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2 joyful books to read, and a disappointing one

There are several criteria needed for a book to catch your interest in buying it. The 2 main ones are: the title and the author name, and as a bonus of support the publisher reputation. Today I am presenting to you, dear reader, 3 books which has the same bonus level: the publisher, and not any one: New In Chess.

The first one:

Title: The Joys of Chess, Author: Christian Hesse, 432 pages (!)

The second one:

Title: Move First, Think Later, Author: Willy Hendriks, 256 pages.

The third one: Modern Chess Preparation, Author: Vladimir Tukmakov, 288 pages.

Let’s play, dear reader, a little game together, named: What to choose? The basic rule of the game is simple: You are asked to choose one of those 3 books, just one, but without taking a look to the contents, or the back cover of them. What to choose?

The first criteria your will base your choice on it is the title. Well, from the 3 titles under question, a serious one will top the 2 others, the Modern Chess Preparation, as the seriousness of the title will push your hand to take it to your library. If you add the name (Tukmakov) as an extra factor, you will think you have made the right choice. Please forgive me to tell you that you made the worst choice.

From what you SEE on the cover of the Tukmakov book, you will get the impression that this book will guide you how to prepare beforehand for the game, including the opening, middle-game and End-game phases. And what does the improving player need other than this, with a Tukmakov approval?! You buy the book, start fetching the contents index, then reading the 3 chapters that constitute the bulk of the book, and finished by regretting your choice. The 3 chapters are: The Evolution of Preparation, The Computer Era and Deciding games. The conclusion that you will get is that the book is a collection of games, where some annotations are put at some critical moves or variations, without any mention of its preparation. Nothing is mentioned on the Opening preparation, or Middle/End game phases. The only 2 hints that the book presents are: Study the classics, and, Know yourself. A very disappointing choice, especially that there is no bibliography or guide to the reader of which books as reference to read in order to study the classics or to know himself!!

This leaves us with 2 authors unknown to us, to a certain extend. Move First Think Later title immediately put the name Bent Larsen blink in my head, the late Danish Grand Master which was famous for this approach. The author Willy Hendriks delves deeply, and in a humoristic style, in the work of the human mind and how the player learns and plays chess; a very and interesting approach, especially that nearly each of the 27 (!) chapters is presented with diagrams to be solved (and trapped!!) by the reader, and how the reader’s mind worked and processed the information gathered from the diagrams and other readings in order to reach a certain conclusion. What distinguish it more, is the great sense of humor that pushes you to continue reading the next chapter, then the next one, then the next one, … A good choice for your investment in a book written by a chess trainer for over 25 years!!

For the remaining one, the Joys of Chess, I will summarize my impression using 2 expressions: One of the best books I ever read, and, I wish it was composed of 4320 pages! The Harvard professor Christian Hess wrote a book that really let you feel the joy of chess with every sentence, page and chapter. He takes you in a long ride in the history of the chess, its original form in the Indian, Persia and Arab eras, to the modern one, not to mention the beauty of the chess compositions and studies and its corresponding curiosities. Enough to know that no other than Vladimir Kramnik wrote the Afterword. It is the first time I see a book in which the author puts 8 pages (!!) as index of literature for further readings. I didn’t count how many chapters the book is composed of, but enough to know that each one is composed of 3-6 pages, with intense joy. This is a book to buy without asking for its material price.

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