Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Free Software for Small Swiss Tournaments

The current version can be freely used for any chess tournament with not more than 30 players. Here are a couple of screenshots of a small Swiss tournament I created using Vega.

Performance Rating


Sevilla is a tournament management program for various games and sports with two players or teams competing per match. Originally it was designed for Chess and other sports with a maximum of three results (win, draw, loss) but now it supports minor scores. This makes Sevilla now a perfect competition manager for Football, Basketball, Chess team and most other leagues, too. Sevilla runs on Microsoft Windows based systems. It was tested on Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Chess Openings Wizard Express

     This program is the successor to the original Bookup and it  is supposed to help you learn opening theory as well as build your own opening repertoire.   You can also analyze games with its engine. E-books about specific openings, defenses, middlegames, endgames and tactics complied by Grandmasters are also available.
     Basically Chess Openings Wizard is a positional database. This is different from a game database in that it stores each position and finds transpositions and this is what makes it good for keeping track of opening theory.
     You can:
* Sample opening e-books
* You can search all your PGN games simultaneously.
* Positional trees show evaluations of all your games
* You can also compare your internet games to all your theory
* Create and export clear .bmp diagrams of any position
     If you play Internet games, with Chess Openings Wizard you can save your game to your game database and then import the game into your repertoire and it will show you where the new move was played. There is also a professional version Program. You can try it for free from Bookup.
     The free version includes (for the first 30 days) some of the features of the registered Express version. That said, programs like Shredder, Fritz and Aquarium have similar features so basically, all this program does is to help you organize and analyze your opening preparation.

Personally, I think Chess Assistant is the better buy and version 14 is now out. You can compare features of both CA versions HERE.

If you are an average player and looking for FREE then ChessBase Light can still be found for free download. This old (2009) program can be useful but it is limited to 8,000 games per database. Within the 8,000 games barrier there is no limit to save, copy, convert, annotate, print, search, analyze, merge and classify games. Available at Chess Kit.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Grandmaster Preparation: Positional Play by Jacob Aagard

The Grandmaster Preparation series is designed for the ambitious. All of the books in the series are workbooks. The chapters consist of short introductions to specific themes followed by dozens of illustrative problems to solve. Positional Play is different in that it is a training plan for improving positional awareness based on three questions:

(1) Where are the weaknesses?
(2) Which is the worst-placed piece?
(3) What is your opponent’s idea?

The first chapters in the book take up these questions starting with illustrative analyses of the questions. Then there follows problems for the reader to solve. The book concludes with 150 problems and detailed solutions. The themes are mixed...no hints as to what you a looking for!  When it comes to the positional themes, the solutions are very clear and complete but there is one caveat: sometimes things that are clear to strong players aren’t to those of us with lesser abilities and on occasion the author assumes things will be equally clear to his readers also. Sometimes he leaves you to work through small tactical problems on your own...probably not all bad though! What that means is you will have to do some serious work. Recommended to players over 1800; maybe somewhat lower if you want to put in some effort.

Game Table w Reversible Game Board

You deserve it!
Reversible game board, all game pieces, cards and cribbage are included. Single drawer for game pieces has brass finish hardware. Curved legs and fine details add interest and visual appeal. Sophistication meets fun and function with this stunning piece. Reversible game board inset top lets you switch easily between games. * Selected solid woods and choice cherry veneers. Reversible game board inset top, one side chess and checkers and the other backgammon. All game pieces provided including cribbage and cards. Drawer with antique brass finished hardware . 29 in. W x 22.5 in. D x 31 in. H

Amazon Deals on Laptops

Cyber deals with low prices and sales on laptops and tablets Some deals are in limited supply, and all will go quickly--but don't worry if you miss one, because we'll keep adding new ones. Also, don't forget to subscribe to our daily deals e-mails so you don't miss a thing.

