Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Elusive King's Gambit

Just noting that Quality Chess' promised book on the King's Gambit is as elusive as ever. Now the publishing date is set to May (the discrepancy between the publishing schedule and the book's info page is normal).

Update 2012-03-27
Now the blog says May/June while the book's info page says May. In one month the publishing date has only been delayed with half a month - looks like progress.

Update 2012-05-21

And now it's July. Not quite two months have passed and the delay is another month and a half... No new indications of progress.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Killer Opening Repertoire Reviewed

Today I received a newsletter from Chessville informing me that Bill McGeary has reviewed "A Killer Chess Opening Repertoire":

The review is in general favourable and contains no big surprises. In my opinion the reviewer somewhat misses the mark when he writes:
"Another thing is that the book is dated. Certainly the material in this book is very good, but a number of the lines have evolved a great deal since the first edition. Johnsen writes that only six new games appear in this edition and only one was taken out, also that some games were expanded."
My objection is that the main updating went into the notes and not into the games selection. Sean Marsh' review in Marsh Towers comes closer to my point of view: "Opening the book at random, I discovered an average of five post-1998 game references per double-page spread. Despite the outward appearance, showing (at first glance) the book to be more or less the same as the old edition, it is clear that Sverre has put a lot of work into creating this new edition, while keeping his footsteps very discrete."

Anyway, the review is mostly positive and for those too busy to look up and read the entire review, I quote McGeary's concluding words:
"I like this book a lot and would recommend it to players in the 1700-2100 range. At club level the material will be a heavy winner and in local tournaments nearly as potent. The most valuable aspect for readers of the book is seeing how the opening flows together as the piece arrangements work with the selected pawn structures. A perfect book for improving players in the rating range I mentioned."

These words certainly were true for the original edition and I hope I have contributed to the book's longevity.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Quality King's Gambit Now for March

Another delay for Quality Chess' King's Gambit book. Now they are heading for March. I expect more delays but obviously something is happening as there now is a new cover:

It looks good but I still think the King's Gambit should wear something more classical.

Monday, November 28, 2011

King's Gambit Delayed Again

In their updated publishing schedule, Quality Chess announces another delay for Shaw's book on the King's Gambit, which was previously announced for December.

A pity - a good fireside book would have been an added delight for the Christmas holidays.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Veresov Books

Some time ago a reader asked for advise on (Richter-) Veresov books. Unfortunately there is in my opinion no really good book on the Veresov. The dedicated books that I am aware of are:

A Ferocious Opening Repertoire
Author: Lakdawala
Publisher: Everyman 2011
Cyrus Lakdawala is a good writer. I find his style somewhat chatty but for many subjects that fits very well. Unfortunately he was probably not the right author for this subject. Not because it actually was his brother that used to play the Veresov but because Cyrus (possibly in contrast to his brother Jimmy) doesn't seem very interested in exact variations and tactical complications but prefers to discuss strategy and pawn structures.

My assessment: ****

The Veresov: Surprise Your Opponents with the Tricky 2 Nc3!
Author: Davies
Publisher: Everyman 2003
I may have mentioned this elsewhere in this blog but I must admire Davies for the consistent high quality on his products (including his electronic ones). This too is a quite good book although not terribly ambitious. The author offers some sensible advice on how to select a Veresov repertoire but his analytical input seems relatively modest.
My assessment: ****

Richter-Veresov: the Chameleon Chess Repertoire
Authors: Gufeld and Stetsko
Publisher: Thinkers’ Press 1999
This book is an interesting documentation of a struggle between a publisher who really wants to make a good book and a pair of authors who really want to make some fast bucks. The result is uneven and not really good but there are hidden nuggets of gold. Gufeld was a strong player and when pressed he was able to present good analysis.

My assessment: ***

The Veresov Attack
Authors: Smith/Hall
Publisher: Chess Digest 1994
This book is full of inaccuracies and the publisher has attempted to transform a magazine article to a book by adding lots of white space.

