ECF Book of the Year 2018 shortlist

One of the books reviewed on this blog, Alekhine’s Odessa Secrets: Chess, War and Revolution
by Sergei Tkachenko, Elk and Ruby Publishing House, has made it to the English Chess Federation shortlist. (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2018/02/24/alekhines-odessa-secrets-chess-war-and-revolution-a-review/)

I have a vague memory of someone, possibly David Spinks, saying something about what counted was not how many times an actor won the award, but how many times he or she were nominated. I feel the same about books.

This brought to mind an email received concerning the book from former California Chess Champion Dennis Fritzinger:

Dennis Fritzinger
To:Michael Bacon
Feb 24 at 3:28 PM

Hi Michael,

You definitely read widely! I would never have heard of this book I’m sure but for your review. Somehow I thought my eyes were going to glaze over reading about such past happenings but they didn’t. I was swept along to the very end. The book reminded me of a certain author, Ian Fleming. It certainly gives him a run for his money!

Dennis

Book of the Year 2018 shortlist

Posted By: WebAdmin 28th August 2018

The large number of varied and interesting books this year made the selection particularly difficult, but the choice came down to books by two new chess publishers and two excellent instruction manuals (beautifully printed by Quality Chess) which the judges had great difficulty in separating, so included both!

Alekhine’s Odessa Secrets: Chess, War and Revolution
Sergei Tkachenko, Elk and Ruby Publishing House, paperback, pp213, £19.99
The cover alone indicates this is not a conventional chess book. It vividly covers the chess community in Odessa, how it and they coped with the rapidly changing governments 1916 to1919. Alekhine was a frequent visitor to Odessa. When the Bolsheviks captured the town in 1919, they shot an estimated 1,200 “traitors”. Alekhine was arrested, imprisoned and was on the list to be executed. Why he was released remains a mystery. Amongst the narrative drama are the chess games he played in Odessa which show his outstanding chess imagination.

Carlsen vs Kajarkin World Chess Championship 2016
Lev Alburt and Jon Crumiller, Chess Information and Research Centre, paperback, pp336, £22.50
World championship matches are the summit of the chess world. Whilst there is extensive short-term media coverage during the match, there are surprisingly few books published after the event giving a considered view. This book is one, with the usual photos, atmospheric background and computer analysis all well done. What lifts the book to an exceptional level is ‘Vlad’s Viewpoint’ which occurs throughout the book. The former world champion Vladimir Kramnik is able, from his unique experience, to give a wider and deeper insight into the play and players. Essential reading for Caruana!

Small Steps to Giant Improvement

Sam Shankland, Quality Chess, hardback, pp 331, £23.99
Shankland had a setback in his chess playing activities so had some free time. He decided to study and write about pawn play which he identified as one of his weaknesses. Written in a refreshing and open style he gives pointed examples of various issues eg advanced pawns can be strong, but they can also be weak. There is much to learn in this book as Shankland himself showed: he won his next three tournaments including the USA championship and raised his grading over 2700!

Under the Surface
Jan Markos, Quality Chess, hardback, pp276, £23.99
Markos has not written a standard text book, rather an exploration of the other factors that affect chess play. A sample of the chapter headings give an impression of his unusual approach – ‘Anatoly’s billiard balls’, ‘What Rybka couldn’t tell’, ‘Understanding the Beast’ and so on. Markos writes in an original way bringing in applicable concepts from the none chess world. There are four fascinating chapters on computer chess. All in all players of every level will find something original or instructive in this book.

