Candidate Moves : A Grandmaster’s Method

 

Christian Bauer (born 11 January 1977) is a French Grandmaster and author. He is a three-time French Champion and the  author of three opening books. This collection of the authors best games  is his first book for Thinkers Press.  

GM Christian Bauer
GM Christian Bauer

What makes this book unique is that each game is annotated twice, firstly from the perspective of the white player followed by the same game with the annotations this time from the black player. The book contains 38 very deeply annotated games from the perspective of both players played between 2007 and 2017.

The book is divided up into four chapters : chapter 1 covers the topic of the exchange sacrifice, chapter 2 covers tactically complex positions, chapter 3 covers games where one king remains in the centre, and finally, chapter 4 covers “quieter games”.

This a very well produced book. Recently I have had the pleasure of reviewing two other books from Thinkers Publishing and, as with this book  I have been impressed with the high quality of the publication. But, the book does not come with an index of games or a list of openings. My first criticism of this book is the title “Candidate moves” :  when you start to read this book you would assume that the book is going to discuss the selection of candidate moves, but the book doesn’t do that, in fact I would go as far as saying that the title bears no relation to the contents whatsoever. Does this mean that this is not a good book? Far from it, there are many interesting and hard fought games here and the standard of annotation is consistently high throughout. I did however notice a number of inconsistencies with the annotations where for example a move is considered bad or dubious in one ‘version’ but is passed over without comment when annotated from the other players perspective.

The author does like to side step mainstream opening theory and play offbeat or even unsound openings, e.g. In Chapter 4, Game 17 against R Wojtaszek (2724) the game begins 1d4 a6 and in Game27 against D Semcesen (2469) starts 1. c4 e5 2.a3!?  and the rationale was that as his opponent likes to play the line 2Nc3 Bb4 against the English opening he thought that he would see if opponent would be bothered by 2. a3.  These are games from classical tournaments played by a top ranking chess professional, not games from a blitz or rapidplay event. Could you play like that?

The double annotation method was to try and diminish the subjectivity in  the annotations and is a unique and innovative approach. I have seen the idea of multiple perspectives work in films but I don’t think that it really works here. I did enjoy playing through several of the games in the book and I may even try out some of the opening ideas myself but overall I don’t think that the idea works. You can achieve the same result by including all the annotations within one game.

Tony Williams, December 8th 2018

Tony Williams
Tony Williams

Book Details :

  • Paperback : 404 pages
  • Publisher : Thinkers Publishing (7 Sept. 2018)
  • Language : English
  • ISBN-10 : 9492510243
  • ISBN-13 : 978-9492510242
  • Product Dimensions : 17 x 1.5 x 23.4 cm

Official web site of Thinkers Publishing

 

Gambit Killer: Ivan Salgado Lopez

Gambit Killer : Ivan Salgado Lopez

Ivan Salgado Lopez was born in Spain June 29th 1991 and learned to play chess at the age of seven thanks to his brother Oscar and became a Grandmaster at the age of 16.

Ivan Salgado Lopez
Ivan Salgado Lopez

Amongst the best results in his chess career Ivan has twice been Spanish Champion and has won many international tournaments. He was the second of ex-world champions Topalov and Ponomariov amongst other strong Grandmasters.

Spanish grandmaster Ivan Salgado Lopez has taken a close look at a variety of gambit lines that can arise after 1. d4 and the main chapters are as follows: Budapest Gambit 34 pages Blumenfeld Gambit 30 pages, Tarrasch and Marshall Gambits 8 pages, Von Henning Shara Gambit 36 pages, Slav Gambits 12 pages, Dutch Gambits 20 pages, Easily Refuted Gambits 4 pages, Albin Gambit 10 pages and finally a chapter containing model games and exercises.

The book covers these gambits in sufficient detail to enable you to sit down and play them with confidence and equips the reader with the main tactical ideas behind the gambit together with a detailed understanding of the typical middlegame positions that may arise.

