Saturday, August 18, 2007

Not a Defence

At the German site there now is a review of Aagaard's "Stonewall II" . There really isn't that much new to be learned about the book (the game Astrom –Ulibin, Göteborg 1999 was already included in the English version) but it's interesting to note that it seems to have changed title from "Die Stonewall Verteidigung II" to simply "Stonewall II". See my entry of July 25 for the "original" cover.
One can speculate what the reasons are for the change. Maybe the publishers simply decided that they didn't like the passivity that can be associated with the word "Verteidigung" which means defence. Or maybe it was the strange mix of German and English that didn't appeal. My personal theory is that the word "Verteidigung" doesn't score well on Google's rankings and may make the book harder to find for potential buyers.

As an aside there is a funny remark by the reviewer:
"Vielleicht hätte man noch ein Extrakapitel zu diversen Ablehnungen in das Buch aufnehmen können, ich denke hier in erster Linie an die Zugfolge 1.d4 f5 2.e4. Natürlich wird ein erfahrener Spieler diese mit 1…e6 umgehen, doch etwas unerfahrenere Spieler könnten hier schmerzvolle Erfahrungen machen. Wie ich unlängst erfahren habe, gibt es im Staunton-Gambit mit 1.d4 f5 2.e4 unter einigen Großmeistern eine noch geheime bisher nicht gespielte Variante, die Weiß deutlich im Vorteil sehen soll!"
In English this roughly translates to:
"Maybe an extra chapter about various early deviations could have been added; what I primarily have in mind is the the move-order 1.d4 f5 2.e4. An experienced player will of course bypass this with 1...e6, but players with less experience may collect some painful lessons. As I have long since discovered, some GMs have found a secret and not yet played variation in the Staunton-Gambit 1.d4 f5 2.e4 which gives White a clear advantage."
This is a quite central move-order question in my coming Stonewall book and I will not comment much on it in this blog. However I think I should make my preliminary conclusion clear: If you play the French against 1.e4 there certainly are some reasons to prefer the 1...e6 path to the Stonewall over 1...f5, but the Staunton gambit isn't among them.

The publisher's have (somewhat curiously) announced that there will not be an English version of this revised Stonewall book, and the Swedish version apparently has been canceled. But today I found that an Italian version seems to be on its way.
My knowledge of Italian consists of a few tourist phrases and a little chess jargon, but doesn't "completamente rinnovata e in esclusiva mondiale per Caissa Italia" indicate that this is something more than a pure translation? That theory seems to be supported by the claim of more than 100 annotated games while the German only is said to contain 94.


Anonymous said...

Hhhmm..slightly confused here. Is this a suggestion that the Staunton Gambit is good for white ? My only authority on the Dutch ( Robert Bellin ) says that the Staunton is one of the most crucial challenges to the Dutch but it passes the test 'with flying colours,and the Staunton Gambit is consequently rarely encountered in contemporary praxis' [ though I admit his contemporary was 1990 - have things changed that much ? ].
I hope you aren't telling me that Bellin has it wrong :
Although I admit that in my, so far, limited Dutch experience I haven't seen anyone try it. Mostly, its Bg5 or Nf3, plus g4 etc.
I am more intrigued and impressed by the Dutch the more I try it. For me it will be almost the only thing I will use vs d4, but I can see that morphing to the French or something like the Old or King's Indian would also be useful at times. Variety is the spice of life, but not really of chess life where openings are concerned...

Sverre Johnsen said...

Well, the reviewer obviously believs that there is a 'secret' line in the Staunton which gives White the advantage. As far as I know this is nonsense. There are however other reasons for Black to prefer the move-order 1.d4 e6 if 2.e4 doesn't annoy him.

One relatively new try for White in the Staunton is the line 1.d4 f5 2.e4 fxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Nc6 5.d5 Ne5 6.Qe2!? which looks ugly but has some bite.

ejh said...

That's really odd about the English edition. Why woud that be? Did the first edition sell really badly?

Sverre Johnsen said...

I can think of two reasons:
1) There may be legal (contract/copyright) issues about the English version (which was published by Everyman). This seems unlikely as such restrictions probably would also apply for translations.
2) More likely Quality Chess has noticed that many buyers of well-selling German chess books have felt cheated when there a year or two later appears an updated and extended English edition. Two recent examples are Kindermann's 2002 book "Leningrader System - Eine Waffe gegen 1.d4" which in 2005 appeared in English as "Leningrad System - a Weapon against 1.d4" and Bronznik's books on the Chigorin and Colle-Koltanowski systems which both took only one year to appear in English.
This must be most annoying for those who prefer reading English and read German only as their second or third language (like many Scandinavians). But in Internet discussion forums I have even seen frustrated Germans vowing never again to buy a German chess book.

I believe this problem was a major reason why Gambit Publishing was insistent that "Gewinnen mit Dem Londoner System" should be a pure translation of "Win with London System" and not an updated version.

ejh said...

I'm not sure I completely undestand. Is the issue that the English-speakers get a better, updated version than the German original?

Sverre Johnsen said...

Basically, yes. In these cases (Kindermann and Bronznik's books) the English version was expanded with more recent material and there were improvements and corrections as a result of reviewers' reactions to the original German edition.

In the German edition of my London book, two misprints were corrected and an inconsistency was smoothed out. All analysis and evaluations were kept unchanged, even if it would have been easy to add some recent game references.

ejh said...

Ah, OK.

I wonder. I work in a bookshop in Spain and although it's a children's bookshop, our distributors handle all sorts of other books and it so happens I know the corner of their warehouse where they keep the Spanish versions of books originally published by a certain British publisher. I wonder if these are updated?

Sverre Johnsen said...

I don't know much about the Spanish chess book market so I am afraid I cannot help you. I am fairly certain that Gambit Publishing doesn't update the books they translate to Spanish. But then I don't think they have translated any opening theory books to Spanish either, and for other kinds of chess books there usually isn't much that needs to be updated.

ejh said...

Yes, you might be right there. Some Gambit books have been translated and published by La Casa Del Ajedrez, but on inspection none of the opening theory books (that I know have previously appeared in English) appear to be Gambit's.

Incidentally, Rowson's Chess for Zebras is yet to appear in Spanish, which is a shame as I'd like my teammates to read it!

Sverre Johnsen said...

"Chess for Zebras" is a wonderful book, but I can only read it in small portions as it's very demanding reading and I have to stop and think after every second paragraph!