43. Rd5 Ra4 44. f4 Ra2+ 45. Kg3 Re2 46.Re5 Re1 47. Kf2 Rh1 48. Kg2 Re1 49. h4 Kf6?! (49…f6 is more precise reaching a known drawn position) 50.h5 Re2+ 51. Kf3 Re1 Re1 52. Ra5 Kg7 53. hxg6 Kxg6! (53…fxg6? loses 54. Ra7+ Kg8 55. e4 Rf1+ 56.Ke3 Rg1 57.f5! Rxg4 58.f6 winning with two passed pawns) 54. e4 Rf1+ 55.Kg3 Rg1+ 56. Kh3 Rf1 57. Rf5 reaching the diagram below:

Capablanca Yates Hastings 1930
Capablanca Yates Hastings 1930

57… Re1? (black must play 57…f6 to draw) 58. e5! Re3+ 59.Kg2! Ra3 60.Rf6+ Kg7 reaching a well lnown won position 61. Rb6? (61.Rd6 wins protecting the king from side checks) Re3? 61…Ra4! leads to a complex draw 62. Rb4? (62. Rb1 still wins but Rb8 does not win) Rc3 reaching the position below:

Capablanca Yates Hastings 1930
Capablanca- Yates, Hastings, 1930

63. Kf2? (A shocking mistake, 63.Rb8 intending f5 wins) 62… Ra3 ? (63…h5! draws) 64. Rb7 Kg8 65. Rb8+! (now Capablanca wins efficiently) Kg7 66. f5 Ra2+ 67. Ke3 Ra3+ 68. Ke4 Ra4+ 69. Kd5! Ra4+ 69. Kd5! Ra5+ 70. Kd6 Ra6+ 71. Kc7 Kh7 72.Kd7 Ra7+ 73. Kd6 Kg7 74. Rd8! Ra5 75. f6+ Kh7 76. Rf8 Ra7 77. Kc6! Kg6 78. Rg8+ Kh7 79. Rg7+ Kh8 80.Kb6 Rd7 81. Kc5! Rc7+ 82. Kd6 Ra7 83.e6! Ra6+ 84. Ke7 Rxe6+ 85. Kxf7 Re5 86.g5! hxg5 77. Kg6 1-0

Chpater 4 Extra Passed Pawn is the second core chapter of the book and is easily the longest and most complex chapter. Despite this, detailed study of this section will reap rich rewards. The theory of these endings has evolved significantly since the books by Fine and Levenfish/Smyslov. Diagram 78 shows a typical position with a extra rook’s pawn with the stronger side having the rook in front of the pawn. This position looks to be an easy draw but beware: it is a draw but the position is complex and the drawing lines are complex! One slip and the game slips away.

Bacrot - Robson, Khanty-Mansiysk, 2011
Bacrot – Robson, Khanty-Mansiysk, 2011

Black played a waiting move which is fatal 59…Ke6? (59…Ra4! or 59…g5! draws) White blundered in turn playing 60.Ra8? ( White could have won with a beautiful and instructive variation starting with 60. Kd4! see diagram below):

Bacrot - Robson, Khanty-Mansiysk, 2011
Bacrot – Robson, Khanty-Mansiysk, 2011

60…Rxf2 (looks as though it draws, but it does not) 61. Rc7 Ra2 62. a7 Kf5 63. Kc4!! Kg4 64. Kb3! Ra6 65. Rc4+ Kxg3 66. Ra4 Rxa7 67. Rxa7 Kxh4  reaching a key position shown below:

Bacrot - Robson, Khanty-Mansiysk, 2011
Bacrot – Robson, Khanty-Mansiysk, 2011

White wins with the amazing 68. Kc3!! (68.Rxf7 only draws 68…Kg3 holds) 68…Kg3 (68…f5 69. Kd3 g5 70.Rf7 f4 71.Rf5!! Kg4 72. Ra5 h4 73. Ke2 wins) 69. Kd3 h4 70. Ke2! wins

After 60. Ra8 the game was eventually won by white after many errors by both  sides.