The author strikes a good balance between analysis and explanations, and, has a very engaging writing style

One thing that became clear to me when I started reading this book is that this is not a complete guide to all d4 gambits. There are a number of omissions from this book that I would expect to see, for example there is no mention of the Marshall Gambit in the Semi Slav, which is an essential to know if you are playing that opening. Also the coverage of gambits against the Dutch defence is not complete. While the Staunton Gambit (2. e4) is covered well together with the Krejecik Gambit (2. g4) the variations after 2 h3 (an idea of Korchnoi’s : Ed) followed by 3 g4 are not covered.

Another issue that I would like to point out is that the book does not contain any index of games or opening variations, something that I would normally expect to find in an opening book.

Does this book ‘kill’ the gambits? Well, not exactly ! It provides a refutation for the more dubious and unsound lines and neutralises the dangerous but playable lines. A lot of the gambits covered in the book are completely playable but risky and may be met head on provided that you are suitably prepared. Some of the gambits are recommended for blitz and rapid play games!

However, overall this is a good book despite reservations regarding the scope of the coverage.

Tony Williams, October 26th 2018

Tony Williams
Tony Williams

Book Details :

  • Paperback : 315 pages
  • Publisher: Thinkers Publishing (1 Sept. 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 949251026X
  • ISBN-13: 978-9492510266
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 1.3 x 23.5 cm

Official web site of Thinkers Publishing

Chess Calculation Training Volume 3 : Legendary Games

Chess Calculation Training : Volume 3 : Legendary Games by Romain Édouard

Chess Calculation Training Volume 3
Chess Calculation Training Volume 3

This is the third book in the current series following on from previous volumes covering Middlegames and Endgames.

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

The material is arranged into fifteen chapters and each chapter covers a particular theme e.g. “Deliver Mate” and “Hidden Moves” . Four chapters employ examples from the games of famous players (Fischer, Karpov, Kasparov and Kramnik) covering one particular aspect of their play which made them stand out from their contemporaries e.g. Kasparov’s checkmating attacks or Karpov’s outstanding precision in technical positions.

Volume 3 has fifteen chapters and 480 exercises. In this book, we encounter many subjects, for example attack, defence, “surprises” and hidden moves, while some chapters will be especially dedicated to four great players – Kasparov, Karpov, Fischer and Kramnik – in order to learn about their styles. The last two chapters are a little different,  ‘Extraordinary Wins’, where you will see moves of the kind you won’t meet very often in life, and a ‘Special Section’, with exercises requiring special instructions.

The material is presented in a workbook format which is generally popular and no doubt influenced by the techniques of famous trainer Mark Dvoretsky. The author provides guidance at the beginning of each chapter on how difficult the material is and which positions in particular are extremely difficult where the student should devote additional time.

The range of material is varied, from simple to solve right up to extremely complex positions. The author recommends starting out by solving a small number of warm-up exercises from chapter one before tackling the more challenging material. This type of study, solving positions on specific themes can be a double edged sword, as on the one hand providing an opportunity to study a specific theme in depth and reinforce the theme by repetition but, on the other hand, you can become too narrowly focused : expecting a type of solution. If you have just solved 100 tactical exercises, involving pins you will probably spend a lot of effort in your own games looking for pins and not focusing on other tactical opportunities. The author avoids this trap as the material in each section is broad enough within the overall theme and you may not always know exactly what the winning motif is only that there is one there.

It is also very easy to organise your own study around a workbook, as you can set aside a certain target, say to study a given number of positions and log your progress. In addition, if you are familiar with memorising techniques you can easily create a schedule to periodically repeat the material.

Overall, I found this and challenging and entertaining book to read. I have not read the previous two volumes but would expect that they have been produced to the same high standard as the volume under review.

If you are an aspiring player looking to improve your game you should find that the material is challenging enough to help you on your journey. If you are just a casual player who enjoys sitting down and solving some interesting and challenging problems then there is something there for you as well.

Tony Williams, September 10th 2018

Tony Williams
Tony Williams

Book Details :

  • Paperback : 272 pages
  • Publisher: Thinkers Publishing (8 Sept. 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9492510308
  • ISBN-13: 978-9492510303
  • Product Dimensions: 17 x 23.5 cm

Official web site of Thinkers Publishing

Chess Calculation Training Volume 3
Chess Calculation Training Volume 3