## Weekly chess studies #22:

The following study is taken from another brilliant publication by Mark Dvoretsky, Studies for practical players.

## Jan Timman

White to play and win

## Weekly chess studies #22:

The following study is taken from another brilliant publication by Mark Dvoretsky, Studies for practical players.

## Jan Timman

White to play and win

## Variational Debris

Mark Dvoretsky is widely regarded as one of the best chess teachers ever. And indeed, many young Russian talents went through his hands and a lot of them managed to gain the Grandmaster title.

Recently, I’ve started reading his masterpiece, Dvoretsky’s Analytical Manual and I have to admit, this book made me realize how far I am from chess mastery.

I was so fascinated with it, that I immediately become one of Dvoretsky’s preachers and posted one position as a part of a Quora answer.  The answer attracted some interest and I have realized that it might be useful to post Dvoretsky’s work and make his examples available to the broader public.

The following position is taken from the fourth chapter of the afore-mentioned Analytical Manual and is titled Variational Debris.

Mark Dvoretsky’s comment follows below. Make sure you read it, as Dvoretsky explain what is the task incorporated in this position and how you should approach solving it.

The term “variational debris” refers to the situation in which we must calculate a number of variations, each of which breaks down – more than once – into sub-variations, some of them fairly long. This kind of task is exceptionally difficult and there are few grandmasters, even among the elite, who can solve it consistently.
Training ourselves to calculate such positions is most useful; it allows the development of several habits vital for any chess player. I would like to enumerate some of them:
– The ability to maintain concentration and disciplined thinking for an extended period required for solving the exercise.
– Resourcefulness
– Calculating technique – first and foremost, the timely determination of every sensible candidate-move, both for oneself and for one’s opponent, at different stages, followed by systematic checking
– The ability clearly to picture, and where possible, accurately to evaluate the high volume of positions arising in the course of our analysis.
Note the last point. Quite often, having begun the study of a variation, when we run into difficulties somewhere, or spotting an interesting alternative a few moves earlier, we immediately switch over to the analysis of this new variation.
And if we have to return to the previous variation later, we must then calculate it again, from the beginning, because we drew no conclusions about it. In order to avoid such a pointless waste of time and strength, I recommend that you stop periodically to fix in your mind the outcome of the work you have just done. And should you be unable to give a precise assessment at the moment, then a conditional one will do. For example, some position might arise by force, and appear quite promising (or the reverse, dangerous). Later, if you must come back to it, you may continue the analysis from this point rather than the starting point.
For your consideration, I offer the following difficult exercise, which I am quite fond of. It is not at all because it is so complex (as if that were a goal in itself!), but above, because of the clear-cut nature of most of the variations that must be calculated before making a final decision.
Give yourself some extra time(an hour, at least), and calculate the variations one after the other, until you can make an accurate assessment of each final position. Count yourself successful if you come to the correct decision. Another important criterion of the success of your work will be the number of accurately calculated and properly evaluated variations and sub-variations, whether short or long, that you have rejected because of their inferiority, or contrariwise- used them as the basis for your choice.
I must warn you that although I believe this problem is solvable in principle, so far not one of the grandmasters to whom it was offered has been able to solve it correctly – that is, to calculate accurately most of the necessary variations.
Naturally, this gives rise to the question of whether it is right to set a task that, under tournament conditions, would probably prove impossible to solve, especially considering there would most likely not be the sufficient time in which to solve it? Arguing this question, as interesting and as important as it is, would take us too far afield. Let me just say that the well-known aphorism, “If schooling is hard, then the battle will be easy!” is true not just in combat situations. Having trained yourselves to solve the most complex problems, you will find it easier to deal with any sort of problem – both easy and relatively hard- over the board.
One thing more; the game from which this exercise is taken is the first one from the best games collection of Vladimir Pavlovich Simagin. I treasure this little book, and at one time subjected it to careful study. It was played in a second-category tournament! Despite his young age and modest chess qualifications, the grandmaster to be executed a pretty combination (it is not really important whether the execution was flawless or not), which was overlooked by many solvers years later. Again, food for thought, concerning the inflation of rankings and titles, and appearance of chess talent at ever younger ages, and of the possibility for full-fledged creativity, even in the early stages of a chess players development

## The solution:

The solution is very lengthy and painstaking, but I think it is worth going through all variations, as they are the best demonstration of the richness of the position and of the inexhaustible nature of chess.