Chapter 5 Shattering covers endings where one side has a positional advantage consisting of the better pawn structure. A typical position is diagram 118 which is from the famous game Flohr – Vidmar Nottingham 1936.

Flohr- Vidmar, Nottingham, 1936
Flohr – Vidmar, Nottingham, 1936

Black rather injudiciously exchanged knights with 29…Nc6? 30. Nxc6 Rc8 31. Rc5? (better is 31.Ke2 bxc6 (31…Rxc6 loses the king and pawn ending after 32.Rxc6 bxc6 33.b4!) 32.Rc5) 31…bxc6? (31…Rxc6! 32. Rxd5 Rc2 probably draws) 32. Ke2! Ke7 33.Kd3 Kd6 34. Ra5! Ra8 35. Kd4 f5 36. b4  reaching the position below:

Flohr-Vidmar, Move36
Flohr-Vidmar, Nottingham, 1936

36…Rb8? and Flohr won a brilliant ending. However as Grivas shows, black could have drawn by executing a better plan on move 36 by defending his weak a6 pawn with his king 36…Kc7! 37. Kc5 Kb7 38. Kd6 Re8 39.Ra3 g5! for example 40.Rc3 f4! 41. exf4 gxf4 42. Rxc6 Rd8+ 43. Kc5 d4 44. Re6 d3 45. Re1 Rg8=

Chapter 6 Isolani covers the handling of rook endings playing against isolated central pawns. Diagram 132 covers the game Szabo Penrose from the European Team Championship in Bath 1973.

Szabo - Penrose, Bath, 1973
Szabo – Penrose, Bath, 1973

This is a superbly handled ending by Szabo who probes carefully and forces resignation within twenty moves – a textbook example with excellent notes by the author.

Chapter 7 Drawn Endings covers the reasons for losing drawn positions which happens to very strong players. An excellent example is diagram 140.

Topalov-Gelfand, Linares, 2010
Topalov-Gelfand, Linares, 2010

It is hard to believe that a world class player of Gelfand’s standard could lose such a position but Grivas shows how with his usual exemplary commentary.

Chapter 8 Four Rooks is one of the chapters that makes this book stand out – few authors have covered this topic in any depth although Fine in BCE does give some examples. Grivas starts the chapter with five sets of educational SOS tips which the reviewer really likes. Diagram 143 shows a example of good defence in a position that looks diffcult with black’s king trapped on the back rank:

Miljanic- Grivas, 1983
Miljanic – Grivas, 1983

The author conducts an almost flawless defence to hold this difficult position – buy the book to find out how.

The final chapter 9 Various Concepts discusses Lasker’s steps, trapped rooks and the Loman move. If you don’t know about Lasker’s steps or the Loman move – buy the book to learn more!

FM Richard Webb, Chineham, Hampshire, 20th July 2020

FM Richard Webb
FM Richard Webb

Book Details :

  • Paperback : 400 pages
  • Publisher: Thinkers Publishing; 01 edition (19 May 2020)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 949251074X
  • ISBN-13: 978-9492510747
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 1.9 x 22.9 cm

Official web site of Thinkers Publishing

Search Results Web results Your Jungle Guide to Rook Endings
Search Results
Web results
Your Jungle Guide to Rook Endings

My Chess World

My Chess World
My Chess World

“Nine-time Czech champion David Navara, 35, became a grandmaster in 2002 at the age of sixteen. Amongst his many achievements are: 1st at the Ordix Open rapid tournament in Mainz, Germany, in 2007. World Cup quarterfinalist in 2011. Gold medal winner on 2nd board at the 2012 Chess Olympiad in Istanbul. Gold medallist with the Nový Bor team at the 2013 European Club Cup in Rhodes, Greece. Winner of the European Blitz Championship in Wrocław, Poland, in 2014. Silver medallist in the European Individual Championship in Jerusalem in 2015.”

GM David Navara
GM David Navara

From the rear cover :

“This book is not a pure (auto)biography, rather a games collection. It consists mainly of interesting high-class games played by me, including many losses. Most of the games are preceded by accompanying texts, which vary from essays to tournament reports. The title of the book might seem presumptuous, but I wanted to show how I see or experience the competitions without denying the chess worlds of others. While the texts are mostly light and subjective, at the same time I tried hard to stick to the facts and provide some food for thought. GM David Navara May 2020.”

