Thursday, October 25, 2012

Great Chess Upsets by Samuel Reshevsky

I was looking over this one the other day and can only say, it’s honest to goodness garbage.  First of all it’s pretty well known Reshevsky didn’t write most (if any) of the books attributed to him despite his claims otherwise. I doubt he wrote this one either and judging from some of the statements made in the book, Reshevsky’s memory was really bad or whoever wrote the book had a very limited knowledge of chess history. Even Reshevsky's chapter on himself has some inconsistencies.

The book is a collection of games by great players and is accompanied by brief biographical sketches.  There are seventeen players from Adolf Anderssen to Anatoly Karpov and includes all the world champions up to 1976.

In any case, most of the games hardly qualify as upsets. Seriously, who would consider Lasker losing to Rubinstein an upset?  Or Capablanca to Alekhine? And the book is full of such games.


I am appalled!
Careless editing is rampant.  For example, it seems the editor was not sure how spell ‘en prise’ because it is spelled several different ways.   One game is appears twice…Alekhine-Euwe from the World Championship match; the really funny thing is it has different notes.

Another stupid error…It says that Keres "still participates in numerous chess competitions and will probably continue to do so for many years." The book was printed in 1976 but Keres died in 1975. Also, I’ll bet you didn’t know Korchnoi got GM title in 1956 then the IM title in 1963. At least that’s what the book says.  What?  Did he get busted from GM to IM?  According to the book, "The height of Smyslov's career came in 1957 in the return match against Botvinnik.  The height of his career was losing the world championship?! Other stupid errors abound.

The chapter on Fischer does not mention his resigning his world title.  At the same time the book does mention the result of the Korchnoi-Karpov Candidates Match which was played after Fischer resigned. And no mention is made of FIDE declaring Karpov World Champion. I could go on, but won’t.

Save your money.  If you see it at the library, pass it up.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Chess Apps and Books for Kindle

Kindle Chess Apps:

Chess (A Classic Game for Kindle)-Price: $2.99. Play against Kindle or challenge a friend with Pass 'N Play mode. Choose between 10 levels of difficulty and choose whether you want to play with an optional time limit to increase the challenge. You can also take back a move and save your game at any time.

Chess Genius, Android.
Compatible with: Kindle Fire. Amazon customer rating: 4 1/2 stars -Price: $4.99. Has 33 playing levels. Save and load games to PGN databases, copy and paste PGN games to clipboard.  Has features like Tutor, Hints, and Chess Clocks.

Chess Free, Android.
Compatible with: Kindle Fire. Price: $0.00. Ten levels. There's also a complete chess-move manual included for those completely unfamiliar with the game. The app also has a two-player mode.

Chess Premium, Android. Compatible with: Kindle Fire. Price: $0.99.  Supports both one-player and two-players.  Undo moves and automatic saves.

iChess for Android,
Compatible with: Kindle Fire. Price: $0.00.  Over 1100 puzzles with three levels of difficulty. If you're stuck, you can ask for a hint and you can also analyze puzzles you've already solved. A scorecard keeps track of your progress, including number of solved puzzles and hints used. Some puzzles are positions from actual Grandmaster chess tournaments.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Improve Your Chess Now by Jon Tisdall

For those newer readers who never heard of him, Jonathan D. Tisdall (born August 26, 1958 in Buffalo, New York) was awarded the GM title in 1995.  A US citizen by birth he later became an Irish citizen and still later, Norwegian.  Tisdall won the Norwegian championship in 1987, 1991, and 1995. Combining chess with his job as a journalist, he often attends major chess events as a reporter for Reuters.
Let Tisdall explain why he wrote the book:  This book is a manual for players facing problems in the development of their skills, i.e., most people.  I will try to explain what goes on when experienced players are thinking, or should go on.  There is a lot of psychology and philosophy here.  Although such serious words are not considered ideal when finding a title for a book, I hope that they will make this book instructive in a less conventional way.
In the course of a long and sporadically encouraging career, I have given a lot of thought to various methods of improvement.  This book is a selection of various ideas, both my own and those of others.
Some classic advice must be repeated, but I have tried to expand on this when possible.  I have tried to list all conscious influences.  During the closing stages of writing I have begun to understand how many subconscious influences there are.  To deal with this you will find an appendix that combines the tasks of bibliography and a review list.
While the book’s title may sound like it is an elementary textbook, it is not.  It is one of the best books on instruction available.
Tisdall offers a lot of tactical and pattern-training exercises aimed at players of 1600-2200 strength, but IM John Watson once wrote he thought it was possible that even GMs could learn a thing or two from it.  I don’t know about that, but this one should be a classic and is a must read.
Right in Chapter 1 he debunks Kotov’s famous tree of analysis theory and points out a lot of flaws in it and then at the end of the chapter he presents a list of tips on how to calculate that is worth memorizing. Tisdall states. "My theory contends that a combination of the natural human approach to the position, tempered with some of the discipline advocated by Kotov, is more effective. The components of this technique are (in this order):

1) To aim towards the choice of a single critical variation (heresy!). Branches are dealt with when unavoidable, and primarily to navigate the chief variation.
2) The constant application of abstract assessment.
3) A scan for critical candidates."
He then moves on to visualization methods, using blindfold chess and the idea of 'resetting the mind's eye' or visualizing intermediate positions as training technique for improving the ability to calculation accurately. He has tried this technique with his Norwegian students and they work.
            The book is filled with practical advice…lots of it. There are chapters on playing bad positions, recurring patterns, the value of the pieces, including a discussion positional sacrifices.
His writing style is very entertaining and the last chapter, Wisdom and Advice, is philosophical. Where else will you read stuff like, “Shave on somebody else's face” - Arnold Denker. "Instead of cutting yourself, try to learn from other people having accidents."
He presents provocative thoughts and observations from various sources and includes practical advice concerning time pressure and there is also a discussion of prophylaxis.  This concept is important in understanding GM chess these days.    He discusses attitude, energy, objectivity, and practical play in general.
The above mentioned Appendix contains useful mating and tactical patterns and  bibliography, complete with a mini-review, of each book.
Highly recommended.