Sunday, August 23, 2009
A new book (again)
As every Russian school boy knows, being a chess player means that you compulsively try to buy every chess book in existence irregardless of cost or if one actually has time to read said books.

As far as I can tell, this maladyhabit is unique to chess players. After all, whoever heard of engineers compulsively buying engineering books or a lawyer buying lawyerly book.. errr..

Anyway, I was just passing through the bookstore when I saw something called "CJS Purdy's Fine Art of Chess Annotation and Other Thoughts, Volume One" and it, looking like a decent book, the old compulsion took over and next thing I know I was carrying the book home.

The book has many interesting columns inside particularly on how one ought to improve at chess.

Here are the two salient points

1. Play games.

How to improve
The one infallible way to improve is by practice, but I don't mean just playing chess. ... But by practice I mean playing against champions - any master will gladly play you at any time of the day or night, and, moreover, bring along two other masters to help you out. They don't ask for fees or even refreshments; as a matter of fact, they may all be ghosts from the last century, but they will play none the worse for that.

How to play through a master games
Play one side only - usually the winner's, if it is not a draw. Cover the moves with a card in which a niche is cut out of one corner. Think out each of your side's moves before you look, taking as long as you would in a match game.
Then slide the card over till the move is exposed by the niche. If you guessed differently, try to find out if and why your move was bad. Never let your eyes stray over the annotations beforehand. Look at the opponent's reply immediately. For one thing, it may assist you in discovering some fault in the move you yourself had made.

An interesting technique to be sure. I am now trying to work through his book using the said method. I've cut off a piece of paper and is sliding it so to speak. Only sometimes I get impatient and cheat.. :(

And also, it takes me multiple time going through the same game to understand some of the moves made.

Just last evening, I had an "AHA!" sort of epiphany. Something about why should white take with the d-pawn instead of an f-pawn. When I finally understood that - it is to play f5 of course, I felt so dumb for not noticing it earlier, but so happy that I now at least understood a little bit more. Such a small thing and yet, the game revolved around it.

Truly a single move can become a fulcrum of a game.

2. What is wrong with everyone's chess?

This is the title of a chapter in the book. The simple answer is - Lack of combinative vision.

He said and I paraphrase - "You might think that you do not belong with them (people with lack of combinative vision), but the odds are 50 to 1 you are wrong"

And I fully agree. Even though one might think he or she already has a very good grasp of tactics, and yet chances are you are only delluding yourself and that is not the case.

I am keenly aware of it. I'm studying tactics everyday and yet finding combinations seems out of grasp. Other times, as a latest game of mine shows (I am mantakaya in here), I feel there are hidden tactics there, If only I can just find it.. the game could have been more..

Well, anyway it is a good book. Ill try to go through the games completely. Perhaps one each day should do.

I'm not expecting that every game should bring me an aha moment, but if I understand a little each time, then by the end of it perhaps I would be able to pierce that mystical veil that keeps people from breaking the 2000 elo barrier.

posted by Nezha at 8:35 PM | Permalink |


  • At 6:13 PM, Blogger CMoB

    I've got the Purdy book too. Purdy is great. It is funny you should mention the compulsive book buying thing and the comparison you make with an engineer or a lawyer. What is it with chess books that makes it so hard not to buy them? I can't even find the time to read them!