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Understanding Chess Middlegames Paperback – January 10, 2012


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Understanding Chess Middlegames + Understanding Chess Endgames + FCO: Fundamental Chess Openings
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Gambit Publications; annotated edition edition (January 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1906454272
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906454272
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.8 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #507,494 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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The book is very well written, and laid out.
Deep Blue
If you play through each section of the book, you'll quickly identify which areas of middlegame play you need to improve on.
Derek Grimmell
It is one of the best overview/review books on the middlegame I had seen.
William Paul B.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Derek Grimmell on December 28, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The layout of this book is similar to Nunn's Understanding Chess Endgames. After a couple of short introductory chapters, the meat is 100 fundamental issues in middlegame play. Each of the 100 points receives only two pages of coverage. Because these are middlegames rather than endgames, each point typically only has two examples, rather than the 3 or 4 in the similar endgame book. So this is no in-depth training manual. However, Dr. Nunn has done his usual good job of chossing instructive examples with multiple points. Just as important, he invested a lot of time coming up with a list of 100 fundamental issues that were genuinely a good survey of the middlegame. They are divided into several large topics: Attacking play, certain material imbalances (for example, queen versus 3 minor pieces), themes in defense, pawn structures in the middlegame. He ends with the most common types of mistakes people make during the middlegame, including critical things such as automatically accepting sacrifices, over- or underestimating an attack, and overestimating the value of the two bishops.

It's worth listing the pawn structures he points to: Isolated pawn in general; isolated queen pawn; closed Ruy Lopez; Winawer French; Scheveningen; Najdorf; Caro-Kann (also the Slav); Sämisch King's Indian; Benoni. As you can see, this is hardly a comprehensive survey of middlegame pawn structures, but the 8 covered (not including isolated pawns in general) cover a terrific amount of chess knowledge and a large majority of games played. When you consider that other sections focus on pawn chains, hanging pawns, and doubled pawns, most important pawn structures are covered.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Boomer49 on December 31, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In the first chapter, Nunn rips apart standard, simplistic thinking that evaluates positions by formula. He takes down Euwe, a good author who certainly knew alot about of chess simply by playing Alekhine,and shows how modern analysis depends on more than one plan or formula. The examples are of modern players and positions so this is not just a reprinting of well known games played a long time ago. Although this book contains excellent examples of how to assess, evaluate then plan according to solid positional ideas, the author shows how essential it is to have a vision of the whole board and to be aware of possibilites for both sides. This book will be in the running for Book of the Year.
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful By William Paul B. on December 31, 2011
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When I recieved this and did my preview of it, I wanted to stop the books I were reading at the time and go through this one immediately. It is one of the best overview/review books on the middlegame I had seen. Its broken down into 100 easily digestable lessons. You don't need 2 evenings afer work to study one concept. I was exceptionally surprised just leafing through it. Better than I expected. Great layout and arrangement of material.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By M. Ararat on January 4, 2012
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This new book by Jonh Nunn covers 100 ideas related to chess middlegames ( and some endgame positions as well) by using a very economical format.
Most of the topics are developed with two very well selected examples which make the book a quick reference. After playing a chess game you can search the middlegame feature(s) than in your opinion were more relevant in your game and compared with the example(s) in the book. Since chess is so vast your game may not match the example exactly but the book will provide a good start.

I am very please with the book content and its practical value. For example, my last rate chess game feature the Queen Vs 3 minor pieces. I searched G. Flear endgame book beyond the basics but this endgame was not covered (the author stated that this endgame occurs less than 1% so it was not covered). Fortunalety, Nunn provides two examples of battles between the Queen and 3 pieces. I founded the annotations very clear and I was able to extrapolate his advise to my game.

In summary, this book gives you a lot in return for your money.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Edward A. Clarke on October 16, 2012
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The middlegame is a very difficult (impossible?) subject to address in a reasonably-sized book and John Nunn does a credible job. Much of the problem comes from the nature of the middlegame itself; it has neither the self-organizing nature of the opening where a few early moves often dictate the course of the entire game nor the relative apparent simplicity of the endgame (due to the reduced number of pieces remaining) which allows easier classification (rook endgames, minor piece endgames, etc.) of the various situations. In contrast, the middle game is chaos.

This is a breadth over depth book and it will probably be of most use to advanced beginners or middle-strength players. No one book could hope to address in depth the broad range of topics that can arise in middle game positions in a reasonable number of pages. So Nunn takes a reasonable approach and chooses 100 topics in 7 major categories and provides two examples of each topic. And to illustrate the chaotic nature of the middlegame, each topic really consists of an example and a counterexample, one illustration where the application of the topic succeeds and one where it fails. Thus, the treatment of the isolated queen pawn (IQP) has one example in which the side with the IQP (White) uses the dynamic potential of the IQP to push through a win and one example where the IQP is successfully blockaded and the side without the IQP succeeds in getting good piece activity and getting the win.

Noteworthy is the clear analysis that Nunn provides with each example, pointing out a remarkable number of inaccuracies by both sides. Either the winner of the game could often have found ways to win quicker or the loser of the game missed opportunities to either delay the loss, force a draw, or even reverse the result.
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