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Winning Chess Manoeuvres: Strategic Ideas that Masters Never Fail to Find
Winning Chess Manoeuvres: Strategic Ideas that Masters Never Fail to Find
by Sarhan Guliev
Edition: Paperback
Price: $17.90
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars AN EXCELLENT MIDDLEGAME TECHNIQUE BOOK, November 1, 2015
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I've just completed reading the first nine chapters of this book. This is approximately half the book in regards to length, albeit there being another 15 chapters left. My intention is to amend this review once I've completed reading the entire book.
The reason I am typing this review prematurely is to point out some errors in the book. On page 112, the initial diagram for the game GM Gelfand vs FWC Kramnik, Munich, 1994 is incorrect. It is actually the 2nd to last move in the uber famous 'Opera House' game which was won by Paul Morphy against Duke Karl & Count Isouard in 1858. I have attempted to reconstruct the initial position by going back multiple moves from the 2nd diagram. I can only surmise that the position is, for White: Qe2, Rd1, Bc2 & Bc3; the pawn on e3 was originally on f2. For Black: Nd5, Kg8; there were pawns on g7 & h7.
I have also observed a number of typos, including on page 112 with the word past spelt without the 't' at the end. I'm guessing the author/publisher/editor was fatigued at that point in time.
So far, my impression of the book is a positive one, however it is very similar to 'Improve Your Chess Pattern Recognition' by Arthur Van de Oudeweetering. Some examples are Dances with Knights, Alekhine's Nail (not gun), Anand's Murderous Twin Guns (both bishops pointing at one's opponents' enemy King), the Shuttle Manoeuvre (moving a piece back so it can move forward better) & White moving g4 or h4 to open up files for an attack on Black's kingside castled King. If you have already read that book, you wouldn't derive a lot of value from this book. Moreover, there are a lot of classic examples in this book that I have seen a few times already. If you are well versed in the classics, I also would suggest that you would not derive a lot of value from this book. This book is predominantly about middlegame techniques.

Review update: After completing this book, I can say it has high value for the uninitiated in regards to the middlegame in chess. Unfortunately, there were a grotesque amount of typos which detracted from the quality of this book. Chapter 10, fancy some solving, had some tactical chess puzzles from famous games which were quite enjoyable and enlightening, however they were inconsistent with the theme of the book. Chapter 1, The Janowski Incident or Grief out of Wit, along with the Afterword were also inconsistent with the theme of the book as they were about the endgame.
This is a great collection of middlegame techniques that are explained thoroughly and calculations of alternate variations to the actual games are not over done. Moreover, the author tries to go on a historical journey to discover the origin of these techniques/ideas. I vehemently recommend this book to any player who has not read the above mentioned book (as it is eerily similar) and is not familiar with classic chess games, particularly those of GM Akiba Rubinstein. The chess games of GM Vaselin Topalov are also highly covered towards the beginning of the book.
GM Sarhan Guliev, thank you for your contribution to this field. Unfortunately for you, this book was published within a year of IM A van de Oudeweetering's (no, that's not the safe word ;-)) book which would of detracted many chess book readers from even considering purchasing it.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 8, 2015 3:30 PM PST

The Colder War: How the Global Energy Trade Slipped from America's Grasp
The Colder War: How the Global Energy Trade Slipped from America's Grasp
by Marin Katusa
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $13.79
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57 of 73 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars PADDING, MORE PADDING & SOME SUBSTANCE, November 19, 2014
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This is a book about what I have dubbed "Cold War 2", the author calls it "The Colder War". Reader beware: I am cynical.

The weaknesses of this book: The majority of this book is not about Cold War 2. Instead, it is about the history of the Soviet Union, the Russia under Boris Yeltsin & Vladimir Putin, The Ukraine, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, other NAME nations amongst other nations. It is also sprinkled with other topics such as Putin's evil acts as President, oil geology/chemistry, the petrodollar, derivatives etc. The reason why this is a weakness of the book is because I have already read books about these topics, so I was treading on well known ground. This has had the effect of turning a pamphlet into a book! The forward by Mr Doug Casey is basically him mutually masturbating Mr Marin Katusa, in a metaphorical sense. Wow, the author is a great poker player & born on the wrong side of the tracks, that really changes my perception of him?!?! Considering this book is about an indirect war, the military aspect was almost non-existent. This has to be regarded as a major flaw of the book because what if a real war was to erupt? Wouldn't the reader want to know about present & potential future capabilities? The conclusions of this book are superficial & have been suggested by so many pundits over the past six years, so nothing original or substantive. The thematic demise of the petrodollar is the epicenter of his conclusions.

