BCN is delighted to send birthday wishes to Richard James, today, July 28th.
Member of Richmond & Twickenham Chess Club since 1966.
Active tournament and occasional county player 1966-1977.
I started teaching chess informally in 1973 and in 1975, together with Mike Fox, founded Richmond Junior Chess Club. When Mike moved to Birmingham in 1979 I took sole charge of the Club – where I remained until July 2006. In September 2006 Peter Sowray took over the top section of the Club while I continued to run the lower group until July 2007. I returned to Richmond Junior Club in April 2012 and am currently teaching there along with Marie Gallagher and Mark Josse.
Author of chess books (on chess for children and chess trivia) and magazine columns.
Recipient of the British (now English) Chess Federation President’s Award in 1996.
I have also worked on various chess editing projects, and am now writing for Right Way Books. My book Chess for Kids is a best seller on Amazon, receiving very positive reviews, and the companion volume for parents and teachers, The Right Way to Teach Chess to Kids was published in June 2013.
I worked as a computer programmer in the Market Research Industry 1972-1986, writing programs to analyse market research data.
Between 1986 and 1997 I continued computer programming work on a freelance basis while working on chess projects. I was working for the Richmond Chess Initiative from its foundation in 1993 until its closure in 2005, and at some point in the mid 1990s I started being paid for running Richmond Junior Chess Club. I have been involved in running school chess clubs since 1993, and, because of my dissatisfaction with the traditional lunchtime or after-school chess club, I am always interested in hearing from schools who want to try a different approach and are prepared to listen to my views.
I was working at Hampton Court House from 2002 to 2013, providing one-to-one chess tuition, teaching reasoning and logic to Y4 and Y5 and preparing children for 11+ Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning tests.
I left Hampton Court House in Summer 2013, due to declining interest in chess at the school, and, more generally in the Richmond area. I’m now branching out into schools in the Hounslow area, where children currently have fewer opportunities for extra-curricular activities, and where there is, by and large, less academic pressure.
I’m also the curriculum consultant for Chess in Schools and Communities, a charity putting chess on the curriculum in state primary schools, and am hoping to be able to help some schools in the Borough of Hounslow in this respect in future.
We are delighted to offer Arthur John Roycroft best wishes on his ninetieth birthday, this day (July 25th) in 1929.
From Wikipedia :
In 1959 he was awarded the title International Judge of Chess Compositions. In 1965 he founded EG, the first long-running journal exclusively for endgame studies. Roycroft served as editor and publisher through 1991. The journal continues to be published, but under Dutch ownership (“ARVES”). Roycroft remained its chief editor until 2007 when Harold van der Heijden took over. His 1972 book Test Tube Chess (revised as The Chess Endgame Study, 1981) is considered one of the best English-language examinations of endgame studies. He also served as the endgame study editor for the British Chess Magazine from 1973 to 1974.
Roycroft’s adaptation of the Guy–Blandford code in the 1970s resulted in the Guy–Blandford–Roycroft code, an efficient way to index endgame studies – or any chess position. He also advised Ken Thompson in writing programs for endgame data bases with four and five pieces. For queen and pawn against queen some results were published by Roycroft in three booklets in 1986, years ahead of full tablebase output on CD.
In Learn from Michal Krasenkow the author annotates 54 of his complete games and, additionally, he analyses 12 of his endgames. Also, he provides just over 20 pages of interesting biographical information, which is mainly about his chess life although it includes personal details.
Michal Krasenkow is a top GM who has been in the worlds top 10, and in 2002 his rating was just over 2700 (which was even more impressive then than it is now). Currently 55 years years of age he has been on the chess scene for a long time, and indeed he entitles his biographical chapter “Five Decades in Chess”. As well as describing his own progress at chess, he also describes the difficulties he had making further progress within the (then) Soviet Union and he describes why he changed his name to Krasenkow, and how and why he later left the Soviet Union to become a Polish citizen. Interesting stuff…
The main body of this book contains his annotated games, which Krasenkow refers to as “Memorable Games”. Around 370 of the 408 pages are devoted to this, of which nearly 300 are for the complete games and the remainder for the endgames. The games are arranged into chapters with different themes, such as
“Combinations & Tactics”,
“Attack on the Uncastled King”,
“Flank attack on the King”,
“Defence” and so on.
He also includes a “Various” chapter for games that can’t easily be categorised. Similarly, the endings are separated into chapters for Pawn, Rook and Bishop endings. I guess that this structure helps with the “Learn” part of the book’s title.