## Introduction

Nowadays, publishing a chess book has become easier than ever before. Due to the accessibility of information chess knowledge has become available to almost anyone. Also, in the modern chess, the opening stage is more important than ever before. Memorizing openings basically comes down to processing huge amounts of data.

Therefore, it is no wonder that numerous books are published dedicated to a specific opening line. Nearly anyone with a decent chess strength who is willing to put some time and effort can write a book. Willingness to work has thus become more important than an actual understanding of the game.

And even though I think that this availability of information has done wonders for chess, I also think there are some negative side effects connected to the hyper-productivity. Since huge amounts of chess books are being published every day, there is simply no time to evaluate every single one of them properly.

In other words, the quality control and assurance are non-existent. However, there is a tested method of selecting chess books that have managed to endure the test of time and that guarantees at least a certain degree of quality.

You see, in the past, when the world was much slower and chess much less developed, the task of spreading chess knowledge fell on the very best players in the world. There was hardly a world champion that hasn’t written at least one book during his life.

Therefore, I have decided to write this post, focusing on the very best of the very best. I have assembled a list of my favorite chess books written by World Champions.

As every other list on this blog, this one is highly subjective. Since I have tried not to make it too long, I may have cut out some titles that could have been included.

But in any case, I firmly believe that you can hardly go wrong by selecting any of the books on this list. You will learn a lot about chess, about chess culture, about chess players, and about chess history in general.

## Garry Kasparov on my Great Predecessors

Let’s kick off this post with very famous and celebrated series by the 13th World Champion and arguably the greatest player ever – Garry Kasparov.

In his series, On My Great Predecessors, Kasparov embarks on a monumental task of trying to make a complete overview of the chess history.

The series consists of five books overall. Kasparov has dedicated a greater/smaller number of pages to every World Champion, depending on the importance of the player and his corresponding heritage. Also, Kasparov acknowledges the greatness of Viktor Korchnoi and squeezes him between the World Champions.

Apart from World Champions and Korchnoi, the books also cover life and games of famous non-World Champion players, such as Paul Keres, Samuel Reshevsky, Reuben Fine, Bent Larsen, among others.

The division of World Champions throughout the series is as follows:

• Part One – Wilhelm Steinitz, Emanuel Lasker, Jose Raul Capablanca, Alexander Alekhine
• Part Two – Max Euwe, Mikhail Botvinnik, Vassily Smyslov, Mikhail Tal
• Part Three – Tigran Petrosian, Boris Spassky
• Part Four – Robert James Fischer
• Part Five – Viktor Korchnoi, Anatoly Karpov

In this series, Kasparov doesn’t write about his own life and games; the series that follows take care of fulfilling that gap.

### Why is it a must read?

There are many reasons why I put this series on the top of this list.

First of all, Kasparov has embarked on a task no one else tried before him. Sure, there are a lot of historical chess books, but no one has ever tried scrutinizing the play of every single champion in such a detail and tried painting the complete picture of the overall chess history.

I think that Kasparov proved he was very much up to the task. He managed to provide enough interesting information, backed up by amusing stories and interesting details about World Champions, without getting too academic and dry in the process.

Secondly, I think that Kasparov’s English is really exquisite, especially considering that it isn’t his mother tongue. The books are a real pleasure to read, the material is extremely interesting and you will find yourself “flowing” from one chapter to another, from one anecdote to another, from one game to another.

Thirdly, I hardly need to remind you that Kasparov is one of the strongest players that ever lived. I think that simply reading his opinions and insights about historical positions, opening variations and long lines are worth every penny. The depth of analysis is also incredible and Kasparov often refers to the work of previous analyses and always questions the established opinions and conclusions.

It is true that this last point is debatable to an extent. Prominent chess historian Edward Winter has pointed out a number of mistakes, both in historical facts and in chess analysis.