Non-Chess Books


Software and Openings

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Move First, Think Later by Dutch IM Willy Hendriks

Subtitled: Sense and Nonsense in Improving Your Chess

      Many strong players have pointed out that one of the skills one must master is pattern recognition. It’s an important skill because when a master encounters a new position previous experience helps to find the right move. "In this book IM and experienced chess trainer Willy Hendriks presents a wealth of valuable, no-nonsense training material that will rock the chess instruction establishment," says publisher New in Chess.  
      The book is divided into 27 short chapters that cover a wide range of subjects such as psychology, pattern recognition, statistics, small plans, critical moments, chance, general rules, tactics versus strategy, time-trouble, etc. 
      Basically Hendriks attempts to debunk a number of myths about improvement and the short version is he comes down to the idea that, "You learn to play good chess by taking in good chess. There is no way to outsmart a diligent student with some clever way of thinking. There is no short-cut route to the best move by some revolutionary way of looking at the position. The strongest players are not following secret protocols." His point is that first looking at the characteristics of the position and then finding moves based upon that general characterization isn't getting to the essence of what produces quality play. That is, forget Jeremy Silman’s How to Reassess You Chess. He says, "moves are not only the outcome of some thinking process, they are very much the input, the starting point. It's not some clever thinking process that can help you find the best move in any position, but it's the enormous amount of knowledge that you bring to the board, good moves, mainly." (Emphasis mine)
      Maybe he is right. Back in the sixties Ken Smith opined that you should play over hundreds and hundreds of unannotated games at 5-10 minutes per game while trying to guess the next move. Smith said you were going after quantity, not quality (that would come later) in an effort to learn pattern recognition. IM John Watson in Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy and Chess Strategy in Action said to look at the similarity between learning chess and a child learning a language: In language, direct experience, imitation, and accumulation of knowledge is what matters most, not learning formal grammatical rules and then applying them.
      Hendriks discusses a wide variety of things like trial-and-error, pattern recognition, tactics versus strategy, time-trouble, planning, the illusion of general rules, the role of proverbs and maxims, free advice, critical moments, chance in chess, blunder-checking, tactics, the opening and strategy, games collections, puzzles, etc. And all the while, he tries to apply modern psychological theories and neurological research to chess.
      Generally the book has been recommend to students in the 1400-2000 range.

Download a sample of the book.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Chess Caps!!

I bought another baseball cap.

I have them for the Navy, Marine Corps and New York Yankees plus several hospitals and businesses, so why not chess? I have to wear a cap when I go outside because I have very fine hair and the lightest puff of wind will blow it all over the place. After you spend 20 minutes getting your hair looking just right you don’t want to go outside and get it all messed up, so that’s why I always wear a cap. Go down to the link on the left that says “Caps,” click on it and search for chess baseball caps and get yourself one. Keep your hair neat, let people know how smart you are because you play chess and maybe even pick up girls who are attracted to the intellectual type. I don’t know, but you really ought to consider getting one.

Technique in Chess by Gerald Abrahams

From the book’s blurb: A superb guide to the general concepts of chess technique and the methods for using technique to plan ahead. Early initiative and control of the center, translating an advantage into the middle game. 200 examples from actual play.

      Abrahams (1907-1980) was a lawyer (barrister) in England and a very strong amateur player who published a number of books on chess. In this books he offers a collection of examples of methods of play he says are designed to help the novice although I think it would be too advanced for a true ‘novice.’ Maybe 1400-1600 would be more accurate. 
      Abrahams uses a lot of endgames for examples because he believed this is the area where the function of the pieces can be isolated and examined in more detail. However, he also uses a lot middlegame and complete games for examples.
      Abrahams likens the discovery of strategy and technique to his discovery of prose. When he discovered prose, he realized he had speaking in prose all his life. Likewise, he believed many chess players already have some basic understanding of strategy, tactics and ideas but have difficulty expressing themselves on the board. I think this is true. While reading De Groot’s Thought and Choice in Chess I noticed that on occasion lower rated players looked at some of the same moves the GMs did, but usually rejected them out of hand. I thought that was odd and after some thought decided to begin limiting my candidate moves to the first 3-4moves that occurred to me. Over the years I gradually refined this technique as depicted in the following chart.
OK, that’s a joke, but I did notice my game improved. Maybe not a lot, but if you’re like me, any improvement, however slight, rates as a success.
      Technique in Chess is a fun book to read but like all chess books, it will take some dedication but the reward is that you will get some good, practical advice that is bound to improve your game and prepare you for various situations that will arise during the game.
      BTW…if you don’t know descriptive notation I recommend learning it! If you don’t, you are missing out on some great old books. I learned it as a 10-year old, so how hard can it be? If you have to, print out the diagram shown in the Wikipedia article HERE.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Not a Chess Book but…

maybe worth reading!

