LEARN CHESS TACTICS
by John Nunn
There have been a few definitive chess books, books once written they covered the subject so well that no other books had to be written on that subject. When it comes to the classification of basic tactics, and quiz positions illustrating those tactics, the definitive book may well have been the first, Winning Chess by Chernev and Reinfeld. After Winning Chess the next definitive book was Polgarís massive Chess, 5334 Problems, Combinations and Games. These two books have pretty much said it all.
So now along comes Learn Chess Tactics by John Nunn.
Gambit Publications Ltd., distributed in the US by BHB International, Inc., 302 West North 2nd Street, Seneca, SC 29678, has published Learn Chess Tactics by John Nunn, ISBN 1 901983 98 6 at $19.95 for the soft cover edition.
What does Learn Chess Tactics have to offer the reader to compare with Chernev and Polgar? The examples are new. The book is clean and smells nice. The price is reasonable by todayís standards. If the reader is rated between 600 and 1700, this book can help him develop his tactical sense. It does not add anything new to the study of tactics, but it presents itself well.
MY GREAT PREDECESSORS
by Garry Kasparov
I will admit I was impressed by Part I of Kasparovís history of the world champions. Covering the champions from Steinitz to Alekhine, Kasparov presents their histories in a simple, factual manner. He presents the key games, the outstanding struggles of those decades. It is a thorough, thoughtful presentation that I believe ranks with the great history books on chess. I anxiously awaited Volume II.
Everyman Chess, Gloucester Publishers plc., Gloucester Mansions, 140a Sfatesbury Avenue, London WC2H 8HD (distributed in the US by Globe Pequot Press, PO Box 480, 246 Goose Lane, Guilford, CT 06437-0480 has published My Great Predecessors, Volume II by Garry Kasparov, ISBN 1 85744 342 at $35 for the hard cover edition.
And now Volume II has appeared, and it is even better than Volume I, or rather, it continues the excellence presented in Volume I, and presents it in even greater depth. Volume II covers the world champions from Euwe to Tal. As Kasparov has a strong personal and professional relationship with Botvinnik, Smyslov, and Tal, the book becomes more personal, more insightful. The games are the classics that every master should know. And that brings me to a critical moment. Some critics have complained that Kasparov should have selected less familiar games, some lesser masterpieces. To me, this is a specious argument. This is a history book. Would a history of World War II abandon the Normandy, Dunkirk, and Hiroshima in order to present the struggles for Antwerp, Dieppe, and Hong Kong? The great battles are the great battles, and Kasparov presents them as he should.
Others may quibble about historical points. Sometimes they are right. But sometimes these others only subscribe to views that they think are right. They would rather believe some fuzzy unearthed KGB document by a non-chess player than the participants themselves. They remind me of the conspiracy buffs who argue endlessly about magic bullets or grassy knolls, and overlook the fact that Kennedy was dead and American history would change. Kasparov sticks to the traditional facts of history, and sticks well. When he has personal knowledge of some of the champions, he shares that with the reader.
The analysis of the games continues to be excellent as it was in Volume I. There is quite a bit of Fritz but more of the champions themselves. This is an excellent book. I can highly recommend Volume II and I look forward to Volume III. Buy this book!
CHESS WORLD CHAMPIONS #7
Mikhail Botvinnik, Ch. 1948-57, 58-60. 61-63
This is #7 in a series of CDís released by Tobiason Chess Supplies, PO Box 59, Silver Creek, Nebraska 68663, a small company that is not only bringing the games of the world champions to CD, but is digitalizing a large collection of chess books and magazines whose copyrights have expired. The catalog of available books alone presents some interesting reading.
Chess World Champions #7 presents a nearly complete record (995 games) of Mikhail Botvinnik, analyzed on every move by Fritz. Of course the Fritz analysis is sometimes a bit shallow: the annotation 1. e4 Nc6 = happens quite a lot, even if it may be true. Still, for only $20, the cost of the CD, much can be forgiven, and there is much offered here. Besides the large number of Botvinnik games, there is a training module which presents a diagram from many of the games. You have five minutes to try to find the best move. If you enter the correct move, the game continues. If not, you get to try again until the time is up.
There is also an opening book on the CD which is really just a compressed form of all the first ten moves or so of all the games Botvinnik played. I am sure someone can find a good use for the book, but I donít know how I would use it.
There is a series of several pictures of Botvinnik to round out the CD, and a brief history on the case itself. The biography probably could have and should have been included on the CD, but it is very short.. I think this is a good buy and a good work. Buy this CD.