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Very Hot Topic (More than 25 Replies) Chess Book Review blog (Read 121132 times)
Stigma
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Re: Chess Book Review blog
Reply #29 - 08/01/13 at 23:39:09
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ErictheRed wrote on 08/01/13 at 22:45:52:
1.  Preparation: Why on Earth would you frantically spend an hour trying to find information about a 2200-player from Wisconsin?  Do you really think that you can cram preparation into an hour?  Do you think that your opponent will walk into it?  Your time at a tournament should not be spent "preparing," but resting, eating well, and trying to get into a good frame of mind to play.  Your preparation should have been done beforehand--are you suddenly going to begin playing different openings based on one or two games you can find on the internet or in Chessbase?


proustiskeen can answer for himself, but I wanted to comment on this. I didn't realize looking at the opponent's games and preparing some opening the evening or morning before a game was even remotely controversial! I've done this for as long as I can remember, even if I have less than an hour available, to the point that it feels like I'm "winging it" if I haven't found time for it.

It's a bit hit and miss of course, but I make sure to look at the lines in the opponent's repertoire that I would be most uncomfortable facing. That way I can be reasonably content whether I get what I've just spent an hour learning (or refreshing) or s/he plays something I'm more happy to face.

If I have more time, I also try to look more deeply at my opponent's games and ask: What kinds of games does he win and lose? Where are his greatest chess strengths and weaknesses? This sort of thing is very useful to keep in mind when making difficult, game-changing decisions at the board.

In theory I agree it would be better to learn a lot of theory at home, but it always seems hard to find time for. Among my numerous weaknesses, tactics, calculation and endings all have priority over openigns at the moment! And I would still spend some time refreshing the lines likely to be played before a game.
  

Improvement begins at the edge of your comfort zone. -Jonathan Rowson
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proustiskeen
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Re: Chess Book Review blog
Reply #28 - 08/01/13 at 23:38:45
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ErictheRed
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Re: Chess Book Review blog
Reply #27 - 08/01/13 at 22:45:52
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Since you're posting this here I presume that you're open to feedback about your games, so here's what I thought when I saw your game.  Granted I know nothing about you other than what you wrote in the link above.

1.  Preparation: Why on Earth would you frantically spend an hour trying to find information about a 2200-player from Wisconsin?  Do you really think that you can cram preparation into an hour?  Do you think that your opponent will walk into it?  Your time at a tournament should not be spent "preparing," but resting, eating well, and trying to get into a good frame of mind to play.  Your preparation should have been done beforehand--are you suddenly going to begin playing different openings based on one or two games you can find on the internet or in Chessbase?  What would you have done with those 20 minutes of "prep time" if you hadn't spilled your coffee? 

Maybe look over some basic endgames or solve some simple tactics, but unless you're a professional or semi-professional player, the tournament hall is not the place for "preparation."  That should be done beforehand.  Your mind should be kept as clear as possible, you should want to play, you should be well rested and eating well, etc.

2.  Posting While Playing?: I just realized that this event is currently in progress--are you honestly wasting time and energy updating your blog while playing in a tournament?  Really?  Go out and walk around, swim, get some sun and then take a nap if you have time.  Don't waste time updating a blog and thinking even more than you have to about chess.

A chess tournament is grueling, and you have a limited reserve of mental energy.  Don't waste it updating a blog if you expect to play well.

3. Passive and "Unrecognizable" Play: Looking at www.uschess.org, it seems that you've played 1 player rated above 2100 in the last year, and only 9 in your entire life.  Your play in your first game was not passive and unrecognizable because you were nervous or tired or unprepared or because you didn't have your favorite coffee.  You were simply outplayed because you met a stronger opponent who set you more problems than you are used to having to solve, and you couldn't solve them. 

4. Blaming Time Trouble: What were you thinking about during the first 18 moves of the game that got you into time trouble?  What choices did you think were critical?  Why did it take you some much time to play simple moves like ...0-0, ...d6, responding to a2-a4 with ...a6, etc?  I don't see any particularly odd opening problems that you were set--natural moves sufficed to give you a good game.  Where did you waste your time?  Let's forget about "theory;" why on Earth would you play 6...Nge7 instead of the more natural 6...Nf6 or 6...d6, for instance?  What was so difficult for you about the first 15 moves that you needed so much time?

