martes, 15 de mayo de 2018

Review: Dynamic decision making in chess by Gelfand

Title: Dynamic decision making in chess.
Author: Boris Gelfand.
Publisher: Quality Chess.
Year: 2016.
Pages: 288.
Price: 24.99€ (paperback) - 29.99€ (hardcover).

This book is the second one on a series of books about decision making in chess. The first instance was Positional decision making in chess which I already reviewed here.

The series is created by two authors although only one name is in the cover: Gelfand is the one creating the chess content (although I guess that Aagaard put a little more effort than he claims credit for, but this is just my feeling) while Aagaard is the one translating this chess content into a book.

I did not liked the first book on the series and I nevertheless bought this second book. Why? Because I like books and I think the price is something I can afford. And because I do not have to explain myself to you, okay?

So what is this book about? As the name suggest, the first one was on positional chess while this one is on dynamic chess, tactics, blunders, long term (or real) sacrifices, etc. and how to play these positions.

The book is divided into eight chapters. Some have very specific topics: compensation and time come to mind, on the other hand there are other chapters that has no clear focus: Minsk 1979 (about games from that Soviet Championship) and Petrosian (similar to the Rubinstein chapter from the first book, mixing Petrosian and Gelfand games and what you can learn from him, but much shorter). And yet there are other chapters with a clear focus but not one that it is useful to any facet of chess study, like tactics at the top level (some tactics), the nature of tactical mistakes at the top level (which simply shows mistakes at the top level), and two chapters on collections of great attacking games and great defending games.

Overall I feel in this book too there is a lack of cohesive view or overarching theme that justifies each section. Like in the first one the first chapters have more random sections (sections that feel like and old's man story, jumping from one point to the next without really getting to the point) while the last chapters improve on that respect.

The hardcover edition I posses is great and its length is very similar to the other book. No surprises really here.

The prose is good as it is every time in Aagaard works, but as I stated here (and in the previous work's review) it feels some kind of ramble at times.

The analysis is good. There are 45 annotated games (although some are more lightly annotated than others) in 272 pages (excluding the appendix) which is more games (or less analysis per game) than in the previous work. On the other hand here the focus is in the tactical aspect of chess, hence there is less need for lengthy comments.

Sometimes I felt that the book went to great detail in some variations while skipping through other positions really fast, but I noticed it here less than in Positional decision making.

Overall this book has claimed much less recognition than the first one. I think the reason is that in the first one you could get some (not much) great insight into some positional subtle points while here the insight can be summarized into:

I calculated up to this point and saw my position was very promising so it was not necessary to go further.
This kind of advice is not as appreciated because either you can calculate everything till the end or you cannot (and it depends, too, on the time you have on your clock), so you will try to make the best job you can either way. It reminded me a lot of Thinking inside the box and critical moments. I understand the concept but I cannot find a practical application in my games.

I did not like this book either and I think I too liked it less than the previous work. In this book (as it has become a norm in the books I read) I tried to find exercises on the diagrams in the chapter. This book has some exercises at the beginning of the chapter (which are solved within it) which is a great addition, but I wonder why nobody uses Dvoretsky's question marks on the diagrams to denote that you have to solve the diagram. It is not that difficult to add (or it does not seem that way) and would give great value to the hardworking students. For example in chapter 6 (time) I found 22 such exercises, in chapter 7 (dynamic masterpieces) I found 18. So if this numbers hold approximately on the book, you could have 8 * 20 = 160 exercises embedded in the book with almost no extra effort. As it is both chapters had 8 diagrams at the beginning, giving a total of 8 * 8 = 64 exercises on the whole book. And while I like that there are exercises in the first page of the chapter for those with the will to do them, I find myself unable to concentrate on them, I am eager to start the chapter, so I rather have the '?' symbol on those diagrams which are perfect for solving.

Well, I stop the rambling now. I do not recommend this book. I think there are tons of better books on dynamic chess. I am now reading Attacking Manual II and I feel it is may be one of the best books I've read (admittedly I'm on page 60 or so), but even Thinking inside the box is much better than this book and it is mainly focused on dynamic chess.

Post Script:

Gelfand in the introduction to this book gives advice on puzzle books:
  • Aagaard - GM Preparation, Calculation.
  • Grabinsky & Volokitin - Perfect your chess. 
  • Hort and Jansa - The best move.
  • Afek - Invisible chess moves.
  • Gaprindashvili - Imagination in chess.

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