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Very Hot Topic (More than 25 Replies) What is the worst chess book ever ? (Read 93141 times)
Markovich
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Re: What is the worst chess book ever ?
Reply #25 - 02/17/09 at 18:41:46
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OstapBender wrote on 02/17/09 at 17:49:26:
Regarding Schiller, here's an amusing anecdote by Silman:

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In the latter part of 1996 Pal Benko and I were sitting in a hotel room on the island of Menorca (off the coast of Spain), staring at Eric Schiller bashing away at his chess database (which kept crashing). He had just told us how he once wrote a chess book in two days. Appalled, I was playing with the idea of tossing him out the window or, at the very least, having Benko rough him up a bit.


It introduces Silman's favorable review of The Big Book of Busts by Schiller and Watson (which can be found here).  So it appears that at least one of Schiller's co-authored books might be a decent piece of work.  However, didn't Schiller and Gufeld co-author a book on the Dragon which turned out to be a real stinker?



I don't know, but I do know that he and Shamkovich co-authored a book on the Schliemann with 5...Nf6, which was a very definite stinker.  The same position was considered twice, reaching opposite conclusions.  

He once wrote a book where he cited some of my work on Hardchess, but never gave the source as anything other than "Morss."  His readers, if any, must have wondered who this Morss was.

But Schiller-bashing is just too easy.  It really contributes little here to dwell on his miserable works.

About that story, I wonder why Silman thought that Benko would be an apt attack dog.
  

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OstapBender
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Re: What is the worst chess book ever ?
Reply #24 - 02/17/09 at 17:49:26
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Regarding Schiller, here's an amusing anecdote by Silman:

Quote:
In the latter part of 1996 Pal Benko and I were sitting in a hotel room on the island of Menorca (off the coast of Spain), staring at Eric Schiller bashing away at his chess database (which kept crashing). He had just told us how he once wrote a chess book in two days. Appalled, I was playing with the idea of tossing him out the window or, at the very least, having Benko rough him up a bit.


It introduces Silman's favorable review of The Big Book of Busts by Schiller and Watson (which can be found here).  So it appears that at least one of Schiller's co-authored books might be a decent piece of work.  However, didn't Schiller and Gufeld co-author a book on the Dragon which turned out to be a real stinker?

  

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Markovich
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Re: What is the worst chess book ever ?
Reply #23 - 02/17/09 at 15:24:00
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Bonsai wrote on 02/16/09 at 22:16:03:
My number one worst book (amongst those books I actually worked on) is Konikowsky's book on the Scandinavian, which (a) seemed to primarily copy other sources (e.g. Wahls), (b) assessed the same position differently depending on the move order (claiming that one variation with 2...Qxd5 that Wahls dismisses is indeed just bad, but claiming that the same position is fine if reached by a 2...Nxd5 mover order is fine for black), (c) completely fails to grasp/present/discuss any of the fine points that various other authors took into account (Wahls, Emms etc.) and (d) being completely wrong about several key assessments of positions (usually wrongly claiming that black is fine).

Then there's Karpov's books on the English and the Grunfeld (I have both in German, the 1992 edition "Siegen mit Grünfeld Indisch" and a 1999 "Englisch")? Both claim to cover the current theory (all sorts of bla, bla, bla on the backcover), but in fact simply provide some annotated games in a few selected lines Karpov played (in particular against Kasparov). Well, if they were at least inspiringly annotated high-level games that would just be dishonest about the content, but the presentation also lack any appeal to me.

Then there's Winning with the Torre Attack by Gufeld and Stetsko, which to me stands out as an example of how to abuse the complete games format by simply providing a random selection of games in certain variations without and logically ordered presentation or overall messages.

A honourable mentioning also goes to Attacking with 1.d4 by Angus Dunnington, which is inspiringly written and did make me try a lot of the interesting ideas shown in the book, but which consistently fails to analyze the best lines for black (in particular simply dismissing what the best known specialists in each opening for black play - e.g. in the case of the Chigorin Morozevich or Milandinovic etc.).


Interesting to read this.  I agree about Dunnington's book in particular.