Why do people dodge responsibility when things fall apart? Why the parade of public figures unable to own up when they screw up? Why the endless marital quarrels over who is right? Why can we see hypocrisy in others but not in ourselves? Are we all liars? Or do we really believe the stories we tell? Backed by years of research and delivered in lively, energetic prose, Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me) offers a fascinating explanation of self-deception—how it works, the harm it can cause, and how we can overcome it.

Review from O Magazine:
      "A revelatory study of how lovers, lawyers, doctors, politicians--and all of us--pull the wool over our own eyes. The politician who can’t apologize, the torturer who feels no guilt, the co-worker who’ll say anything to win an argument--in case you’ve ever wondered how such people can sleep at night, a new book by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson supplies some intriguing and useful insights.
      Thanks, in part, to the scientific evidence it provides and the charm of its down-to-earth, commonsensical tone, Mistakes Were Made is convincing. Reading it, we recognize the behavior of our leaders, our loved ones, and--if we’re honest--ourselves, and some of the more perplexing mysteries of human nature begin to seem a little clearer. By the book’s end, we’re far more attuned to the ways in which we avoid admitting our missteps, and intensely aware of how much our own (and everyone’s) lives would improve if we--and those who govern and lead us--understood the power and value of simply saying, ''I made a mistake. I'm sorry.''”

...."and those who govern and lead us--understood the power and value of simply saying, ''I made a mistake. I'm sorry.''” Fat chance!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Chess Tactics for Champions: A step-by-step guide to using tactics and combinations the Polgar way by Susan Polgar

      I’m not a fan of Susan Polgar (or her husband, Paul Truong who supposedly coauthored the book) for reasons I won’t go into, but her activities promoting chess, particularly for women and scholastic players, does have to be lauded.
      In any case, what we have here is yet another tactics book. In the introduction she writes, a tactic is “a tool that helps us gain some kind of advantage. It can lead to material gain or even to checkmate” and she goes on to assert that a player “can get a lot further by being very good in tactics and have only a basic understanding of strategy.” I really must take umbrage with this last statement. Openings have always been a favorite of authors peddling easy wins and these days it’s tactics. I’m not saying tactics aren’t important, but in days gone by, some claimed you couldn’t teach tactics; you were born with the ability to spot them! But guys like Renaud & Kahn, Vukovic, Euwe and Pachman wrote some pretty good books on tactics. Still, back when Botvinnik was “the man” in the chess world, there was a glut of books on strategy and the players who grew up on strategy books by Euwe, Pachman, Fine, et al played some pretty good chess. By the way, I think sometimes lower rated players fail to make a distinction between blunders and tactics. Some players say they are weak tactically and lose pieces and fall into simple mates when in reality they are just overlooking the fact that they are missing obvious replies by their opponents. Hanging your Q to a N fork or overlooking a one move mate is not failing to spot a tactic; it’s just an outright blunder that could have been avoided by looking at the entire board.
      This book consists of an array of exercises, organized by tactical motif and supplemented by examples, but generally descriptions are somewhat lacking. With each topic, she includes a short description of the tactic followed by an example from one of her own games and then jumps right into a set of problems to solve. Some players find the arrangement a major flaw because the tactics are grouped by motif. Personally, I don’t think that's a flaw at all. It's always obvious what kind of tactical solution you are looking for and the ability to recognize patterns and tactical motifs is fundamental for understanding combinations. Her presentation generally makes it fairly easy to find candidate moves that match the theme of the chapter and my understanding is that the Polgar sisters learned by repetition so this format makes sense. But, what would be helpful is a guide to spotting motifs that make combinations possible. C.J.S. Purdy has written some good stuff on this subject and you can download my synopsis, Hints on How to Study Chess for the Most Rapid Improvement here.
      Chapters: Forks and Double Attacks, Deflection and Removing the Guard, Discoveries, Double Checks, Skewers, Trapping Pieces, Decoys, Intermediate Moves, Pawn Promotions, Back Rank, Destroying the Castled King’s Position, King Chase, Two-movers, Three Movers, Four Movers, Game Saving Combinations, Perpetual Checks, Stalemates, Trap and Counter Traps, Sibling Positions, and 25 Famous Combinations
      The back cover says that the book is for "intermediate to advanced" players. That’s probably about right. This definitely shouldn't be your first tactics book if you are rated below, say, 1600, but if you fall between 1600 - 1800, it's worthwhile.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Art of Checkmate

