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Mastering Chess Theory Paperback – June, 2004
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Dr. Desmond Allen is the author of six books and several articles in Christianity and healthcare. He has served as the pastor of two churches. He holds a Master of Divinity with doctoral studies from Western Conservative Baptist Seminary in Portland, Oregon, and a PhD in health administration from Hawthorne University.
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Besides getting the source books upon which this rehash so heavily depends, I recommend the following books as truly worthwhile to a person wanting to play better chess:
- Soviet Middlegame Technique, by Peter Romanovsky
- The Russian Endgame Handbook, by Ilya Rabinovich
- Judgment and Planning in Chess, by Max Euwe
- Pachmann's books on strategy and tactics
- The opening books of the Grandmaster Repertoire series
- The Complete Chess Workout and The Complete Chess Workout II by Richard Palliser
- As many games collections of chess Grandmasters as you can get your hands on, playing through those games while trying to predict the next move, and studying the annotations. You'll learn a lot this way.
Reading the above books and playing as much chess as you can are how you will get better at chess.
Books like the one under review are useless to ANYONE who wants to become a better chess player.
I'm an on-again, off-again student of chess and part-time collector of chess books, so when it comes to chess books, I know what I'm looking for and what I'm not looking for by now. There are far too many chess books out there with endless pages of notation and variations and not much in terms of in-depth, plain-English explanations of the concepts involved with winning chess. That is why "Mastering Chess Theory" is such a great resource. It provides a thinking space, if you will, to give the reader's mind time and direction for independently thinking about the game of chess in general and specific ways.
As one of the other reviewers says 'Its All Words!' actually this is not strictly true as there are occasional diagrams showing what the author means by positional elements such as a fixed centre or an isolated queen pawn and the basic starting positions of the major openings. However, there really is a lot of text, unleavened by game positions or annotations and here I think is where the book falls down.
I can understand why the author wanted to write a book like this, isn't it the cry of Amateur players everywhere that various middlegame treatises contain reams of variations without explanatory notes that leave the average reader none the wiser about why a certain sequence of moves is better than another? Unfortunately here we see the opposite problem, reams of text with no supporting game fragments or analysis to support the concept that the author is describing (in great detail). This is hard going and without at least one clear example of a correct line of play in a particular position to show the student how the particular positional element under discussion actually affects the play in real games the whole work is like a recipe book that just lists all of the ingredients but doesn't tell you how to cook the dish.
Of course, if the author had done that then there would be nothing to differentiate it from the myriad of other middlegame self improvement tomes on the market, other than it appears to have been written by an enthusiastic Class player rather than a chess 'professional'.
Chess ideas are expressed through moves on the board for better or worse and unfortunately there is no alternative to learning that language if you want to really understand what is going on in a chess game.