Reviewed by P.P.O. Kane
Mastering Positional Chess
By Daniel Naroditsky
New In Chess, 2010
It seems that chess authors, like police officers and prime ministers, are becoming younger: Daniel Naroditsky is just 14. He has already achieved much in the game, though, winning the world junior championship in 2007. With this book, Naroditsky shows himself to be an accomplished author: his prose is engaging and insightful and enjoyable to read too.
The best way to describe the book, perhaps, is to say that it is as though Daniel were explaining to a friend (you, the reader) what he has learned most about positional play, the lessons that he has truly taken to heart. That is the predominant feeling: a generous and unpatronising sharing of knowledge.
There are six chapters and the topics covered are prophylaxis (our old friend), defending inferior positions, building and dismantling fortresses, the positional sacrifice, manoeuvring and paralysis in the middlegame . By this last topic Naroditsky apparently means zugzwang, but also bind play: the restraint and suffocation of opportunity. Prophylaxis with teeth, you might say.
Each chapter ends with a summary of its key points, including plenty of practical advice, and there are also a few exercises following to keep your grey matter ticking over. We are given a good number of mainly modern games and positions, rather than the usual tired examples (or classics as they are sometimes called), with a fair number of them Daniel s own. As you might imagine, Naroditsky s annotations are especially candid and lucid when he comes to commentate on his own games.
About the reviewer: P.P.O. Kane lives and works in Manchester, England. He welcomes responses to his reviews and you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org