      This book is a classic. It’s not without flaws though, but only a nit picker would complain. The meat of the book is its organization and examples not the prose. According to C.J.S. Purdy The Art of Checkmate by George Renaud and Victor Kahn, former champions of France, is a demonstration of how very suited the French literary tradition is to chess exposition. The close attention to the order and neatness of presentation makes study of most of the French chess writers a pleasure. In this case, a clumsy translation (by W.J. Taylor) has succeeded in making merely delightful what could have been made super-delightful. It is a magnificent exposition of that vital department of chess skill, the mating combination…for the average player, from now on we list this as a MUST book.
     Purdy complained that the translation of this book reaches is an all-time low. Almost every page has sentences that are not translations at all, or even paraphrases but are thoughts of the translator’s. According to the translator, the authors wrote, “The following game was played between two second-rate players who, nevertheless, seem to be pretty well versed in the opening theory.” “Second-rate” is offensive; what the authors actually wrote was, “…amateurs of the second rank—but amateurs of some erudition, for, as we are about to see…” The translator says Taubenhaus was a “second-rate” master.” The authors wrote “maitre de deuxieme plan.” A better translation is, “second-rank master” or “minor master.”
      23 mating situations are classified, including Legal's pseudo-sacrifice, the double check, smothered mate, Greco's mate, the Corridor mate, many others. 127 games by Tartakower, Janowski, Rubinstein, Blackburne, others, illustrating positional maneuvers leading to these mates. Review quizzes test progress.
      People complain about it being in the old descriptive chess notation, but anyone of at least below average intelligence can learn descriptive notation in about 10 minutes. The ability to see patterns is paramount and this book is one of the best at teaching one how to read the board. Go through the patterns again and again and eventually you will finally understand them to the point that when you see them you can apply them in your own games.  In my college days I had trouble factoring binomial equations...just couldn't seem to get it.  Then, I wrote out ONE equation on a slip of paper and whenever I had a couple of spare minutes, I pulled out the paper and worked the problem.  Eventually, after a couple of days and who knows how many time, something clicked and I could work any problem.  Maybe it would work that way with chess tactics, too?!

Good Buys

Friday, June 28, 2013

Best Buy on Fritz!

In my opinion the Fritz GUI is absolutely the best and for the price, you can’t beat it.  Some people have a little trouble using it because they are unfamiliar with navigating through it and using all its features, but all the questions on how to use Fritz can be found HERE.

Don’t use the Fritz 12 engine that comes with it though.  In fact, don't use any of the Fritz engines. the reason is because other free engines are stronger.  Go to my Blog and search for engines you can download HERE.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

What Would YOU Play?