5. Allowing f5-f6: You wrote, "Allowing f5-f6. I saw it and calculated it, thinking it not overly dangerous. The combination of time pressure - of course - and my general lethargy (from the drive?) did me in." 

Wait--what?  You calculated it?  Why?!?  It completely rips open your King for a measly pawn; not two pawns, not a piece, not an exchange, just a pawn.  It's clearly very good for White, why would you bother calculating it at all?  You just try your best not to allow it, you don't calculate it!

I don't think that you're taking full responsibility for your poor play--you're blaming fatigue, time trouble, etc.  Though if you are wasting time "preparing" between rounds, I'm not surprised that you're fatigued...

6. Is your coach helping?: Your coach called your play "passive and unrecognizable."  Perhaps he just said that to get your confidence up for the remainder of the tournament, but I have to wonder: is he helping you to improve?  I find it hard to believe that he wouldn't notice tendencies in your play from that game, if he were a good coach.  And even if he did find your play unrecognizable, if he's a worthwhile coach he should be able to understand that you were set problems that you couldn't cope with; your play wasn't just magically unrecognizable. 

I honestly question whether your coach is helping you to become a better player or whether he's subconsciously helping you to ignore your poor play.  Maybe after the tournament he'll react differently. 

I apologize if all of that sounds harsh, but those are my thoughts.  Please don't bother responding to them until the tournament is over, though--get some rest and exercise instead.

Good luck with the rest of the tournament, and try to enjoy yourself.
  
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proustiskeen
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Re: Chess Book Review blog
Reply #26 - 07/31/13 at 22:22:09
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Re: Chess Book Review blog
Reply #25 - 07/31/13 at 16:46:32
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I'm diverging a bit from the stated aim of the blog, as I'm doing a series on my games at the ongoing US Open.  The first installation - 'Preparing...' - is up.  I talk about the books I read and the websites I used to prepare.  Games will be posted the day after I play them, good bad or ugly.  Enjoy.

A review of Aagaard's GM Prep: Positional Play will be up shortly after the tournament ends.

https://chessbookreviews.wordpress.com/2013/07/31/preparing-for-the-us-open/
  
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Re: Chess Book Review blog
Reply #24 - 05/17/13 at 05:28:35
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A review of the new algebraic version of Alekhine's Best Games:

http://chessbookreviews.wordpress.com/2013/05/16/one-of-the-classics-but-better/
  
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Re: Chess Book Review blog
Reply #23 - 04/26/13 at 06:35:37
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proustiskeen
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Re: Chess Book Review blog
Reply #22 - 04/15/13 at 18:24:54
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Next up will be a review of Lakdawala's book on Capablanca, for those interested.
  
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proustiskeen
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Re: Chess Book Review blog
Reply #21 - 04/15/13 at 18:24:07
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New review of the Inside Chess DVD up:

http://chessbookreviews.wordpress.com/2013/04/15/inside-chess-on-dvd/

Thanks, as always, for reading.
  
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Re: Chess Book Review blog
Reply #20 - 03/15/13 at 16:29:28
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ErictheRed wrote on 03/15/13 at 03:02:51:
barnaby wrote on 03/15/13 at 02:01:32:
what is the 'product' of a book review supposed to be?

Wink


In my opinion: a clear presentation of both the contents of the book and the quality of those contents. 


a review is an opinion so in that vein a critique of repertoire choices seems legitimate and 'productive' imo

i dont claim that makes me right and you wrong, only that different people are looking for different things in a review AND i don't suppose you see the irony of your critique of the other critique along these lines (what the author has decided to include?)

Smiley

  
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ErictheRed
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Re: Chess Book Review blog
Reply #19 - 03/15/13 at 03:02:51
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barnaby wrote on 03/15/13 at 02:01:32:
what is the 'product' of a book review supposed to be?

