Monday, August 16, 2010


The life of a full time chess coach involves quite a bit of travelling between clients. Most of my clients are schools so I spend a fair amount of time driving between classes, while only a few private students travel to our office. I seem to have a bit of spare time between a lot of classes (though not really enough to undertake much) so I've usually got a book with me to kill the odd quarter of an hour. I've recently borrowed "Chess is My Life" by Karpov and Roshal and have been reading the biographical details on the road, while playing through the games at home. It really is an excellent insight into life at the top level during the post-Fischer times, a part of chess history that I'm woefully ignorant of. For me when I was growing up, Karpov was always the old guy who was playing second fiddle to Kasparov. Karpov seemed to play a dull style, while Kasparov's games were brilliant and double edged. It is only by taking a deeper look at Karpov, his life and games, that these myths can be dispelled.

Karpov's "dull" style is better described as a less risk taking style, and his games are often hard fought with some amazing positional and tactical ideas. Also, as my appreciation of the latter stages of the game of chess has developed, so has my appreciation of Karpov's games. The last chess book I bought was "Endgame Virtuoso Anatoly Karpov" by Karolyi and Aplin and I am impressed with the detail that the authors have delved into the endgames, but also some of the stories which put the games into some perspective. You can check out a positive review and a not so positive review at these respected sites.

I have even used one of Karpov's games in my classes over the past couple of weeks, his win against Timman from the 1984 London Phillips and Drew Tournament. I like this game as a teaching tool as it addresses a number of issues that kids need to know about, such as: a typical 1.e4 e5 opening, pins and breaking pins, en passant, preventing a king from castling, piece activity etc. And a really nice decoying sacrifice at the end.

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