Posts Tagged ‘New in Chess’

Being an avid reader of both New in Chess and Chessbase, it is very exciting to see these two chess media giants having a fight. I have weighed in with my own opinion, which was published on the Chessbase site. (It’s there somewhere, don’t give up!) But it wasn’t without a sense of guilt for ignoring Nigel Davies’ excellent advice to spend more time on chess rather than chess news.

There are far too many polticial arguments in chess. I gave up trying to understand them years ago. I have no idea how the world championship works, who the world champions are, or even how many there are.*

I wonder what Nigel thinks about writing chess blogs. Are they a waste of valuable time, Nigel?

Nigel doesn’t allow questions or comments on his blog, so I thought I’d ask it here.

*Only joking, Vishy.

"Why do people read this stuff, Nigel?"

I have to admit from the outset that I don’t have a natural talent for chess and have never been very good at it. But I nevertheless find it very relaxing both to study and to play.

I read a lot of chess books that are aimed at the serious student. They can be very daunting. Just the number of chess books that are published every year is intimidating. How do people find time to play when there is so much new theory to be absorbed every year?

Well, they play more and more blitz and rapid games. Earlier this month I was watching Alexei Shirov analyse one of his rapid games that he’d played two years earlier. He had clearly spent far longer analysing it than he had spent playing it.

I found this comforting. I, too, spend far more time studying chess than actually playing it, particularly over the last few years when I have hardly played at all. But this year I have started to play again more regularly. Shirov, I must say, is an inspiration.

Another inspiration is Nigel Short. I once read an interview in which he admitted to reading chess books in bed without a board. He was very proud of his extensive collection. But in an article in New In Chess this month he wrote that Garry Kasparov had confided to him as long ago as in the nineties that he no longer read chess books. Since then Mr. Kasparov has written several of course. I bought one, the first volume of My Great Predecessors, and queued up in the London Chess Centre to have Garry sign it. I read all the text and played through some of the games but much of the analysis was too difficult for me.

As Nigel says, somewhat sarcastically, “Garry’s analysis is far too intimidating and requires one not only to take out a board and set but to painstakingly grapple with labyrinthine variations. No – it is far easier to plonk them on the shelf and admire the hard covers in their nice red dust jacket…”

Which is what I’ve done with mine for the last few years.

It’s true there are also books for what they call “club players.” A club player is a talented amateur who has less time to study because of his day job. Club players go in for wooly positions in which “ideas are more important than concrete variations” or else try to trip up their opponents with dastardly and often dubious opening surprises. To date New in Chess has published a weighty 13 volumes of astonishing “Secrets of Opening Surprises,” with which these unstuffy students of the game can catch each other out.

“No need to study large quantities of stuffy theory, but an immediate return on your investment of time. And lots of fun while going at it!”

I am not even a club player. I am too busy and too anti-social to go to clubs. And if I studied an opening surprise, I am the one who would end up being caught out by it.

The big problem for someone like me is waiting for a line I actually know to come up in a game. By the time it finally appears, the chances are I’ll have forgotten all the theory I ever knew about it.

So I am starting this blog to document my thoughts on chess before they are lost to posterity. You could see it as an expression of my long hours of lonely preparation for the chances that never came. As I have heard Mr. Kasparov say somewhere “nothing in chess is ever wasted.” And now I am proving him right. (He is always right, of course.) For I am going to share, at last, the untold secrets of my chess knowledge.

The distilled wisdom of half a century is here!

(Or very soon will be.)