Saturday, July 21, 2012

Reading Material

There's nothing better than getting comfy with a good book. I'm sure I've heard that somewhere before! Anyway, there is no shortage of chess books, some good and some not so good. My personal favourites are tournament books, and I remember going through books such as Zurich 1953 by Bronstein, Botvinnik-Tal 1960 World Championship match, Spassky-Fischer by Evans, 2nd Piatigorsky Cup by Kashdan and the Leningrad and Petropolis Interzonal tournaments when I was younger. I suppose that a book of a tournament is more of a story than a typical theory book. In a tournament there are major and minor characters, a plot with twists and turns and a deal of varied material.

Believe me, I have tried to look at opening manuals, but I generally find them rather boring, or overly detailed or with large parts that are irrelevant to what I want. Practical players need repertoires and opening manuals don't tend to deal with this. There are repertoire books, but they may suggest certain variations that a player has no intention of ever playing. I know this sounds as if I do no opening work at all (to be honest I don't do too much) but rather my opening work tends to be inspired by actual games that I see and then I go into a frenzied rush of work on that system. As an example, I saw a mad game last night in the Amsterdam tournament where the outsider Anna Muzychuk was white against Israeli GM Emil Sutovsky.

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I've already analysed some lines in this offbeat system and and seen a whole load of games. Maybe I'll get to play it at some stage.

If I'm going to work on the game, I'm more likely to use a book on the endgame or general/specific chess strategy. Like many, I once went through Nimzovitch's "My System", but I think my favourite book of this genre is Watson's  "Secrets of Chess Strategy", and his follow up, "Chess Strategy in Action". However, I still think that working through well annotated games collections will teach invaluable strategic lessons as well as putting those lessons into practical settings. For the diligent (because the books are fairly heavy tomes) Karolyi's books on Karpov's Strategic wins, and his book "Endgame Virtuoso Anatoly Karpov" are tremendous.

Perhaps a good place to start for anyone looking for good chess books is the FIDE Trainers Commission recommendations. Out of the 100 books, I've studied about 20 I think, and browsed into about another 10-20 and I don't think there were any bad ones.

Another resource is the internet, and there are a whole load of interactive sites, informative sites, and fun sites. There are loads of blogs and it's about time I started to look through some of these. I already regularly read some blogs. Kerry Stead's blog is a nice personal look at the Australian (and more specifically Victorian) chess scene. Kerry has a penchant for some unusual opening systems, so there are often games with an unusual start which lead to some interesting positions. Another cool Aussie blog is by IM Alex Wohl.  He writes in both humorous and informative style and is perhaps the strongest Australian player to regularly maintain a chess blog, though GM David Smerdon is catching up (in terms of regularly posting!).

I also try to follow the chess scene from my native UK. I really do need to look at more UK blogs, but I regularly read the British Chess Magazine which I grew up with, and FM Steve Giddins Blog, an ex-editor of the BCM who enjoys studies and problems as well as being a man who isn't shy of saying what he thinks!

Anyways, as I'm taking a bit of a break from playing, I'm going to be looking at some reading material, both online and in print and I'll post what I think of them as honestly as I dare!


  1. I assume you've read about the Siberian Chess Tigers ?

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