A review of Calculate like a Grandmaster Learn from the World-class Attacking Players by Danny Gormally

Reviewed by P.P.O. Kane

Calculate like a Grandmaster
Learn from the World-class Attacking Players
By Danny Gormally
Batsford, 2010
ISBN: 9781906388690

Xysts within the grounds of a palatial estate, that would be an apt metaphor for Danny Gormally’s deep and detailed annotations to some 39 thrilling attacking games.

Such a feast of spectacular chess is not only enjoyable in itself. As Gormally explains, studying games like these is an effective way of developing the two key skills of analysis: accurate calculation and evaluation.

For the first two chapters, Gormally concentrates on some eight games of Mikhail Tal. Eleven pages are given over to the first game, eight pages to the 8th and last game, just to give you a sense of how detailed and lengthy Gormally’s notes are. Up later there are chapters devoted to some four current players, all of whom could be said to have picked up Tal’s baton and run with it: Shirov, Topalov, Morozevich and Anand. His next chapter is a bit sketchy: one game each by Fischer, Karpov and Kasparov, two games by Carlsen – a bit of a mixed bag, in truth. Yet the quality of the annotations makes up for it all. The last chapter has five of Gormally’s own attacking games, showing that he can also walk the walk.

It is an entertaining read, not least for Gormally’s digressions on various topics: an ICC addict’s typical day, the strength of computers, the conditions and prize money on offer at your usual weekend congress and psychology. And a few other topics an’ all.

Zeal is a precious quality, as rarely seen as an Aardvark or an intact £5 note, and Gormally’s zeal for chess shines through in this terrific book.

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 ludic@europe.com

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