Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Chernev's Logical Chess is sweet

I've had Chernev's Logical Chess for a long time now, but have finally started to work through it. For those who don't know, he works through 30 games, giving annotations on every move, aiming to describe why the move was played. For bad moves, he explains why the move was bad.

Man, what a great read. It is nice to see all these concepts I've been learning applied in real games. I am also learning some new ideas. If you haven't read it, and are a patzer like me, do it up! Like Pandolfini's Russian Chess, there are ample diagrams so it is pretty easy to follow without having a board handy. Also, it is fun that he peppers many moves with quotes from the greats.

I have read some criticisms of the book. For instance, I have read that Chernev is a slave to the outdated "rules" of chess (e.g., open with a center pawn). However, he frequently emphasizes that different principles conflict and that you need to carefully think out what to do based on the concrete position in front of you. For instance, page 20: "Chess is not a game to be played mechanically. Usually, moving a piece twice in the opening is a waste of time, but threats must be parried before continuing development." Also, some criticize him because he was never a Grandmaster. This kind of shallow potshot is just lame, as it says nothing about his ability to teach chess and offers nothing substantive in its criticism. Give me a clear-writing and thinking competent 1800 player to a vague English-impaired slogan-throwing dogmatic Russian GM any day of the year.


Blogger funkyfantom said...

Yes!! Chernev was the man.

Here is the best of Chernev in order:

1.The Most Instructive Games of Chess ever Played

2. Logical Chess, move by move

3. The Golden dozen

4. Capablanca's best endgames

5. Practical chess endgames

6. 1000 best short games of chess.

7. Russian Chess ( Pandolfini ripped off the concept).

I am currently up to game 700 in the best short games. Studying this book should help you blow away most park chess hustlers, and if not, you will still derive infinite amusement from it.

Chernev wasn't a GM, but was considered Master-level strength by most people in the American chess scene.

The fact that a world-class GM like John Nunn chose to re-edit the book to bring it up to date speaks for itself.

12/19/2006 04:41:00 PM  
Blogger funkyfantom said...

One other thing. I have become very skeptical of this concept of drilling the same positions over and over.

GMs get good by solving thousands of positions, but DIFFERENT ones.

I think it is OK to review positions ONCE YOU HAVE FORGOTTEN them, but doing pattern recognition recalls on unique, unlikely middlegame positions is of doubtful value.

It's all about building up your positional judgement and tactical calculation skills.

12/19/2006 04:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The fact that a world-class GM like John Nunn chose to re-edit the book to bring it up to date speaks for itself."

actually Nunn got roped into editing the book due to his contract with Batsford (prior to GambitBooks). in the preface to Grandmaster Chess Move by move, Nunn rips Chernev and "Logical Chess" in particular. Nunn says he had to redact several instances of Chernev's comments that were misleading or even wrong. In fact the whole preface to GCMBM is devoted to criticizing Chernev's Logical Chess. Nunn is pretty harsh to Chernev. Chernev's annotations are generally (heavily) biased in favor of the winner, and his application of general principles leads one to believe chess is simpler than it really is.

12/19/2006 05:00:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

For patzers, I bet Chernev is great. I'll take a look at Nunn's move-by-move copycat book at some point. :)

Funky: it's an experiment. We'll see if it works. In the machine learning literature, you divide up your data into test data and training data. You train an artificial neural network on the training data, and then, to see how well the network has learned the underlying principles, you show it some of the test data to see how well it generalizes. We'll see how well the learning of this training set helps me with test data, i.e., positions seen in real games, or other tactical problem sets.

12/19/2006 05:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This book is for me one of the best I ever read. No doubt it improved my game. I consider it a must read for every student of the game.

12/19/2006 07:03:00 PM  
Blogger Pale Morning Dun - Errant Knight de la Maza said...

A must read for the patzer. No doubt. I enjoyed it greatly. McDonald's "Art of Logical Thinking" is also excellent and in the same vein as Chernev. This "method" of instruction, I find not only helpful but also quite enjoyable. I've definitely had it with ridiculous GM books where everything is taken for granted. Variations come at you from all directions with no flavor and then the punch line "and white is better" and you are like, What? Why?

