Saturday, April 21, 2012

Bobby Fischer from Chess Genius to Legend by Eduard Gufeld

This is a copy of the review of this book I did on my Blog about a year ago.  In response to that review the other day a reader relied, “Excuse me but I think you have not understand the aim of the book. A pity.”  I’m not sure what point I missed but he apparently enjoyed the book.  I am probably the only person who does not recommend this book.

The Review:

I recently came across a copy of this in a used book store so of course snatched it up. The book is a collection of stories by people who knew Fischer: Eduard Gufeld, Carlos Almarza-Mato, Mike Morris, Wolfgang Unzicker, Gudmendur Thorarinsson, Bragi Kristjansson, and Bob Long, the book’s editor.

Fischer turned into a pathetic, repugnant character in later years…actually he was always a rather repugnant person but much of his behavior was excused because of his talent. When he quit playing chess there was nothing left BUT his loathsome character. In his latter days he called chess mental masturbation and made a lot of crazy and even downright ugly accusations against a lot of players and other people. Fischer was paranoid, racist, anti-Semitic and known for coarse vulgarity. I lost all respect for him as a person during his match with Reshevsky in 1961. OK, so Mrs. Piatagorsky acted like a real bitch, but that still did not justify Fischer’s language which was fit for the gutter.

Back to this book… the first 100 pages or so are by Gufeld who adds nothing we didn’t already know. It’s just a bunch material regurgitated from other sources. The writing was apparently left exactly as Gufeld wrote it which is “weird” and evidently was not proofread and corrected. For example: “Fischer correctly evaluated the game, having taken the game to an few pieces ending.”

In one place Gufeld said the first game of the 1971 Larsen-Fischer match was the most creative and that it would be worthwhile studying it. He then gave the unannotated game for the reader to play over. If the game was so worthy of study why didn’t the GM add some notes?! Some of his historical “facts” are also suspect.

As for the other contributors, much of what is contained in the book is hogwash. What does “May Caissa illuminate all of us in our chess initiatic paths so as we will be able to understand, discern, and learn” mean?! Also included in the book is trash written by authors, obviously hostile to the US, blaming the US government and anybody else you can think of for Fischer’s mental condition. I don’t agree that the US government was the fault of Fischer’s mental problems, but it’s OK to include it in the book because, after all, this is a democracy and everybody has the right, including Fischer and anti-US authors, to voice their opinions.

Overall I’d say if you see this book in the library it’s OK to check it out because it’s free and you can read it while you’re sitting on the toilet. If it didn’t belong to the library, it could be safely flushed after reading. If you have to PAY for it, save your money!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Amateur’s Mind (2nd edition), by Jeremy Silman

Jeremy Silman is one of those rare authors who explains chess so the average player can understand it.  CJS Purdy was another one and I have long recommended anything written by Purdy and feel the same about Silman.  In fact, I think Silman has taken some of Purdy’s original stuff and improved on it.

In this book, Silman shares the thought processes of his students as they worked on positions and he provides running commentary on their errors in thinking and offers advice on how to correct those errors.  The result is a hefty 445 pages packed with instruction.  Then, to see if you learned anything, there are 26 test positions and solutions.  What is important is that the solution aren’t just given in a series of moves.  No, the solutions cover 100 pages with detailed explanations.

First he illustrates a particular strategic theme or tactical technique and then proceeds to explain it in a way that average players can understand and he manages to do so without cluttering things up with reams of analysis. 

In the games the students are generally rated between 1100 and 1700 and are first asked to describe the imbalances in the position. So based on that consideration it may be a good idea to read this book after reading How To Reassess Your Chess but it’s not absolutely necessary as long as one understands what he means by imbalance. Imbalances are the difference between the two sides: better development, poor king safety, pawn majority, possession of open files, etc.  Then based on the student’s evaluation of the imbalances, the student is asked to describe his general plan, and then explain his moves.

Of course the students are generally barking up the wring tree and Silman then explains the imbalances, their meaning and the correct course of action.  It is interesting to note these instructions are mostly based on recordings from actual tutoring sessions.

He also deals with typical flaws in the play of many lower-rated players: playing without a plan, the habit of playing pointless one-move threats, wishful thinking, laziness and their fear of phantom threats while remaining obliviousness to real threats, just to name a few.  Silman also tries to explain when general principles do not apply.  