David Navara is one of the most distinctive and popular personalities on the contemporary chess scene, renowned for his uncompromising play, for his politeness and friendliness, and, most of all, for his eccentricities. He’s been just below the world elite for the past 15 years or so, usually rated between 2700 and 2750.

In this chunky 600+ page book he offers us a collection of 64 (for Navara it could be no other number) games, chosen for their interest rather than the result, so you’ll find draws and losses as well as wins here. His opponents include many of today’s top grandmasters and a wide range of openings is represented.

Authors have a difficult decision to make about how detailed their analysis should be. Navara explains the dilemma nicely in what he calls the Navara Antinomy:

  1. Substantial games are interesting.
  2. Substantial games require extensive annotations.
  3. Extensive annotations are boring.

Yes, the annotations are pretty extensive, but the games are interesting enough to merit this. There are plenty of variations and sub-variations which, if you’re playing through the games, might be confusing unless you’re making use of a second board. You’ll discover a host of exciting middle games and, in particular, some fascinating endings.

One game that particularly drew my attention was his game with White against Radoslaw Wojtaszek from Biel 2015.

Not all games with early queen exchanges are dull. The moves up to 25. Kf6 were pre-game preparation, and by move 30 the white monarch reaches h8, which must be some sort of record for a top level game.

If you want to find out what was really happening in this game you’ll need to buy the book.

Navara likes to categorise chess games as either porridge (good for you but boring) or ice cream (tasty but not so healthy) and tells us both types are featured in the book. I think he’s, very typically, being too modest. Most of the games, like the one above, seem to me to be both tasty and good for you. A delicious main course of salmon, perhaps (Navara likes fish, especially Stockfish), or a refreshing fruit salad.

There’s no better way to end a meal than with a light sorbet. Here’s the conclusion of the last game of the book, against Vojtech Zwardon (Ostrava 2019).

How would you continue with White?

Full credit for 1. Qxg7+  Kxg7 2. Bf6+ and 3. Rh8#, but Navara preferred the cuter 1. Qh8+ Bxh8 2. Rxh8+ Kg7 3. Bf6#.

If you’re looking for a collection of top level games with excellent annotations, you won’t be disappointed with this book.

You get a lot more for your money, though. Most games are preceded by essays originally published on Navara’s chess blog (‘a blog past its sell-by date’) covering a wide variety of subjects: part travelogue, part tournament report, part meditation on chess and life.

You’ll find out a lot about the life of a chess player travelling round Europe, and occasionally further afield (Cuba, China) taking part in national and international team competitions as well as individual matches and tournaments.

There’s much more besides. As well as ‘Porridge and ice cream in Barcelona’ you’ll encounter ‘Sea hedgehogs’, ‘Swans on the top floor’ and ‘On Karl Marx and locking a bishop’.

The book is also full of humour, particularly verbal humour, which the translator has done well to render into English successfully. Humour is something very personal, and, I guess, you might find this aspect of the book either endearing or annoying. As for me, I love it. It’s great to meet someone who uses exactly the same jokes as I do.

Beyond the moves, then, this is, in many ways, a very personal book. The first few pages offer some biographical background. ‘I have no recollection of it, but according to reliable sources, I was born on 27 March 1985.’

He concludes this section: ‘I can’t drive or dance, and my knowledge of films and TV series is minimal.’ (Me too, David.) … ‘Chess is my choice. It has given me a lot: fun, success, friends, self-realisation, money, popularity, the chance to travel.’

At the end of the book he returns to the same theme, offering us a chess poem:

‘But still I remain like a child, who finds the outside world so wild. I still so much like to play chess, that it looks like both curse and bless.’

He concludes:

‘Chess has given me a lot. It can unite people of various nations, different ages, gender, political views, social and economic background or health conditions. It contains elements of art and some chess games are real masterpieces. (Of course they are rare, as masterpieces tend to be.) Chess might relieve the worries of everyday life, bring one good friends and uplift one’s spirit.

