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The Art of the Middle Game (Dover Chess) Paperback – December 1, 1989
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From the Back Cover
While there are plenty of books dealing with chess openings, and no shortage of helpful volumes on the endgame, there are far fewer available on the all-important middle game. And yet, the middle game is one of the most challenging parts of the contest. It is then that the player has the chance to initiate long-range attacks and create defensive systems.
In this excellent study, two great grandmasters combine their talents in a masterly analysis of attack and defense in the middle game. Kotov was one of the great attacking players of the century, and in this book he has written an entire chapter devoted to the strategy and tactics of attacking the king. Conversely, Keres has contributed an outstanding and unconventional treatment of defense, showing how one can defend any position given the right spirit and understanding, no matter how hopeless it may seem.
The truth of Philidor's statement that "pawns are the soul of chess" is reflected in a helpful chapter in which Kotov demonstrates that the shape and configuration of pawns in the center have a vital bearing on the way one has to play the middle game. Finally, Keres takes up the difficult but rewarding topic of analysis, offering a practical and extremely thorough analysis of adjourned games, to reveal how a master's mind works and how one should analyze any given position.
In addition, there is an authoritative introduction by International Master and chess authority Harry Golombek, who has translated the volume. Brimming with insights and valuable strategic hints, The Art of the MiddleGame belongs in the library of every serious chess player.
Top Customer Reviews
Part one is relatively simple, concerning itself with basic planning and the attack on the king in various positions. (Another excellent book on this is 'Art of Attack in Chess' by Vladmir Vukovic in algebraic notation, which is considerably larger.)
Part two is more complex, discussing how to defend difficult positions and pawn configurations in the center. Keres' section on defence is, relatively speaking, a masterpiece and contains many ideas that are virtually indispensible. The section on pawns is also very informative though not exhaustive on the role of pawns. (Hans Kmooch's book 'Pawn Power in Chess' is certainly more in-depth concerning pawn positions that cover the entire board, but it has the special detraction of being almost incomprehensible due to its excessive complexity and needless terminology.)
Finally, part three is generally for the more advanced player. Called 'The Art of Analysis', it concerns mental computation in conjunction with written variations (particularly concerning the endgame). Not for the weak of heart, this section would probably intimidate most novices because the numerous variations often stretch to 20 moves or more. That is not to say that it isn't valuable - on the contrary, this section provides valuable study by any player of any strength, but only relatively strong players will reap the fullest benifits of its study.
If there were one book you could buy as a primer to the middlegame, this would have to be it.
Virtually every reasonable topic is tackled; most standard mid-game positions are covered. Keres shows you how to attack the King: when it is caught in the center; how to attack a King, based on an open file; how to weaken the King's enemy pawn cover to initiate an attack; how to use the 2 Bishops to attack your opponent's King; how to sacrifice to expose the King ... I could go on and on, but I trust by now you get the point. The positions were carefully chosen by the author, indeed they are probably the result of the famous 'Russian School' of chess.
Some of the material is slightly dated, but as a Master and a professional chess teacher, this makes little difference.
You should already know the 20-30 basic mating positions; Keres does NOT cover them here. (See D. Kopec's book, "Practical MiddleGame Techniques," for these in detail.)
A word of warning, the book I just got (a local student purchased one copy for me and one copy for himself); is in descriptive notation. Many students are somewhat put off by this, indeed I think it is time for a good writer to bring out an algebraic edition of this book.
My experience is that the serious students who will apply themselves will definitely profit from this book. With almost no conditions! (I do NOT think the absolute beginner should tackle this book ... see my website for a list of books for each class of player. A real beginner should probably get "Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess, " first, and then Fred Reinfeld's, "The Complete Chess-Player.Read more ›
Conclusion: If you are rated 1500+, want to improve your ability to plan, and don't mind descriptive notation "The Art of the Middle Game" would make an excellent choice.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An excellent study. Kotov has penned some outstanding guides. Keres adds a second huge chess intellect. Well worth close studyPublished 8 months ago by Raymond W. Gallagher
Not in algebraic format!!! I'm sure it was good for the time period it was written in, and some reviews point that way, but there are many books with modern notation you can... Read morePublished 22 months ago by Mark Goewey
I found it to be a very useful book, it is written in the descriptive notation which threw me off guard but the content is still very helpful. I also received very fast shipping! Read morePublished on September 7, 2012 by cubnoble
The bugger is in DESCRIPTIVE NOTATION. Who could be bothered to labour through that when I could just use ALGEBRAIC. What a sickner!Published on June 17, 2011 by D. B. Hall
What I did not like in this book is the poor quality of the diagrams.
The analysis and explanations are great. Read more
In my on-and-off study of the game of chess, I have always realised that the middle game is the part of chess most neglected by books on the topic, with the result that I, when in... Read morePublished on April 18, 2010 by mianfei