Tuesday 13 April 2021

Chess for beginners - by beginners

 Surely a sign of the growing popularity of chess is the availability of chess magazines in the local news agency. "Chess for Beginners" was spotted by my wife while out shopping on Sunday, and so she thought it would make a nice addition to my collection, even if it weighed in at a hefty $20. Nonetheless it is a well laid out and colourful publication, with plenty of pictures and diagrams in its 160 pages.

The only problem is it doesn't seem to be written by people who actually play chess. The first warning sign is on the cover(!), where the board is set up the wrong way (white not on right). This error is repeated on and off throughout the magazine, and even when the board is the right way around, the king and queen are sometimes on the wrong starting squares instead. 

And while most of the advice given is fairly harmless (and sometimes useful), one odd piece stood out. "Chess is not about dominating the board or taking the most pieces". Well actually, it usually is, but to demonstrate the point, they included a game. Without checking ahead I showed this game to a group of students today, thinking that it involved a brilliant set of sacrifices that led to a checkmate. In a sense it did, as in the magazine Black did win by checkmate. But when I showed the last moves I wondered why White did not choose a better defensive move, which avoided the mate and simply won. A bit of digging then revealed the truth. The game chosen actually ended in a win for White (instead of Black), but they simply changed White's last move to support the point they were making. Here is the real game (with 29.cxb4 and not 29.Nxb4) , instead.

(* Thanks to Ralph Jackson for suggesting the title to this post *)

Sliwa,Bogdan - Bronstein,David I [A81]
Gotha Gotha (4), 12.09.1957

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