Sunday, 2 June 2013

Streetfighting Chess

"Streetfighting Chess" by Andrew Burnett is a book I quite enjoyed. Burnett, a Scottish tournament player, aims the book at players in the 1500-2000 rating group, with the aim of showing how a more aggressive style can improve your enjoyment of chess. Importantly he notes at the start of the book that his book will not make you a World Champion, but that does not stop you from achieving other, more reachable goals.
In the book he provides a number of example of "Streetfighting Chess" from his own games, as well as a selection from other players (Tal and Larsen amongst them). The obvious themes in this book are of course tactical awareness and the importance of the initiative. He does however make the distinction between attacks based on practical considerations and the 'mad hackers' school of chess, where multiple sacrifices leave you without enough pieces to effect a checkmate! Sacrifices are a lot sounder if you still have the rest of your army ready to go to work.
There is also a healthy dose of psychology in the book, recognising that the reputation as an attacking player can put your opponent on the defensive, even before a move has been played. While not advocating the hollow bluff, moves that pose multiple numbers of questions to your opponents may result in them finding the wrong answer.
Overall I found the book especially appealed to me, as it took me back to my early days of chess. Before I tried to be the super serious player, often my tournament were measured in the number of sacrifices I played, as opposed to the points I ground out. Burnett seems to have a similar approach to the game, as he freely admits that not all his moves would escape the scrutiny of an exacting (or computer aided) post mortem. Indeed he is refreshingly honest in his own analysis, pointing out where his missed better moves, or where he mucked up his opening prep.
If you are looking for an enjoyable book that is geared towards the average club player, the I would highly recommend this one. I enjoyed playing through the games, and some of his observations on how to conduct attacks were new to me.

My copy of "Streetfighting Chess" is courtesy of e+Books which provides chess books via their excellent e+Chess reader for the iPad.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the good review Shaun and glad you enjoyed the book :)
Andy Burnett