Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Book Plans and Dreams

I occasionally am questioned about my future (chess) book plans. I have even had a few quite clear recommendations about fitting themes for a next book. This interest is much appreciated, but I am not likely to become a very prolific chess writer. There is not a lot of money in chess books, and although it contributes to making chess a very affordable hobby for me, my writing mostly is about self development and fulfilling some private ambitions. Presently my plans are not at all clear, but there still are a few books that I would like to write:

  • I would like to expand and update my old booklet in Norwegian "Vinn med 1.e4" (Win with 1.e4), so that it becomes a 'real book', not just a booklet. It's a pity that the Norwegian chess market probably is too small to make it economically viable.
  • I want to write at least one more book on opening theory for Gambit Publications - preferably on a defence for Black against 1.d4, so that my books taken together would cover most of a complete opening repertoire (something for White, something against 1.e4 and something against 1.d4). The challenge will be to find a good subject and a good co-author. Some ideas are beginning to materialize, and I hope to return to this project in a week or two. As for why I would like Gambit to be my publisher, that is also a theme to which I will return in a later entry.
  • I would like to make a really nice looking hard-cover book (or even better a two-volume set) in English for beginning and inexperienced chess players. Mostly for technical reasons this kind of large format books with plenty of illustrations are often translated to many languages. I don't know the details but I assume this is because the illustrations and the text are printed separately, and the illustrations make up most of the costs. Without really knowing, I suspect that this is the only type of chess books that really could make some money for the author. I have seen a lot of very nice looking books in this category, and most of them also very adequately deliver what they promise. Still I believe there is room for improvement - not so much when it comes to chess knowledge as to presentation and didactics. The challenge will be to convince a major publisher that I am the ideal author.


Roger said...

Hi, I'm waiting for my copy of your book on the Black side of the Ruy to arrive - I thought I'd see on here if maybe you recomend something against 3.Bc4 (in the open game).

Unless your Black side of the Lopez work gives a hint of what one should play, I found your statement " that my books taken together would cover most of a complete opening repertoire (something for White, something against 1.e4 and something against 1.d4)" somewhat perplexing. How'bout some help on this (especially if you think there is a simple defense against the Evans, or should one choose the Two Knights)?
Currently I'm a French player trying to add 1..e5 to my repertoire, thanx!

Sverre Johnsen said...

Hi Roger,

I am sorry if my statement mislead you.
- The London book covers maybe 90% of a repertoire for White (but not much against 1.d4 g6, 1...d6 and 1...c5)
- At an international level I would estimate that the Ruy Lopez book covers roughly 75% of a repertoire. But at a lower level 3.Bc4, 3.d4 and 2nd move alternatives appears much more frequently.
- It will not be easy to give a complete repertoire for Black against 1.d4 in a single volume book either.

Still I believe it is correct to claim that these three books would cover most of a repertoire.

At a very early stage in planning the Ruy Lopez book, I discussed with my co-author Leif whether it would be a good idea to include a repertoire for Black against White's alternatives to the RL. In consultation with Gambit Publishing we concluded that this would have been more natural if we had suggested an early deviation for Black in the Ruy (e.g. 3...f5 or 3...Nd4). Given our choice of a quite long and theory loaden mainline in the RL, there would only have been room for a rather rudimentary repertoire against White's 2nd and 3rd move alternatives. That might well have been useful for many readers, but it might also have been held against the book by some reviewers.

It's quite likely that you will find something about 'the other open games' in this blog in the relatively near future. But for the moment I am quite busy with other obligations, and mostly publishing left-over material that only needs light editing (or possibly translation from Norwegian).