Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Interview with London Author

At freechess.info there is now an interesting interview with Marcus Schmücker - the author of "Das London-System".

I for a moment considered translating it to English, as I assume that a considerable number of my readers will have problem following the interview in German language. On second thought I dropped the idea, as I assume that those who don't read German will have relatively little interest in the book as well as in the author. So I decided only to extract and translate (rather loosely) some of the points that I found interesting:

  • When my book was 80% ready, the English version of GM Kovacevic' book was published. At first I was a bit unhappy about this poor luck but it soon turned out that there were not only disadvantages in this apparently unfortunate timing. It turned out that he was following other paths and that most of my work was still worth publishing.
    My (SJ) comment: I am not in the publishing business but my guess is that the ideal timing for a book is 3-6 months after a good competing book is published. That allows you to list the competing book in your bibliography and include some essential analysis without allowing the first book to completely 'tap' the market.
  • I consider the strongest point in my book to be that it offers the readers a simple receipt and a lot of fresh ideas. For instance I recommend the set-up with 2.Nf3 and 3.Bf4 while Kovacevic examines both 2.Nf3 and 2.Bf4 with his main emphasis on the latter. In addition there is the fact that I only consider positions arising after 1.d4 d5. Against the King's Indian or the Queen's Indian I was unable even after deep research to find a promising path to advantage. In the introduction I have given my reasons for this decision and consequently omitted the analysis of these lines. So those who would like to play the London System "against everything" will need to get Kovacevic' book in addition to mine.
    My (SJ) comment: First of all I don't quite understand why he omitted the lines demonstrating that the London doesn't offer an advantage against 1...Nf6. Maybe there simply were too many lines that ultimately failed? Or maybe he didn't want to help potential black players? I have not yet seen the book and really look forward to reading the introduction.

    Schmücker probably has a point that including both the 2.Bf4 and the 2.Nf3 move-orders in our book made it slightly less accessible. Organizing the material was a quite hard task and I can see that for a reader preferring the 2.Nf3 move-order it can in some cases be hard to find the relevant material.

    It certainly was an interesting decision to only include 1.d4 d5 lines. I agree that the London System is more likely to achieve an edge after 1...d5. In Game 1 in our London book we write after 1.d4 d5: "The London System can be played after virtually any black set-up but is probably most effective against this classical reply." Consequently Schmücker probably has a slightly easier task to prove an edge for White. Yet I doubt it was a wise decision as I perceive the typical London player as a slightly lazy character who would very much like to play the same system against all of Black's replies to 1.d4.
  • I chose to self publish this book in order to minimize the risk and see how the book was received. It will be considerably easier to contact a publishing company if I can refer to a success with this book. For my next projects I will choose the direct way.
    My (SJ) comment: I don't quite understand Schmücker's reasoning here. There may well be ways to self publishing a book so that there is little or no financial risk. But with a normal contract with a publishing company you are guaranteed at least a small fee. Probably he was worried that they would turn down an untitled author but I can see no other risk than being rejected. Personally I have found it very convenient to have a professional chess publisher to rely on. Gambit Publishing provided good general advice, helped me with the English language and did a very good (semi-automated, I think) proof-reading. In addition they ensured a good technical quality (cover, paper quality, binding, printing etc.).
  • My next book will examine a certain system in the Dutch Leningrad which currently hardly ever is played and therefore will be a good surprise weapon.
    My (SJ) comment: This is very interesting - can he have the 6...c6 system in mind?

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