Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Review of "Find the Right Plan with Anatoly Karpov"

We have all got lost in the Great Unkown of the Middlegame. I very well known feeling to have survived the opening phase of the game just to realize that a murky, clueless middlegame is about to start. You might survive the opening thanks to basic principles and a few memorized opening lines but in order to do well in the middlegame you need to use the mythical concepts of The Grand Plan.

So, what is a plan? How deep is a plan? We have all heard mantras along the lines that “A bad plan is better than no plan at all”. How can a bad plan be a good thing? I think that Eisenhower can help us to put plans and planning into a context:

“In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless but planning is indispensable”

OK, the plan might turn out to be useless because the opponent did something clever that we totally overlooked but the act of planning will be very important because the planning relies on a careful evaluation of the position.

Will the book “Find the Right Plan with Anatoly Karpov” help the improving player to learn how to make a plan? Only to some extent! I think the book does a great job presenting a scheme for evaluating a position and the book has several fine examples of evaluated positions. However, I am not convinced that the book does help to the reader to improve the planning process. The book is full of fine games which will be of interest to coaches in search of examples but with rather condensed annotations and the light annotations do not help the beginning player to use the evaluation of the position to form a plan of action.

The book does a good job presenting how to schematically evaluate a position, which of course is a very valuable lesson and an importat step towards a plan, but the book does not in detail help the reader to learn to transform the outcome of the evaluation process into a plan.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

IM Marc Esserman Lecture, April 15th

Cruel world! This exactly the kind of event I would like to attend.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Review of "Studying Chess Made Easy"

After reading and rereading the book ”Studying Chess Made Easy”, I have reached the conclusion that there is perhaps only one thing not to like about the book: The Title

It is slightly misleading and somewhat unfair to the author, Andrew Soltis, who have done a fine effort trying to explain how to make studying chess more efficient.

Most chess books sold are too advanced or too specialized for the buyer. That is my honest belief and opinion. These days I need to have a quick look in my chess books data base to be able to figure out how many unread books on, say, Chess Openings I own. How about “Studying Chess Made Easy”? Who would benefit the most from reading the book?

Everybody interested in becoming a better chess player is familiar the ancient and well grounded pieces of advice: solve tactics problems, analyze your own games and study master games

Is there much more to be said? Is there enough to write a book about it? GM Soltis does indeed add a few extra layers of icing to the cake. The hands-on discussions (for example detailed advice on how to study master games) of aspects of chess training, the amusing anecdotes and the well chosen examples does make the book an enlightening reading experience even though a lot of the material is well known to anyone interested in chess improvement. The advanced beginner might find the examples to be a bit advanced but will gain time saving insights in how to make chess training efficient from the clear presentation of the training ideas.

The book can be read and enjoyed by a wide audience.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Weekly Skype Chess Chat for Patzers

DIY Chess Training is fun and sometimes rewarding. However, it would be even better to have a chance to talk some chess with fellow patzers. How does that sound? I suggest using FICS and Skype. The format could be something along these lines: The Group members take turns presenting something interesting, say a few critical positions from a self-annotated slow game or an instructive endgame from a book. Let me know if you would be interested. My Skype nick is farbrortheguru