My best ever review
Today in his always interesting column at ChessCafe, FM Carsten Hansen, gives what is probably my best ever review for Grandmaster Preparation – Calculation. It is not so much the six stars as well as some quotable sentences that make me so happy. But rather a few other facts:
* Carsten is not generally a Quality Chess devotee, although he is by no means hostile either. For example: Boris Avrukh’s GM11 got 5/6 stars, while other books got 6/6 in the same column. To me Boris is the best author of opening books there is – and this is his best book! So fair and positive when we deserve it, but maybe with more of a taste for typical Everyman books!?
* Carsten and I played a few times from 1989 to 1991 in Denmark. I think it was three draws, the first of them a blitz game. To say that we did not click back then is accurate, but these days we have an occasional pleasant exchange of e-mails. The main reason I bring this up is the simple truth that a prophet is never appreciated in his home town. It has taken almsot a decade longer to gain a reputation with people of my own generation in Denmark, compared to with the rest of the world. That I have won Carsten over completely is therefore a big victory for me.
* Finally – and this is really the most important thing by a mile for me. The review clearly shows that Carsten has worked with the book and found it to be exactly as I intended it to be. For a writer this is always the dream; for the reader to understand his book exactly and to appreciate it. When this reader is a critic, well, it is home run!
Carsten did bring up one interesting point in his review:
“My only criticism of this book is a fairly simple one, and one that I have with most other books that have test positions or puzzles to solve. I do not understand why the test positions have to have the players names listed. Strong players will likely recognize the positions based on the name references and thus know the solutions.”
Andrew and I are in first this morning and debated it a bit. In the end we agreed that it came down to a choice.
On the one side there is Carsten’s, on the other side my point of view:
* For people who like name indexes, it is nice to be sent to the positions as well as the solutions.
* It is not very likely that a strong player will recognise the position through the names and not through the position itself. And if he does, he would not necessarily know the right move.
* If you recognise a game position, this does not mean that you know what the best move is. I have a taste for positions where good players made mistakes. I like it when the amateur does better than the world class player. I recently sent a position (without names) to a few very strong players. They all said they knew the game, but none of them found the right move! Actually, learning to think even when you have some recognition of the position is something I want my students to develop.
* I think it looks better!
So, in the end we have possible negative and positives in both directions. I like my choice, Andrew was more undecided – but then he hardly ever change a point of view!
If you don’t want to read all of the view, here is the conclusion:
“Studying Grandmaster Preparation: Calculation carefully will make you a much stronger player, open your eyes to new possibilities, allow you to immerse yourself into positions from completely different angles, and see possibilities that would have surprised you before. This book teaches your mind to think differently and solve complicated task; provided you have taken the time to work your way through this book. It is written for strong players and those who are serious about improving their chess understanding and their ability to calculate accurately. To benefit from this book you should probably be rated at least 2000. Nevertheless, there is really no limit to how strong you can be to benefit from studying the material.”