domingo, 30 de agosto de 2015

Review: Dvoretsky's Endgame manual (4th edition)

Title: Dvoretsky¡'s endgame manual.
Author: Mark Dvoretsky.
Publisher: Rushell Enterprises (Chessbase for the electronic version)
Year: 2015. (4th edition)
Pages: 424.
Price: 30€.

As the title may suggest, this is an endgame manual by the renowned author Mark Dvoretsky. In contrast with de la Villa's book 100 endgames you should know, this books tries to go deeper, giving you all the theoretical knowledge you would need as a professional player. In the introduction the author claims that for really strong players, such knowledge can be acquired in two weeks of work. This won't be the case for most of us, but luckily the book has a fallback plan. The book is written in two colors, blue font for those parts which Dvoretsky considers basic, and black font for those which we don¡'t need to know by heart (or even study the first time we pick up the book). In a way is like having de la Villa's book mixed with a more denser one. On the other hand, the blue font already reaches far more content than de la Villa's book in less space, so my recommendation of that book still stands.

Dvoretsky's endgame manual is divided in chapters, each one treating different kind of endgames depending on the material on the board. As reason dictates, however, not all the chapters have the same depth. The book starts out with pawn endgames (in contrast with de la Villa, which leaves this subject for much later in his book) with more than fifty pages but follows with some light chapters on minor pieces (or piece vs pawn). The other big part of the book, that of rook endgames, extends for nearly ninety daunting pages.

The edition is correct (I'm reviewing the fourth so far, so they had time to get it right). I have read some older reviews where the blue font was at times difficult to read because it was too dim. I have not had such problems.

The book has a lot of diagrams but I do not think you will be able to follow everything with that alone, endgame books are dense, and this may be even denser.

Although the book is expensive, you do get a long book in return at more than 400 pages, so I do not think you can feel cheated in any way (you can view it as two cheap books of 200 pages each).

The book, overall, is very readable, especially the basic parts in blue font. The explanations in those parts are as clear as possible and spot on. Obviously, endgames have lots of analysis and there are a lot of sections which are really hard to read, but keep in mind this book is aimed at professionals too. But if you limit yourself to the blue font, you will find it enjoyable and insightful.

On the other hand, if you go for the hard route and study all the material, I don't think you can complain either. There is some heavy analysis waiting for you too.

Before I make my recommendation, there is a point I want to clarify: I have not read the whole thing. I have studied the pawn endgame chapter profoundly from an earlier version and I have read (as carefully as a first read can be with this book, including black font) the rook endgame chapter. Other chapters I have just browsed rapidly if at all. As I plan to make a positive review, I do not feel it unjust that I have not read the whole thing to review it, but keep that in mind when you assess the validity of my work, maybe there are glaring holes in other chapters that I have not seen.

With that taken out of the way, let's go with the editorial part of the review:

I own an old electronic edition of the book from Chessbase (here is an article on the new edition) . The changes from that old version to this new one are almost negligible and in a normal case would not warrant buying it again, at least at my level of play, but maybe even at Carlsen level it makes no difference, as it is impossible to remember the analysis which have changed. So, why did I buy the new edition?

For me, this book is one which I will never read in full. I am the kind of person that enjoys endgames and have read multiple books on them, but my experience tells me that often you are blitzing the moves on the board just to finish the example at hand and you are not really assimilating the material.

Since those times, I try to be more careful in the way I approach endgame study. I try to go slower, and often reread the chapter I have studied (at least I read the pawn endgame chapter four times). At four hundred pages, this book will take a great toll in my limited free time if I were to read it following that advise.

Although I still cherish the idea of studying it in full, when I chose to buy myself this book for christmas I forced myself to accept that it was not because I wanted to study it. I already have the older edition in electronic format and I could never bring myself to study it in full. The real purpose was to have it in my library as a physical book, like a collector.

For me this book is a must have. You should buy it and treasure it in your library, knowing perfectly well that those 30€ you invest are not to improve your chess, but to fill a glaring hole you would have otherwise in your collection. If you are a disciplined student, you will at least read the blue font and mend some gaps in your endgame knowledge, but even if you can't get that, those 30€ would be well expended.

So yes, my recommendation is that you must definitively own this book.

The question of the format is open, though. I like the electronic version more for studying it. You need a board otherwise, and I'm lazy. But there is no discount on it, and you don't get the pleasure of smelling a new book, nor will it stand in your library mighty and dominant. That is why I own both! But I leave you both options open, choose whatever is best for you.

1 comentario:

  1. Thanks for the Candid review. I own the old 2nd edtion of this one and while I didn't plan to update this was an interesting review regardless.
    Thank you.