12-24-2003 - Chess
Rules of Thumb by Lev Alburt and Al Lawrence
I picked up a copy of Chess rules of
thumb by Lev Alburt and Al Lawrence. I paid 20 bucks for it. I like the
size of the book. The dimensions are 7" by 5" by 1/2 ", so
it is easy to carry. It is 192 pages. It has 332 chess
maxims, 10 page opening guide, and a 9 page glossary of terms. It's a
quick easy read. I plan on committing most of the rules to memory. I
like the guide to the openings at the end of the book. Here are a few
of the rules that will have impact on my chess:
1) 284 - the first principle of attack is don't let
the opponent develop
2) 135 - recognize 5 characteristics of a critical
position (I won't list them)
3) 110 - non-redundant piece-pairs are stronger
4) 194 - don't push the pawns on the side you're weaker
5) 137 - buy a steak for you opponent - This one is from
Walter Browne, you must eat the steak with in two hours before your game
with him. I can't wait to player Walter. I love steak.
6) 332 - never buy a chess books that's not fun
I liked this book, I plan on rereading it any chance I get.
When I go out, I will bring it with me.
I give it 4 out of 5 stars.
Easy Check mates by Larry Evans
I picked up a copy of 100 Easy Checkmates . I paid 10 bucks for
it. It's written by 5 time US Champion and Chess Life
columnist Larry Evans. Larry also wrote the introductions to each of the
games in Bobby Fischer's 60 most memorable games. 100 Easy Checkmates
contains 29 mates in one diagrams, 68 mate in two diagrams, 1
mate in three, 1 mate in four and a mate in 5. There are 19 pages of
solutions in the back. For the price it's not bad. I enjoyed going through
these puzzles. All the positions are taken from games played in 2001 and
2002. Don't be fooled by the title. One move mates are
sometimes hard to find and mates in two can be down right difficult.
If you are looking for something more challenging, I can recommend
"303 Tricky Checkmates" by Fred Wilson and Bruce Albertson and
1001 Brilliant ways to Checkmate. I will not give it a rating. For the
price it's good. I will review it from time to
- Excalibur Talking E-Chess by Excalibur Electronics Inc.
I picked this pocket chess
playing computer up at radio shack a few weeks ago. It cost
me 30 bucks. Now I am not informed in terms of what other products
offer. This computer is geared toward class B level players and below. It
gave me a good battle. You won't see this computer playing Garry Kasparov
any time soon, but it is a challenging opponent for B level players and
below. It comes with an instruction booklet. It has many
playing levels. What I think is really cool is that you can control
how many ply deep the computer looks. You can go from one to eight
ply. There are also other playing levels. You can play fixed time games or
fixed time per move games. The computer speaks its move to you.
It has a coaching mode and a 3000 move opening book. I am going to use
this computer by varying the ply deep the computer looks. This is an
excellent way to increase your playing ability. My only issues with the
1) It is a bit cumbersome to make a move, you must use the 4
buttons to the left of the board to select a piece and a move. The
computer will prompt you through all the pieces and all the valid moves
until you find the move you want. Its a bit cumbersome but
2) You need a tiny screw driver to change the battery. This drove
me nuts. I think they should fire the SOB who came up with that. I don't
want to carry a tool box with me when I travel.
Bottom line, there are much stronger playing computers with more
options. However, if you are a class b level player, this computer will give
you a nice game and it can be used to increase your playing
strength. It is easy to carry. You can easily take it any where. For
the money and playing strength I am very satisfied. I give it 4 out of 5
stars. If you have a PDA device, then maybe this is not for you.
However shop around and see what else is on the market. You may want
to check out Pocket Fritz. I am not a big gadget guy, so this
computer is fine for my needs. Top
- Three days with Bobby Fischer and other chess essays
Lev gave me an autographed advance copy of this book on 11/7/2003 at
the end of the opening press conference of Kasparov vs. X3D Fritz. This
book covers a lot of topics in 282 pages. I really enjoyed reading it.