Normally this book is recommended to players rated below 1800, but I would add another 200 points to that and say anybody rated below 2000 will find this book valuable.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Plastic Chess Sets

While visiting a local chess shop I had an opportunity to take a look at some currently popular plastic chess sets.

Generic set
Very popular and cheap!  About $5.00 from the USCF.  Very sturdy plastic tournament set is ideal for schools, chess clubs, and tournament play.  These pieces are virtually unbreakable.  3.75” King with a 1.50” felt base’  Not weighted. Set contains 4 Queens.  This is a good set if you are on a really tight budget or are buying a whole bunch of sets.  Generally though I’d avoid it because it’s too light weight.

Marshall Series
 A House of Staunton set with features a 3.75" King (1.75"diameter base), this set is heavy.   Felt base pads on bottoms.. About $28 from the USCF.  This set is similar in design to the famous turn-of-the century Jaques sets.  Very nice!
Another Jaques design dating to 1849 also by the House of Staunton. 4.0" King with a 1.875"diameter base. Very heavy with felted base.

Commemorate the Hastings 1895 Tournament.  3.875" King with a 1.75" diameter base, very heavily weighted with felt base pads.  Great set.  About $25 from the USCF

As mentioned, unless you are on a really tight budget, I’d avoid the first set but any of the other sets are great looking sets.  There really isn't much difference in any of these sets except the knight design and any one of them would be a good choice.  One thing I do not like, two things actually, are colored sets and black and white ones.  I prefer the black and tan pieces.

Two of the best sets I ever owned are the Player’s Choice by Drueke and the Windsor Castle sets.  The former were very popular in the 1970’s and the latter in the 1950’s and 1960’s.  Bobby Fischer is seen playing with the Windsor Castle set.  If I ever find one of these old sets in a flea market or second hand store, I will definitely snatch them up.  I’ve seen them a couple of times on e-bay, but I don’t want them bad enough to pay the ridiculous, inflated prices the owners are asking for.

Player’s Choice By Drueke:

Windsor Castle

Positional Chess Handbook by Israel Gelfer

 Book about technique. 495 positions, starting with the endgame and then covering the middlegame. This is the type of book needed by all players because Gelfer shows how to win from winning positions. Poor diagrams.

Book about technique. 495 positions, starting with the endgame and then covering the middlegame. 

This is the type of book needed by all players because Gelfer shows how to win from winning positions. Poor diagrams. The player with a positional advantage has a better chance at a direct attack and this book shows how to develop a more powerful strategic game. Gelfer covers key squares, bad bishops, pawn structures, etc.  

While there is wealth of books and software covering tactics there exists few resources designed to develop a player’s strategic sense.  Just like one studies tactics to sharpen their tactical vision, this book is designed to help players instantly notice simple strategic and positional moves just like in tactical drills.  

In Soltis’ book, Studying Chess Made Easy, he makes reference to something the Soviets call "priyome."  "Priyome" is a positional response to game move rather than a tactical response. Gelfer’s book will aid in sharpening one’s priyome. This is an excellent book that should be used in conjunction with tactics study.  After all, one’s goal should not be to become a one trick pony.  One should endeavor to become an all around player and this book will be a big help.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Fire On Board by Alexei Shirov Vol 1 and 2

Shirov is a tactical genius whose play at times reminds one of Tahl. He is no longer a world championship candidate, currently ranked #49 with a 2701 rating, but this these two books are a great collection.  The games are heavily annotated and there are lots of diagrams.  The first edition is interesting because it contains 16 games in a separate section devoted to the wild Botvinnik Variation of the Slav Defense.
It was interesting to note what Shirov had to say of Botvinnik:  I decided to adopt it with both colors.  In 1988 I was prepared to try it with Black in the World Cadet Championship and before that event I even had the chance to discuss it with …Botninnik himself.  To be honest this eas interesting only from a historical point of view.” He then gave a brief discussion of a line where his analysis disagreed with Botvinnik and commented, “…White stands better but convincing the Soviet patriarch of something was always impossible.”

In the introduction Shirov explains, “When annotating the games I have attempted to explain their principle strategic themes, but my favorite subject has always been tactical complexity.”  Ha also added how that back in those days he checked variations with Fritz 4 but “…found it useless to point out which moves were suggested by Fritz because when a GM works (with an engine) he has to extract its (best line) from a lot of rubbish…”  Of course nowadays engines are a lot better!  Shirov wrote, "I have always tried to be not just a tactician--working with a positional player such as Bagirov and studying hard has helped me to develop my own strategic understanding, although chess is nowadays so concrete that pure strategy practically doesn't exist for me."

