Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Improve Your Chess Pattern Recognition - Key Moves and Motifs in the Middlegame by Arthur Van de Oudeweetering

      I haven't done a review in quite awhile, mostly because I have not found anything worth reviewing...until now. This book is great!
     Strong players have long extolled the virtues of pattern recognition and you can find out more about it by going to my chess blog and in the Search This Blog box type in "pattern recognition." Pattern recognition is one of the most important aspects of improvement, but one of the most neglected as many players concentrate on tactics and openings.
     If you realize a position has similarities with something you have seen before, you are recognizing a pattern. This helps you to get to the essence of a position quickly and find the most promising continuation. To get better at recognizing chess patterns, knowing which positions are worth remembering will save lots of time and energy. Each chapter explains a theme or pattern classified by the type of position and then has examples to illustrate them.  Personally, what I would do is read the book to get an idea of what to look for and then use the technique of playing over a lot of master games and trying to guess the next move as described in my Blog posts, especially the Ken Smith Method.  For those that don't know, back in the 1960's Texas Senior Master Kenneth Smith sold chess books through his publishing house Chess Digest and taught a generation of players how to study chess. Admittedly, a lot of what he recommended was self-serving since he published the stuff he recommended, but his advice was classic. My article on Smith.
     My pet peeve is that Van de Oudeweetering only gives the portion of the game that's under discussion; I wish he would have given the whole game, especially the conclusion. It's one thing to know one side stands better and why, but it's quite another to know how to utilize the advantage and having the remainder of the game as an example is important.
     I like the way one reviewer expressed it: There are two types of positional decision processes...The first is coming up with a move based on analysis, e.g. looking at a position and determining weak squares, piece activity, center control, king safety,… and then conjuring up a move. The second, and more efficient way, is to recognize patterns to efficiently come up with a candidate move.
     Dennis Monokroussos liked the book, too.

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