The many topics include:
1) a rich chess fan's 30,000 dollar three day meeting with Bobby
2) stories about Mikhail Tal, the 8th world champion.
3) essay about the world champions being a product of their times.
4) Boris Spassky, during his induction into the chess hall of
fame, speaks about his chess career and other top players.
5) story about the first chess computers to hit the market. My
first chess computer was chess challenger.
6) how to learn an opening.
7) Lev Alburt's great way to evaluate a chess position with his SOPR
system which improves on the symbols +-,= , -+.
SOPR - System of Predicted Results. It basically assigns a number
between 0-10. "Its premise is that any position maybe be assigned a
numerical value based on the estimated number of points that white is
predicted to score out of ten games." I hope this system is picked up by chess players. It certainly improves on
8) Lev goes over a few of his games. I really got a lot out of his
Benko Gambit game. I will review it a few times.
9) Joseph Dorfman a one time Kasparov coach, has an interesting
approach to chess analysis.
When I was done reading it.
1) I wish I had met Tal.
2) I want to meet
3) I want to go to the chess hall of fame in Miami
4) I am going to learn how to evaluate chess positions
This book is fun, fun, fun. I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.
- Chessbase Monograph - Paul Morphy Genius and Myth
I purchased this DVD from www.chesscafe.com.
It cost me 29 bucks. I paid for next day shipping and received it the next
day. It has a nice biography of Morphy's life. I leaned a lot of
interesting things about his life. There are over 450 games.
It comes with Chessbase Lite. I really enjoyed going through this DVD. I
have not look at any where near the over 450 games. However, I enjoyed
going over quite a few of them. Some of the games where annotated. I like
using Chessbase Lite, I found it easy to review the games. I always had
trouble keeping my place in a book and moving the pieces on a board. This
is no longer a problem with this DVD. Morphy had an incredible short
career. A lot of the games are odds games:
1) pawn, rook and move
2) rook and knight
3) knight odds
The game collection includes his great matches with Anderssen,
Harrwitz, Loewenthal, his consultation games with Staunton, his simuls.
If you want to learn more about his life, then you should get a
book. I want to study Morphy's games because he was the master of
the open position. He was the first to understand the importance of
rapid development of all the pieces and the use of open files.
Botvinnik says that Morphy was the master of the open game and little
improvement can be made in the handling of such positions. I also
learned that Morphy was the first to play a simul against 5 top
opponents. Kramnik is giving a simul against the German National team on
the 28th of January. Well Morphy won this simul 3 - 2. He scored two
wins, 2 draws and one loss. Some of Morphy's combinations are absolutely
This DVD is a lot of fun, I will enjoy going over Morphy's games. I
give it 4 out of 5 stars. If you want to learn more about this tragic
American chess hero, then buy a book. This DVD will provide many years of enjoyment.
Monograph - William Steinitz - The First World Champion by Thorsen
I purchased this DVD from www.chesscafe.com
for 26 bucks. I paid for next day delivery and got it the next day. It has a nice biography of William Steinitz and brief
descriptions of the tournaments and matches he played. There are over 1000
games on this DVD. Some of the games are annotated. I enjoyed going over
many of the games with chessbase reader. There are a few pictures of the
great players from the past. Being a fan of the world
champions, I have to admit I did not know much about Steinitz. Early in
his career he was known as the Austrian Morphy. However after he defeated
Adolf Anderssen in a match, Steinitz realize he was lucky to win that
match. He discovered that there were flaws in his attacks. So
Steinitz changed his approach to chess. He felt that it was best to
accumulate small advantages. Steinitz played a number of interesting
matches with some of the greatest earliest players: Backburne, Bird,
Chigorin, Anderssen, Zukertort, Lasker. During the first Chess
World Championship match in 1886 between Stienitz and Zukertort, the
moves were telegraphed to chess clubs in the United Stated and
This DVD is a lot of fun. I will enjoy going over Steinitz
games. If you are a big fan of the world champions, then you should add this
DVD to your collection.. If you want to learn more about Steinitz life,
then buy a book. This DVD will provide many years of
I purchased this CD from Chess Central. www.chesscentral.com.
