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Customer Review

31 of 38 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good book, but may not benefit your play much., November 3, 2006
This review is from: Chess Master vs. Chess Amateur (Dover Chess) (Paperback)
This is a very popular book and a very well written, as is everything my Max Euwe. The average rating I'm giving is based on its impact on my chess playing, which was minimal.

It falls into the category of "Move by move" chess books, and is every bit a well written at Logical Chess. It differs, however, by always have one player rated significantly lower than the other, and points out the ways to exploit poor play.

The problem I have with the book is the same problem I have the Logical Chess, Move by Move. They introduce concepts as they appear in the game, give a brief explanation of the theory behind it, then move on.

For example, at the beginning of each chapter in CM vs CA, Euwe list about 6 concepts that will pop up in the game. At the appropriate point, he will spend a few paragraphs explaining why, for instance, white's bishop is more powerful than black's because of the current pawn structure, then he moves on. The game ends, the next one begins, and the ideas listed are all different. There might be another game in the book that describes good bishops vs bad bishops, but that might be the only time you got to see it. (I don't have the book with me now, so this bishop example might not be perfectly accurate.) Strategic ideas seem to come and go without giving the reader any firm grasp on the concept.

At the level that I am (approx. 1400), I knew the basic ideas for all these strategic elements, I just didn't know how to implement them in my games. This book didn't help me do that. I suppose that were you not familiar with chess strategy, this book would be helpful. With a 314 page book that covers openings, strategy, and endgames, you can't expect anything to be covered very thoroughly.

Again, the book is very well written and deserves the high marks it gets. It just didn't help me very much. I'm 25% through Modern Chess Strategy by Pachman and it has already done so much more for me than CM vs CA.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 16, 2009, 9:58:53 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 16, 2009, 4:06:59 PM PDT
Taylor Rand says:
I respectfully disagree with the idea that the book's unlikely to benefit its readers. CM vs CA focuses on chess moves we are more likely to play ourselves; it shows how a master (or most any strong player) would "punish" those moves. Another book might show subtle GM maneuvering in positions where we'd try for an attack, this book shows us what happens when the amateur begins a crude attack. Or neglects to fully develop. Or fails to deal with an enemy's well-posted knight. Or winds up with a bad bishop. The idea being to learn from our/their mistakes.

I found it refreshing and inspiring to go through the games (which I did several times via playing and saving on my PC): it's one thing to see a GM make something twenty turns later of a subtle mistake by another GM, it's another to see a strong player inexorably and uncomplicatedly win by applying a simple chess principle like a good bishop, unprotected king, better development. BTW, it's very easy to go play through the book several times (and very worthwhile!)

Chess can be brutal. Actual play over the board is what counts. In my experience, it's not uncommon to find the paradoxical example of very knowledgeable chess players who've studied advanced chess texts and can quote you chapter and verse on topics from the Minority Attack to the Rossolimo Variation in the Sicilian Defense yet who remain relatively low-rated players for years. Myself, I advanced to the lowly Class B rank (about 1700 USCF) in months relying soley on tactics and CM vs CA. (Plus a little Reinfeld tactics book, I should add). I made it to Class A having read and re-read CM vs CA with a ragged Jeremy Silman book on endgames.

My opinion is I would rather face a player who's NOT studied the simpler books like CM vs CA but who's instead trying to employ sophisticated strategies and concepts that he may not - judging from his rating - fully appreciate yet.

Posted on Aug 27, 2011, 10:27:14 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 27, 2011, 10:32:32 PM PDT
Mark Twain9 says:
This book sounds like Silman's Amateur's mind, except annotated by a former world champion instead of by an international master. Silman's gives his students a position and lets them pick the one they think is better. He then plays them, and after 7 moves stops the game because they are clearly losing. So his games are incomplete, but you get more. I'm tempted to buy this one as well, since I heard even Silman blunders sometimes.

The reviewer makes a point, though. There are so many possibilities in chess that it is hard to spot them all when the clock is ticking. Just because you learn tactics and positional chess does not mean you will be able to apply it. It takes reading, practicing the basics, and playing games to get it all together. And often it is about familiarity and how much time you spend.

Posted on Mar 22, 2012, 5:59:49 PM PDT
Gwest says:
I would have to agree with this assessment for the most part. The glaring problem is that all of the games are for a very strong player against a much weaker opponent. This book teaches you how to attack more and to be more aggressive and the reasons behind it. It also teaches you what kind of strong moves to look for. This book will definitely fill some holes in the average chess players game. This book is a good supplemental book to add to your chess book collection, but maybe not a good foundational book.
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