The strengths of this book: Even though the Ukrainian Civil War is a sideshow, I was glad that the author cleared up what I had suspected the whole time i.e. covert US intervention was at least the partial cause of this Civil War. I refer to pages 76 & 77. Basically, what Kermit Roosevelt was to Iran in the 1950s, Victoria Nuland is to the Ukraine in the 2010s. The US & EU had been working for years to pull the Ukraine away from Russian influence. They wanted an antagonistic state on Russia's border. $5 billion & 5 years of work had gone into it. Victoria Nuland had talked to President Yanukovych on many occasions directing him to negotiate with the IMF & EU for a hundreds of millions to a few billion ($US) loan with conditions, in other words, The US wanted the Ukraine to become another Debt Slave to the Western World. So, of course, because President Yanukovych didn't go down that path, the US supported a coup, surprise, surprise. Once again, the US federal government is responsible for the deaths of innocent people on the other side of the planet. Victoria Nuland also viewed the Ukrainian neo-nazis as an asset to be used, but contained. Extremely controversial & hypocritical, considering the US is overtly all about establishing & promoting democracy all over the planet.

The real strength of this book & this is a doozy, is Vladimir Putin's long-term plan. It seems that he is trying to gain as much influence as possible in the global spheres of natural gas & uranium. Putin has been making deals with nations all over Asia & a handful of African nations. These agreements are to either supply natural gas or enriched uranium, to hire/sell nuclear technology services, equipment & plants, to sign exploration, mining & construction contracts in nations to develop their natural gas & uranium resources. The book describes this as a double pincer move. A large part of this plan involves trying to "monopolise" the supply of natural gas & uranium to Europe; from the East & the South. In regards to Natural gas, Russia is already involved in & increasing the exploration & production of this resource in Nigeria, Egypt, Mozambique & Algeria. Algeria is particularly chummy with the Russians.

Even though Russia is only the 6th largest producer of uranium, they have a lot of influence with neighbouring Kazakhstan which is the World's premier producer. Russia's influence in uranium is primarily in the area of enrichment technology. Believe it or not, Russia is miles ahead of any other nation on the planet in regards to its capacity to enrich uranium. This will not change in the short- or mid-term as regulations in Western nations ensures a very long & corrugated bottleneck. Russia is also a major nuclear power plant constructor. They have contracts with China, Vietnam, India, Turkey, Bangladesh, Iran & Egypt. Russia has also signed contracts with multiple nations for exploration & development of uranium. They have even started courting Namibia.

The other remaining strength in this book is Russia's relationship with Syria. Tartus is the only military port that Russia possesses outside of the former Soviet Union & alternate gas pipelines through this part of the World into Europe is also mentioned.

So, there you have it, if you are a well read individual, you no longer need to buy this book. I've just saved you around $20 + postage & handling. Thank you Mr Katusa for your contribution to this field, however you could have condensed this book from approximately 200 pages to about 50 pages. Less history & more military would of been appropriate & relevant. Your conclusion was less than half-arsed... I wouldn't even give you one star for your conclusion, actually. Again, I am cynical.
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 26, 2015 3:01 PM PDT

How Life Imitates Chess: Making the Right Moves, from the Board to the Boardroom
How Life Imitates Chess: Making the Right Moves, from the Board to the Boardroom
by Garry Kasparov
Edition: Paperback
Price: $15.97
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars SUPERFICIAL IN SOME WAYS... STICK TO THE CHESS., October 10, 2014
I first read this book in 2007. Typing this review in 2014 after reading it for the second time gives me a much more informed opinion of this work. I am a fan of GM Kasparov & I have studied a number of his chess games in recent years, however my opinion is not biased. To summarise this book succinctly, GM Kasparov's research only scratched the surfaces of business, investing, political campaigning & military affairs & he used this information in fusing it with his experience & knowledge of the chess world, particularly his own career.