— Ray Edwards, Julian Farrand, Sean Marsh – 20th August 2018

https://www.englishchess.org.uk/book-of-the-year-2018-shortlist/

Chess Life vs Chess Monthly

On the cover of Chess Life one reads, “THE WORLD’S MOST WIDELY READ CHESS MAGAZINE.” I wonder if that statement is true, or if it is similar to what is on the front of the New York Times, “All the News That’s Fit to Print.” We know that to be a lie from the many instances the NY Times has not published a topical story when it could, and possibly should have. The latest example comes from the program, “The United States of Secrets” on the award winning PBS show, “Frontline.” (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/united-states-of-secrets/)
The paper claiming to publish “All the News That’s Fit to Print,” sat on a story of criminal acts by the Bushwhackers until forced to do so by one of their own writers, who planned on putting the story in a book. By not publishing the story, which would have proven the POTUS, “Dubya,” was on the hustings lying to We The People, the Bush crime family (see: “Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, the Powerful Forces That Put It in the White House, and What Their Influence Means for America” by Russ Baker-http://www.amazon.com/Family-Secrets-Dynasty-Powerful-Influence/dp/B002T45028/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1402500592&sr=1-1&keywords=family+of+secrets) was allowed to steal yet another election, to the detriment of We The People. Read, for example, “New York Times under fire for spiking NSA leaks story in 2004,” by Renee Lewis (http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/5/14/nyt-nsa-leaks.html)
I was at a coffee shop with some chess magazines, one of which was the May issue of Chess Life. The other was the April issue of Chess Monthly. Unable to locate a copy of New in Chess I took to be with me caused me to think of something GM Jonathan Rowson had written in his column in the best chess magazine in the world, New in Chess, about taking his newly arrived issue of NiC to a coffee shop. I had to make do with the aforementioned magazines. I flipped through the first few pages before stopping at “Chess to Enjoy” by GM Andy Soltis. I played over the first game, which was enjoyable. Then I sat up the position from the next game from the diagram at the top of the next page. After finishing it I turned to the next page only to find, “pable of making the solid moves that wereusually his forte…” The two words are not separated in the article and I was unable to find what should have been the first part of the sentence, or paragraph, so I stopped reading the article and flipped to the next page, wondering why Chess Life is not proofread before being published. It was the “Back to Basics” column by GM Lev Alburt. The game was between a class “B” player and an Expert, which is a Candidate Master to the rest of the world. I was appalled to see it was played at a time limit of G/60, 5 second delay. I closed the magazine thinking of days gone by when a top GM, such as Paul Keres or Robert Byrne would annotate a game between the best players in the world, played at what is now called a “classical” time control.
Then I opened the Chess Monthly. The first article was the “Chess Editorial” by Executive Editor, IM Malcolm Pein. Included in the editorial was a fantastic game between A. Motylev and A. Tari from the European Championship in Yerevan, 2014. It was so good I decided to copy it to share with my readers.
Motylev, Alexander (2656) vs Tari, Aryan (2424)
Event: 15th ch-EUR Indiv 2014
Site: Yerevan ARM Date: 03/04/2014
Round: 2.57 Score: 1-0
ECO: B90 Sicilian, Najdorf, Byrne (English) attack
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 e5 7. Nb3 Be6 8. h3 Be7 9. Qf3 O-O 10. O-O-O b5 11. g4 b4 12. Nd5 Nxd5 13. exd5 Bc8 14. Bd3 a5 15. Kb1 a4 16. Nd2 Ba6 17. Bf5 Nd7 18. h4 Qc7 19. Bg5 Nc5 20. Ne4 Nxe4 21. Bxe4 Rfb8 22. Bc1 Bc4 23. h5 Bf8 24. Qf5 g6 25. hxg6 hxg6 26. Qf3 b3 27. cxb3 Rxb3 28. axb3 axb3 29. Bd2 Qa7 30. Kc1 Qa1+ 31. Bb1 Bxd5 32. Qxd5 Rc8+ 33. Bc3 Rxc3+ 34. Kd2 Qxb2+ 35. Ke1 Rc2 36. Rh2 Qc3+ 37. Kf1 b2 38. Kg2 Be7 39. Bxc2 1-0
(http://www.365chess.com/game.php?gid=3885378)
Next I read the “69 Seconds with…” which happened to be GM Neil McDonald. I love these Q&A’s with the players. The GM answers the question, “A tip please for the club player” with wonderful advice: “If you lose, be nice to your opponent. Players feel generous after they’ve won, and if you suggest a post-mortem they might reveal some secrets that help improve your game.”
One of the most amazing things I have witnessed in chess was the end of the last round game between Andrey Chumachenko and Jonathan Schroer. When the game ended the combatants immediately got up and walked to the skittles room, sat down and began analyzing the game. From the demeanor of the players I could not tell who had won, so I asked. Chumachenko had won, and the victory put him in a tie for first place, so it must have been a tough loss for IM Schroer, but no one would have ever known because of his gentlemanly behavior.
I played over the Bird’s Opening of Simon Williams vs D. Ledger, and a Caro-Kann between G. Wall vs J. Houska and learned the latter has a new edition of her “Play the Car0-Kann” in the works. I read the first edition, which left much to be desired, to be kind. It needed major improvements.
I had only made it to page 13 of the 58 page magazine and it was time to take my leave. Chess Monthly is a wonderful magazine and truly cheap at twice the price. The official organ of the USCF remains Chess on Life support.