Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A Study Plan, and Favorite Game Collections

This is another quick post from out of town. I'm putting together a study plan. I'm still working out the ground rules, but it will be something like:

-Play through all my collections of master games, and enter them into Chessbase. That should easily take me over the "2000 master games" suggestion of Dan Heisman.

-Enter the mate-in-two problems, endgame problems, and mating attack examples from the massive Polgar book into Chessbase. The mate-in-two studies are actually rather devious, and I include them because they're good practice for working on your thought process.

-Also enter positions from the Encyclopedia of Chess Middlegames and Anthology of Chess Combinations.

-Get through the first 1000 or so positions of CT-ART, and maybe check out Personal Chess Trainer.

Ah, the joys of data entry. My intent is to pursue all these goals at the same time to alleviate database drudgery. For example, right now I'm entering about 40 games from a rather obscure book: Self-Taught Chess for Beginners and Intermediates by Milton Finkelstein dating from 1962. Not really a good choice for annotated games, I think (Edit on 5/18/07: I don't recommend this book. The "rule to remember" boxes would be useful to beginners, but the annotations are dreadful. In one case, the author analyzes a line in depth based on an illegal move. The author has a tendency to rattle off a long line of analysis without branches that Fritz will just tear to pieces. More on this topic in a future post....), but I'm starting with it out of sentimental reasons...it was my first chessbook. The copy I have has long ago lost its cover and has my 8-year-old scrawls and doodles all through it. When those 40 games are entered, I'll also have 40 endgame positions, 40 mate-in-twos, 40 mating attacks, etc. all entered into Chessbase. By the time I hit my 2000 games I should have succeeded in transferring a lot of my study material into Chessbase.

Anyhow, I'm interested in what other people consider to be their favorite game collections. Heisman's "Four Homeworks" article has some good suggestions, and I own a lot of them. I've brought with me some of the older game collections, with the intent of progressing roughly from older to newer books:

-Chernev's Logical Chess Move by Move, The Most Instructive Games of Chess Ever Played, and Capablanca's Best Chess Endgames. I've previously read these, but my rules are that to count towards the 2000 I have to have recently played over the games with a fresh mind.

-The Book of the New York International Chess Tournament 1924 and The Book of the Nottingham International Chess Tournament (1936), both annotated by Alekhine.

-Alexander Alekhine's Best Games

-One Hundred Selected Games by Botvinnik

I also brought Zurich International Chess Tournament 1953 by Bronstein, but that's my "take with me wherever I go and play with a portable chess set" book. It has a lot of descriptive notation, and most of the variations aren't completely mind-blowing, so I don't feel like I have to have a computer to help me plow through the variations. I'll have to re-read it if I want to count it towards my 2000 games.

Among the collections I have at home that I'll be using are The Life and Games of Mikhail Tal, Fischer's My 60 Memorable Games, Euwe and Kramer's Chess Master vs. Chess Amateur (currently about 2/3rds through that), How to Defend in Chess (a collection of Lasker and Petrosian games), Karpov's best games collection, Shirov's Fire on Board, Kasparov's The Test of Time and Predecessors books, Nunn's two "Move by Move" books and 101 Brilliant Chess Miniatures, and several more that I can't think of right now.

Feel free to post your favorite game collections in the comments section.


Blue Devil Knight said...

Insane in the membrane! That's intense.

My favorite annotated game collection, besides Euwe's work, is by Frisco del Rosario, A first book of Morphy. It's a gem.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Oh, and Donaldson's Chess: the art of logical thinking is simply amazing. I've only worked through 6 games but it is wonderful.

Grandpatzer said...

I saw Donaldson's in the bookstore and in Heisman's list. Tempting...

Forgot to mention that I'm also re-reading My System (last read it about 10 years ago), so the example games at the back of the book will also be included with my master games.

Anonymous said...

You could save a lot of data-entering time if you downloaded some of your titles in pgn or chessbase format from Gambit Chess.

Grandpatzer said...