The criticisms: They are mainly based on the superficialities of the fields that GM Kasparov does not specialise in. There are a number of points I disagree with. Firstly, continuously criticising GM Fischer's comeback to professional chess 20 years after not playing at the highest level is a joke! The quality of chess that GM Fischer played in 1992 in Yugoslavia against GM Spassky was at an extremely high level. I believe that GM Kasparov has some personal hang ups about this Match which are psychologically deeply imbedded. Secondly, selling a stock because it is falling in price may not necessarily be the right decision. Stocks that fall in price can also rebound. There is no right answer. Thirdly, making statements like Iceland has a goal of being oil free by 2040 or Sweden stating the same by 2020 is a joke! Iceland has abundant geothermal energy sources, however these statements are nebulous & long-term airy fairy things that have no ramifications to the politicians making them last decade in reference to the future when these dates are reached. Besides, conventional global oil production by these years will be a lot lower than they are now, so maybe they are being made because there is some confidence these nations will not have access to a sufficient amount of oil anyway. These nations also have minute populations compared to the USA, for example. Next on my list is GM Kasparov's admiration for Winston Churchill, give me a break, the man was arrogant & incompetent, it was luck that allowed him to obtain a legacy. Lastly, I don't like the fact that GM Kasparov labelled Super GMs who almost became World Champions "Pretenders", they were not pretenders, but contenders. A bit of respect, please. I possess more criticisms, however I will leave it at that.

The positives: One of the most accurate statements about chess is that it is a trade-off between material, quality & time. This is one of GM Kasparov's expressions/statements. He oulines his philosophy on chess. I benefited from studying his games & all of the interesting games that he mentions in this book that he adds some comments to, I can completely understand & visualise at the critical moments of his decision-making. In the final chapter of the book, the author relives his 1987 WC Match against GM Karpov, I found it a bit overindulgent to "zwischenzug" to other topics in comparison with the dramatic Match, however some of the details of that WC Match were insightful. GM Kasparov was quite open & forthright in his psychology & decision-making processes in chess, which is really the 20% of the book that gave me 80% of the pleasure reading it. Sub-topics such as innovation, intuition, preparation, logic, creativity, identifying weaknesses, trying not to become stagnant, preventing complacency, the success paradox, continuously challenging ourselves, generalisation vs specialisation, analysis, critical moments etc were all expanded upon.

I am a very cynical reader probably because I am almost middle-aged & I have read a lot of books throughout my adulthood. Superficially looking into other fields & then making comparisons with what an author specialises in has been done before & is still being done. It doesn't impress me, to be quite honest. I would recommend this book to chess players who have studied GM Kasparov's games & have a penchant for his playing style. Thank you GM Kasparov for sharing so many of your opinions, thoughts & memories about your chess career & chess in general.

The Black Swan: Second Edition: The Impact of the Highly Improbable: With a new section: "On Robustness and Fragility" (Incerto)
The Black Swan: Second Edition: The Impact of the Highly Improbable: With a new section: "On Robustness and Fragility" (Incerto)
by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.90
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4.0 out of 5 stars NASSIM TALEB... THE GREAT CO-ORDINATOR, August 23, 2014
This is the book that had to be written. It is a coincidence that Nassim finished writing "Fooled by Randomness" not long before September the 11th & that he finished writing this book just before the Global Financial Crisis. I highly recommend that if you liked reading this book, you should also read "Fooled by Randomness" & "Anti-fragile", which I consider Taleb's trilogy. I have just reread this book for the 2nd time & I felt compelled to write a review on it.

This book is not for everybody. The big negatives of this book is that Nassim comes across as having an intellectual superiority complex & he drops a lot of names. I personally didn't mind this so much, in other words, it didn't detract from the material covered. However, I can imagine that for a lot of people, this is quite annoying. There seems to be a paradox in that studies have shown that the more information one has, the more biased one is in his/her predictions, however in order to eliminate errors, you need perfect information (the playing pool analogy makes this concept clear).