The book does have a flaw: the Index of Games is nothing other than a list of the games with numbers, players and tournament – there is no page number given ! To make it worse, the games themselves do not include the game number in the header. This means that to find a game from the index the reader has to leaf through the pages and look to see if a page has a game that is before or after the one being looked for. To be fair, the reader needs only search the relevant chapter, not the whole book, but it is still rather tedious. This is a shame, because the author uses the game numbers in his introduction and the production values of the book are otherwise excellent. It is also fair to say that an index is not so important in a games collection as it is in other types of chess book, so I will leave it there. (Ed: having reviewed several titles from Thinkers Publishing BCN is of the opinion that the publisher has a policy of no index.)
The compelling star feature of the book is the high quality of the annotations themselves. Krasenkow provides clear explanations of many of the moves, and supplements this with concrete (sometimes quite deep!) lines when the position requires it. In my opinion he gets the balance just right, and it is easy to see why Krasenkow is a top coach as well as a strong player. Players of widely differing strengths will be able to enjoy and benefit from the author’s annotations.
Here is an example of Krasenkow’s clarity of thought, when discussing a position from a game against Sveshnikov :
A) I didn’t want to play 16. f3, fearing 16… Nh5, but then White can keep an edge by means of 17. g3 [rather than 17. Nc2 Nf4! 18 Nxf4 exf4 followed by …Bg5-f6].
B) Besides, Qd3 was possible. After the exchange on f6 Black gets control of the d4-square.”
This sort of commentary is quite typical of his style, although he can and does give lengthy lines where he feels this is appropriate.
In summary: I highly recommend this book. It can be read for enjoyment by those who simply like going through well-annotated chess games, and there is little doubt that more serious study will benefit those looking to improve.
Improve Your Practical Play in the Middlegame : Alexey Dreev
“Before the endgame the gods have placed the middlegame.” – Dr. Seigbert Tarrasch
From Wikipedia :
Alexey Sergeyevich Dreev (Russian: Алексей Сергеевич Дреев; born 30 January 1969) is a Russian chess player. He was awarded the title Grandmaster by FIDE in 1989
This concise but dense book covers a range of middlegame ideas, but not the standard set you find in many other volumes. The backcover rubric says: “…Alexey…believes that through careful reading and study of his book, any player regardless of level will significantly improve their skills. Even if you are unable to solve some of his exercises, they will still be of great use for improving your understanding of chess.
Alexey considers that his book will be useful for both club and professional chess players.” Allowing for a little publisher’s rhetoric, this tells you that this isn’t an easy read and you’ll have to work hard to reap the benefits, which I think is an accurate assessment.
The book is split into six sections, the first five each containing an introduction, followed by examples from real games, including positions where the ideas don’t work (rigorous analysis is the watchword throughout), then exercises and solutions. In the final chapter seven games demonstrating ideas from the first five chapters are analysed in detail.
The ‘Practical Play’ aspect of the title are found in the example solutions, some of which to lead to a clear advantage, but many are far less prescriptive in their outcome (”with compensation for the exchange”, for example).
There are a few minor idiosyncrasies in the English, but nothing to trouble the scorers.
Here is an illustrative example from the Pawn Sacrifice chapter which gives a flavour of the book:-
From Ivanchuk-Kasparov, Linares 1991
This is a case where the knights are stronger than the bishops due to the specific nature of the pawn structure. Black’s problem is the absence of counterplay. As the further course of the game showed, White achieved a convincing victory.
But this is thebeauty of chess, that sometimes there are incredible defensive resources in a position which are hidden at first glance
In the game Black played 15…a5, by means of which he gets a transfer point for his heavy pieces, the c5-square, but this does not bring relief. 16.b5 Qc7 17.Nd2 Qc5 18.Qd3 Rg8 19.Rae1±. White has many ways to enhance his position, e.g., by advancing the f-pawn. It is difficult to recommend anything for Black. 1-0 (38)
Only here and now, otherwise it will be too late!
I admit these moves do not lead to complete equality, but thanks to the pawn sacrifice, Black no longer feels besieged and doomed to a long defence. His bishops are gradually awakening from hibernation, and this gives him solid compensation for the sacrificed pawn.
18.Qd3 Bxb4 19.Rac1 Kf8∞
18…fxe5 !9.Rab1 f5!
Another important move!. Black limits the knights and prepares to connect his rooks with …Kf7, when his King will clearly be better placed than its counterpart and his pieces will gain in activity.