I'm seriously considering adding a new section to my sidebar for book and DVD reviews by patzers for patzers. I think this would be extremely helpful.

12/20/2006 01:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, you convinced me to buy this book (Nezha clicks on amazon and places order)

> Nunn says he had to redact several instances of Chernev's comments that were misleading or even wrong.

This is just my opinion, and of course he probably had to do it, but this is just a bad thing to do. Editing it and passing it off as Chernev's writing just sucks. If I wanted to read Nunn and his work, I would have bought his book. An author should respect another's work. No matter what he thinks of it. Yes, even the mistakes..

(Editors always wanted to "correct" Mark Twain's work too. His reply: "Leave our opinion in the decaying mush of your brain." Good thing, they weren't too successful otherwise Tom Sawyer would just be another novel instead of a classic)

- end of rant, sorry -

12/20/2006 05:21:00 AM  
Blogger funkyfantom said...

I have only the original "Logical Chess" in descriptive notation- I had no idea that Nunn was harsh to Chernev- I would like to see this for myself. The Amazon website doesn't show the Introduction. Will check it out next time I am at Barnes and Nobles.

I am shocked, because, Nunn was very respectful in the editing job he did on Vukovic's "Art of Attack".

If Patrick is correct, and I have no reason to believe he isn't, then I have to side with Nezha and blogger National Master Dennis Monokroussos, who shares Nezha's point of view, that people should just respect an author's work, without trying to "improve" it.

After all, this isn't just a magazine or newspaper article.

12/20/2006 09:33:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Nunn (or the publisher?) should have added comments in brackets where Nunn disagreed. Why change the original text without even indicating how or where?

Chess publishers in general follow sloppy or strange practices such as:
1. Not having good editors fix crappy writing style and errors. For instance, saying 'and this transposes to earlier lines' instead of 'this transposes to line XYX in chapter N' is just lazy. HUGE pet peeve of mine.
2. Rarely providing indices in the back. Again, pure laziness. There are some exceptions.
3. Crappy bibliographies. if one is provided at all.
4. Selling game dump variation trees as substantive opening, middle-game, or endgame training books.
5. Not indicating what rating level the book is aimed at (there are exceptions for this one).
6. Giving books that are merely autobiographical game dumps names like "Keys of chess strategy."
7. Not immediately making me 1000 points better upon reading their books with little to no effort on my part. Come on, what are they thinking?

12/20/2006 10:28:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

7. Russian Chess ( Pandolfini ripped off the concept).

Chernev's version is called The Russians Play Chess (I searched and couldn't find your title at Amazon).

12/20/2006 11:36:00 AM  
Blogger takchess said...

We have reached the inner circle of geeky-ness as we debate chess book authors. I am guilty as charged. In my opinion, reading Nunn books is like reading Fritz tables . I own Fritz No need for Nunn. Please take into account my low rating and disregard for sound concrete play. 8)

Any book written before 1990's is always subject to these sort of criticism. I sure it contains multiple inaccuracies by certain helpful to us at this level.

12/20/2006 04:25:00 PM  
Blogger funkyfantom said...

I got my copy of "The Russians Play Chess" at a used book store.

It is loaded with diagrams and move-by-move explanations.

The games feature many brilliant combinations with lots of sacrifices.

12/20/2006 04:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

see my blog for Nunn's critique of chernev.


12/20/2006 09:23:00 PM  
Blogger funkyfantom said...

Nunn was, indeed, harsh on Uncle Irv.

I read Nunn's criticism of Chernev's writing in "Logical Chess", and I must admit, Nunn certainly caught him in some very bad analysis in those two examples cited.

As a matter of fact, I can recall some instances where I thought Chernev's comments where off the mark, too.

But I am wondering how representative those gaffes are? This is the crucial question unanswered by the simple observation that Nunn cited a couple of bad gaffes.

I'll still prefer Chernev and his occasional goofy or outdated explanations, to the icy cold computer-assisted maze of variations that comprise the bulk of a typical John Nunn book.

12/20/2006 10:40:00 PM  
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12/21/2006 01:19:00 AM  

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