Keeping this succinct, this book explains why the normal distribution/bell-shaped curve is not applicable to Finance & Economics. Nassim suggests that instead of using Gaussian statistics, Mandelbrotian statistics is more relevant to these fields, however the author admits that this is not perfect either. The reason being that "Black Swans" exist. Black Swans are unpredictable events that are high impact & are retrospectively explained/predicted. Nassim outlines very well why human beings can simply not predict/forecast & provides examples & the ramifications of such errors (e.g. LTCM blowing up, the price of oil in the naughties etc). The author gets into the compounding effect of errors in predictions, which make the predictions progressively worse the further into the future one tries to predict. The playing pool analogy makes this concept very clear. Nassim describes two different Worlds i.e. Mediocristan & Extremistan which are statistically represented by Gauss & Mendelbrot, respectively. I found that these were good metaphors in explaining his concept. All of this has massive ramifications in risk management.

There is a lot of philosophy in this book. I am pleased that the Author included this in his book because I haven't read the works of philosophers such as Karl Popper. There is also some scientific history in this book, I particularly like the fact that Nassim introduced Henri Poincare to me, a scientist that I had never heard of previously.

Like Steve Jobs, Nassim Taleb is not an innovator, but a co-ordinator. He has taken facts & ideas that already exist & put them together in this book, his strengths are his ability to select & synthesize these relevant facts & ideas, write about them coherently, sprinkle his idiosyncracies & personal experience into the text & introduce metaphors such as "The Black Swan" & "Mediocristan/Extremistan".

Thank you Mr Taleb for your contribution in this field. Your trilogy had to be written so that people interested in some of the significant issues can have a partial understanding. Yes, the World & Universe is predominantly non-linear. There is a lot more I could write about this book, however I am still brooding, contemplating & waiting to be more comfortable with what I have learnt. This trilogy has left me quite introspective, to say the least.

The Rise And Fall of British Naval Mastery
The Rise And Fall of British Naval Mastery
by Paul M. Kennedy
Edition: Paperback
Price: $23.13
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3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars MISLEADING, BIASED, YET INFORMATIVE., July 26, 2014
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The title of this book, in my opinion, is misleading. I was expecting Specifications of British Naval Vessels, Research & Development in Vessel Engineering, Naval Strategy, Naval Tactics, Seamen's skill sets & equipment vis-a-vis their main opponents during periods of peace & war etc during the rise & fall of British Naval Mastery. Instead this book was about British Geopolitics & Macro-economics & the British Navy's role within that framework. As interesting as this topic is, I was disappointed because I wanted to read a different book. However, this book does a decent job in addressing what this book is really about, albeit it being biased towards Britain being some kind of Holy Nation. The Author doesn't even mention once the term "Opium War(s)" or "Concentration Camps" which the British invented during the Boer War. The Author comes across as if Britain was doing the whole World some kind of favour by expanding & consolidating her interests. Very little was mentioned that Britain was emulating Portugal's & Holland's lead, they were the real pioneers of Colonialism & International Finance. Give me a break!

I will now succinctly describe Britain's geopolitical strategy during their rise & zenith: Assuming Britain was one of the top three nations in Western Europe, if the number one nation was in conflict with the number two nation, Britain would support the number two nation. If the number two nation was in conflict with the number three nation, Britain would support the number three nation. If the number one nation was in conflict with the number three nation, Britain would support the number three nation. If two out of the top three nations formed an alliance & there was a conflict between them & some other nation(s), Britain would support the weaker nations. While this was going on or not, Britain would expand & consolidate her overseas Empire whilst always either developing the strongest Navy on the planet or maintaining the strongest Navy on the planet. Throw in some skewed diplomacy, an obsession with Naval Blockades & voila, you have an enormous Empire while the rest of Western Europe was too busy asleep at the wheel to realise what was going on, even though they themselves were losing colonies all around the World to Britain. If you are wondering, how did they afford all this, the answer is that they had a very small Army, constructing vessels was not as expensive as in modern times, they invented Central Banking in 1694, the public accepted fiat currency once it was introduced & no nation came even close to them in the magnitude of international trade once they got to the zenith. Pretty simple if you ask me & you probably do not need to read the book anymore.

On the positive side, this book is well written, broken up in chapters that are logical i.e. the different periods during the rise, zenith & fall of the British Empire. Some interesting tables in regards to nation comparisons, vessels, macro-economic data etc during different periods. The improving & then decline in Britain's macro-economy is also well described, discussing inflation, national debt, trade deficits/surpluses & comparisons with other nations. For the Naval Strategists out there, the Author does sprinkle Mahan & Mackinder throughout this book, however I found it superficial & it left me wanting more. The Author also gets into the pivotal agreements over a short period of time which secured American hegemony, the passing of the baton, if you wish. Thank you Mr Kennedy for your contribution in this field, even though the title of your book was misleading & you are biased.