I have found databases for several of my books from Ossimitz's website. Thanks for bringing Gambit Chess to my attention...I've bookmarked it.

Even when I don't have a games collection available as a pre-made database,it's pretty easy to assemble by searching my huge Chessbase reference database. It's the books that are a collection of positions instead of games that are a real pain to enter.

chessloser said...

damn nice plan you got there, i might copy it if you don't mind...

i have the standard books everyone else seems to have, the ones you mentioned, 60 most instructive games, zurich, etc...i'd like to get a book on keres' games, and if i could find fischer's 60 most memorable games, that would rock...

chessloser said...

oh, and i also look at and review the games at chessgames.com. no annotation, but the moves are there...

Wahrheit said...

Keres books of his games (I have them collected in an old paperback called Grandmaster of Chess) are my all-time favorites, great annotations with lots of prose explanations. If you can find a copy, highly recommended.

Grandpatzer said...

Wahrheit: the Keres books I've heard about are the two volumes "The Road to the Top" and "The Quest for Perfection". I've seen them on many peoples' Best Books lists. If I ever find either of them used I intend to snag them.

transformation said...

damn good. tripple bravo times five. thank you. i have executed my own similar game collection, and studied them all, but this is your moment here. most impressive and i fully intend to come back to your blog more often.

there is rationality; there is our plan; but there is an entire seperate component, our emotional tone, and yours clearly resonates impecably here. your qualifications to both formulate AND execute your plan cannot be overestimated. thank you again. tripple java jolt.

transformation said...

i had to dig deep into my memory bank for the precise name--haunted all day today with the gnawing sense that i knew the origin of THIS idea but didnt have it on the tip of my tongue then had to recall it--and knew it as collins, just didnt know the first name.


this idea, that the erudition of a complete chess player necessitates their being familiar with some 2,000 chess games originates with Bobby Fischer's chess teacher John Collins (who fischers mother asked to teach HER son!),

who recommended a noviate start with the early masters, through to capablanca and alekhine, and so on, progressing to bottvinnik, so that the student burns the progress of chess into their brain as an evolving phenomenon, that was evolutionary.

as you probably already know, this idea recurs again and again in modern chess, whether it be a soviet idea of 300 key chess postions, dvoretskys idea of first 40 key endings rather than 2,000 rook endings, or gm-ram, etc.

see my recent post for some elaboration of my own take on review of GM games among other comments, if i may pls suggest.

thank you again.

Coffeehouse Patzer said...

BDK means Neil Mcdonald, not DOnaldson. Mcdonald is good, up to a certain level.


i think it is really inefficient to copy stuff into chessbase. id rather go outside and play frisbee. you gotta just "trust" the author and figure everything else out on your own. if you need a computer to walk you through variations, you'd be better served by an easier book. you need to be able either to memorize a position and reset it after playing a variation, or to visualize the whole variation. computer is a crutch, imo.

i started with Art of CHekmate. i memorized each game move-for-move before going on to the next. i was maybe 1200-1300 level at that time-- 8 months later i was 1750.

art of chkmate
bronstein, zurich
alekhine, best games
keres, road & quest
tal, life and games
kasparov, test of time
shirov, fire on board

that's my list. take care.

patrick (chessforblood blog)

Grandpatzer said...

Patrick: I agree the computer can be a crutch and I try not to let it "think" for me. I also think that playing through games on a large board helps you remember what you've read. I have every book on your list except Keres and they're all on my "hit list".

The main reason I do all this database entry is for organizational purposes. I can make my own notes in the annotations, rather than scribbling in all my books. I can also draw on information from several sources and keep it all together. For example, some classic games are found in multiple books. As another example, a heavily analyzed position in My System is actually in my opening repertoire, so I imported it into my repertoire database and pondered it for a while.

When it comes to things like tactics problems and endgame positions, by taking the time to put them into Chessbase with training annotations, I create my own "CT-ART"-like programs. I also do that with tactics and blunders from my blitz games, so I have test problems taken from my own games.

You can make a valid argument for this not being the best use of my time, but some perverse part of me enjoys doing this.

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