Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Elburg on Win with the Stonewall Dutch

I am for the moment struggling with the Noteboom and some Stonewall lines and just note in passing that another review of 'Win with the Stonewall Dutch' has appeared. This time it's John Elburg - a little early with his reviews of August 1st. His review is positive (as they almost always are - even for quite poor books) and contains some useful information for potential buyers. Unfortunately he this time has missed the fact that Ivar Bern is a co-author (mentioning only Sverre Johnsen and Simen Agdestein). It's a pity that Elburg's command of the English language is lacking to the extent that it will be hard to find a complete sentence to quote. My guess is that Gambit on the book's info page will go for:
Conclusion: A very important reference work of the Dutch Stonewall!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Stonewall Omissions I

So far all reviews of 'Win with the Stonewall Dutch' have been very positive. Nevertheless some readers - presumably experienced Dutch players - have expressed disappointment that some lines have been omitted or received insufficient coverage. Some of these reactions are in my opinion very well founded while others appear a bit strange. I will return to the specifics in later entries (my brain is in holyday mode and I don't have a lot of Internet access). However, first I would like to share some thoughts and information about how the size and content of a book is decided.

Our contract with Gambit for 'Win with the Stonewall Dutch' specified that the book should be 192-208 B5 (= large format) pages. This was what the publishers considered the ideal size, taking the intended audience and the book's retail price into account (contrary to what some theory buffs may believe a bigger book may well sell less).

What we actually delivered was the maximum 208 pages plus a little more as we also fully spent the extra 10% that one of Gambit's staff informed us could normally be squeezed in by typographic means. This we did despite knowing perfectly well that the effect might be crowded pages considerably less inviting to the eye than a more spacious lay-out. Thankfully, the result instead was a great looking book of 223 pages. A good deal for the customer but probably not so great for Gambit Publishing who no doubt had to pay extra for printing these extra pages with no possibility to raise their announced price.

My message? Well, just pointing out that in order to add something to the (already oversized) book, we would have had to deduct something too. I am well aware that this could have been done without the book suffering greatly but must say that I am quite fond of what we decided to keep.

Monday, July 20, 2009

First English Reviews

During the week-end there appeared two reviews of 'Win with the Stonewall Dutch'. I'm fairly busy now and they both speak for themselves so I just note that they both are positive and contain very little if any criticism and give the links:

There are also some comments that come quite close to a review at Thomas Johansson's chess book page (this page opens an ad and at least one pop-up). I will return to this as it raises some questions that deserve to be answered.

I will also eventually have a look at some of the questions raised in this thread at Chess Publishing discussion forum.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Stonewall Reviewed

Another Stonewall review in German is available at Freechess.Info. This review too is very positive. However, curiously it seems more enthusiastic about the Stonewall Defence than about the book. Well, as a matter of fact choosing a fitting subject IS an important part of writing a good book and the Stonewall has a lot of good qualities.

As this still is an English language blog I will attempt another translation (Red = German; Green = English):

Der Stonewall ist schon eine fabelhafte Eröffnung!

Als Nachziehender baut man sich mittels der immer gleichen Anfangszüge c6, d5, e6, f5 nebst Sf6 auf. Anschließend noch flugs den Läufer auf d6 manövriert, kurze Rochade und ab geht die Luzi (wie zum Beispiel in der Partie GLÜCKSBERG - M. NAJDORF Warschau 1935: 1.d4 f5 2.c4 Sf6 3.Sc3 e6 4.Sf3 d5 5.e3 c6 6.Ld3 Ld6 7.0-0 0-0 8.Se2? Sbd7 9.Sg5? L:h2+ 10.Kh1 Sg4 11.f4 De8 12.g3 Dh5 13.Kg2 Lg1 14.S:g1 Dh2+ 15.Kf3 e5! 16.d:e5 Sd:e5+ 17.f:e5 S:e5+ 18.Kf4 Sg6+ 19.Kf3 f4 20.e:f4 Lg4+ 21.K:g4 Se5+ 22.f:e5 h5 0-1 ).

The Stonewall is a marvellous opening!

Black always sets up the same formation: c6, d5, e6, f5 and Nf6. Then the bishop goes to d6, short castling and off we go (as for instance the game Glücksberg-Najdorf, Warsaw 1935).

Damit die Anwendung des Stonewalls in der Praxis nicht wie das Hornberger Schießen ausgeht (1564 kündigte der Herzog von Württemberg seinen Besuch in Hornberg an. Ein Wächter sollte den Gast per Hornsignal voranmelden, damit man zur Begrüßung Böller- und Kanonendonner abfeuern konnte. Zweimal gab er jedoch falschen Alarm. Als der hohe Gast dann wirklich kam, hatten die Hornberger buchstäblich "ihr Pulver verschossen", und so begrüßten sie den Herzog mit einem lauten "Piff-paff" aus tausend Männerkehlen.) haben Sverre Johnson (sic.), Ivar Bern und Simen Adgestein (sic.) das vor mir liegende Buch geschrieben. Es befasst sich aus der Sicht des Schwarzen mit dieser Eröffnung, die bereits Botwinnik regelmäßig anzuwenden pflegte und die im Repertoire führender Großmeister (Short, Dreev, Moskalenko) zu finden ist.