Strategy: A History
Strategy: A History
by Lawrence Freedman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $25.52
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A TOUR DE FORCE, June 25, 2014
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This book is divided into five parts & is 630 pages long. I would describe this book as a tour de force of strategy in both time & place, however it only really scratches the surfaces of so many sub-topics & sub-sub-topics of strategy. For more detailed works, I would recommend Sun Tzu's "The Art of War", Richard Rumelt's "Good Strategy Bad Strategy" & Liddell Hart's "Strategy".

I will try to be as succinct as possible & due to the length of this book, I highly recommend complementing my review with other reviews to get a larger picture of this book. Part 1 discusses ancient history & primates & I don't think it was relevant or useful in any way. Part 2 outlines military strategy, this is a good primer to get into more detailed works that are sprinkled throughout this Part. Part 3 deals with bottom-up strategy & is heavily into revolutionaries. This part didn't keep my interest & I only read the first half, however it was referenced a bit in Part 4 to demonstrate some of these points' relevance to top-down strategy. Part 4 gets into top-down strategy & it's main focus was in business & economics. Part 5 is about rational choice.

If you decide to read this book, You may want to consider skipping parts 1 & 3. Some of the insights from this book are the following. I have looked into the bible story of Adam & Eve this year & I have found that there are a number of interpretations, (surprise, surprise) this was yet another interpretation & it wasn't even relevant to strategy anyway. There was a book written about entrepereneurs such as Henry Ford by Napoleon Hill who mentioned that it was Henry Ford's stubbornness that predominantly was the reason for his success, however this book explains clearly that it was also his Company's downfall or at least its contraction in market share. The author's criticisms of Winston Churchill's judgement is spot on & the truth is that he was lucky, afterall, the USA was a much bigger actor than the UK. This book also gave me some ideas of which books to target next because it was quite superficial in its content. I was left thinking about whether strategy is completely over rated & that in reality, luck plays a leading role. This has also got me thinking about perfect information & how rare it really is for anybody planning anything that is complicated. I now vehemently believe in analysis & that it trumps principles.

I felt like the author was just trying to cover too much & ended up spreading himself too thinly. One could say that this was a poor writing strategy. I have read a number of books on strategy & I think I may not dive too much deeply more into this topic. The author actually does a good job in turning the reader into a cynic in regards to the many superficialities, dualities, manipulations & lazy thinking in regards to the so called well known strategic thinkers. Thank you Mr Freedman for your contribution in this field.

Positional Sacrifices
Positional Sacrifices
by Neil McDonald
Edition: Paperback
Price: $15.95
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4.0 out of 5 stars OVERALL, VERY INSTRUCTIVE, June 14, 2014
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This review is from: Positional Sacrifices (Paperback)
I bought this book because I have a fascination with material imbalances in chess games & I have an obsession with niche chess books because I find that I learn so much from them. I will split this review in 3 sections, the bad, the good & the neutral.

Bad points: There are numerous errors in the transcriptions of the games:
1. Page 35, Yusupov vs Christiansen, Las Palmas, 1993; moves 44 were missing, I worked out that Black's 44th move was Ra8.
2. Page 56, Pigusov vs Akopian, Novosibirsk, 1993; move 38 for White should read Nxg2 not Nxg3.
3. Page 80, Kamsky vs Yusupov, Linares, 1993; move 76 for White should read Rc7+ not Ra7+ & move 80 for Black should read Kxe7 not Ke7.
4. Page 110, Lautier vs M. Gurevich, Munich, 1993; move 46 for White should read Qd1 not Qd2.
5. Page 116, Genov vs S. Ivanov, Berlin, 1993, move 58 for White should read Qe3+ not Qe3.
6. There was another game in which in part of the ending, the King & Rook symbols were mixed up, the reader will easily recognise this when they get to that particular game.

The last analysed game that was under the chapter headed "Queen for Rook & Bishop Sacrifices" was actually a Queen for Rook & Knight sacrifice. It would of enhanced the book if there was in fact a "Queen for Rook & Knight Sacrifices" chapter.