‘What more can you expect from a board game with seemingly simple rules?’

I think we can all, whatever our rating, agree with David Navara’s sentiments.

The book is well produced and enhanced with photographs of our hero. My one complaint, as so often, is the lack of an index. Perhaps I’m old-fashioned, but if I’m reading a games collection I’d like to be able to look up the games where Navara played Carlsen, or where he was on the black side of a Sicilian Defence.

What you do get is an excellently annotated games collection as well as an insight into the life and mind of a charming and unusual personality, who perceives the world with a mixture of child-like wonder and self-deprecating amusement. For me, it also provides the opportunity to meet someone who seems, in some respects, a kindred spirit.

I really enjoyed reading this book and finding out more about David Navara, both as a chess player and as a person. Very highly recommended.

 

Richard James, Twickenham, 13th July 2020

Richard James
Richard James

Book Details :

  • Paperback : 616 pages
  • Publisher: Thinkers Publishing; 1 edition (28 July 2020)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9492510804
  • ISBN-13:  978-9492510808
  • Product Dimensions: 17 x 23.5 cm

Official web site of Thinkers Publishing

My Chess World
My Chess World

The Caro-Kann Revisited : A Complete Repertoire for Black

The Caro-Kann Revisited : A Complete Repertoire for Black
The Caro-Kann Revisited : A Complete Repertoire for Black

From the rear cover we have :

“Francesco Rambaldi is an Italian Grandmaster who currently lives in St. Louis (USA) and plays for the Saint Louis University Chess Team. Shortly after graduating from high school, Francesco was awarded the Grandmaster title after winning the Wien International Open when he was 16 years old. Throughout his career, he found success at a national level both in youth championships, becoming Italian champion in the U10 (2009), U12 (2011) and U14 (2013) categories, and in open championships, becoming Italian Champion for Rapid and Blitz in 2016. Francesco also won numerous international opens including the previously mentioned Wien International Open (August 2015), the Bergamo International Open (July 2016), the Capo d’Orso International Chess Festival (June 2017) and the Panama Chess Rumble (November 2017).”

GM Francesco Rambaldi, photograph by David Lada
GM Francesco Rambaldi, photograph by David Lada

and also

“This book presents a comprehensive, ready-to-use, and high-quality repertoire for Black against 1.e4. With meticulous analysis and in-depth explanations, the author demonstrates how the Caro-Kann Defense can be used successfully by players of any level. He also draws on his experience and on his trove of novel ideas to present a new take on the Caro-Kann: one that emphasizes Black’s dynamic options while maintaining a solid and flexible setup.”

As with every recent Thinkers Publishing publication high quality paper is used and the printing is clear. We had got used to glossy paper in previous titles but this one reverts to matt. Bring back glossy!

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

A welcome addition is a bibliography which is normally absent from TP publications.

However, there is no index which, unfortunately, is a standard omission of Thinkers Publishing books. Some readers will be disappointed.

This first book from GM Francesco Rambaldi provides a more or less complete repertoire for Black versus 1.e4

In the BCN office we have examined books on the Caro-Kann that use various adjectives in their title :

First Steps, Move by Move, Dangerous Weapons, Main Line, Classical, Novelties, Dynamic, Understanding, Easy Guide, Grandmaster Secrets, Training, In Black & White, Krusher, Play the, Starting Out, Grandmaster Repertoire, Beating, New Ideas and finally Modernised. Revisited is a welcome addition!

Previously from Thinkers Publishing we had “The Modernized Caro-Kann” from GM Daniel Fernandez which focused on the Smyslov variation.

The main content is divided into seventeen chapters distributed amongst six parts as follows :

  1. Advance Caro-Kann
  2. Open Caro-Kann
  3. Two Knights Caro-Kann
  4. Panov Variation
  5. Exchange Caro-Kann
  6. Miscellaneous

Each chapter’s content is treated in familiar Thinker’s Publishing style : variations are analysed in detail move by move with game references liberally sprinkled into the text. The explanations and discussion are detailed presenting the ideas in the position.

