Saturday, June 2, 2007

Finally Finished Zurich 1953, and My Reading List

I have another article on opening study queued up, but I hate having so many posts on a topic that club players already spend too much time on. Instead, I'll just say that I finally finished Zurich International Chess Tournament, 1953 by Bronstein. It was my "carry with you and play through on a pocket set" book for quite a while now. I've replaced it with Chess: The Art of Logical Thinking by McDonald.

It'd be tempting to count the book's contents towards my "2000+ annotated master games" collection, but somehow it seems like cheating since they were spread out over months. After polishing off a couple half-read collections, I think I'm going to go through my collection roughly by the copyright date of the original publication. That way, if the same game comes up multiple times I can add the more modern analysis to the older annotations. Also, I expect the older books to have more general positional assessments and fewer variations, and the newer material to have more "exceptions to the rules", plus more and longer variations.

I'm planning on going through the following pre-1980 books in this order. The first few aren't in chronological order because I'm already in the process of reading them. Books I've previously read cover-to-cover are marked in red.

- Self-Taught Chess for Beginners and Intermediates by Milton Finkelstein (again, I don't actually recommend this book to others...this is just a sentimental favorite)
-the instructive games section of My System by Nimzowitsch
-Chess Master vs. Chess Amateur by Euwe and Kramer
-a block of Alekhine: the tournament books for NY 1924 and Nottingham 1937 (Dover editions), plus I'm counting Nunn's algebraic translation of Alekhine's Best Games as 1937-ish.
-One Hundred Selected Games by Botvinnik
-Zurich International Chess Tournament 1953 (yes, again.)
-Logical Chess move by Move by Move and The Most Instructive Games of Chess Ever Played by Chernev.
-My 60 Memorable Games by Fischer
-Tal-Botvinnik 1960 and The Life and Games of Mikhail Tal, by Tal
-The Art of Positional Play by Reshevsky
-Capablanca's Best Chess Endings by Chernev

Not counting doubles, that's 1166 games right there.

Unfortunately, most of these old books are in descriptive notation, which is a bit of a headache. Only Alekhine's Best Games, Zurich '53, Tal's books and Capablanca's Best Chess Endings are in Algebraic. I realize some of the others have algebraic editions, but I'm not going to drop the money on them.


Anonymous said...

Dan Heisman suggests reading master games in chronological order and/or according to the style you wish to emulate; e.g. Morphy first, then (I think)Marshall, etc. When you say 'reading', do you mean 'predicting each move', or not?

Ryan Emmett said...

I thought people of our generation (if you were in your early twenties in 1993, you must be a similar age now to me - I'm 36) were usually familiar with descriptive notation and quite comfortable with it.

The first books I read were in descriptive notation so it's never bothered me!

Grandpatzer said...

I can read descriptive no problem. It was the first notation I learned, and when I was a kid it was algebraic that was foreign.

The problem isn't with interpretation but with visualization. If you're reading a variation and trying to visualize several moves ahead, I find it much harder to do with descriptive. This is very much so with endgames. The fact that the same square is called two different names depending on whose move it is really causes problems here, with "white to move and win vs. black to move and draw" scenarios. Trying to visualize 10 moves ahead in such a position is far easier in algebraic.

Grandpatzer said...

Alastair: the intent is to go through them at a fairly fast pace, but I have a tendency to just robotically push pieces without getting engaged in the game, especially entering into the computer.

I'm not going to be "predicting" each move in a solitaire chess sort of way, nor doing a Silmanesque exercise in trying to fully analyze and determine the move for your "hero", taking as much time as necessary (although I was doing that a bit years ago, and it's a good technique). What I have started doing is playing the games over on a real board and keeping a pad of paper handy. Without taking too much time, I try for each move to at least see if the move played makes sense, and if there's another move that I'd instinctively play. I'm also going to force myself to visualize my way through the variations as far as I can (without slowing down the game too much). I'll keep note of things like: "why wasn't such-and-such move played?", or "I can't visualize this variation well, but why won't such-and such a move work?", etc. Then, I enter the game into my database, quickly check with Fritz the key points I questioned, and add some comments of my own. This first book I'm going through by Finkelstein turns out to have horrid analysis that Fritz often rips to shreds. Euwe and Meiden has its fair share as well.

So, I'll be thinking about the game enough to keep me engaged and to practice visualization/calculation of variations a bit, but not obsessing over any one point. I also get to check the moves I'd intuitively play versus the "proper" moves.

chessloser said...

i love the zurich book. another good tournament book is new york 1924. like you, i can read descriptive, but i prefer algebraic. the books i have in descriptive, i go through as i play and write the algebraic in them.