In order to prevent the practical use of of the Stonewall from outcomes as in the "Hornberg shooting" - a German saying for all bullets being shot elsewhere - Sverre Johnsen, Ivar Bern and Simen Agdestein have written the book which lies in front of me. It examins from Black's viewpoint this opening which already Botwinnik played regularly and which is in the repertoire of leading contemporary grandmasters like Short, Dreev and Moskalenko.

In 12 Kapiteln und mehr als 60 ausgewählten Musterpartien + zusätzlicher theoretischer Übersichten führen die Autoren den Leser an eine leicht zu erlernende Eröffnung heran. In der Tat ist die schwarze Strategie entwaffnend einfach als auch brandgefährlich! In jedem Kapitel gibt es mehrere kommentierte Partien die auf Besonderheiten und wichtige Haupt- und Nebenvarianten hinweisen.

The authors introduce the reader to an easy-to-learn opening in 12 chapters and more than 60 selected Illustrative games and additional theoretical overviews. Black's strategy is actually as simple as it's dangerous! In every chapter there are several annotated games which point out important features as well as main- and sub-variations.

Geschriebenes Wort und Analyse sind wohltuend ausgewogen und strapazieren den Leser nicht unnötig mit ellenlangen Variantenverästelungen. Neueste Entwicklungen wurden genauso berücksichtigt wie vergleichbare Publikationen, ebenso wurden die angefertigten Analysen sorgfältig geprüft und von diversen Engines „abgesegnet“. Im Grunde genommen ist dieses Buch ein komplettes Schwarzrepertoire gegen alles außer 1.e4, die Autoren geben Empfehlungen gegen 1.d4, 1.c4, 1.Sf3 und 1.b3/1.g3.

The prose as well as the analysis are comfortingly well balanced and don't bother the reader unnecessarily with overly long variations. Recent developments as well as comparable publications are taken into account. The resulting variations are carefully tested and checked by various computer engines. The authors give recommendations against 1.d4, 1.c4, 1.Nf3 and 1.b3/1.g3 so in reality this is a complete black repertoire for everything except 1.e4.

Für wen ist das Buch zu empfehlen?
- Für Spieler mit wenig Zeit für das Eröffnungsstudium da im Stonewall das Wissen um Pläne und Strategien wichtiger ist als einzelne Züge.
- Für Spieler, die mit Schwarz um die Initiative kämpfen wollen ohne unnötige Risiken einzugehen.
- Für Spieler, die schon lange auf der Suche nach einem vernünftigen Schwarzrepertoire gegen alles außer 1.e4 sind.
Wie gesagt, der Stonewall ist eine fabelhafte Eröffnung.
Das Buch ist übrigens auch fabelhaft und deswegen ein Daumen hoch von meiner Seite!

For who can this book be recommended?
- For players with little time for opening preparation, as in the Stonewall understanding of plans and strategies is more important than single moves.
- For playes who like to seize the initiative with Black without taking unnecessary risks.
- For players who for a long time have been looking for an opening against everything except 1.e4.
As already said: The Stonewall is a marvellous opening.
The book is incidentally also marvellous and I give it thumbs up!

I hope this translation is not too far off the mark. The text contains some idioms that are unfamiliar to me and help from the readers would be appreciated!

Updated July the 15th:
I have adjusted the translation based on some feed-back from Stephan Busemann. Thanks!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

First Stonewall Review

I was expecting John Elburg to be first before British Chess Magazine. But it turned out that Deutscher Fernschachbund (BdF) - the German Correspondence Chess Federation was the first to deliver a regular review of our Stonewall book. The reviewer is very positive (even though he has some reservations regarding the subject. As it's in German here is an attempt to translate (Red = German, Green = English):

Schachbücher aus der Feder von Fernschachspielern sind rar. Dies gilt besonders, wenn der Autor zu den besten in der Welt zählen soll. So ist bei "Win with the Stonewall Dutch" beim Namen der Verfasser ein erstes Ausrufezeichen zu setzen, denn Co-Autor ist Ivar Bern, 17. Fernschach-Weltmeister. Mitverfasser ist Sverre Johnsen, Simen Agdestein hat ebenfalls beigetragen. Die hochgesteckte Erwartung in die Qualität des Werkes, besonders in seine Akkuratesse, wird dann aber beim Lesen des Rückentextes auf die Probe gestellt. Man hat es tatsächlich geschafft, den Namen Ivar Berns in Ivan Bern zu verstümmeln.

