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Terrific Anthology on Dynamic Play
on October 28, 2013
Having written well-regarded works on pawn play, the Nimzo-Indian, and the Ruy Lopez, GM Ivan Sokolov turns his attention to dynamic play. He annotates 92 sparkling games, which include 21 of his own plus a wealth of classics from the likes of Fischer (4), Kasparov (12), and Tal (15). It's hard to pick a favorite game, but here are a few that caught my eye:
* In Karpov-Kasparov, Linares 1993 we see Garry offer a sacrifice on almost every move, but Tolya must keep refusing the offers. Soon Karpov has retreated all his pieces to the first rank, while Garry's army is well-coordinated for an irresistible onslaught.
* Tal ignores Lutikov's hanging queen (Tal-Lutikov, Tallinn 1964) in order to make a quiet rook move that targets black's king in the center. Lutikov gives up his queen in order to reach an exchange-up endgame, but Tal eschews draw by perpetual and keeps finding amazing resources to keep black's rooks tied down to defense. Lutikov tries to give up material to reach a defensible position, but Tal's piece activity and coordination garner the full point.
* In Anand's "Immortal Game" (Aronian-Anand, Wijk Aan Zee 2013) the world champ offers a bishop and ignores his hanging f8-rook in order to pry open the a7-g1 diagonal. Controlling the long diagonal from b7 and the important f2 and h2 squares with his wonderful g4-knight, Anand organizes a mating attack that Aronian cannot resist, in spite of his extra rook. Sokolov declares it "perhaps the best game on the theme of 'ignoring the threat and imposing your own (higher-degree) threat' I have ever seen!", and I have to concur.
* In Byrne-Fischer (Sousse Interzonal 1967) Bobby leaves his king uncastled in a Najdorf Sicilian and launches his h-pawn toward white's kingside. It undermines white's g3-knight, driving it eventually to the irrelevant g7 square. "Fischer's 13....h5! so uncoordinated the white pieces that a seemingly balanced position was turned into a lost one with one 'small' move," as Sokolov notes.
The material is nicely organized into 16 chapters on various aspects of dynamic play, such as pawn breaks, decoy sacrifices, and sacrifices for development. Sokolov averages about 2.5 pages of annotation per game, with a focus on middlegame play. He is very generous with diagrams, averaging over 7 per game. Best of all, Sokolov writes with wonderful clarity and insight; I experienced "that's interesting" and "how about that?" moments every game.
Sokolov seems to be writing for a target audience of stronger club players, as he not infrequently assumes the reader will see a tactic that is not so simple. For example, in Sokolov-Gheorgiu 1990 he states that white's play has been leading up to 24. Re6, and then moves on with the game. This puzzled me for a moment, because at first glance 24. Re6 just drops the exchange to 24....Bxe6. I had to figure out that the rook is poisoned because black will lose a piece if he touches it: 24....Bxe6 25. dxe6 Rff8 26. e7 Qxe7 27. Bxa8 Rxa8 and now the queen fork 28. Qd5+! garners the a8-rook, and with it the game. If the author had been careful to explain such tactics, I would be able to recommend the book down to an ELO of about 1400; with some work (which is not a bad thing!) a 1600 could figure out enough of the tactics to learn a lot of chess from this anthology.
This is easily the best anthology I have read on dynamic play, and I heartily recommend it to chess players rated 1600-2200.
The publisher provided a review copy of this book to me in exchange for my honest review. My ratings of the publisher's books have ranged from 3 stars to 5 stars.