Book and software reviews from 2007.

"Petrosian vs the Elite" by Ray Keene and Julian Simpole. This book is a worthy supplement to Peter Clarke's classic "Petrosians Best Games of Chess" filling in the gaps in that work and bringing Petrosian's career up to date by covering 1963 when he wrestled the World Championship from Botvinnik to his early death in 1983. The authors are (quite correctly in my opinion) at great pains to point out how underestimated and misunderstood Petrosian's unique style was highlighting his prowess at combinations, speed chess and fantastic tournament successes, listing the many major events he has won without loss of a single game. Some key game positions and a few unknown gems against minor masters are given in the introduction but the main body of this work are 71 victories by Petrosian against top class opposition. Throughout, the games are nicely annotated, with an emphasis on transition to and the middle-game itself and on endings. As many of these games can be described as masterpieces much chess wisdom can be earned from their study-one can only echo a frequent comment on Petrosian's style-"He makes it look so easy". Incidently this book shows Ray Keene back in form and producing one to match his other classic books of the 70s.

"1.b4:Theory and Practice of the Sokolsky Opening by Jerzy Konikowski and Marek Sosynski." FIDE Master Jerzy Konikowski and local player Dr. Marek Sosynski have collaborated to produce the definitive book on the Sokolsky opening (otherwise known as the Orangutan opening). Previously  theoretical treatments of this opening have often been quite inadequate but this book fills a gap in opening works and is extremely well researched. The variations are very neatly laid out, a feature that aids study, and contain much useful advice as the games develop. In addition, the book clearly shows that 1.b4 can lead to positions that allow for creative and original thinking. There are just under a hundred well annotated games included in the text that nicely show the themes and ideas of this opening. Study of this book is recommended in order to be able to meet this opening sufficiently well in games and perhaps even to try it out as White! Incidently there is a nice touch in the appendix in which is is suggested serious thought be given to the endangered Orangutan-a very worth cause.

 

"Book Review by Dr. Frank Eastwood "How to play against 1.d4 by Richard Palliser (Everyman Books)" This book is reviewed because its contents are not obvious from the title. It advocates the use of the Czech Benoni, 1.d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 e5, which is a neglected defence to 1.d4 and would suit many club players, as the emphasis of the opening is based on understanding rather than learning by rote. If you want a complete defence to 1.d4 then the author advocates 1. d4 c5 2.d5 e5, transposing into the Czech Benoni. The reviewer played this opening with good results in the late sixties and it is a favourite of Mike Donnelly's. This book offers an excellent coverage of the opening with 30 illustrative games to give the reader an idea of tactics and strategy involved. You can play this opening with confidence in the Coventry Chess League. Most of the players (90%) do not have much knowledge of opening theory and would become confused with the complicated strategy involved. This book is an excellent read and the reviewer recommends it to the visitors of this excellent web site.

 

"Kramnik-move by move by Cyrus Lakdawala (Everyman Books)" Everyman continues to publish some outstanding books and this is no exception. I have always felt Kramnik was a very good player indeed but until I had studied these game I now realise just how good he is. IM Lakdawala annotates these games in his own unique style which is not too heavy and not too light and brings out the key moments in a way that the games are a pleasure to go over and learn from. In this way it makes the reader think carefully for him or herself and thus improve. Kramnik has a quite difficult style to catagorise but Lakdawala does a good job by dividing the book into section dedicated to specific aspects of his game. He is well know for being a positional player who find incredibly minute advantages in a position in a somewhat mystical manner (which is similar to the style of Rubinstein in the early 1900s). Kramnik is also know for trying attacking play in some games but not being comfortable in this sphere. However, the games carefully selected by Lakdawala show that Kramnik is actually a marvel in deep sacrificial games too. Almost all of the games are again the worlds elite and the games simply show Kramnik's class.