In reviewing this book John Watson noted it's quite possible that readers under 1800 may feel disoriented by the lack of elementary instructive support from the author.”

If you like tactics, this book is a gold mine. Oddly enough, many of his most complex games have resolved into endgames and there is an entire section devoted to his endings.  Ironically, Shirov believes he's best at endgames.

Volume 2 (1997-2004) is Shirov’s second book of his best games and is written in the same style as the first.  The nine page biography section is quite interesting.  He talks about his personal life;  for example, his ugly divorce: “When I returned to my house in Tarragona I found it empty… That same day I learnt that the main bank account had been ‘cleaned’ by my already ex-wife.”  He went on speaking of GM Emil Sutovsky and how Sutovsky didn’t care about Shirov’s personal problems and demanded a bonus.  Of Sutovksy he wrote, “This strong Israeli GM happened to be a typical example of the contemporary mercenary attitude, but fortunately he is one of the very few people to whom I had to stop talking for long.”

Shirov’s biggest complaint was Kasparov’s broken agreement to play a title match.  In 1998 Shirov defeated Kramnik in a match.  Kramnik got paid, but Shirov got nothing.  His ‘pay’ was supposed to be a World Championship match with Kasparov with the promise of a big payday. Let Shirov explain.  “I received a phone call from Luis Rentero, the match organizer, and he horrified me with the news that my match against Kasparov in Seville was cancelled and nothing similar was being offered in its place. When I told him that it was his obligation, in that case, to pay me two hundred thousand dollars cancellation fee according to the contract signed in March, his answer was that he would eat that contract and didn’t want to compensate me anything.”  On the other hand Kramnik, the loser, was rewarded financially and later got to play a match against Kasparov Needless to say all the shenanigans surrounding the championship of that day left Shirov bitter and as a result his play was adversely affected.

In one section entitled “Notes on Creativity” he discusses two positions, one involving
advance home preparation, the other at-the-board inspiration at length.  Also, remember his comment about Fritz 4 in Vol, 1?  In this volume Fritz appears throughout in Shirov's analysis even though he still rebels against the necessity of using one.

Highly recommended!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Art of the Middle Game by Keres and Kotov

       Superb guide to important area of chess. They cover attacking the king, defense, importance of pawn structure, analysis, much more.  IM Jeremy Silman said he first bought this book in 1973 and still owns it today. 
       The first section is by Golombek is pretty much worthless but when Kotov writes about "Strategy and Tactics of Attack on the King" and "Various Pawn Positions in the Center" you have something worth reading.  But the real meat of the book is Keres’ sections on  "How to Defend Difficult Positions" and "The Art of Analysis."
       Worthy of note is Silman’s comments on "The Art of Analysis."  He says it is for senior masters, IMs, and grandmasters! IM John Watson agrees with Silman stating, “Of those older 'popular' books, two which can be gotten on the cheap and I would recommend are: The Art of the Middlegame, by Keres and Kotov. I've never met a player who didn't enjoy this book.”  The other one was The Most Instructive Games of Chess Ever Played, by Irving Chernev.

For the price you can’t beat this little book.

Monday, April 9, 2012

A Word on Chess Clocks

There are some great deals available on analog chess clocks these days.  My advice is DO NOT BUY AN ANALOG CLOCK no matter how good a deal it might be.  The reason is that these clocks are gradually being phased out of chess competition in favor of digital clocks so you might end up with a clock you will be unable to use.  If you are going to buy a clock, buy a digital! 
Further, after you buy your digital clock, pay some 10 year old kid $20 to teach you how to program it.

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Reliable Past by Genna Sosonko

The Reliable Past is a sequel to Russian Silhouettes which was a collection of portraits from the Golden Age of Soviet chess. In Silhouettes Sosonko, who left Leningrad to settle in Holland in 1972, described players and other key figures of Soviet chess.

In this book which is a set of articles he wrote for New in Chess Magazine along with some added material, Sosonko writes more about chess in the Soviet Union as well as some of the other great players he came in contact with like Max Euwe, Anthony Miles and Jan Timman.