      This is my latest pdf book. It contains 60 positions from GM games for you to analyze then decide what you would play.  Large diagrams, one per page.  On the following page are the top five engine lines along with the GM comments and the actual game continuation with brief notes. 
     The idea of the format is that when you are sitting at the board you won’t be given any hints; no one is going to tell you there is a combination that wins a piece or leads to mate that is available.  If there is a sound tactical solution hiding in the position it will up to you to find it.  If there isn’t, you will have to decide on a reasonable plan of action.  Thus, the positions in this book are the kind you would actually  face in an over the board game and it is up to you to decide whether to play a tactical or positional line.  Just like in a real game...no hints are given!
     There is also a guide, mostly derived from suggestions by C.J.S. Purdy, detailing how to analyze every position you face. Also included at the end of the book is a guide containing advice gleaned from the writings of such well known players as Jonathan Rowson, Steven Ham and Robin Smith on how to conduct a proper analysis using an engine.  60 positions, 140 pages.
     It is available for download for $1.50 at AuthorStand.  Note: You must be a member to download from AuthorStand…it’s free!  At AuthorStand you can download thousands of pdf books by unknown authors on many different subjects.  Prices range from free and up.
     Also available: Lone Pine, a series of tournaments held from 1971 to 1981 that were sponsored by millionaire Louis D. Statham and often drew the world's top players.  This book has 422 pages of games that can, if desired, be copied and pasted into a chess engine for analysis, or just played over for enjoyment - FREE
Here is a sample that was not included in the book:
White to play
Petrosian,Tigran - Gligoric,Svetozar Zurich, 1953
Gligoric had employed a new idea in the K-Indian where he tried to hasten his K-side break despite the fact White had castled on the other side.  After a series of errors by both sides Gligoric misses a chance to win the game and Petrosian regains his winning position.
A time pressure error that gives Black new chances.
1) 37.a3 Rc5 38.Ka1 Ra5 39.Ne2 Rda4 40.Rxc7 Qb8 41.R7c2 Ra8 42.Nc3 4.10
2) 37.Qe1 Rb4 38.Nd1 Raa4 39.Nf2 Rb7 40.Qc3 Qe8 41.b3 Rd4 42.Be2 3.75
3) 37.Qh2 Rb4 38.Bd3 Bh5 39.Rg1 Ra8 40.Qh3 Qc8 41.Qf1 3.71
4) 37.Be2 Rb4 38.Rg1 Rb8 39.h5 Bf7 40.Qh2 Qf6 41.h6 Rg8 42.Rxg8+ 3.63
5) 37.b3! According to Najdorf this is the correct move, but he gave no follow-up. 37...Rb4 38.Bd3 Qe7 39.Rg1 Rb8 40.Qh2 Bf7 41.Qh3 Rc5 42.h5 c6 43.h6 Rg8 44.Rxg8+ Bxg8 45.dxc6 Rxc6 46.Nd5  3.31
Missing his one chance in the whole game!  37...Rxe4!! Fantastic.  What's the point?  You'll see. 38.h5 (38.fxe4?? Nxe4 39.Qe1 Qxd5 40.b3 (40.a3 Nd2+ The point! 41.Ka1 Nb3+ 42.Kb1 Nxc1 43.Kxc1 and it's Black who is winning.) 40...Nd2+ 41.Kb2 (41.Ka1 Nxb3+ 42.Kb2 Rxa2+ 43.Kxa2 Nxc1+ 44.Ka1 Qa8+ 45.Kb1 Qa2+ 46.Kxc1 Qxc2#) 41...Rxa2+ 42.Kxa2 Qxb3+ 43.Ka1 Qa3+ 44.Ra2 Nb3#) 38...Bf5! and Black enjoys the advantage. (38...Bxh5 39.fxe4 Nxe4 40.Qe1 Qxd5 41.b3 does not work because the check on d2 is not available because the B is no longer on the b1–h7 diagonal.
38.Nc3 Rd4 39.b3 Qb8 40.h5 Bxh5 41.Qh4 1–0
Black resigned because if 41...Qe8 (or 41...Bg6 42.Qf6+ Kg8 43.Bh3 Nf7 44.Be6 Qf8 45.Ne2 winning) 42.Ne2 Rxe4 43.Rxc7 and wins.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Random House

Random House categories: Biographies/Memoirs, Body, Mind and Spirit, Business/Economics, Classics, Crafts & Hobbies, Education, Fiction/Literature, Games, Mystery, Religion/Spirituality, Science Fiction, Sports and many other subjects. Very limited chess selection, but if you like books, it's a great site to just browse.

Chess Equipment Sale!

The Chess Store has new discounts and is offering 10% OFF with the coupon code SPRING10 on all products until 30th of April! The Chess Store Spring Sale


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Chess Assistant 13

      Chess Assistant 13, starter package with Houdini 3 allows you to manage games and databases, play chess online, analyze games and, of course, play against the computer.
      The Starter Package includes Houdini 3, Chess Opening Encyclopedia 2012, a powerful search system, a Tree mode, databases of 5.6 million games up to November 1, 2012 and Premium Game Service 2013 (3000 new games each week by Internet). Houdini 3 supports up to 6 cores and 4 GB of hash and is compatible with a variety of interfaces.
      There is a Professional version of Chess Assistant that offers the PRO version of Houdini 3 which supports up to 32 cores and 32 GB of hash and additional tools, but the basic package is fine for most all of us.
      The Opening Encyclopedia contains theoretical material on all openings including over 8000 annotations from GM Kalinin and 40 million evaluations by the strongest engines.  The Opening Tables allows you to create, maintain and studying your opening repertoire and it is fully customizable with your own moves and evaluations.