We kick-off with a thorough discussion of the third most popular line for White : the Advance variation.

Every Caro-Kann player should know that 3.e5 deserves much respect and accurate play from Black to avoid a painful experience : we quite agree that this should be the first chapter therefore. Rambaldi recommends the trendy 3…c5 which scores slightly better than the conventional 3…Bf5. There are 157 pages on 3…c5 alone with most emphasis on the critical 4. dxc5 including the very topical 5.a3 :

which is treated in great depth with new ideas for Black in a line that White in increasingly turning to.

We then turn to the main “meat and potatoes” of this book : the Korchnoi Variation. We have seen this line referred to as the Tartakower Variation in “Understanding the Caro-Kann Defence” by Keene, Soltis, Mednis, Peters and Kaplan (Pitman, 1980). Rambaldi dedicates 70 pages including more explanation of the ideas than for the other parts.

as the main line after

5…exf6 has hitherto largely been ignored in the Caro-Kann literature in favour of the Bronstein-Larsen variation, 5…gxf6, the Capablanca / Classical Variation of 4…Bf5 and Smyslov’s Variation of 4…Nd7. One might have to employ the Tardis and visit (from 1989) Jeremy Silman’s “The Dynamic Caro-Kann” to find any appreciable treatment. JS dubs 5…exf6 the Original Caro-Kann for those who are keen on labels. Rambaldi calls this the Open Caro-Kann, presumably after 3…dxe4.

The popular Two Knights Variation is treated with the reliable 3…Bg4 line and the Panov via Bg4 and Be6 ideas depending on White’s tries. Even the (in)famous double rook endgame (that rarely gets an outing these days at the highest levels) is given a detailed treatment. All of White’s ideas are covered in detail with appropriate recommendations for Black.

The so-called Pseudo-Panov

and the Fantasy Variations

are covered in adequate depth providing almost complete coverage from Black’s perspective.

The coverage of the King’s Indian Attack is disappointingly thin, almost superficial. OK, so 2.d3 is rather uncommon but, nonetheless, a better treatment would have been welcome.

In summary, we have roughly 400 pages of quality analysis with in-depth explanations and new ideas for Black. There is a fresh (and not before time) treatment of the Korchnoi Variation and excellent coverage of the Advance, Two Knights, Panov and Exchange Variations. Of course, these are the lines you will face day-to-day.

Rambaldi recommends the unusual 4…Nf6!? move order in the Exchange Variation :

rather than the more common 4…Nc6 (and 5…Qc7) with the idea to develop the c8 bishop more quickly : interesting!

Rambaldi is a welcome new writer with a friendly style. He is not afraid to disagree with previous authors and present his own ideas.

We would recommend this book as a stand-alone treatment of the Caro-Kann. If you have played 4…Bf5 and / or 4…Nd7 and want to freshen up repertoire then why not consider 4…Nf6 ? It is less drawish and more ambitious if you need to play for the full point with Black.

John Upham, Cove, Hampshire, 5th June, 2020

John Upham
John Upham

Book Details :

  • Hardcover : 406 pages
  • Publisher:Thinkers Publishing; 1 edition (14 July 2020)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9492510766
  • ISBN-13: 978-9492510761
  • Product Dimensions: 17 x 23.5 cm

Official web site of Thinkers Publishing

The Caro-Kann Revisited A : A Complete Repertoire for Black
The Caro-Kann Revisited A : A Complete Repertoire for Black

Thinker’s Chess Academy with Grandmaster Thomas Luther : First Steps in Tactics

Thinkers' Chess Academy with Grandmaster Thomas Luther - Volume 1 First Steps in Tactics
Thinkers’ Chess Academy with Grandmaster Thomas Luther – Volume 1 First Steps in Tactics

Grandmaster Thomas Luther, born in 1969, is the first player with a disability to have entered the FIDE Top 100 rating list. In 2001 he was ranked 80th in the world. He has won the German Championship three times and is well known as an experienced and successful coach. In 2014 his achievements were recognised by being granted the title of FIDE Senior Trainer. In his career to-date he has published several books and DVDs. This is his second book for Thinkers’ Publishing, after a co-production with Jugend Schach Verlag entitled “Chess Coaching for Kids – the U10 Project.”