In general I think that presenting opening theory by means of a series of entire games is a method very easy for authors to abuse.  Not always but often, you get distressingly slight consideration of important sidelines and not very thorough analysis even of the positions that are covered.  Further I think that seeing games played out to the bitter end is an overrated in openings preparation.  How the ending was played is nice to know but very often space-wasting (not always, I admit).  Also authors using this method of presentation can very easily evade considering the most difficult questions.  Finally this method of presentation makes it much more difficult to tell, perusing the work in a bookstore, whether it is actually of any value.  That is one of its purposes, I suppose.  The best supereficial indication is that the commentary is lengthy and dense with variations.

On the other side I admit that there are some very worthy books that present the material in this way; Golubev's on the KID for example.

  

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Re: What is the worst chess book ever ?
Reply #22 - 02/17/09 at 10:53:14
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His worst must be his booklet on the Frankenstein/Dracula: a database dump and after every game a quote from these horror classics.
  

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Re: What is the worst chess book ever ?
Reply #21 - 02/17/09 at 03:37:16
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Want my take on it? Books written by Eric Schiller often suck. That is because the analysis is extremely superficial, there are many spelling errors, wrong diagrams, etc. When someone else (Joel Benjamin, for example) co-authors Schiller's books, it is not as bad. The co-author sometimes makes sure there are no typos. But more often than not, Schiller's books are so poorly written that he has a reputation for sloppy writing.
  
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Re: What is the worst chess book ever ?
Reply #20 - 02/16/09 at 22:47:10
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Chess Openings for black isn't that bad  ... it is maybe not the best book ... but it is definately not bad ...
I don't know about Chess Openings for white though ...
although I know a lecture from the maker of this book on ICC about the variation with Nc3 and Bd2 against the Winawer, which he recommends also in this book, I think Watson said this variation is bad for white, but practically it served me very well.

The worst chess book I read was the Chess Server Guide from Hawkeye, alias Roland Schmaltz, the book was badly produced, I bought it because he is german and I've seen him play in local tournaments,
after maybe flipping through it 2-3 times the pages got loose and fell out!!! And besides this guy was the best bullet player in the world,
and he didn't explain anything a normal player on icc wouldn't know.
And there were not even any storys. From a GM that was one of the best bullet players and probably knew internet chess best I expected better.
  
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Re: What is the worst chess book ever ?
Reply #19 - 02/16/09 at 22:16:03
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My number one worst book (amongst those books I actually worked on) is Konikowsky's book on the Scandinavian, which (a) seemed to primarily copy other sources (e.g. Wahls), (b) assessed the same position differently depending on the move order (claiming that one variation with 2...Qxd5 that Wahls dismisses is indeed just bad, but claiming that the same position is fine if reached by a 2...Nxd5 mover order is fine for black), (c) completely fails to grasp/present/discuss any of the fine points that various other authors took into account (Wahls, Emms etc.) and (d) being completely wrong about several key assessments of positions (usually wrongly claiming that black is fine).

Then there's Karpov's books on the English and the Grunfeld (I have both in German, the 1992 edition "Siegen mit Grünfeld Indisch" and a 1999 "Englisch")? Both claim to cover the current theory (all sorts of bla, bla, bla on the backcover), but in fact simply provide some annotated games in a few selected lines Karpov played (in particular against Kasparov). Well, if they were at least inspiringly annotated high-level games that would just be dishonest about the content, but the presentation also lack any appeal to me.

Then there's Winning with the Torre Attack by Gufeld and Stetsko, which to me stands out as an example of how to abuse the complete games format by simply providing a random selection of games in certain variations without and logically ordered presentation or overall messages.

A honourable mentioning also goes to Attacking with 1.d4 by Angus Dunnington, which is inspiringly written and did make me try a lot of the interesting ideas shown in the book, but which consistently fails to analyze the best lines for black (in particular simply dismissing what the best known specialists in each opening for black play - e.g. in the case of the Chigorin Morozevich or Milandinovic etc.).
  
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Re: What is the worst chess book ever ?
Reply #18 - 02/16/09 at 20:57:29
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As a youngster I also read at least one of Suetin's books (mostly because of a lack of other books) about something like middlegame strategy (don't remeber the title) and in retrospective it was completely useless because the games were commented only very superficially so there was close to no instructional value.  Angry
  
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Re: What is the worst chess book ever ?
Reply #17 - 02/16/09 at 18:40:06
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Smyslov_Fan wrote on 02/16/09 at 18:29:36:
If I were to use grammar as a major criteria for "worst", then Yermo's Road to Chess Improvement deserves mention.

