Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Book Review: Chess Made Simple

Hi everybody. I haven't had any tournaments in a while, and thus have pretty much nothing to write about. So I just finished another book and will review it for you. If you want another video post before the next tournament I play in (Probably late April), then I would encourage you to help me out a bit. You can send me a game or position to annotate, and I will post a video analysis of it. Anyway, on with the show.

This review is for the book Chess Made Simple: A Comprehensive Guide for Self-Study and Review by Milton L. Hanauer. I am not going to bother trying to find a link to buy this book, because this one is legitimately from 1957, and is not a reprint.

I came in with lowered expectations because the book is well out of date, and intends to be a book for beginners. The basics given in the book are just as good as those today, with how the pieces move, what defines a good and bad move, etc. The drawback in this book, however, is that some of the analysis later on is just plain wrong. This is to be expected a little bit because of our computer age, but I could spot some holes in analysis right away without plugging the positions into an engine. Another confusing point was a bit of terminology. This author calls skewers "hurdles", which is not really that confusing, but when the term is used before it is defined, it can be a little difficult to grasp at first.

Verdict: 2.5/5

Some nice analysis offset by some bad analysis. Nothing that couldn't be found elsewhere. Given a rather lenient judgment due to the book being over 50 years old. I am sure in its time, it would have been a pretty good guide for beginners.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

New Video: Vs Sobo; When you are in trouble

Back after a bit of a break from making videos. I got bit by the MMO bug for a while, and haven't played much chess, so coming up with material for videos is a bit difficult. It was kind of funny I missed a mate in 1 while recording the video so I had to add in text over the analysis near the end. As always, I welcome suggestions for future videos or comments on them.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Book Review: Chess Traps, Pitfalls, and Swindles by Horowitz and Reinfeld

I've been doing a lot of video blogging lately, and decided for a change of pace to post a review of a book that I recently finished going through.

I recently happened upon this book at a local used book store and after looking briefly at a page or two decided to buy it for the nominal price of $4. Let me tell you, after going completely through this book from 1954 (my copy is a reprint from 1971), I was simply amazed at some of the creativity that has happened when the chips were down. I noticed in particular that there has been such a huge change in the way that chess is played since the writing of this book. Since this was before the era of Rybka and Fritz, all of the analysis is purely human-checked. This is both good and bad. The quality of the games in Chess Traps, Pitfalls, and Swindles are markedly lower, but they are much easier to appreciate precisely because these kinds of magnificent combinations simply don't show up as much due to computer-style play becoming prevalent, even at the lower levels. It was also nice to see famous players, such as Alekhine, falling into carefully laid traps from time to time.

This book is as much about psychology as it is about playing chess. It always seems that the most creative ideas come out of defensive play when there is nothing left to lose. Chess Traps, Pitfalls, and Swindles really delivers on some of the more astounding ones played prior to the printing of the book. I really enjoyed reading through it, and the resulting enjoyment is already beginning to manifest itself in my play (I began reading it just prior to the last two games against George Eichhorn). I would strongly recommend reading through it if you ever get the chance.

Amazon link to this book

Pros: Entertaining anecdotes, highly creative solutions to practical problems, just enough variations given to prove the point without feeling bogged down in variations, easy to read.

Cons: Written in older descriptive notation, a rather quick read.

Verdict: 4.5/5.0

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

New Video: Drake Chess Festival vs. Bernat

Here is a new video everyone! I scored 3.0/4.0 in the Open of the Drake Chess Festival, increasing my USCF to 1935, the highest it has been in nearly 2 years. I made a video of my last round game, which was the best played of the four. I also fiddled with the video settings some more to try and get more of a square look to the board. As always, I welcome any comments here or on the forum.

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