Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Football and Chess

"Football & Chess" is the title of a book I purchased the other day. Written by Adam Wells it looks at the similarities between the games, especially in the area of football tactics. Now at this stage I have only flicked through it, but I kind of have the feeling it is a title in search of a subject. While there is no denying that on the surface football can look like chess, I'm not sure how well it works in practice. This feeling is reinforced by the fact the while the book contains chess diagrams and football diagrams in equal measure, there are no moves attached to the diagrams. So while the author may highlight the importance of 'using space' with a diagram from Smyslov v Botvinnik (1954), how that is converted into a winning position is only described in general terms, rather than with specific moves.
Having said all that, I actually didn't buy the book to learn more about chess. What I did by the book for was to learn more about football tactics and structure. I've always seen football (which I played quite a lot as a kid) as a fairly unstructured activity, with not a lot of tactics behind it. However I realise at the higher levels this isn't the case and a book like this provides a good entry point into the world of football strategy. Interestingly the bits I have read tend to focus on the Dutch teams of the 1970's (total football and all that) and I am wondering if this is a deliberate choice, in part because of the importance of chess and football in the Dutch culture at that time.
Overall I suspect I will get more out of this book from a football point of view, but that the chess analogies may help me understand more.

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