Chess books from the pen of correspondence chess players are rare। This is in particular so if the author is among the best in the world. This is the case with " Win with the Stonewall Dutch". The names of the authors earn a first exclamation mark, because the 17. correspondence chess world champion - Ivar Bern - is a co-author. The other co-author is Sverre Johnsen and Simen Agdestein has likewise contributed. However, the high expectations to the quality of the work - in particular its accuracy - are challenged when reading the back text of the book which succeeds in mutilating the name Ivar Bern into Ivan Bern.

Das Material zum holländischen Stonewall aber wird dann sehr solide dargestellt. 64 Partien, fünf davon vom Ex-Weltmeister selbst gespielt (+4, -0, =1). Mit den zwei weiteren Fernschachpartien beträgt deren Anteil insgesamt mehr als zehn Prozent.

The material on the Dutch Stonewall, however, is presented very solidly. Out of 64 games, five are by the Ex-World Champion (+4, -0, =1). Together with two further correspondence games this category altogether totals more than ten per cent.

Der Aufbau der insgesamt 12 Kapitel mutet etwas ungewöhnlich an. Den Anfang macht eine ultra-kurze Übersicht ("Lesson Overview") zum jeweiligen Thema. Dieser folgen mehrere ausführlich kommentierte Partien. Auffälig an diesen Partien ist, dass die Autoren so etwas wie ein FAQ-System eingearbeitet haben. So wie man es von derartigen Systemen kennt, erscheint im Text ein "Q" (für "Question", = Frage) und eine Fragestellung aus der Warte des Lesers, beides kursiv gedruckt. Mal geht es dabei um allgemeine Dinge zum System, dann um spezifische Stellungsfragen und dann wieder um Pläne, Einschätzungen etc. Die Antwort wird jeweils unmittelbar gegeben. Den Partien sowie der diesen nachgestellten Zusammenfassung der aus ihnen abzuleitenden Erkenntnisse schließt sich eine dem Leser gestellte Übung an. Nun erst, das Kapitel abschließend, wird die Theorie in allgemeiner Form dargestellt.

Die Kapitel haben folgende Inhalte:

The structure of the altogether 12 chapters is somewhat unfamiliar. An ultra short overview ('Lesson Overview') introduces the respective topics. These are followed by several games annotated in detail. What is peculiar is that in these games the authors have included something reminding of a FAQ system. As you may recognize from similar systems in the text there appears a "Q" (="Question") and then a question from the viewpoint of a reader, both in italics. Sometimes the question concerns the system in general, at other places specific position or plans, evaluations etc. In each case the answer is directly given. The games and the subsequent summaries of the insights derived from them are followed by exercises for the reader. Only then, closing the chapter, the theory in general form is offered.

The chapters have the following contents:

1. 7. b3: Einführung
2. Das kritische 7. b3 De7 8. Se5!
3. 7. Dc2, 7. Sc3 und seltene 7. Züge
4. 7. Lf4
5. Abspiele mit einem verspäteten Lf4
6. Frühe Abweichungen
7. 4. c4 mit Sh3
8. 2. c4: Abspiele ohne Fianchetto
9. 2. Sf3: Abspiele ohne Fianchetto
10. 2. Sc3 und 2. Lg5
11. Staunton-Gambit und seltene zweite Züge
12. 1. c4, 1. Sf3 und 1. g3.

{translation of the Table of Content}

Den Abschluss des Werkes bilden die Lösungen auf die Übungen in den einzelnen Kapiteln, ein Varianten- und ein Spielerverzeichnis.

The book concludes with the solution to the exercizes from the previous chapters and indexes of variations and players.

Die abschließende Einschätzung des Rezensenten zum Werk soll in dessen eigenen FAQ-Stil erfolgen: F: Sind Sie der Ansicht, dass dieses Buch zum Kauf empfohlen werden kann? Ja, dieser Ansicht bin ich. Es gibt einen umfassenden Überblick über den holländischen Stonewall und zeichnet sich durch einen genügenden Tiefgang aus. Wenn der Partieerfolg des Lesers ausbleiben sollte, wird dies an dessen eigenen Fehlern und vielleicht auch dem nicht ganz gesunden Eröffnungssystem liegen, nicht aber an "Win with the Stonewall Dutch".

The reviewer's concluding evaluation of the work will be in its own FAQ style:
Q: Is it your opinion that this book can be recommended to buy? Yes, this is my opinion. The book offers a comprehensive overview over the Dutch Stonewall and is also sufficiently deep. If the reader isn't happy with his results, he must blame his own mistakes or a opening system that may not be completely sound, but not " Win with the Stonewall Dutch".

I am not entirely happy with this translation so quite likely I will try to improve it one of the first days.

Updated July the 15th and July the 24th:
I adjusted the translation based on some feed-back from Stephan Busemann on the 15th of July and again on the 24th due to his explanation. Thanks!