Krasenkow’s introduction gives some thoughts and tips on how to analyse a position and calculate variations, both when solving puzzles and in an actual game, and this is followed by about 250 tactical exercises arranged in three sections. Most positions have the neutral instruction ‘White to Play’ or ‘Black to Play’ but very occasionally there is a more specific question for you to answer.
A welcome reissue, in algebraic notation, of a book that will be familiar to many. For myself, I remember receiving it as a present one Christmas and steadily working through the positions over the holidays.
It is a primer on chess tactics, successive chapters covering topics such as the pin, the knight fork, the skewer, discovered attack, double check and so on; and it is a worhwhile introduction still.
Nakamura’s prowess in the endgame, his opening repertoire and in particular his penchant for the King’s Indian Defence, the risk taking and fighting spirit that’s so characteristic of his style, and of course his enthusiasm for bullet and blitz: these are some of the topics under discussion. A wide-ranging interview takes up the bulk of chapter 6.
The book contains pretty much all the games Nimzowitsch played in the principal tournaments of the period (Bad Kissingen 1928, Carlsbad 1929, San Remo 1930, Bled 1931, Zurich 1934), some games from minor tournaments and from Nimzowitsch’s matches with Stahlberg and Stoltz, some training games and games played in simultaneous displays. Most games are annotated by Nimzowitsch.
The book is pretty comprehensive, covering topics ranging from the centre and king safety to prophylaxis and overprotection; from the relatively straightforward to the more advanced and (in the case of overprotection, perhaps) the problematic. As well, Adam Hunt discusses the skills involved in strategic play: evaluating a position, being resilient in defence and forming a plan. A final chapter looks at psychology and practical play.
What holds your attention, even when some of this might be familiar fare, is Soltis’s knack of annotating a chess position. He does it in such a way that he tells a story, making each player’s intentions clear. Triumph and disappointment is there for all to see.
Each chapter ends with a summary of findings and advice to the second player. His general conclusion is that Black is doing fine, but there is no doubt that certain White lines are promising.
One tends to trust Svetushkin’s analyses and judgements, not least because he has about a decade’s worth of experience of playing these lines. This is a well worked out, very thorough and up-to-date study of several related opening variations.
One sentence struck me. He writes of Euwe that, despite his solid establishment status, he preferred to mingle with bohemians rather than ‘respectable plodders’. It struck me because that’s a strand or a subtext running through many of the essays: in the Netherlands, uniquely perhaps, chess is an arena where the bourgeois and bohemian worlds meet.
Soltis provides a crisp and lively narrative which ripples outward from the book’s strict subject matter on occasion to consider, for example, the career and fate of Paul Morphy. There is a generous selection of games, full tournament crosstables and some interesting statistics (e.g. Fine has one of the highest winning percentages in the championship with 78%, despite never having won it; for comparison: Fischer has the highest with 83.3%).