Monday, May 19, 2014

Manuals

Chess has an exceptional rich history which means for me a serious enrichment compared with other games. However to propagandize that this is applicable for everybody as Tom Piceu did in a reaction on my article to learn children to play chess, is incorrect. I remember that we once organized in my first club de torrewachters a quiz about chess-history in which I remarked that the knowledge of most participants was very limited.

Nevertheless I won't deny that there exists a niche-market for chess-history. I think for example at the set of books from Kasparov with the world-champions which were sold massively. Besides also many columns and websites exist:  Past PiecesInside Chess of the American GM Yasser Seirawanthe kibitzer or closer to home the Belgian chess-history or the extensive online archives of the CREB.

In my articles i never miss to add references to older material and that is an understatement if you look how many links per article are used averagely. Sometimes this is to show that something can be learned from what before happened on the board, see old wine in new skins. Sometimes I use it to explain how I arrived to some conclusions: see e.g Dutch steps in the English opening or the fake truth. Often it is just to illustrate something like in my articles chessintuition and excelsior. So I am a big fan of well documented work in which the writer shows he did (some) research and is reasonable up to date of the subject.

Therefore I was surprised to find out that many commercial publications little to not at all take into account the chess-history. An opening like the Kings-gambit was 300 years one of the most popular openings but in the recent work The King's Gambit of John Shaw this is barely discussed. On chesspub you can find multiple threads in which is shown, how few references were used to older material whereby often fair or not already longtime known moves are considered as new. The 2 knights game is a similar opening of which the first tracks already go back to end 16th century. In the very recent work a black repertoire against the two knights by Robert Ris again barely something is mentioned about this. The review of Arne Moll on chessvibes was surely deserved.

It is a fact that without research and references it is today possible to make and write high quality analysis. In a reaction on my article the progress of the engines I already recorded that I redo all my analysis made before 2007 as they became pretty useless due to the ever increasing strength of the engines. Even in more recent analysis I already detect ameliorations. So I can well understand why some authors (like Peter Lalic tells at chesspub) write their book based on the last megadatabase with an engine. However if a book is only covering the truth then it quickly becomes cold and unattractive.  Chess is more than just evaluations. These books are probably very good manuals to score many point in tournaments but their value quickly decreases on the long term. History is for me fun and the material also better memorizes when it is enjoyable to read.

Books in traditional paper-version surely are continuously fighting with space which means often many things must be cut out. I remember when I supported the analysis of the book 'Win with the Stonewall Dutch' that it was a continuous battle with the maximum allowed number of pages.
I didn't interfere in the concept or the choices but I did regret that little attention was given to the old traditional concept of Bc8-d7-e8-h5(g) as it was historical important. On page 25, 5th game the book tells us that this maneuver was before the standard method to activate the bishop but today considered as too slow and largely replaced by the modern plan b6. Unfortunately this is nowhere illustrated so I think this is a good opportunity to fix this gap here.

A first important reference-game in which it is clearly shown that black is slow to find counterplay, is a correspondence game of 1999 in which the Argentinian specialist and IM Walter Fabian Bonnati is pushed off  the board.

A second important key-game is the grandmaster-duel in 2006 in which the Stonewall specialist and Russian grandmaster Alexei Iljushin lost without a chance.

I played the system till 2007. After extensive analysis on my game against David Vincent (French IM, died in 2012 at age of 36) I switched to the modern plan with b6.

I am not somebody just believing anything which is written so I find illustrations a necessary supplement. A top-book is therefore more than just a manual.

Brabo

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