As Silhouettes, this book is narration only…no games, no diagrams.  But don’t let that stop you! There are18 pages with photos and Sosonko tells stories of the personalities in a manner that makes them seem real.  Like Denker’s The Bobby Fischer I Knew, Sosonko names each chapter with a description of that particular player that describes their personality.  For example, the chapter on Anthony Miles is titled “The Cat That Walked by Himself” and the one on Viktor Korchnoi is titled “Obsession.” Jan Timman is titled "A Born Optimist." Some other players discussed are Salo Flohr and Edward Gufeld. He didn’t seem to care for the latter much.  But then he appears not to be the only one.  Korchnoi once said of Gufeld: "...together with Mr. Sosonko and through his article and this letter I dissociate myself from that tramp".

One chapter describes Anatoly Lutikov, a violent tactician with many victories over the elite of the chess world, who never bothered to study chess and died in poverty. Then, like in Denker’s book, there is a nostalgic look back at the Central Chess Club which was the meeting place of the greats, not-so-greats and just plain weird.

As has been pointed out by several people reviewing this book, Sosonko’s writing is melancholy and pessimistic and he does not appear to have enjoyed is profession as a professional player very much.

Here’s an excerpt from the chapter on Anatoly Lutikov:
..... The last period of his life was a difficult one. Deficiencies, camouflaged in youth by optimism and energy, become more evident in old age. In his case this occurred on the background of a severe, debilitating illness: the sugar content in his blood exceeded all permissible levels. He could no longer drink: his head would begin to swim after the first glass. He could no longer concentrate at the board, and his hands, which previously used to choose the required squares for his pieces, would now dispatch them into premature, cavalier attacks, easily parried by his opponents. Lutikov's attacks on the chess board began more to resemble ventures, the victim of which he became himself."

If you enjoy reading about the great masters of the past then this book is one you won’t want to miss.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Point Count Chess by Horowitz and Mott-Smith

Looking over the USCF’s books for sale page this recently republished book caught my eye.

      This edition is by Ishi Press which, according to Wikipedia, was founded in Japan in the 1990's and was the world's leading supplier of Go books and equipment until they got embroiled in legal difficulties and were unable to pay their debts.  Sam Sloan became president in 1994 and has restored the company and expanded into publishing chess books.  I have the original edition published 45 years ago by Simon and Sshuster.
       According to the publisher, “This book is based on the following premise: Every move on the chessboard is an exchange, a give and take. The very first move, if it is a pawn move, for example, gives away control of the squares that the pawn had previously commanded and takes control of new squares. Similarly at any stage of the game, there is implicit in every move a plus and minus quality. To be sure, these differences of themselves are usually minute and carry little weight. When combined in series of inter-related moves – plans – their effect is to sway the course of the game. Pawn skeletons, chains, salients and other basic features of this valuable unit are compared structurally as to strengths and weaknesses. Outpost stations, wing demonstrations and a host of strategic ideas are described, appraised via the Point Count and illustrated in numerous examples from actual play.”
       “This book was greeted with calumny and ridicule when it first came out. However, there has been a re-appraisal. Chess coaches have found this book to be great for teaching chess to their students. It is now highly recommended by a large number of chess coaches and trainers. Computer chess programs have also adopted the concepts introduced in this book. Chess Review magazine called this book "a completely original concept in chess instruction."
      Personally, I never heard of a chess coach that recommended this book, but I could be wrong. The basic premise of the book is based on the old saying that "three tempi are worth a Pawn" and you simply count up the ‘points’ to evaluate the position. The idea is that every positional advantage is worth one-third of a Pawn. For example, if you get a Bishop pair, but get a doubled Pawn, it is an even trade. But if you get doubled, isolated Pawns on an open file you have lost two points, etc.  Somehow chess just doesn't seem that simple.  Still, that is basically the way chess engines evaluate positions.
       Included in the book is a Positional Point Count Table listing 20 positional advantages worth "plus points" and positional disadvantages for which you subtract points. Credit yourself for every item on the plus list and deduct for every one on the minus list. Do the same for your opponent's position. Then compare his net score with yours. The difference measures the strategic superiority.  I suppose the concept has some value, but to be honest, as a 1600-rated player in those days, I found all this adding and subtracting ‘points’ much too cumbersome and impractical to be of any value. Besides, it’s about the same as looking at an engine evaluation that tells you “White is 0.42 pawns ahead.”  You know you have a slight advantage, but then what do you do?  This point count method won't give you a clue.

