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Winning Chess Openings (Winning Chess - Everyman Chess) Paperback – October 1, 2003
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From the Back Cover
The two greatest challenges for beginning chess players are not only to survive the openings phase, but also to choose appropriate attack and defense formations in the process. Winning Chess Openings shows you how to do both. In Yasser Seirawan's entertaining, easy-to-follow style, you're shown formations that can be used with other White or Black pieces.
Winning Chess Openings explains how to: build a safe house for a king; estimate losses of ten moves or fewer; utilize the elements: time, force, space and pawn structure; plan strategy based on time-tested opening principles; employ a defense for Black against any White opening; apply an opening for White used by World Champions.
Winning Chess Openings will help you develop a solid understanding of opening principles that you can apply to every game you play - without having to memorize a dizzying array of tedious and lengthy opening lines.
About the Author
Yasser Seirawan is the highest-rated American chess professional on the Federation Internationale des Echecs (FIDE) rating ladder and the first American to vie for the World Championship title since Bobby Fischer. He is a three-time U.S Champion, the 1989 Western Hemisphere Champion and an eight-time member of the U.S chess Olympiad team. Currently one of the worlds top-ranked chess players, he is one of only a handful of players to have defeated world champions Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov in tournament play.
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So now to the glaring omission: As other reviewers have pointed out, he doesn't cover the English Opening (1.c4). What makes this more than a mere gripe, besides the fact the English is a rather common opening, is that at the beginning of the chapter 7 he groups the English with the Barcza Opening, KID, and Pirc Defense as an opening he recommends and implies that he will discuss it in detail. My theory is that at one time the manuscript did cover the English and editorial pressures forced Seirawan to shorten the book, which he did by cutting his long discussion of the English, and as he planned to discuss it at length there is naturally no short section on the opening and no one remembered to include one. It seems an odd coincidence that this book and the other title in the series I happen to own (Winning Chess Strategies) are exactly the same length. If this is the case they should definitely lengthen the book in future editions, and even if not coverage of the English would be nice. It is exactly the sort of quiet opening that deserves to be discussed with the Barcza. At any rate the recommendations I've gotten say to respond to the English with a Hedgehog Defense, which Seirawan does cover. All an all despite this wart it's still a good book to help one get a grip on openings.
Top international reviews
I was 1450 on lichess rapid and a few weeks later I am now 1602. Worth the money.
So why am I only giving 3 stars for this book? Because the print quality in my copy is dire. Text is not crisp, and the diagrams look like poor photocopies. For some reason the front matter and introduction look OK, but it goes downhill after that. Clearly something has gone wrong in the production of this print run, as my other books in the Winning Chess series look fine, with clear, crisp printing.
Update: I returned this book for a replacement. The replacement does have better print quality, although still not quite as good as the other books in the series. Also, the chess diagrams use a different set of symbols to the other books I have, which are not as easy to read. I noticed this book was printed by a different company to the other books in the series, so presumably this is the reason for the difference in quality.
Yasser Seirawan has a very friendly and relaxed style which makes this book an interesting read in spite of the dry subject matter. He tells a lot of stories about his early games and how he learnt the hard way why some opening moves are better than others, so by the time you get to the step by step run through of each opening you understand the principles behind the moves.
It is also satisfying that he has a definitive recommendation for the best way to start any game, which saves you having to learn the hundreds of different variations open to you, but is instead based on logic and sound principles.
I've only given it four stars because there are a number of typographical errors which really should have been picked up by a proof reader. These are largely in the chess notation, where it looks like someone was reading the author's handwriting and didn't really understand what they were typing. This does however keep the reader on their toes and makes you think about the moves you're reading, rather than accepting them unquestioningly, so maybe it's a good thing!
I've since gone on to buy "Winning Chess Tactics" by the same author, which I would also recommend.
The book is not easy if you can't imagine chess board by reading notation.
I read it on kidle reader on Android and split the screen with lichess board analyser. I found this way much easier.
Positives are many, though. Seirawan's writing is great and very inviting - often funny and frequently self-effacing (some of the games from his childhood are a riot). This really helps the young player feel confident - even the great GMs used to make those mistakes! The games are illustrated frequently which is good for a beginner. The lay-out of the text is clear. For what it actually is, it's a very helpful book, but maybe not the best way of designing a primer on the topic, and maybe not what every buyer might be expecting.
Please Note : Please don't start with this book if you are new to Chess. Start with books on Tactics.