My assessment: **

Queen's Pawn: Veresov System
Author: Bellin
Publisher: Batsford 1983
Bellin is  one of my favorite authors, and I really like this old book which combines good prose with well selected analysis and game fragments. Unfortunately it's now so old that it's mainly a collectors' item.

My assessment: *****

Richter Veresov System
Author: J.Adams
Publisher: The Chess Player 1978
In 1978 - before the time of game databases - this was quite a useful book. It contains a lot of well organized games and game fragments (some of them of rather low quality) and hardly any words or analysis.
It should be added that the cover of my copy looks a bit better.

My assessment: **

******: Perfect
*****: Very good
****: Good workmanship
***: Worth the money
**: Only for collectors
*: Stay away!

Friday, October 14, 2011

A Challenging Subject

The King's Gambit seems to be an extraordinary difficult subject.

First the publication date of Quality Chess' book on the King's Gambit again was delayed. Now it's scheduled for December (the book's info page has not yet been updated). Obviously this may have been a tactical delay in order to prevent Taylor from referencing the QC book in his competing book.

The response was quick and predictable. Now  it's Taylor's book that is delayed with eigth months and scheduled for August 2012. Quality's counter move is not hard to suggest...

However, somehow I don't think tactical considerations are the main reason for these delays. More likely the problems are analytical obstacles. The two principal challenges for anyone writing on the King's Gambit are:
  • Black has got unusually many playable defences. They are not all equally strong but they are Black's choices and he may have prepared them well.
  • The established mainlines in the Kiezeritsky and Fischer defences may be fine for White in theory. However, they are quite difficult for White to handle and don't appear appealing to the typical aggressive KG player.
I will not at all be surprised if these books are delayed again. So now I am pondering the consequences for my own KG plans. The ideal situation would be to publish without any competing books at all, but that obviously isn't an option.  The second best option seems to be to publish shortly after the main competitors, being able to build on their efforts. That would involve a lot of patience but as a matter of fact I have ideas for how to fill the wating time.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Muzio Family

Chess nomenclature is a difficult subject in general and in particular within the King's Gambit. For most practical players it is also a relatively uninteresting subject. So I will try to keep such discussions to a minimum in my coming King's Gambit book. However, I want what little I include to be as correct as possible. Therefore I will give the subject some coverage on this blog in the hope that knowledgeable readers may correct anything wrong or even debatable.

In this entry I will try to identify and name White's positional piece sacrifices after the moves 1 e4 e5 2 f4 exf4 3 Nf3 g5.

I: The Polerio Attack

4 Bc4 g4 5 0-0! gxf3 6 Qxf3 (D)

The Polerio Attack, may be considered head of the Muzio Family. It is generally regarded as fairly respectable. However, it's quite possible that correct play leads to a forced repetition (which theoretically isn't a good result for White).

II: The Lolli attack

5 Bxf7+? Kxf7 6 Nxe5 (D)

The Lolli Attack is the black sheep of the Muzio family. White gives up his bishop instead of his knight and wins some time. Unfortunately White has insufficient compensation as Black after 6...Ke8 7 Qxg4 Nf6 starts winning his tempi back. The Lolli may be acceptable as a blitz or coffee house weapon but is probably unplayable above mediocre club level chess.
III: The Ghulam Kassim Attack

4 Bc4 g4 5 d4 gxf3 6 Qxf3 (D)

This position, which may also arise from the move-order 4 d4 g4 5 Bc4, is known as the Ghulam Kassim Attack after the Indian player who published analysis on it around 1826 (at least the publication seems to have been available in 1843). It may transpose to a (probably good) variation of the Polerio Attack after a delayed 0-0 but White may also consider castling queenside.

IV: The MacDonnell Attack

4 Bc4 g4 5 Nc3 gxf3 6 Qxf3 (D)

This position, which may also arise from the move-order 4 Nc3 g4 5 Bc4, is known as the MacDonnell Attack. It may transpose to the Polerio Attack after a delayed 0-0 but is more likely to merge with the Ghulam Kassim Attack after a quick d4 and queenside castling.