Black can expect compensation.
In summary, this is an excellent but difficult book, and you’ll require some pretty decent analytical chops to assess whether the ideas it covers may be sometimes applicable in your own games.
Fred Reinfeld : The Man Who Taught America Chess, with 282 Games : Alex Dunne
FM Alex Dunne
How we all laughed, back in the day. How we all laughed whenever Fred Reinfeld’s name was mentioned. All those books written for patzers. How to Win When You’re Ahead. How to Win When You’re Behind. How to Win When You’re Equal. How to Win With the White Pieces. How to Win With the Black Pieces. How to Win with the Blue Pieces. How to Win with the Yellow Pieces. Well, perhaps we made up some of those titles, but you know what I mean. Endless books of basic, over-simplified instruction, not for the likes of us.
But now, half a century or so on, I’d say that Fred is one of my heroes. A man who brought a lot of pleasure to a lot of people, teaching them the basics so that they could move onto higher level instruction later on if they chose to do so. If they didn’t, no matter: they were still enjoying chess. And he wrote some excellent higher level books as well. A particular favourite of mine was his collection of Tarrasch’s best games: I guess Tarrasch’s logical style suited Reinfeld’s style of annotations.
There was much more to him than chess books, though. In the 1930s, when he was in his 20s, he was one of the strongest players in the USA, numbering Reshevsky (twice), Fine and Marshall among his victims. At the start of 1942 he decided to give up competitive chess and concentrate on writing. It wasn’t just chess books that he wrote, either. His bibliography includes books on checkers, coin and stamp collecting, science, maths and history. He died relatively young, in 1964, at the age of 54. Granted another 20 or 30 years, who knows how many books he would have written.
It’s easy to mock, isn’t it? We can all name authors who decided it would be more lucrative to write bad books quickly than to write good books slowly. but Reinfeld’s books, although for the most part not written for stronger players, were by no means bad. He was an excellent writer and pioneering teacher who developed the ‘solitaire chess’ method of asking questions on a game and awarding points for good answers. It’s hard to disagree that he was one of the most influential figures in mid-20th century chess, and a biobibliography was long overdue.
Sadly, this volume doesn’t really do Reinfeld full justice. The author, Alex Dunne, is an enthusiast rather than an academic historian. It includes 282 games (actually 281, as one game appears with two sets of annotations), mostly played by him, some with notes, either by Reinfeld or by Dunne. You might possibly want more annotations, or you might think that, as Reinfeld was best known as a writer, this doesn’t matter too much.
Dunne also provides, as you might expect, details of Reinfeld’s books, although it’s not always easy to find what you’re looking for. There’s a discussion about whether or not Reinfeld ghostwrote Reshevsky on Chess and Marshall’s My Fifty Years of Chess, but Dunne adds nothing further to what is readily available online and leaves readers to draw their own conclusions. There’s also nothing about Edward Young, generally assumed to be a pen-name of Reinfeld, although the books published under this name are included in the bibliography. (Wikipedia and other online sources claim that Reinfeld also used the pseudonym Robert V Masters, but Dunne tells us, without providing sources, that Masters was actually Sterling Publishing Company President David Boehm.)
Reinfeld produced American editions of various British chess books. I’d have welcomed more information about what, if any, changes were made. To take just one example, he mentions Epic Battles of the Chessboard by ‘Richard Cole’. He might have mentioned that the original title was Battles Royal of the Chessboard, and should certainly have given the author, Richard Nevil Coles, who, for some reason, was usually known by his middle name rather than his excellent first name, his correct surname. ‘R Nevil Coles’ would have been much better. Again, Morphy’s Games of Chess is incorrectly attributed to E Sergeant in the text, but the bibliography correctly identifies the author as Philip Sergeant.
Reverting to the games, some of Reinfeld’s opponents are identified by their first name and surname, others only by their initial and surname. I thought I knew that W Goldwater, for example, was Walter, and it took all of 5 seconds for Mr Google to confirm this.
All in all, then, something of a missed opportunity. A worthy book and a worthy subject, but lacking the rigorous historical research and accuracy we expect from this publisher. I’d like to suggest a group biography of Reinfeld and his occasional co-authors Chernev and Horowitz as a possible project for a US chess historian. Nevertheless, in the absence of anything else, if you’re interested in chess history of this period, chess literature or chess teaching you’ll still want to buy this book.
We focus on the British Chess Scene Past & Present !
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