Good Points: This book was very insightful in learning about some common & niche themes in positional sacrifices. I had not come across the blockading technique in the endgame which involves two pawns on the same rank with a file in between them & a rook. Extremely useful if you find yourself in an endgame where your opponent's only piece left is a Queen & your only piece left is a Rook because you can draw this position. The Defensive ideas outlined in the chapter "The Psychology of Sacrifices" was a real mind opener. I also experienced many light bulb moments in regards to planning in chess, truly invaluable! The Author either skipped or just transcribed the vast majority of openings, only annotating & analysing the relevant parts of the game in regards to the positional sacrifice & it's aftermath.

Neutral Points: The vast majority of games were from 1993, this may of limited the Author's choice of games he selected from, however, he was probably trying to be as actual as he could be at the time of writing this book. The book was rather short with 112 pages of actual instruction in eight themed chapters with a "It's Your Turn" 9th chapter, however I found that this was probably long enough.

I highly recommend this book to all amateur chess players who have not extensively already learnt about positional sacrifices. I am sure that this will enhance my game play by widening my horizons by looking out for certain characteristics in particular types of positions that I may have overlooked in the past. Thank you Mr Neil McDonald for your contribution in this field!

The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins
The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars IRVINE WELSH IS BACK... IN A BIG WAY, June 12, 2014
For all those who have read Irvine Welsh's first five to eight books & enjoyed them, this book is for you! Please forgive me for keeping this review succinct, however I do not want to spoil it for those that will read it. I have lost touch with Irvine Welsh since "The Bedroom Secrets of the Master Chefs", but when I read about the plot of this book, I knew I had to read it. I was not disappointed!

The storyline just keeps building up as it goes along, I found myself reading larger chunks of the book at each subsequent sitting. The two main characters (Lucy Brennan & Lena Sorenson) just gradually mingle into one or so it seems, hence, I'm guessing, the title of this book ;-) Great suspense! Even better than in "Porno" when we were all waiting for the inevitable Begbie meets Mark Renton for the first time after the cash grab & run.

Irvine Welsh has done it again... but without the Scottish slang!

Heavy Pieces in Action
Heavy Pieces in Action
by Iakov Damsky
Edition: Paperback
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A MASTERPIECE, May 28, 2014
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Is this the greatest chess book ever written? That's a big question, considering it is a little niche chess book. I would call it the 'Little Black Book of Chess'. I love to read niche chess books & this one blew my socks off. This is the first time that I have given a book 5 stars. I am gobsmacked as to why no-one has written a review on this book, yet. It is truly a diamond in the rough! Chess's best kept secret. Maybe, many chess players take the heavy pieces for granted or they simply believe that they just know how to use them optimally, the vast majority of the time. In my own experience playing against amateurs, I have found that a lot of them use their Queen passively & don't really know what to do with their rooks.

Let's think about the heavy pieces in a mathematical way. If you were to add all the static values of all the pieces for one side, excluding the King, you get a total of 39 pawns. The heavy pieces are worth 19 pawns. That means that 20% of the pieces are worth just under 50% of the static value of an Army. Intuitively, this alone makes this book so worthwhile to read. If you only read a handful of chess books in your life, you can not afford to miss this one, if you want to develop a vehement understanding of this complex game. The heavy pieces (Queen & rooks) are just so influential.

The sub-sub-topics covered in this book are the following:
1. The good old fashioned King hunt,
2. The diversion tactic,
3. Co-ordination of the heavy pieces, including the diagonal move of the Queen covering critical squares,
4. Motifs/patterns in attacks/tactics with the heavy pieces (This alone is worth the price of the book),
5. Rook adventures on the 7th & 8th ranks,
6. Invading fortresses, &
7. Which rook(s) to move onto which semi-open or open file(s).

Unlike some titles of other chess books, the title of this book is what the book is actually about. The formatting of this book is superb. It is broken up into 6 chapters. It is only approximately 150 pages long, there is nothing superfluous in this book. The explanations of the concepts covered are fantastic. There are a number of exercises at the end of each chapter to strengthen your understanding. The game examples do not cover the whole game, merely the point(s) being covered & most of these games I have never come across in other chess books. Half of the book is the final chapter, itself. This chapter covers what some players call 'the eternal problem' i.e. which rook(s) to move onto which semi-open or open file(s). If this sub-sub-topic has ever confused you or you have had no idea, this chapter will open your mind & make it perfectly clear what to look for in a position, both strategically & tactically. The parts of the book that pertain to motifs/patterns in attacks, tactics & mating nets also are critical to your chess knowledge, they appear quite a bit in games, these are truly invaluable.