       Samuel Reshevsky wrote the forward to the original edition which appeared in 1960.  Reshevsky wrote:
       “When I was a child prodigy many years ago, chessplayers were amazed at the ease and accuracy of my play against the veritable giants of chessdom. To be perfectly frank, I was no less amazed, and I have thought about this over and over again. What was it that I had which has been variously described as talent or genius or the divine afflatus which enabled me to select the proper move or line in a given situation? The answer to this question, of course, should prove enlightening. I discovered that I had the happy faculty of being able to spot weak and strong points in a position merely by a glance at its contour. Having done so, I could go on to the next step and enhance my strong points, while surveying my weak ones and/or contain my opponent’s strong points and exploit his weak ones."
      "I fear that I cannot account for this fortuitous bounty. I do know, however, that the foundation of chess logic is the perception of weak and strong points on the board or projected a few moves from possibility to reality. Point Count Chess exactly coincides with my reflections on this matter. Not only does it define the salient features, but also it evaluates them. It is unique in the annals of chess literature in that it is the first and only book that does so. Indeed, it is a great stride forward in bringing the essential ideas to the ordinary player.”
      Were those actually Reshevsky’s words or was it ghost written and he lent his name to them…for a fee, of course?  I don’t know, but it doesn’t sound like Reshevsky to me. Does this book exactly coincide with his reflections on the matter?  Who knows?
       Following the first chapter describing the method the authors discuss of strategy, but in my opinion there are much better strategy books out there. Also, the publisher did not convert the book to algebraic notion; it’s still in English Descriptive. As I recall the book did not help me one bit when it first came out and I doubt it will help you either.  Buy something else.

The Perfect Chess Set

This set was originally designed for the 1950 Chess Olympiad held in Dubrovnik,Yugoslavia and if I had to choose only one chess set for play it would be the ‘Zagreb’ set.  I have had mine for several years and it is the only one I use whether at home on my chess table or at the club.  It’s currently available on sale at The Chess Store for $69.95.  If you are looking for a nice wooden set, slightly unique but at the same time one that is acceptable for tournament play, this is the one!

  • Ebonized Boxwood & Boxwood
  • Pieces individually hand polished with solid lacquer and buffing wheel
  • King Height: 3.875"
  • King Base: 1.625"
  • King Weight: 3 oz.
  • Chess Set Weight: 56 oz.
  • 2 spare queens are included for pawn promotion
  • Green Billiard Cloth Pads
  • Recommended Chess Board Size: 2.125" - 2.25" Squares (not included)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Modern Morra Gambit: A Dynamic Weapon Against the Sicilian by Hannes Langrock

As a correspondence player, I’m not a big fan of opening books and in bygone years when I played in tournaments, I was never a big fan of gambits.  But starting back in the 1970’s when US Senior Master Ken Smith started publishing his books he advocated playing nothing but gambits until you were 1800 or better.  His recommended White openings were King’s Gambit Vienna Gambit, Blackmar Gambit, Scotch Gambit, Evans Gambit and, of course, the Smith-Mora Gambit.  Naturally, he had books for all of them.  These days, I see a lot of players advocating playing the Smith-Morra as part of the idea that tactics, tactics and more tactics is the only way for players below master to play chess.

From my tournament days when I played the Sicilian I met it a few times and was never all that impressed with it, but I can see how it could be appealing for White and dangerous for Black.  The reality is that if you check your database, the results aren't very impressive.  My db has +1897  -2629  =1116.  In other words White only score about 44%; not too good.  But wait!  Most players aren’t masters and so, how did the gambit do where both players were rated under 2000?  Honestly, I expected to see results strongly favoring White, but that wasn’t the case!  In games where both players were rated under 2000, White scored only 47%.  In the open Sicilian, he scored 51%.  Makes me think the blurbs that say you can play this gambit and win more games is a stretch.

Nevertheless it’s still quite popular and I suppose especially so at lower levels where the art of defense isn’t very high. Still, some pretty highly rated players have used it; guys like GM Alex Lenderman and GM Karsten Mueller, so I can’t say it has no merit.  In this book IM Hannes Langrock has done a lot of research to update his previously published analysis and he has played this gambit successfully against both grandmasters and international masters…again, a recommendation despite what the theoreticians and databases say.