However, I think that comments such as “A very great part of the analysis (certainly more than 95%) has been copied from earlier sources, mostly without proper acknowledgment”, don’t reduce the pure chess value of this book, even if they were true (which I am not competent to conclude definitely).

## Garry Kasparov on Garry Kasparov

The second book series by Garry Kasparov fills the vacuum that My Great Predecessors created.

In On Garry Kasparov Series, Kasparov takes a look at the most important own games and career. In the contrary to his series on the Modern Chess (see below) he doesn’t restrict himself solely to his match against Karpov but gives a broader overview of his chess path instead.

The division of the trilogy is based on the different periods of Garry’s career.

• Part I covers the early phase of Garry’s career – the period between 1973 and 1985.
• Part II covers the most dramatic years of Garry’s career – the era of Kasparov – Karpov matches and battles – the period between 1985 and 1993.
• Part III covers the remainder of Garry’s career – the height of his powers in during the 90s, the loss of his crown in a match against Kramnik and resurgence during the final years of his career – the period between 1993 – 2005.

### Why is it a must read?

Well, everything said above about the style of the On My Great Predecessors series is pretty much valid here.

Not only that, considering that this time Kasparov is writing about himself, the insight he provides is much deeper and probably more accurate (see Winter’s objections about On My Great Predecessors series above).

Furthermore, Kasparov’s analysis is pretty objective, his goal is not to seduce the reader but rather to search for the ultimate chess truth. In the On My Great Predecessors series it didn’t deserve particular praise since he was analyzing the games of other players. However, in the On Garry Kasparov trilogy, he remained consistent in his approach; he often criticizes his own play if required.

As one chessgames.com user once said: The ultimate goal in chess is objectivity. Maximum objectivity.

## Garry Kasparov on Modern Chess

Last, but not the least book series coming from the pen of the 13th World Champion is titled On Modern Chess and its content overlaps to an extent with the content of the On Garry Kasparov series. However, chronologically speaking, this series was written before the On Garry Kasparov series.

In this four book series, Garry Kasparov’s idea was to paint the picture about how chess changed and how chess thinking progressed from Fischer days. However, if we exclude the first book which really tries to tackle that problem, I have to be honest and say that I don’t see how the progression of the initial idea, as the remaining three books, are dedicated mainly to Kasparov’s endless battles against his arch-rival, Anatoly Karpov.

The books of the series are as follows:

• Part I – The Revolution in the 70s – The most valuable book for a practical player. As mentioned above, Kasparov tries to explain how chess thinking changed after Fischer’s departure from chess. In the 70s, many chess players started playing opening systems that were deemed incorrect previously. By telling the story about different trending openings of the 70s, like Hedgehog, Alapin Sicilian, advance Caro-Kann, etc., Kasparov emphasizes how opening preparation started gaining importance precisely during those years.
• Part II – Kasparov vs Karpov 1975-1985 – As the title suggests, this book covers the games played between the two K’s in the 1975-1985 period.
• Part III – Kasparov vs Karpov, 1986 – 1987 – This volume focuses solely on the London/Leningrad 1986 match and Seville 1987 match (the one in which Kasparov retained his title by winning the final, 24th game)
• Part IV – Kasparov vs Karpov, 1988 – 2009 – The final part of the series covers both the competitive games in the 1988-2004 period, but also the exhibition match played with both players in retirement in 2009

### Why is it a must read?

There is a reason why I have violated the chronological order of Kasparov’s writing while assembling this list. Because, even though this series is the predecessor to the On Garry Kasparov series, if I had to choose only one, I would choose the latter.

The main reason for this is chess content. On Garry Kasparov series is simply broader in terms of the chess games covered. Many games from the Karpov – Kasparov matches are included in it. I haven’t done the detailed comparison between the two series, but I think that the notes to the most important games are more or less identical.

Why have I decided to put this book on the list then nevertheless? Well, I am an avid fan of Garry Kasparov, and I think that there can be no harm in devouring every word he has ever written.