Click to enlarge

You can download Chess Assistant 12 Lite which provides you with most basic functions of Chess Assistant for free HERE.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Zagreb Chess Set

      Between 7th September 1959 and 29th October 1959, eight of the strongest GMs in the world met in the Yugoslav cities of Bled, Zagreb and Belgrade for the right to a challenge Mikhail Botvinnik for the World Championship.  The tournament consisted of 28 rounds, each player facing the others four times.
      The eight players in this competition had qualified as follows:
ex-World Champion Vasily Smyslov.
second place finisher in the previous Candidates Tournament  - Paul Keres.

The other six places were determined by an Interzonal tournament, held in 1958 in Portorož, Yugoslavia - Mikhail Tal, Svetozar Gligorić, Tigran Petrosian, Pal Benkö, Fridrik Ólafsson and Robert Fischer.

      Ex-World Champion Vasily Smyslov and Paul Keres were considered strong favorites with Tigran Petrosian being given an outside chance. Of the non-Soviet players Gligorić was considered the strongest but not a likely victor.  Olafsson and Benko had only recently been awarded the GM title and were not considered serious contenders.  Everyone’s eye was on Bobby Fischer and it was expected he would play the role of spoiler in a few games, but he was not considered a threat to win the tournament.  Tahl won the event one and a half points despite losing 3 out of 4 games to the unfortunate perennial runner-up, Paul Keres.
      In commeration of this event The House of Staunton offers the Zagreb '59 Series set which is a reproduction of one of the most popular sets used in international tournaments durign the 1950s and 1960s.  This my set of choice and as usual, the set from HOS comes with two extra Queens.
Tartajubow's Chess Set


Friday, March 22, 2013

The Greatest Secrets of Bobby Fischer by Nenad Nesh Stankovic

      Subtitled The Final Truth About the Greatest Chess Player of All Time. I bought this book the other day by accident.  Ads for the book (in several languages) appear all over the Internet and it even has a Facebook page. All this hoopla initially made me think… sales hype for a real potboiler that’s not worth reading.  The book claims that for the first time, some of Fischer's most intimate confessions and thoughts are told and it focuses on the ideas which lead Fischer toward “misunderstanding, rejection hatred and contempt.”
       After reading the review about it I decided to download it, realizing too late that my $25 gift card was for Amazon, not Nook. Oh, well.  I have only read the first few chapters, but find the book very hard to put down.
       Stankovic was essentially Fischer’s personal assistant when Fischer arrived in Yugoslavia to prepare for his match with Spassky.  Stankovic was more patient with Fischer’s twisted personality and petty, irrational demands than I would have ever been and I commend him for that!
       Just for example, the author describes how that when he arrived in Yugoslavia, Fischer’s clothes were worn and tattered and he had to have new ones tailored at the expense of Mr. Jezdimir Vasiljevic, the sponsor.  After endless searching, Stankovic finally found a tailor to Fischer’s liking, an elderly, well-known female.  Fischer drove the poor woman to tears over the next few months.  At each fitting for his shirts he would find something wrong and make new demands.  The waist was too tight.  The height of the collars was repeatedly adjusted and they were either too limp or too stiff. On and on it went. Then there were his haircuts and beard trimmings.  They had to search all over Belgrade to find a barber that only used a comb and scissors because Bobby didn’t like electronic clippers.  The Fischer would sit in the shop for an hour or so to observe the barbers’ work before finally selecting one. I would have told him to go pound salt, but everybody kowtowed to his demands.
       Of course the real meat of the book is the match with Spassky.  I can’t say much about that as I haven’t gotten that far yet.  What I can tell you is that so far the author has made Fischer come alive and it feels like I am actually in the presence of a disgusting, loutish, jackass whose one redeeming characteristic is that he was a great chess player.  Fischer is like a gory accident scene.  Repulsive, but you can’t look away.
       For $6.99 for the Nook/Kindle edition, how can you go wrong?