V: The Rosentreter Attack

4 d4 g4 5 Bxf4 gxf3 6 Qxf3 (D)

This is the Rosentreter Attack which obviously is closely related to the Ghulam Kassim Attack, to which it may quickly transpose with an early d4.
Instead 5 Bc4 would lead to the Ghulam Kassim Attack while 5 Nc3 would lead to the Sørensen Attack (below).

VI: The Sørensen Attack

4 Nc3 g4 5 d4 gxf3 6 Qxf3 (D)

This position I believe should be called the Sørensen Attack but I assume that some will argue that it should rather be the Quaade Attack. I am not at all sure what's correct and will try to look at bit deeper into the matter. My reasons for preferring Sørensen over Quaade are:
  1. The mainline in the Quaade variation is 5 Ne5. It may even be argued that this knight move is the idea behind 4 Nc3 (as it is more or less unplayable in the Rosentreter variation, 4 d4).
  2. In Bilguer's Handbuch, the line is attributed to Sørensen. 
Instead 5 Bc4 would have transposed to the MacDonnell Attack.

This classification I think is the easy part of the Muzio nomenclature. The real challenge is to find good classification principles when the lines merge (as they tend to do). Maybe I will return to that subject in a future post.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Cover Uncovered

Taylor's King's Gambit book now has a cover:

I cannot say I find it beautiful. I think the King's Gambit should wear something more classical. However, it probably draws a potential buyer's attention and that's quite an important feature.

I have so far not paid much attention to cover design but I have been very pleased with the covers by Wolff Morrow that Gambit Publication has provided for my books. That attitude will quite soon have to change as the books I plan to publish will need covers. The classic and relatively easy solution is a picture of the subject position on a good-looking wooden chess set. Unfortunately that will not draw a lot of attention, so I will need to add a twist. I will keep my eyes open.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

On the Horizon

There are at least two new King's Gambit books on the horizon before my own book hopefully will be available some time in late spring 2012.

First in the row is John Shaw for Quality Chess with simply 'The King's Gambit':

The book is scheduled for October 2011. However, it has now been delayed so many times (and even changed author) that I take the announced publishing date with a grain of salt.

I have more confidence in the content. Quality Chess have sometimes delivered products with surprising gaps in the material but their analysis has always been excellent.

Next out is Timothy Taylor for Everyman Chess with 'Attacking Chess: The King's Gambit'. Judging from the Everyman site it hasn't yet got a cover design. The book is scheduled for January 2012 (in EU) and as far as I know Taylor has generally kept his deadlines. His analysis tend to be lighter and somewhat less trustworthy QC's but often thought provoking. I look forward to seeing his effort.

How will the existence of these two influence the sales potential for a third book? I must admit that I don't know. One point in my favour is the fact that I probably will be able to list these competing books in my bibliography. Reviews and publishing order will certainly influence the sales numbers. My gut feeling is that those who already love the King's Gambit will open their pockets and buy all new material but maybe the financial uncertainity even will influence this part of the economy?
Another factor is the position and reputation of the chess publishing companies. How easy will it be to convince London Chess Center, Niggemann, New in Chess or Chess4Less to promote a book from a new publishing company. I am eager to find out!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Brief Return to Chess Blogging

My apologies for letting this blog sleep for so long with no explanation. I will return for some months now and some time in the spring 2012 I hope to move to a more appropriate forum for my future chess writing.

Quite likely a lot of my next postings will be about the King's Gambit (D).

I am working on a manuscript on this fascinating opening now. I feel I have a lot of good content but I am struggling with the organization of the material. And of course there is always the danger that essential variations are refuted during analysis.

For now I don't have any co-author but I hope that will change in the coming month.

PS: I am using a new set of tools to produce diagrams. I expect there will be some test and trials for the next few days.