Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Two books now out support my feelings, from the past, about chess books and reviewers of same. Yes, I review and comment on chess books, and probably have for a longer period of time than most, but also being a seller as well as a buyer gives me a completely different perspective. I try like heck to review books so that they will SELL, not so people will head for the hills. But every now and then...

In 1999 or so I did a book authored by GM Eduard Gufeld and NM Oleg Stetsko called Richter Veresov, the Chameleon Chess Repertoire. The opening, was made fun of. In one case a reviewer couldn't find ANY lines with an edge for White. Logically, my retort, can you say that about ANY chess opening? Because if you can, everyone would be playing it until it wore itself out. If the Sicilian, for example, is so powerful, why doesn't White just throw up his hands and quit playing or go to 1.d4? Then I heard the stupid remark, with a Knight on c3, "White can't play c4." No kidding Sherlock. Those who play this don't want to play 2.c4. IM Cyrus Lakdawala pretty much supports my attitudes in his new book a ferocious opening repertoire from Everyman Chess. GM Nigel Davies wrote an excellent book on the Veresov, too. I had made a comment one time that if Kasparov played the opening just once, then all the wannabe's would jump on the bandwagon! But if you do research you can find former world champions playing it including Tal and Spassky. Probably others too.

Another reviewer of the book I produced made fun of my marketing attempts by my including a plastic chameleon in the shrink wrapped review copies I sent out. But his website with crystals, pyramids, and stuff like that made sense?? Oh yeah, that's what people with ratings lower than the high and mighty have to endure. It's ALL about ratings. But stupidity knows no barriers. It is known that there are IMs out there whose IQs are below average (100 is average). I don't see any of them raising their hands and saying "Pick me!" The thing about the rating phreaks is that they ARE convinced rating = worth and value just like people who make $250,000 a year feel superior to someone who is a technician. But who do they call when their computer craps out or their expensive home entertainment system fails?

Now to a second book. One reason I gave years ago for not being that interested in brain teasers or puzzles is that IF there is a flaw in them, you can spend a ton of time, wasted time, not solving the problem. In the old days if there was no solution or more than one solution they were called "cooked."

Last week I started reading John Nunn's new book and solving the puzzles in it called 1001 Deadly Checkmates. Nunn is so fussy about particulars that I figured I was safe. I was wrong. At the beginning of section one there are a lot of 1-2 move mates and you are scored accordingly. On #22 I just couldn't find the mate. After several days, off and on, I looked at the answer. It was a mate in 3!! That wasn't funny. But, I decided to limp along and went after the others. I had solved the first 47 (if you count the mate in 3) when #48 stumped me. I hate that. This time I looked at the answer within 10-15 minutes. It was another mate in 3!!

Nunn blew these off with the remark, in effect, in the answer, "Yes, Black can block with such and such, but it is mate the next move." Geez I am sorry John but that's part of the solution and it has always been looked at that way too. It is a mate in 3 and does not belong in that mate in 1 or 2 moves section." So I stopped (for now).

If you think I hate brain teasers because I have never solved any you would be wrong. I am, however, not that great at riddles. My Dad was. I don't know if he once read a book of brain teasers and remembered all the answers, but it seemed like no matter what was brought up, he knew the required answer. I couldn't do that even if I had heard the answer! Yet, he terribly disliked algebra and his son, me, became a mathematician. Maybe my Dad had a higher rating!

It appears that Nunn doesn't give those limitations in later sections of the book. The book should be available in the US pretty soon and I will stock and sell it, but I was still annoyed at this discrepancy. It wouldn't have been so bad if it happened WAY down the line, but among the first 50... inexcusable. I still like what he did with the book, but putting the algebraic notation around the sides of the diagrams is strictly for sissies who have NO memory at all and can't figure out that "a1" is the lower left corner and "h8" is the upper right corner and everything else in between requires little effort. Others have told me that this little nuance is done for "the public," who apparently, if they can't think, wouldn't be buying a book like this at all.

Contact: bob@thinkerspressinc.com

1 comment:

  1. In The Sorcerer’s Apprentice David Bronstein wrote, "You ought to know that Veresov was very anti-Semitic. He lived in Minsk and was a real enemy of Isaac Boleslavsky." If I remember right Boleslavsky was Bronstein’s father-in-law.

    Anyway, in the Bronstein vs. Fischer game played in Mar del Plata in 1960, Bronstein called it the "Lewickiego Attack." He said that in the old books that is what it was called. He also added he did not feel any inclination to call it the Veresov Attack because although Veresov played this line quite often, he should not be honored by having an opening named after him.