Monday, December 15, 2008

Two Big Chess Books

1) John Watson's Mastering the Chess Openings trilogy concludes with Flank Openings. These are probably the best books on the opening currently out - with all the limitations on the print medium. The author stated in Chess Life that some important openings were left out of Volume 2 "only because of lack of space". This is a significant statement. An important function of these books is that he gives discussion of the theory and principles in actual words inside actual sentences with subjects, predicates, nouns and verbs as opposed to lists of variations with symbols. Now, if there could only be a Volume 4 to cover all of the important openings he left out . . .

To give you an idea of the scope of this series, I listed the games of Volume 1. Yes, they are this many. It is not too much to say that these books can double as game collections, too.

2) The core of Mark Dvoretsky's reputation as a chess coach and author has been in the area of analyzing positions. So that's what makes his book on the subject so huge. The other books in his series of chess instruction have been well received.

This is a very hard book to go through. The thing is, that if you think that chess is fun, then plowing through all of these variations is fun, too. It is like watching a hockey game. I may not be able to do all that skating and drills that the hockey player can do, but I still like watching them do it. The frustration for the reader may come from the feeling that he may never be able to calculate all of this stuff for himself. Just like the rest of sport, there is nothing wrong with sitting in the stands and letting a master take you along for a ride. That's the thing about hard chess books like this one.

And who knows? Just following along may make you a better player, anyway.