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Elements of Chess Strategy

Elements of Chess Strategy

Author: Alexei Kosikov

Publisher: Gambit, 160 pages

Usually, when finishing reading a chess book (usually I do it from cover to cover), I take some break to re-adjust my plan (the chess one), shuffling my library books, as a new one has acquired a priority to be read. But I couldn’t resist myself to turn on my laptop, in order write his review and share with my friends my opinion and impression about Kosikov’s Elements.

The book contains 5 chapters:

  1. Devising  a plan in a Game of Chess
  2. ‘STOPS’ – a system of self-discipline in chess
  3. The advantage of the bishop-pair
  4. Warning – Trap ahead!
  5. Opposite bishops in the middle game

Although the chapters’ titles are self-explanatories (except perhaps for the second one), when I get deep in each one, I discovered a new approach to look at the chess board and at each piece in a new angle, though some positions are famous and classical ones.

How to make a plan? What should I do now? Are common questions that the player always asks to himself. Kosikov deals with them in a professional manner, as his main concern is not opening theory (nothing about it in the book) but how to formulate a plan in the middle game.

What attracted me is the new approach in writing the book. Most books give diagrams, asking the reader to try to solve or suggest some solutions which he can find at the end of the chapter or the book .But not in this one. Kosikov forces the reader to spend some time trying to solve one position at a time, then jump to the solution part, reads it, analyses it, before returning to the next one, otherwise he can’t continue reading the remaining part of the subject under discussion!! And sometimes you have to jump twice!!

In Chapter one, the Principle of two weaknesses is the main issue, and this alone will force the reader to contemplate his play and wonder how many opportunities he let go in his games without taking into consideration this major concept. Also this chapter deals with the prophylactic thinking, a Dvoretsky’s main approach, to be compared in the last chapter with Nimowitsch’s prophylactic. Kosikov also answers a common question: why this GM is moving this or that piece without making any threat, under the sub-header: Maneuvering, going inside the player’s mind.

How to evaluate your status during and after the game? The answer is found in the second chapter. The ‘STOPS’ system is a self-discipline one, which Kosikov himself uses it in his game. A short by a very useful one, and very helpful to control your mind and  status  during the game and  in the tournament.

Chapter 3 (The advantage of the Bishop-pair) is the bulk of the book, in which the author discusses, in details, all the possibilities of the presence of the bishop: 2 bishops, bishop vs. knight, 2 bishops vs. 2 knights (I like very much his new element- advantage of the 2 knights!!), with or without queens, with or without rook(s), and the related pawn structure. This chapter alone deserves to be a subject of independent book. But he succeeded in sending the crème de la crème to the reader. Though the final chapter can be integrated with this one, Kosikov preferred to separate the Opposite Bishops attacking potential in the middle game into a lone chapter.

A very wetting and entertaining subject, the Trap Ahead, is discussed in the chapter 4. I will summarize it by the following position:

In this game between BouAziz (White) and Miles, black continued:

42..Rc1 43 Rc2 Qb1 44 Rdd2 Rh1 45 c7..

What happened next? I will let you discover by yourself.

In every sub-title of every chapter, a lot of psychological problems are discussed, all of them have practical impacts on the game undergoing and decision making by the player. And all those problems have been solved by Korsakov’s approach, typical games positions and practical advices.

In general, the book is very instructive, witty, with no instance of boring feeling, the variations are reduced to the minimum, and all the diagrams, positions and games deserve to be known by every player.

Just few words (sorry but I have to admit that that would be unfair) about the author: Alexei Kosikov: a chess master from Ukraine, a big contributor in Dvoretsky’s famous books. His pupils include GM Vladimir Baklan and GM Dmitry Komarov (The later is working now as coach in Sharjah Club – UAE).

If I couldn’t motivate your appetite for this book, please try to answer the following 2 questions:

1. How can you save a hopeless position if your opponent isn’t going to make any mistake?

2. In a 40-move game, how many moves are particularly important, decisive, and critical?

Feel curious about the answers?! Simple: Go and read the book. You will not regret that you spend time reading it.

Highly recommended for serious and competitive player.

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