GM Thomas Luther
GM Thomas Luther

As with every recent Thinkers Publishing publication high quality paper is used and the printing is clear. In fact, for this particular title we have been treated with pleasing glossy paper that gives the book a higher quality feel than usual.

The book can easily be laid flat next to the board and does not require weights to prevent it from “self-closing” (a particular bugbear of ours !). Each diagram is clear and the instructional text is typeset in two column format, which, we find, enables the reader to maintain their place easily. Figurine algebraic notation is used throughout and the diagrams are placed adjacent to the relevant text and each diagram has a “to move” indicator.

There is no index which, unfortunately, is a standard omission of Thinkers Publishing books. Also missing is a bibliography. However, for a tactics books these items are less crucial, of course. A biography or autobiography would miss these things.

The main content is divided into sixteen chapters :

  1. Notation
  2. Exercises & Mazes
  3. Little Games
  4. Checkmate & Advantage
  5. The Winning Move!
  6. Rules & Behaviour
  7. Find Checkmate in Two Moves!
  8. Tactical Motifs
  9. Double Attack / Fork
  10. The Knight and his Forks
  11. The Skewer
  12. The Pin
  13. How to Handle a Pin
  14. The Overload Motif
  15. Discovered Attack
  16. History of Chess & Checkmate

We have reviewed several tactics books in the last few months and this one from Thomas Luther is really rather interesting. It would appear to have at least two clear target audiences : improving and ambitious juniors and also club players perhaps less than 1900 Elo.

The chapters on Exercises and Mazes and Little Games appeal to myself as a chess teacher and coach since these ideas are rarely presented by GMs. For example :

The rook has to give check to the black King.

He cannot move to a square where he be captured.

He cannot capture pawns, even if they are unprotected.

Make a guess how many moves are needed?

The “Little” Games (most western coaches would refer to these as “Mini” Games) is refreshing and entertaining :

In this position the pawns can overwhelm the bishop!

Following these interesting chapters we move on to more conventional themed tactics problems designed to build-up patterns that are recognizable. Each position has solution text that is aimed at junior and improving players reinforcing what (hopefully) has been learnt.

Chapter 6 (Rules & Behaviour) is somewhat unusual. Etiquette and basic playing advice is rarely discussed but again the focus is improving players. This sort of advice is regularly handed out by teachers and coaches but rarely found in print.

One of the more innovative features of the book are positions in which there is a win depending on who it is to move. Chapter 7 (Find Checkmate in Two Moves!) kicks off this notion and here is an example (there should be both a White and Black to move indicator) :

Before you ask, yes, most of these positions are concocted but that is irrelevant to the teaching aims of the examples.

One pleasing aspect of the bulk of the “normal” tactics chapters is that diagrams are large enough not to need a board and that, as a consequence, one can get a rhythm going almost akin to a “Puzzle Rush” ! Using a stopwatch also is not so silly.

Chapter 16 (History of Chess & Checkmate) will be of interest to perhaps more mature players and takes positions and puts them into a real life context about players current and past.

Not all books that are reviewed are going to be read cover to cover, but we did enjoy working through the examples. We’d say that an improving junior maybe 10+ in years will take to this book and get a lot from it. We are pleased that this book is free of silly cartoons which tend to put off serious juniors. When will publishers realise that cartoons do not enhance a chess book? The presentation is excellent and the material is fun to work on ! Highly recommended : chess parents take note.