I paid 27 bucks for it. It was delivered on time. It installed
easily. It's easy to use. The tactics are arranged in three categories:
tactical methods, combinational motifs, difficulty factor. It also
has a rating system to show how well you are doing ELO wise. When you make
a wrong move, the program shows you the move sequences and you understand
why the move is bad. When you are having difficulty the program will pop
up a small 5x5 board with pieces showing you the key theme to the tactic.
You can go into a practice or testing mode. I have played over 200 of the
tactical puzzles, they are very helpful. I have seen quite a few tactical
situations, where I could sworn no tactics existed. However, If I studied
the positions long enough, I was able to see the hidden tactical
possibilities. This is why chess is such a great game, even in quiet
looking positions incredible tactics exist. I have learned quite a
few things on how to find tactics. It's important to study the connectivity
of the pieces. I also have a better understanding on how to make better
use of those pesky knights. The knight's forking ability allows pieces to
go into harms way with immunity. I am also learning to look deeper
into combinations and not be happy with a small snack when I can have a
whole meal. I am also learning about common tactical and mating
themes. I really like this software. I am giving it 4.5 out of 5
- ChessDon - by Don Schultz-
I purchased this book from Fred Wilson at his store at 80 East 11
ST, Suite 334, New York, NY 10003. I paid 10 bucks for it. Don Schultz was
an IBM Engineer who also is an expert player and chess organizer. Don's
involvement in chess as an American and International organizer spans 6
decades. This is a very interesting book. I learned a lot about the
workings of FIDE and the USCF. I will just list a few interesting events
covered in this book. Don was at the 1972 Spassky vs.
Fischer World Championship, he witnessed the x-raying of the players
chairs and the examination of the lighting used for the match. Don tells
of the rise and fall of FIDE President Campomanes. Don also has an
interesting idea on how to reduce friendly Grandmaster draws. He
likes to divide the prize fund into two parts. The win pool and the
standing pool. The win pool would be divided by the total number of wins
in the tournament. Each player would get that amount for each win during
the tournament. This idea was put into action in an international
tournament organized by Don in New York City in 1996. Over 50% of the
games were decisive, 36 of the 66 games were won. Michael Addams won the
tournament. Don was the US delegate to FIDE and he later became USCF
President. I enjoyed this book. I learned a lot of interesting things
about FIDE, Campomanes, and the USCF. I am giving it 4 out of 5 stars.
ENDGAME - By Frank Brady
I finished reading ENDGAME. Itís a fascinating book on Bobby
Fischer written by Frank Brady. It covers the many phases of
Bobbyís life: from a small child living in Brooklyn,
his discovery of chess, his rise to chess stardom, his road to
the World Championship, his withdrawal from chess and the spotlight,
his chess reemergence, his life as a fugitive from US Justice,
his arrest in Japan, and his life and untimely death in Iceland.
It was very well written.While I was reading it, I felt I was right there with Bobby.
I give this book a 5 out of 5 star rating.
I finished reading Bobby Fischer goes to war. Itís fascinating book on the 1972 Chess World
Championship.It covers the behind the scenes planning, negotiations, and the controversies surrounding the 1972 match
in Iceland. Without the heroic efforts of numerous people, such as Fide President Max Euwe, Arbiter Lothar Smith, the
Icelandic Chess Federation, the US Chess Federation, the Government of
Iceland and its people, Boris Spassky and numerous other people, this
match never would have taken place. I give this book a 5 out of 5 star
Disclaimer - I am not
getting paid to do these reviews. You will not see a bad book review in
this page. Life is too short, I
simply do not have the time to go over books I don't like. I
quote chess rule of thumb number 332. " Never buy a chess book
that's not fun". Sometimes I violate this rule. When I do, I
don't waste too much time looking at it. I will only comment on books I