“In the overall gloom of his spirit and tempest of thought, Bobby became irrational to the utmost in practical matters that were not his strong suit even in his ‘lucid’ days." - Stankovic
      One day while the author and Fischer were sitting in a hotel lobby in Belgrade two thirty-ish Czech men were sitting nearby laughing and talking.  Stankovic asked Fischer if they were disturbing him and Fischer replied, “No, it’s alright.”  Finally the two of them turned towards Fischer and asked, “Are you Bobby Fischer?” to which he replied, “I am.”  The two men and Fischer then had a short conversation and one of them told Fischer that when they left Prague their neighbor, a Mr. Steelman who was a big Fischer fan, asked that if the run into Fischer to give him his best regards.
       Early the next morning Stankovic was approached by Fischer who was still in his pajamas and bathrobe and white as a sheet.  He explained that the two men in the lobby the night before were sent to kill him.  Fischer’s “proof:”

He did not know this Steelman; he surely did not exist
To Fischer the message was clear: “Steel” and “man.” meaning the men were sent to “pump me full of lead.”  “They will shoot me.”
They had said they were from Czechoslovakia, “the land that is no more.  Therefore they want me gone, too.”

      He asked Stankovic to find them and bring them to him.  Stankovic said Fischer was looking at him with eyes wide open and gesturing for silence so nobody would hear them or record anything. Stankovic did what he felt was his duty and followed up on Fischer’s request to try and locate the men even though nothing illegal had taken place; it was becoming necessary for him to protect Fischer from “demons and spooks.”

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Magic Tactics of Mikhail Tal by Karsten Muller

      Although he died in 1992 Tahl remains a favorite with players everywhere. Known as The Magician from Riga, Tahl took the chess world by storm and in 1961 and at the age of twenty-three won the world championship. Even though his sacrifices were not always perfect, they were spectacular and the problems he set his opponents put them under tremendous pressure.  Most of the time they would eventually crack.
       In this book Muller and journalist Raymund Stolze have selected one hundred exercises highlighting Tahl’s genius.  Most of them have not been seen before.

      The book can’t really by classified as a book of problems. The Prologue was written by Tahl himself and he discusses the differences between knowledge and what he called "poetry.” That is followed by 21 pages written by Botvinnik titled, "Reflections on Mikhail T.”
      Chapter 1 has a list of the "golden rules of attack” followed by 40 exercises and every diagram is followed by a few paragraphs that discuss the circumstances in which the game was played.  It is very helpful that the solutions are both in analysis form and prose!  Another great feature is that Mueller begins each section with 2 or 3 annotated games that illustrate the theme.  All together there are 18 annotated games and about a dozen other game fragments.
      Chapters are titled Correct Sacrifices, Speculative Sacrifices, Correct Way to Defend Against the Magician and there is an epilogue by Tahl.  I’ve had a couple of books on Tahl and this one is my new favorite.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Chess Opening Essentials by Stefan Djuric et al

4 volumes - Winner of the Italian Chess Federation’s Golden Award. 
These books are both primers and opening references that provide essential knowledge on all chess openings. The authors explain the basic plans and ideas for both sides in a way that will help develop a solid understanding of fundamental opening ideas. They explain the similarities with other openings as well as the differences and detail various middlegame plans that apply after the opening has ended.

Vol. 1 covers 1.e4
Vol. 2 covers 1.d4 d5 / 1.d4 various / Queen Gambits
Vol. 3 covers the Indian Defenses
Vol. 4 covers 1.c4 / 1.Nf3 / Other First Moves
All 4 volumes cover all main variations likely to arise and the use of color to highlight important moves and key positions is extremely helpful. Plans and counterplans for both Black and White are given in the form of simple, verbal prose and every opening is illustrated with a number of instructive games. Highly recommended for class tournament players wishing to improve. 

I would recommend that, after selecting what openings you want to play, you thoroughly review the material in the books then collect a database of master games with those openings. Play over them with a careful eye to how the games flow out of the openings and the types of endings that may develop. After you analyze 25 or so master games with your chosen opening you should have begun to develop a feel for how it should be played.