Besides,  On Modern Chess series analyzes virtually every game of every match (with the exception of the first match, famous for the unlimited series of draws). And more importantly, Garry tells us a lot about events taking place behind the scenes, which are very much relevant the history of the modern chess. Among other things, Garry talks about:

• The reasons why his first match against Karpov was canceled
• The suspicions that someone from his team has leaked his opening preparation to Karpov during the 1986 match
• His feelings before and after the decisive game of the 1987 Seville

On Garry Kasparov doesn’t give us such an insight into everything revolving around these endless battles and getting acquainted with all the intricacies about the greatest chess rivalry in the history is definitely a must for anyone wishing to learn more about our beautiful game.

## Robert James Fischer: My 60 Memorable Games

In the contest for the title of the Greatest player ever,  the 11th World Champion, Bobby Fischer, is quite often considered as a serious contender. It is not easy to choose him over Kasparov or vice versa. Every schoolboy knows that both players were the dominant force at the chessboard in their best years, mercilessly crushing everyone who opposed them, winning one tournament after another and creating more than one masterpiece along the way.

However, it is sometimes easy to forget that even in the writing domain, the two of them were equal. We have described Kasparov’s contribution to the chess literature above. Fischer’s opus is not that extensive perhaps, but no less significant nevertheless.

The only book he has ever written, My 60 Memorable Games has become an instant classic and is probably one of the most celebrated chess books ever.

In this autobiographical portrait, Fischer annotates 60 games of his career in the ten-year period between 1957 and 1967. If you are even remotely familiar with Fischer’s life, the fact that there is nothing else apart chess content in the book shouldn’t come as a huge surprise to you.

There are no stories, no anecdotes, very little introspection and testimonies about his personal life. If there ever was a definition of the “chess game collection”, this book is the one.

### Why is it a must read?

Because it is written by Fischer. One of the most gifted chess players ever, whose obsession with chess is perhaps unparalleled to this day (who doesn’t remember his immortal quote, “All I ever want to do, is play chess.”).

This love from chess is apparent from the quality of his annotations. Some of the variations given in the book are amazingly deep. The fact that chess engines didn’t exist at a time is just another plus; not only is it easier to read the book without the board in front of you, but we also get the idea about the thought process, candidates move examination and positional evaluation of one of the greatest players in the history.

Although he was quite a controversial person, he was by no means mad. On the contrary, Fischer’s comments are amazingly “sober” and display a great dose of objectivity.

Similarly like Kasparov in his series, Fischer doesn’t sustain criticism when he thinks the criticism is required. Moreover, My 60 Memorable Games include a couple of losses, breaking apart from the well-established tradition established by chess authors in the past.

In any case, My 60 Memorable Games raised more than one generation of good players, and I am pretty convinced it will continue to do so in the future.

Especially considering that it is now available in the modern, algebraic notation (the original was written in the older, descriptive notation).

## Alexander Alekhine: My Best Games of Chess, 1908-1937

Another World Champion, another autobiographical book, another game collection, another masterpiece.

This is how the book by the fourth World Champion, Alexander Alekhine, titled My Best Games of Chess, 1908 – 1937 can be summarized.

As apparent from the title of the book, over the course of the 27 chapters, Alexander Alekhine gives an overview of his magnificent chess career and annotates most important and most interesting games from the aforementioned 1908-1937 period.

### Why is it a must read?

One subjective criterion I was guided by while creating this list is how attractive player’s style is to me personally. The second is how objective that player was, both in life and on the board.

That is the reason why I chose Alekhine’s books over Capablanca’s, Kasparov’s over Karpov’s and Tal’s over Botvinnik’s (see below).

Alexander Alekhine was often cited by Kasparov, but also by Fischer as a player who has had the greatest influence on their own playing style. And indeed, Alekhine is known for his “difficult”, dynamic chess, which made his games incredibly interesting and attractive.

Similarly as with Fischer’s My 60 Memorable Games, the big plus for My Best Games of Chess is the absence of computer-generated analysis. The reading of the book “flows” and the number of diagrams makes it easy to follow the “human variations” given by Alekhine.

Also, the 21st-century release added more diagrams and changed the notation from descriptive to algebraic and made the book even more user-friendly.

In any case, reading the book is a great pleasure. For me, Alekhine’s games are full of brilliant ideas and attractive variations and one can simultaneously enjoy this book and learn a lot from it.

