Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Exploration in Chess Beauty

"Exploration in Chess Beauty" is the aptly named book by IM Andras Toth. It is a book that looks at chess problems and the joy that such problems bring, both to the solver, and to the observer. Toth highlights this feeling with a story about his own father. He recalls showing his father the solution to a problem by Kubbel. Despite his own modest chess ability, his father was so impressed by what he had seen, that he grabbed the set, the problem and Andras himself and went next door to share the solution with his brother, an even weaker player. The fact that two "non serious" players were so excited about a chess problem had a lasting effect on Andras.
While the starting point of the book, as well as each of the chapters are problems related to a theme ("The Mighty Pawn", "The Tricky Knight", "The Secrets of the Starting Position"), the book does not deal exclusively in puzzles. There are a number of games drawn from contemporary praxis, which utilise the same ideas and motifs. An example is in the section on pawns, where after demonstrating the power of the pawn in constructed positions, the game Serper -Nikolaidis shows how mighty the pawn can truly be. It is this marriage of the "theoretical" with the "practical" that I feel is the real strength of this work.
If you have read "Secrets of Spectacular Chess" then the theme of this book may seem a little familiar. Toth recognises this, even going so far as to declare "Secrets of Spectacular Chess" as the best book in this area. Nonetheless he hopes that he has written at least the second best book in the field, using a simpler and less scientific approach. While devotes one chapter to the beauty of composing problems (and the technical issues involved), he does not get bogged down in the jargon of composition.
While this book is good enough to stand on its own, it is worth mentioning the form it takes. It is an eBook from e+Chess, and is available for the iPad/iPod/Iphone platform. The benefit of this format is twofold. Firstly the solutions to each of the problems are initially hidden, and will only be revealed at the time of your choosing. Secondly, you don't need a chess board to play through the solutions or games, as the book comes with its own board, and you can simply move through the games with the touch of a finger.
Overall I found this book both interesting and challenging, and I would recommend it to anyone who regards chess as more than simple competition. Toth has clearly put a lot of effort into a subject close to his heart, and it shows in the final product.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That app looks mighty interesting.