Thursday, 9 July 2009

Chess Fundamentals

In terms of influential chess books, "My System" nearly always gets a mention. After that I've seen various other books mentioned, but one book that both seems to get listed a fair bit, and yet I am always surprised to see it mentioned, is "Chess Fundamantals" by J.R. Capablanca.
I have a couple of copies (including a 1921 copy purchased for $10) but I seem to be missing it's significance. To me it seems to be a book that "shows" things, rather than "explains" things, and jumps between being a beginner's tome to a collection of games and positions. Of course Capablanca may not have intended to to be an instructional manual in the traditional sense, although the is how it seems to be treated.
Of course I could just be missing the point, which is entirely plausible given how long it took me to discover Nimzowitsch.


Anonymous said...

I have a copy of the algebric version of this great book. It served me well and inspired me to go for Capablanca's three other books: My Chess Career, A primer of Chess and Capablanca's Last Chess Lectures. These books are difficult to describe. While there are fantastic books available on different parts of the game, Chess Fundamentals are one of those very few books, which can be easily mastered in total (for example: another one is common sense in chess by lasker) and really teaches the basics of chess. It begins with very simple endgames and provides a definitive clue for simple things to be known and enjoyed in our games.
As Capablanca's this book and Fischer's My 60 Memorable Games were the only two books available to me for a long time, perhaps, I am a bit too biased to judge the real value of them. All I can say that these two books helped me in the past, helps me often now and I am sure will part of my affectionate skimming for rest of my life.


Robinson said...

I've looked through this Capa book and "A Primer..." many times in bookstores, having read this same praise, but never buying it (or the other) for the same reasons in your post. On scanning the book, it does seem to be "more of the same" without any particular insightful explanations. If someone can tell me one thing that it has that couldn't be found in many other places, then I might change my opinion. Maybe if I had discovered it when I was first learning chess....On the other hand, I wonder which books at this level and containing the same kind of material people now consider best.