I can not speak highly enough of this book. It may cost $5-$25, however it's value is approximately $100. Thank you very much Mr Damsky for enriching my chess understanding & knowledge & for your contribution to a sub-topic of chess that I do not believe has been covered exclusively before.

Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy
Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy
by John Watson
Edition: Paperback
Price: $23.53
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars THE DUALITY OF CHESS, February 23, 2014
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I had put off reading this book for 2 years because of all the hype that surrounded this book, but the curiosity got the better of me & I have finally read this book. I have to admit it is an epic effort to try to explain how chess has evolved or de-evolved, depending on your point of view, since what I call the golden era of chess (1851-1930). My review will not do this book justice because it is so vast in ideas, so please consider my review to be succinct & that it should be complemented by other reviews. First of all, I would like to explain my theory on chess, which like man, is a duality:

1. Positional considerations & Tactics
2. Principles & Rule-independence
3. Modernism & Hypermodernism
4. Symmetry & Imbalances
5. Activity & Passivity
6. Knights & Bishops
7. Logic & Imagination
8. Science & Art
9. Dynamic & static
10. Queenside & Kingside
11. Calculation & Intuition

This book attempts to give as much explanation & examples of the difference between point number 2. The author throughout this book explains the principles of the golden era of chess as codified by players such as Steinitz, Tarrasch, Reti, Lasker, Capablanca, Rubinstein & of course, Nimzowitch, amongst others. He then goes on explaining how chess has changed & become more dynamic since this era, this includes the 2 things that Bobby Fischer talked about towards the end of his life which in his view has killed the novelty & fun in chess & that is memorisation & pre-arrangement. The author believes that chess started to become more dynamic when Alekhine starting experimenting & it was developed further after that by Mikhail Botvinnik's analytical approach to studying chess which is still alive today. I would like to point out that a lot of the ideas that are still in use in chess today, came from the golden era of chess e.g. pawn sacrifices, prophylaxis & the exchange sacrifice, however, it is true that since 1930, these ideas have become more refined & have been extended into more situations/positions. If you would like to know more about this sub-topic, I highly recommend reading "Technics of positional play: 45 Practical methods to gain the upper hand in chess" by Valeri Bronznik.

The author has referenced around 30 to 40 books in producing this epic book. The book that he references more than any other is the awesome "Knights vs Bishops" book written by Steven Mayer. Because I have already read this book, I felt that I was going over a lot of ground I already knew. The second most referenced book is Pachman's Modern Chess Strategy. If you have read both of these books, I would not recommend reading this book because you will find that you are repeating a lot of ground that you have already covered.

After reading this book, my head was spinning with the thought of "how do Grandmasters come up with some of these ideas?" This book is not for players who are either novices or have a fairly low rating. I would recommend this book to players with a minimum of a 1800 rating. I believe that a lot of this material would go over your head & you may consider some of the analysis is quite deep in regards to games, if your rating is low.

So what is my verdict on the theme of this book? Well, I believe in the duality of chess. What I mean by that is that when you are looking at any given position, you should consult the principles, but also think outside the box i.e. rule-independence. The bottom line is, it's all about ideas! Think about it, the principles are ideas that have become conventional & have a lot of logic behind them, however, the principles are not the only ideas, so one must use his/her imagination & think outside the box e.g. placing your knight on the rim, accepting a bad bishop for the compensation of strenghtening a pawn chain, exchanging a rook for a monster knight or a good fianchettoed bishop, exchanging a minor piece for 2 pawns, sacrificing a pawn for the initiative etc.

In chess, I like to study the history of the game & the statistics of the game. The author goes into these 2 things quite a bit, along with the analysis of Nimzowitch's book "My System" & the anthology of games, particularly post 1930. Thank you Mr Watson for your contribution in this field. I can tell that you put a lot of thought into this book & that you researched it thoroughly. I am sure that you would of wanted to have doubled the content of this book or made it into a 2 volume set, however, you have made your points... & my head is still spinning.

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