Chess Books

After studying “The Modern Chess Sacrifice” by Shamkovich (almost done), and Sicilian Labyrinth vol. 1 by Polugaevsky, I have come to a decided conclusion. The conclusion is that these guys were super-GMs because of tactics. Crafty has a hard time keeping up during some of these tactical encounters and I could see how they could possibly beat a chess engine with their intuition, understanding and calculation. It’s not all calculated ahead of times. Even Keres admitted once that a combination “looked good”.

Fischer using offbeat ideas and lines to throw his opponents preparation out the window, didn’t simply try to find and play “best” variations. I also think that Fischer could recover from an openings disaster better than any other player. In short, he was highly creative, and I think that this is the part of his game that his opponents couldn’t overcome.

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6 thoughts on “Chess Books

  1. Hey Linux Guy!

    I think it is tactics but is something else as well. Most of the great chess players have studied what has come before, just like a great musician has to listen to the musicians who came before.

    But without the tactics the strategy or intuition built up by studying the classics will mean nothing. (at least I think so)

    So tactics are huge and the first point. They are like the scales/vocabulary of music.

    OF course I am a patzer who is still trying to get his tactics together… :

  2. Tommy, thanks for the reply!

    I’ve seen so many of these tactical ideas that all I care about now is execution, since that is what wins games. Was just looking at a Stein-Tal sac on d5 game, but a quiet move was even stronger and Tal messed up, even the annotaters can mess up, not wanting to desanctify some great looking sac-win. But Lyev didn’t go far enough in one line and got it wrong trying too hard to give Tal some praise – Stein vs. Tal 1961 (19…Qc7 does like better than 19…Qxa2, which he gives an exclam for practical chances, in the line he gives ending in “The future for Black is bleak” – P.96 Sicilian Labyrinth Vol2. Well, yeah, no duh it’s bleak but in this day and age, I’ll take actual computer analysis, with my prodding, over the comments. All I am saying is leave out the exclam unless you really have taken a super-hard look at it, since Qxa2 was an immediate piece sac by Tal.

    Oh yeah, the sac wasn’t necessary either of Stein since White had Qg7, also strong. But it’s his style, right? So people are naturally going to fawn over it. Great game, but he did have the advantage. Sacs are often from an advantageous position.

    Anyway, a while back Aziridine and I jostled a little and he gave in but now I have some proof of what I said. White wins 2 games where he sacs on b5 and Black keeps knights and plays e5. I speculated that Black should have kept the bishop and not played …e5 and here is such a win!:
    http://chessflash.com/node/1505

    Lyev makes a great comment about how Black should keep his king nearby to help out in stopping the pawn advance. Crafty doesn’t like the Bb5 sac either, as it is evenish, whereas White had a nice pull/advantage before making the sac. Of course, it is a practical matter as well, who performs better in the complications.

    Regarding books, my favorites are #1 Best games collections, #2 Tactics, #3 Endgames, #4 Encyclopedias, #5 Middlegame treatises (mainly because I already have a lot of these famous games in my best games collections!) and lastly at #6, openings monographs.

    You are right, Tommy, I am using them to build-up my intuition, especially against an early …b5 push in the Najdorf, which was always my dread. In fact, Fischer beats Najdorf in 1962 by refuting it with an early Nd5 pawn sac (of e4)!

  3. Hey Linux Guy:

    My list of important books is basically the same is you!

    Games Collections, Tactics, and Endgames. Those are my big three. I am staying away from strategy books for the time being (I am letting the game collections sort of deal with that) I do like Simple Chess by Michael Stean. I have read that twice and it has helped my game both times.

    I am pretty much over most opening books. I am using eco codes, game databases and the Hiarcs opening book for chessbase as my opening study. The Hiarcs book is just a chessbase file that gives GM recommendations for lines. I just use it as a guide. Most opening books (of the paper kind) have let me down. I learn more by trying to figure out what lines I like and don’t like by using games from a database.

    What is your favorite tactics book?

  4. Tommy, I guess I’d say that Combination Challenge is my favorite tactics book at the moment.

    There are some nice ones that I’ve never owned such as Sharpen Your Tactics and the Test Your Chess IQ series. Thumbed through and almost bought them once upon a time.

    I am finding the same thing, that studying with databases is the easiest way to study openings. Studying openings with a pure engine, such as Crafty outside of it’s opening book, is like a dog chasing it’s tail; it’s worse than useless because it’s also a massive time-sink.

    I like Spassky’s style the best; Spassky once used the word ‘brutal’ to describe his style. Check this game out
    http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1128293
    10. Bb7? instead of 10.Be7 appears to be the losing mistake, but 12.d5 pawn sac appears to win by force.

  5. Cool game by Spassky!

    I have his best games collection, (written by someone else) and looking forward to going through it.

    I think another cool way to study openings is by playing the guess the move thing with a master’s game in an opening I am trying to learn. Between that, databases, and the Hiarcs opening book as a guide opening study has been much more fun and I think beneficial to my chess than just studying an opening out of a book.

    I played a guess the move in the Ruy playing as Spassky as White and he made a lot of interesting and somewhat speculative choices in a game where he beat Tal.

    In game collections, I still enjoy a bit of good prose to go along with the variations. But that is me.

    I have been checking a book out titled ‘Teach Yourself Better Chess” and it has a lot of good stuff on thinking and planning. The author is into planning and he has good ideas about general strategic concerns but he is helping me to differentiate between when to calculate and when to plan. He also simplifies what a plan should really be! Very interesting and in line with what you have been saying.

  6. Tommy, that is one reason why I have been giving away so many of my middlegame books! I want to play the guess the move game as well – otherwise, kinda pointless setting it all up on a board. (game collections are more suited for that than are treatises) 😉

    I’ve learned little tricks that are useful, but don’t require much calculation. First is to consider the center of the board, in the opening, any pawn pushes there, which includes c and f-files. Another trick is to not let your opponent develop the initiative, do this by hitting his pieces with yours where possible, it limits the number of powerful replies that your opponent will have at their disposal. Look to develop pieces, not pawns, it’s quicker! (quicker attack, initiative).

    Look for checks on every move, since you can avoid an attack on your queen, let her hang, but not your king! There are ways to make one’s life more simple at the board. 🙂

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