lunes, 13 de marzo de 2017

Review: Maneuvering: The art of piece play by Dvoretsky

Title: Maneuvering: The art of piece play.
Author: Mark Dvoretsky.
Publisher: Russell Enterprises.
Year: 2016.
Pages: 212.
Price: Around 25€.

I assume everybody reading this knows Dvoretsky fairly well. He was one of the best trainers of his time and a great author too. His books were usually aimed at an unusually high level and gained high praise.

Personally I have never been a great fan of his work (except for Endgame Manual). I am lazy and tend not to think too much while reading a book and Dvoretsky's book usually had to be read slowly and making conscious effort.

However his last two works, Recognizing your Opponents Resources and Maneuvering The Art of Piece Play are not his usual kind. They are exercise books like the ones of Aagaard. I like this two books a lot more than his previous work. It is much harder to be lazy when all you have to do is solve exercises.

In this review I will talk about the second one, Maneuvering The Art of Piece Play. While many things may hold true for Recognizing your Opponents Resource too, when (and if) I finish it, I will review it as well.

The book is divided into an introductory chapter without exercises and then ten chapters with exercises to solve. This ten chapters cover opening, middle game positions and endings.

In total there are 228 exercises. However Dvoretsky liked to put additional exercises in his texts (traditionally he did this in his normal works, and he kept it for this book too). Those additional exercises are diagrams marked with the '?' mark on them. There are 128 of those exercises, so we will do best to think of this book as containing around 350 exercises.

The basic point of the book is to teach you to maneuver your pieces. This usually consist of making two or three moves in a row with the same piece until it reaches its perfect square. The main exercises (the ones marked as such) do focus on this. On the other hand, the 128 additional exercises mix things up and can be about anything.

Generally I was satisfied by the solutions, but you do need to keep in mind that this are positional exercises so they tend not to be clear cut. The solution usually contains a large part of the game under consideration (along with some additional exercises if the position merits it) while you are only expected to find the bold moves at the beginning. The idea is to give you a feeling of how the position evolves after the intended solution. While I like the idea behind it, the truth is that I would usually skip this part fast.

The edition of the book is fine. There is only paperback available, while I would have loved a hardcover. The quality of the paper is not bad by any means, but if you compare it with a Quality Chess edition it loses.

One thing I specially dislike about the edition of the book is that it is hard to not spoil yourself the solution of the 128 additional exercises. They are in the middle of the text marked only by a little '?' sign. It is quite easy to miss them. I went through the whole book marking them visibly so I would be aware of them with just a glance and could hide them with a paper. However this solution is not ideal either as it is quite annoying. More than once I placed the paper badly so I spoiled the solution anyway.

I think the book is short and there is no discount for this, but it does contain around 350 exercises. At 7 cents the exercise you cannot reasonably call it expensive. Compared to Positional play from Aagaard (this is the more similar book I have read), it has more exercises, but it is shorter, so the explanations can't be as thorough. While reading it, though, it never crossed my mind that some solution was not given enough attention. Sometimes numbers are deceitful like this.

Overall the level of the book is difficult to judge for me. I got around 50% of each chapter right (but there were chapters were I did better than others), but I think I spent less time than with other books per position. While solving this positions you enter a state of mind were you only care about maneuvering, which is good because it is what you are training after all, but limits your approach to the position heavily. If you find an interesting move which is not aimed at improving a piece through various moves, then you simply discard this move. If you find a pawn lever that might be good, you discard it too. In this way the positions felt easier, many moves can be discarded through this process.

In conclusion, I recommend this book unambiguously. I do not think you need to be specially strong to enjoy it (but if you are not that strong, prepare to be frustrated by the exercises at the end of each chapter). The solutions are short and easy to understand when you see them and it is likely the first time you encounter problems similar to this one, so it is a very good book to complete your bookshelf.

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