Friday, February 29, 2008

100 Chess Book Reviews, Part 2

This and the next dozen videos I just plow through book after book....

I figured out how to add music. I haven't gotten the relative volume (voice versus music) quite perfect. Also, if anyone knows how to cut and paste little clips of music rather than entire songs in iMovie, please let me know.


Blogger transformation said...


Yes, for it was during the first video, that i became certain that my prior feeling from you over many emails, posts, and comments in particular as having an 'edge' in your personality. i had felt this many times, but never said it, all along with your repetitions that you were "just a country boy", as often said by none other than you!

i watch this second video ardently and in no way dissapointed. i would watch every single epiSode untill you had THOUGHT THAT you were done. wonderful. i hear you, and i am thinking, this guy REALLY HAS AN EDGE TO HIM!

now, this is not bad, not at all, just not easy for all persons at all times but quite a deiight to others. now, i too have an edge, without a doubt.

and edges exist in nature, in solids, minerals, trading systems, sports wagering, personal territory that tells others 'you are not welcome to probe here', or more specifically, 'No. this is not the right way, and this is bullsh_t' and sh_t if i care!' an edge can also be a place that if come too close, a person could fall over, as in 'dont touch my edge, for i have got one!'

i suspect you are less done in chess than you might think, and predict this is the begining of something far bigger and different.

me, yes, now i thirst to do my own video, but it is not time yet.

but, for now, can only say that i greatly enjoy your command of your own knowledge, opinions, and findings, and conclusions.

warmest, dk
(i) BTW, Averbaks Endings: Essential Knowledge might only be at fault for a being a particularly poorly done ePackage. i love and loved that book. clear, concise, cogent. and seem to recall that others such as Watson questioned the format or rendition, but, to all others, the Batesford form is magnficient and i treasure my copy.

i store lots in my brain, and cannot possibly check all facts, but do seem to recall others not liking that rendition of it. my two cents.

(ii) similarly perhaps the term is not so much Ritzitano doesnt play chess as in is no longer active. there are hoards of players who have great chess knowledge so hard wired into their brain (reAssembler being a perfect example) who SEEM no longer to have to study yet can remain at a high level, so far back in time is their chess burnished into their brains that they dont need hours and hours of study.

if Ritzitano plays, i suspect he fits that category, putting far more juice into producing quality chess books as the place of struggle in lieu of far diminished pay offs or financial returns to struggle at the boards. my two cents, twice.

3/01/2008 02:53:00 AM  
Blogger katar said...

Fantastic. I love the dry humor... very funny. LOL

Transf: Psychoanalysis aside, i think an "edge" is simply necessary in order to convey a summary opinion in 10 seconds.

Obviously BDK displays more tact with coworkers, waitresses, and, uhhh... blog-commenters.

3/01/2008 05:03:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Transform: thanks for the fun comment. I can definitely be opinionated especially if I feel like I have taken the time to learn about something (though see my response to Katar below), but I am also fairly flexible and like the process of people convincing me I am wrong using a good argument. I am almost never unbudging in my support (or repudiation) of something. And with reviews, there is an element of subjectivity (I mention some of my obvious biases below).

I agree I am not done with chess. I still love it, still play probably 5-10 (fast) games a week. That is, for now I'm at a hobby stage. I will be surprised if I ever get back into it with a time commitment like before, but that still leaves a lot of time for future chess.

On that Averback book: the only explanations I can think of for people really liking it with enthusiasm is either that it is what they cut their teeth on, so there is a nostalgia effect in place clouding their judgment, or they already knew the stuff before they read it, so they found it a very helpful review.

Silman is so much clearly in a league of his own (for the genre of introduction to the endgame books) that I can't see recommending anything else for people at patzer levels.

Katar: exactly. The format of these reviews (rapidfire, 5-60 second impressions) effectively forces me to come off as opinionated, partly because my evaluations are bound to be superficial and lack the specificity and substance I would put into my written reviews (especially of review copies). I don't make the usual qualifications and effort to praise that I do in my written reviews. Just a quick letter grade, with minimal justification.

My judgments are also very idiosyncratic, written from a patzer perspective, sort of geared toward people who are like I was: crappy rating, really hoping for good books not written for someone who already knows the stuff. I think I have a pretty good eye for clear writing, and I definitely have a bias for writers who are able to systematize and organize their ideas effectively in print as opposed to writers like Pandolfini that tend to use a shotgun approach, "As long as the ideas are in there somewhere, that's enough, so I might as well publish an encyclopedia rather than a systematic treatment." Readers of my blog will know that, but innocent Youtube watchers and people new to this blog will not and should be warned!

3/01/2008 06:48:00 AM  
Blogger wang said...

Well I am enjoying your reviews quite a bit and I am looking forward to the rest. Although I disagree with you on your assesment of Kaufman's book. I believe that the Bb5 lines alone are worth the price of admission. The biggest problem I have with it is the Berlin as black. If you are rated <2000 black should not be playing chess that way. In my humble opinion anyway.