## Mikhail Tal: Life and Games of Mikhail Tal

If there is a chess player who doesn’t know about the attacking genius of Mikhail Tal, he doesn’t deserve to be called a chess player.

The creativity, brilliance and sacrificial style of the eight World Champion is well-known. His autobiographical book, The Life and Games of Mikhail, tells the story of the “Riga Magician” and how his combinative hurricane which swiftly conquered the chess world and hearts of the chess connoisseurs worldwide.

The book is divided into nine chapters, each dedicated to a certain period of Tal’s career. From his early steps to his battles with Botvinnik, to his resurgence on the chess scene after his kidney operation, Tal tells us stories, anecdotes and annotates the key games of each period.

### Why is it a must read?

Compared to the previously examined Fischer and Alekhine’s books, this book is much more than a “simple” game collection. Tal’s jovial outlook on the world is evident in every single line he writes. The book is breathing with humor on every corner (just take the title of one of the chapters as an example – My ‘Death’ and my New Life).

Behind every game, behind every tournament, there is a story and Tal does his best to unravel it. In my personal opinion, apart from being an extremely creative chess player, Tal is also an extremely gifted writer.

Just as he had no trouble captivating the imagination of a chess spectator, Tal somehow keeps the reader immersed in the book without any problem whatsoever. You can sense that he loved chess with his whole heart and that he had much fun while playing it.

Therefore, reading this book cannot be recommended highly enough.

## Honorable mention: David Bronstein: Zürich International Chess Tournament 1953

As hopefully most of you guessed by now, David Bronstein’s book Zürich International Chess Tournament 1953 is an unofficial tournament book of the 1953 Candidates tournament held in – Zürich.

Bronstein embarked on a gigantic task of annotating every single game from the tournament – and duly carried it out. Over the course of 340 pages, a total of 210 games were analyzed. Sure, there was a number of relatively quiet and quick draws that made the task easier, but still, Bronstein’s work deserves to be acknowledged.

### Why is it a must read?

David Bronstein has never become a World Champion (even though he did come damn close), but I have decided to make an exception and include this book in this list nevertheless.

The main reason why Zürich tournament book has become a classic of chess literature can be nicely summed up in one sentence:

“A book whose primary intention wasn’t to be instructive has somehow managed to be instructive as hell.”

The fact that there are so many games covered in the relatively modest amount of pages can be double-edged. On one hand, the book doesn’t delve that deeply into every single game like Kasparov’s books for instance, but on the other hand, sometimes less is indeed more.

With the limited number of annotations, Bronstein focuses on the key moments of every game, usually in the middlegame and the endgame, and doesn’t bore us with opening considerations (which is especially relevant since opening theory has made a giant leap forward since 1953).

Furthermore, the book has an immense historical value.  It allows us to follow the race between Vassily Smyslov and Paul Keres from one round to another. We find out about the importance of a certain game in the context of the tournament; sometimes even the quietest draw has great significance.

In that regard, a new light is shed on the key encounter between Paul Keres and Vassily Smyslov. The reader can almost feel the tension behind the innocuous piece movement.

Therefore, the work of the ‘Cunning Devik’ is definitely worth going through.

## Jose Raul Capablanca – The Cuban Genius

Jose Raul Capablanca, the third world champion, is widely regarded as the greatest natural talent that ever played our ancient game.

Already from his early days his gift for the game was apparent. He learnt the rules of chess by watching his father play. At the age of five he already beat all the player in the Havana Chess Club and at the age of thirteen he was already the Cuban Champion, after beating the previous champion Corzo in a one sided match.

During his peak, he didn’t lose a single game between 1916 and 1924 (and  astounding 8 years without defeat).

His style reflected his talent perfectly. He was known for tendencies toward clarity and simplicity; he would often make his victories seem effortless. Moreover, his mastery of the endgame was unmatched during those times; instead of calculating variations he would simply “see” through the position and immediately “feel” where his pieces belong.

In this post, I have assembled a list of ten Capablancas games that I regard as his most beautiful achievements. Hope you will enjoy it.