In terms of sheer uselessness in a chess book, Suetin's attempt to cash in on Kotov's excellent and controversial series is rank. umm. has to rank.

Play Like a Grandmaster is a compendium of cliched games and poor analysis.  It doesn't get much worse than that. There have also been some tournament books that have moves that don't scan.  I don't own any of those and I don't remember which ones were particularly bad. I try to forget the really really bad chess books.


I don't know about Suetin, but the really awful thing about Kotov's Play Like a Grandmaster is its completely unrealistic model of how to analyze trees of variations.  Kotov argues that you should never revisit a single branch once you've reached a conclusion about it, but rather that you ascertain chess truth once and for all along every branch.  What people actually do, and what indeed is rational to do, is to go back and forth among various branches in distinctly unmachinelike manner, updating analyses done earlier with what was learned in later analyses.
  

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Re: What is the worst chess book ever ?
Reply #16 - 02/16/09 at 18:29:36
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If I were to use grammar as a major criteria for "worst", then Yermo's Road to Chess Improvement deserves mention.

In terms of sheer uselessness in a chess book, Suetin's attempt to cash in on Kotov's excellent and controversial series is rank. umm. has to rank.

Play Like a Grandmaster is a compendium of cliched games and poor analysis.  It doesn't get much worse than that. There have also been some tournament books that have moves that don't scan.  I don't own any of those and I don't remember which ones were particularly bad. I try to forget the really really bad chess books.
  
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Re: What is the worst chess book ever ?
Reply #15 - 02/16/09 at 13:50:25
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Don't stop there - there are three other classics by Plaskett. Here are some brutal (and funny) reviews. Having flicked through them at a tournament bookstall (I didn't buy them), I can say that they are not exaggerating -

Catastrophe in the Opening and Queen's Bishop Attack Revealed - http://www.chesscafe.com/text/hansen76.pdf

I've never seen this one, but the review is highly amusing.  Smiley

Starting Out: Attacking play - http://www.chessville.com/reviews/StartingOutAttackingPlay.htm

  
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Re: What is the worst chess book ever ?
Reply #14 - 02/16/09 at 03:27:50
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Dragan Glas wrote on 02/15/09 at 03:34:40:
Greetings,

Probably anything by Schiller.

Also the "Repertoire for White/Black" by Alburt et al.

The above nominations are based on what I've heard/seen of them.

Kindest regards,

Dragan Glas



That "Utter crap" as Tony miles so aptly put.
  
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Re: What is the worst chess book ever ?
Reply #13 - 02/16/09 at 03:18:35
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Re: What is the worst chess book ever ?
Reply #12 - 02/15/09 at 18:37:19
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The Chess Stars reference put me in mind of their book on Peter Leko, in which somebody was always "overtaking the initiative," and in which it was observed that "Grandmaster Leko does not hasten."  One might think that there's something charming about that sort of Slavic English.
  
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Re: What is the worst chess book ever ?
Reply #11 - 02/15/09 at 18:06:42
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ANDREW BRETT wrote on 02/15/09 at 07:36:18:
Slightly different to the topic's heading Ravikumar - Timman's selected games -It's quite a good book on the openings and analysis but it has to contain some of the worst typos/spelling ever. The book nonetheless is a very good read.

Schiller/Keene has made some classics but some of their earlier stuff is high quality.  



If you go by bad grammar and general misuse of the language, you have to nominate several by Chess Stars.  But their books are so good on other, more important criteria that I wouldn't wish to see them listed here.  Further we have to sympathize with people whose knowledge of our language vastly exceeds ours of theirs.

Among native speakers, Gary Lane in particular is one who doesn't seem to have a very good command of English usage, but I wouldn't condemn his books just on account of that.

You know, one thing that severely rankled me is the omission of any credit to Harry Golombek in the editorship of what amounted to a re-release (but in two volumes) of Keres's outstanding, three-volume collection of his own games.  John Nunn supplied minor corrections to Kere's analyses and was given full credit for editorship.  Not a worthy decision by whoever made it.

Come to think of it, I think John Nunn's book on rook and pawn endings is my nomination for this list.
  

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