GM Alex Yermolinsky considers a lot of these gambits recommended to lower rate dplayers a joke where players sacrifice a pawn then spend the rest of the game trying to prove they have something for it and eventually end up resigning.  IM Jeremy Silman wrote, “White gives up a pawn for some development and tricks, but it seemed to me that Black's solid position, combined with a working knowledge of one of Black's many good anti-Mora setups, would always leave White trying to find a way to equalize.”  At the same time though Silman had to admit that, “perhaps, just perhaps, this gambit could offer the amateur a good deal of fun and, if Black passed the theoretical test and survived the opening, then White could still bail out and find equality somewhere or other.”

But then Silman went on to say, “A fine fantasy, but I soon came to my senses! The fact is, the gambit is indeed quite tricky, and it promises the chess swashbuckler lots of fun and many sparkling victories (and, of course, some miserable defeats, but that's true of anything you play against the Sicilian).”  As Langrock admits, Black can equalize in many lines and his admission is refreshing because in so many of these books the authors have been known to embellish the truth and avoid giving refutations to prove their claims.

The author starts off by discussing the practical and psychological aspects, but I wonder just how important ‘psychological aspects’ are for class players?!  In the final analysis, I guess it doesn’t matter what anybody says; if players love gambits, they are going to play the Smith-Morra. 

In his book, Chess for Tigers, the late Simon Webb observed, “even bunnies have sharp teeth, so you should play solidly against them rather than try to blow them out of the water.”  Then there is Petrosian’s Rule: Petrosian was mentor to the young and talented GM Karen Gregorian who returned from a tournament and showed Petrosian a game in which he had played some risky opening moves and lost.  When asked by Petrosian why he had played such terrible moves, Gregorian said it was because he had to win in order to qualify.  Petrosian’s comment:  “It's much easier to play for a win from an equal position than from a bad position!"

Anyway, for those who might want to play this opening, this book looks like a good choice.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Pawn Structure Chess by Andrew Soltis

       Reader “Kirk” has asked which book is better, Kmoch’s Pawn Power in Chess or Soltis’ Pawn Structure Chess?  The question prompted me to pull down my Soltis book and take another look at it.
       I may be prejudiced.  I like Andy Soltis.  I met him at an international tournament back in 1975 and found him to be friendly and, well, just plain down to earth and likeable.   It seems a lot of reviewers like to nitpick Soltis’ stuff.  I’ve heard it said he just writes for the club and tournament player. I can’t understand the complaint…that’s what most players are.  Maybe it’s his style…he writes in a way that makes you feel like you are at the chess club analyzing with helpful master who is willing to share his knowledge.  My experience is that’s a rarity right there. So maybe they think that with his light, breezy style he has nothing important to say?  I don’t know. These days when my copy of Chess Life arrives it usually gets a quick read and then goes in the trash.  However, the first thing I always do is go to Soltis’ column, Chess To Enjoy and actually read it.

As for the book: The first version, written in DN, came out in 1976 but I have the newer version in algebraic.  Apparently both are the same except it has some more recent games.

362 pages. Contents:
The Caro-Slav Family
The Slav Formation
The Open Sicilian-English
Chain Reactions
The King’s Indian Complex
The Queen’s Gambit Family and Its Relatives
The Panov Formation
Stonewalls and Other Prisons
The Closed Sicilian-English

      The book concentrates on middle game planning based on different types of pawn structure's that arise depending on the opening.  Personally I think Soltis’ book is much superior because it gives many more examples of what you are likely to meet in modern play.  Also, Soltis points out exceptions…those situations where planning based on pawn structure doesn’t work.  Soltis describes the pawn breaks in different opening pawn structures and (this is very important) he shows how piece placement can alter ‘normal’ procedures.
       Soltis shows you a way of viewing the openings that gives some insight into how masters utilize positional play.  Sometimes when playing through well annotated games by really strong players you will come across positions which they consider won long before their weaker opponent even knows he is lost.  It appears to you and me that the game is about equal when we consider things like space, development and material but the GM points out some seemingly minor nuance like insufficient control of a key square that prevents his opponent from obtaining counterplay in the form of a pawn break; as a result his opponent is strategically lost. This is an example of some of the things about positional play Soltis calls the reader’s attention to.

In my opinion, Soltis’ book is definitely preferable.