Thursday, February 1, 2007

Finally Available

Yesterday I received my copies of "The Ruy Lopez: A Guide for Black". You might think it should not be too exciting to see a book that you have written yourself, but it actually is!

First there is the physical appearance of the covers, the indexes and those small things you never see when you are working on the content. I really like this one - Wolff Morrow's cover illustration is visually pleasing as usual and the theme at least somewhat relevant. You may argue that Black rarely goes for an immediate attack on White's king in the Zaitsev variation of the Closed Ruy Lopez, but the spark of aggression definitely is there. See this page for some of Morrow's other covers with his brief comments.

Then it is always exciting to see how many of those last-minute corrections and amendments the editors actually managed to include. I have not yet had time to compare the book with the correction tables we forwarded or to discuss it with my co-author, but I can see that most of it actually found its way into the book.

But most of all it's about holding the book in your hands - imagining that you are a potential buyer, flipping through the pages considering whether the book is worth its money or not.
- Is the words/moves ratio acceptable?
- What about the pages/diagrams ratio?
- Is the variation numbering intimidating, or are most readers comfortable with the occasional 'b2222)'?

Well, it really is too late to worry about this now - I am now eagerly awaiting the first reviews.
I will mainly be watching these sites:

- Checkpoint at Very good monthly reviews, but far from all books get a mention.
- Silman: Probably the biggest and best collection of chess book reviews, but Gambit books usually are released a month later in the US than in Europe.
- Seagaard: Usually quite thorough reviews but there seem to be fewer new reviews now than a couple of years ago.
- Chessville: Thorough reviews with the amateur's needs firmly in focus.
- British Chess Magazine: Usually very short and to-the-point monthly reviews.
- John Elburg's reviews: A huge number of reviews every month. Unfortunately the English is awful, and the reviews usually so gentle that they are uninformative.
- Phil Adam's reviews: I like this site - but where does he dump the older reviews? My London book is now nowhere to be found.
- Sean Marsh' reviews: Another growing collection of good reviews. I must however say that I frequently disagree with the evaluations.

Addendum 16th February 2007
I forgot the "Week in Chess" reviews by John Watson - possibly because no new reviews had appeard for almost one year. But now he appears to be back in combat with three new columns in less that a month. Watson's reviews generally are quite gentle, but very detailed and well researched. I am not sure about the relationship with his reviews at Silman's site, but there seems to be considerable overlap.


Blue Devil Knight said...

I am excited by your book, and am curious about how many early-move variations you cover? I usually play the open ruy, but quite often after 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6, white doesn't play the standard 5. 0-0. Will you be covering alternatives to 5. 0-0? If so, I'll use the book for my non-open Ruy repertoire!

Sverre Johnsen said...

Hello Devil,

In principle the book covers all White's major options after 3...a6 in the Ruy Lopez. After 4...Nf6 it covers 5.Qe2 (9 pages) 5.d4 (3 pages), 5.Nc3 (2 pages) and 5.d3 (3 pages). We mainly recommend lines with an early ...Be7, as that saves the Closed RL player some preparation after 5.0-0 Be7, when 6.Qe2, 6.d4, 6.Nc3 and 6.d3 again are viable options. We realize that these may not be the optimal choices for Open RL players, who don't have to worry about White's sixth move deviations.

But the book may hold another attraction for Open RL players. If you would like to expand your repertoire, the variation 5...Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 0-0 9.h3 Bb7 10.d4 Qd7!? (which are dealt with in some detail) normally leads to positions that will feel quite familiar to Open RL players after 11.Nbd2 Rae8 12.Nf1 exd4 13.cxd4 Na5 14.Bc2 d5! 15.e5 Ne4.
Also the recommendation against 9.d4 (9...Bg4 10.Be3 exd4 11.cxd4 d5!? 12.e5 Ne4) holds a lot in common with the Open RL.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Thanks for the response. It sounds great! With this, and Greet's amazing new book for white, I should be covered in my Ruy needs.

Sverre Johnsen said...

I am pleased that you are happy with our solutions. Hopefully you will not be the only one.

I can confirm that Greet's book is exceptional. I doubt I have ever seen a book that offers so much contents for your money, and most of it seems very well thought out. So if you plan to play the Ruy Lopez with White too, it is a very good complimentary book.

I would just like to mention that the RL Introduction of our book will offer you more (also from White's point of view) about 3...a6 4.Ba4 b5 5.Bb3 Be7?! than Greet's book does. Greet suggests a transposition to main lines with 6.0-0, while we offer 6.d4!, which presents Black with some very real problems.

The same goes for 5...Nf6?! where Greet offers 6.Qe2 with a transposition, while we again recommend 6.d4! (and explain briefly why 6.Ng5 is not so strong).

The reason we cover these moves in our book, is that they might have been alternative ways for Black to reach the Closed Ruy Lopez if it hadn't been for these defects.

However, both Greet's recommendations are sound and rational, and in general his book is extremely detailed.