John Upham, Cove, Hampshire, 28th May, 2020

John Upham
John Upham

Book Details :

  • Hardcover : 325 pages
  • Publisher:Thinkers Publishing; 1 edition (19 May 2020)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9492510723
  • ISBN-13: 978-9492510723
  • Product Dimensions: 16.8 x 1.5 x 23.1 cm

Official web site of Thinkers Publishing

Thinkers' Chess Academy with Grandmaster Thomas Luther - Volume 1 First Steps in Tactics
Thinkers’ Chess Academy with Grandmaster Thomas Luther – Volume 1 First Steps in Tactics

The Richter-Rauzer Reborn : The Kozul Variation

The Richter - Rauzer Reborn : The Kozul Variation
The Richter – Rauzer Reborn : The Kozul Variation

From the books rear cover :

“The Richter-Rauzer is one of the most complex and rich battlegrounds in the Open Sicilian. This book is the distillation of the authors’ decades-long experience in this variation, offering a practical approach based on understanding and knowledge of typical ideas. Do you wish to explore something double-edged and sharp, this book will leave you confident and fully armed to play for a win. For this second revised edition, Grandmasters Kozul and Jankovic teamed up to present you a way to even throw your most experienced opponent off balance!”

“Zdenko Kozul is a Croatian Grandmaster and the winner of the 2006 European Individual Championship. He has represented his country at Olympiads, European and World Championships for almost twenty five years. His peak FIDE-rating he achieved in 2004, being 2640. Zdenko combines now successfully playing individual an team competitions with working as a trainer for the Croatian Chess Federation.”

“Alojzije Jankovic is a Grandmaster and FIDE trainer from Croatia. In 2010 he shared first place in the Croatian National Championships and played for the Croatian team et the Olympiad. He won several international tournaments and completed his degree at the faculty of Economics and Business at the University of Zagreb Croatia.”

At 400 pages The Richter-Rauzer Reborn (second edition) is, indeed, a weighty, almost massive tome ! The first edition was published in September 2014 at a mere 315 pages.

If you are curious (as we were) about the naming of this variation then there is an interesting article (albeit from 2015) on chess.com.

Here are sample pages from the publisher

For those unfamiliar with Sicilian Defence naming schemes, the Richter-Rauzer is one of the sharper open sicilians which starts here :

in which …d6 and …Nc6 are interchangeable to get here.

The Kozul Variation continues from the above position to reach :

MegaBase 2020 lists around 9,000 games with 8…Bd7 with 8…h6 as the runner-up alternative. If we turn on the “Top Games” option we find almost 4,000 games so clearly a popular line at the top level.

Fairly obviously this is a highly theoretical variation (which is not unusual for the open sicilians) with many transpositional possibilities mixed in with sharp and hairy lines : buyer beware !

As with every recent Thinkers Publishing 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 ours !). Each diagram is clear and the instructional text is typeset in two column format, which, we find, enables the reader to maintain their place easily. Figurine algebraic notation is used throughout and the diagrams are placed adjacent to the relevant text and each diagram has a “to move” indicator.

There is no index which, unfortunately, is a standard omission of Thinkers Publishing books. Also missing is a bibliography.

The main content is divided into ten chapters :

  1. 9.f3
  2. 10th move sidelines
  3. 10.Nxc6
  4. 11th move sidelines
  5. 12.Nce2
  6. 12.Nf5
  7. 12.Nf3
  8. 13.f5
  9. 13.Qe1 & 15.–
  10. 13.Qe1 & 15.Bd3

In each of these chapters there is an immense amount of detailed analysis to work through and therefore we have 400 pages of material on a position starting at move nine ! An incredible tour de force of an opening book that will take some beating for depth and detail. Probably invaluable to the devotees of the open sicilian and certainly not for feint hearted. Almost certainly this audience for this book will consist of 2000+ Elo rated players who have the motivation to investigate the fine detail and ideas of this hyper sharp line.

Clearly we have not checked the analysis (and why we would we do that anyway?) but if you play open sicilian with either colour and you want to everything there is to know about the Richter-Rauzer then this book is for you.

John Upham, Cove, Hampshire, 8th May, 2020

John Upham
John Upham

Book Details :

  • Hardcover : 400 pages
  • Publisher: Thinkers Publishing; 2 edition (17 Dec. 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9492510626
  • ISBN-13: 978-9492510624
  • Product Dimensions: 17 x 1.5 x 23.4 cm

Official web site of Thinkers Publishing

The Richter - Rauzer Reborn : The Kozul Variation
The Richter – Rauzer Reborn : The Kozul Variation