3/01/2008 12:09:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Wang: Thanks for the suggestion to see his Bb5 line (which, interestingly, is the Sicilian line for white with a rep for being Ruy Exchange-esque in its ability to bore and annoy opponents: I'll give Kaufman one thing...he is consistent). Perhaps that's part of his strategy: bore your opponent, get him annoyed, but get the win anyway.

Because, of course, a "drawish" opening is usually only that at the GM levels. At my level, things are rarely drawish. They are just sort of boring for me, injecting simplification and symmetry into the game much too early for my tastes when I want complications and assymmetry to make things interesting.

3/01/2008 01:09:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

PS to DK--that Averbach DVD I could definitely imagine it being better as an actual book than it is as a DVD. It is an early (and in my opinion, failed) experiment in how to translate a chess book into software to make it even more useful.

3/01/2008 01:22:00 PM  
Blogger Polly said...

I'm really enjoying your no nonsense and to the point reviews. If something that you start off by saying is a piece of crap only merits a D, I hate to hear what words you'll be using to describe your F choices. Maybe the adjective will start start with an F?

I grew up on Reinfeld books back in the 70s, but I remember hanging out with my chess buddies in college and all of us turning our noses up at Reinfeld. We thought Reinfeld was beneath us. I'm wracking my brains trying to remember the word one of my college team mate used to describe total patzers. I'll probably remember at 2 am some morning, or in the middle of a crucial line of analysis on Thursday night.

3/01/2008 04:00:00 PM  
Blogger transformation said...

Katar cum Dutch Defence, i distinctly recall seeing BDK thanking me for the fun comment, so is it less than tactful to point out someone elses aparent lack of tact, unless there be a double standard?

by now we all know each other now, over what amounts to years of internet communication, over hundreds of interactions.

greetings to you there in Europe, fine young man :)

3/01/2008 04:13:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Polly: Thanks for the note.
As for Reinfeld, it is just unreadable for me, but not because it is below my level (especially when I started). I'm sure if someone packaged the same information into a better format, took the time to really focus on making it a good teaching book, it would be a great book :) Indeed, not enough chess instructional books do that. I have to admit I tend to often prefer those books written for kids (e.g., how to beat your dad at chess).

DK: he was just saying I show a bit more tact in real life when interacting with people. He is mostly right. :) Your transference reference was a bit odd, but I chalk that up to DK free association mental holograph include everything posting habits, so think it is funny.

Dutch Defense, you should know beter. ;)

3/01/2008 04:28:00 PM  
Blogger katar said...

Transf: Thx for proving my point-- that it is ridiculous to judge BDK's personality based on a two-minute Youtube video. (Or to judge it at all, for that matter!!) Any so-called "EDGE" may likely be a result of the format rather than a display of BDK's regular personality. After all, i do not detect an "EDGE" in BDK's diplomatic and tactful responses to these blog comments.

As for my identity, i fear you have gravely insulted Mr. Dutch Defence, as i live in California.

3/01/2008 09:44:00 PM  
Blogger transformation said...

two hundred emails and comments between two persons over 1.6 years is hardly judging a two minute video. it seems that you are the one judging.

oh, thats right, sorry Patrick, chess for blood.

exactly. the mention of 'transference' was my own poking fun, actually, at my own self, for i realized then as i do now that any perception or description therein is but a projection, and really we do not know another.

et al.
what i describe, BTW is something i have reflected upon for years, felt or sensed but not known. i hear a voice, and i get a sense of something, and i share from that. that is all. no big deals. not to get distracted:

the videos are great, upon that we all agree. fresh, refreshing, new, alive, innovative. this is the focus.

but after not months, but years, to hear a voice is a wonderful thing, and to hear how a voice expresses itself. i give my opinion, and this is a dude with a real edge. this is not bad, just what i see. great clarity, and ease, and confidence, but alas, for me, an edge is the great taste. it does not need to be yours, but it is mine, and that is what comments are for, our individual response. dk

3/02/2008 02:26:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


3/04/2008 05:24:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Thanks, anonymous yeller. I will play it by ear for sure.

3/04/2008 11:55:00 AM  
Blogger Chessaholic said...

I don't own any of the books in this installment, but still enjoyed watching it very much. Good stuff BDK.

3/04/2008 03:55:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Dude, that Snyder book is selling for $60 used on Amazon...hopefully you don't donate it to Goodwill!

3/06/2008 12:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

These videos are a great idea, BDK. Your casual, no-nonsese style is quite compelling. I'm on the edge of my seat waiting to see what book you'll grab off the pile next.

Kaufman's book is also selling for something more than a penny at Amazon Marketplace. Go do some research before you give away all your poor performers.


3/06/2008 08:29:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

whystop and anon: before selling all of the C and below books, I will do my homework on what I deserve to get for them!

3/06/2008 12:09:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

awesome, and just so you know, people in the master's section at the tournament were talking about this freakin rock!

3/06/2008 10:22:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Chessloser: egads. That's funny. I'm glad I've got all the filming done, as otherwise I'd probably feel pressure to find just the right words etc...

3/06/2008 11:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

dude, i dig the video on the books. listening to you reminds me of joel from MST3K, kinda cracks me up.


3/06/2008 11:33:00 PM  

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