Wink


In my opinion: a clear presentation of both the contents of the book and the quality of those contents. 
  
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barnaby
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Re: Chess Book Review blog
Reply #18 - 03/15/13 at 02:01:32
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what is the 'product' of a book review supposed to be?

Wink
  
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ErictheRed
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Re: Chess Book Review blog
Reply #17 - 03/13/13 at 23:34:17
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JonathanB wrote on 03/13/13 at 22:57:01:
I liked this aspect of the post.  The reviewer put forward an argument as to why he felt ... cxd4 would be a better choice.  His reasons were well explained and were interesting to read.

This is not to say that I agreed with him in his reasoning (I kind of do and kind of don't).  The important thing is that in reading what he had to say I gained enough of an idea of what was in the book to give me an idea as to whether or not I might like to buy it.



You're right of course to say that had the authors gone the other way then some other reviewer might criticise them for it, but I think that's missing the point.

Aside the points I raise here, are you really saying that the contents of a book are not a relevant subject to raise in a review?


The word I used was unproductive, not irrelevant.  When he stuck to criticizing the lengths of analysis (and possibly computer-type moves required to maintain equality in some lines), I thought the discussion was very helpful and relevant.  But as far as I can tell, he criticized them for not recommend 9...cxd4 because Tarrasch players should play as many IQP positions as possible (who says?) and because he disagrees with the authors' theoretical assessment based, in part, on a game played after the book was published.  That's not fair, is it? 

I also don't think that a GM needs to reveal in depth analysis explaining why a particular move was not chosen; perhaps they know of new ideas against Keilhack's 13...Ne5, for instance, and want to use it for themselves with the White pieces.  They offered 9...c4 because they felt that it was a better move; to exhaustively compare it to 9...cxd4 would be outside the scope of the book, wouldn't it?

I think that discussing which lines are recommended and the pros and cons of each line is absolutely relevant.  Criticizing an author's repertoire choice when that choice is entirely sound and a matter of preference (and in this case, comes with a plethora of new ideas) seems unproductive to me. 

On the whole the review was excellent.  I'd merely like reviewers to reflect a little before criticizing an author on this basis; that's all.  Hell, might as well criticize them for offering a book on the Tarrasch and not the Grunfeld while we're at it.
  
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JonathanB
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Re: Chess Book Review blog
Reply #16 - 03/13/13 at 23:02:34
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GeneM wrote on 02/09/13 at 20:20:38:
Troilus wrote on 02/08/13 at 10:14:28:
There aren't enough serious chess book reviewers on the web. Let's spread the word.

So true. And difficult to understand why.


Having done a few reviews myself I find it very easy to understand why.  They're a pain in the arse to write and take an awful lot of time and effort to do properly.

Aside from that as you say a good approach to reviewing is compare and contrast with similar products but not everybody has access to the competition to be able to do that.

upshot: we're mostly left with those guys who are happy to write "this is great, you should buy it" about everything.
  

www.streathambrixtonchess.blogspot.com  "I don't call you f**k face" - GM Nigel Short.
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JonathanB
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Re: Chess Book Review blog
Reply #15 - 03/13/13 at 22:57:01
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ErictheRed wrote on 03/13/13 at 18:49:47:
Very good reviews, and I hope that you do more of them!


Agreed.


ErictheRed wrote on 03/13/13 at 18:49:47:
I think it's unproductive to criticize authors on their choice of repertoire (unless they recommend truly dubious lines).  These authors seemed to believe that the old 9...cxd4 is inferior to 9...c4, so they recommended the latter move.  That might be a disappointment to a long-time 9...cxd4 devotee, but it's not really a valid criticism of the book's contents, is it?


Disagreed.

I liked this aspect of the post.  The reviewer put forward an argument as to why he felt ... cxd4 would be a better choice.  His reasons were well explained and were interesting to read.

This is not to say that I agreed with him in his reasoning (I kind of do and kind of don't).  The important thing is that in reading what he had to say I gained enough of an idea of what was in the book to give me an idea as to whether or not I might like to buy it.



You're right of course to say that had the authors gone the other way then some other reviewer might criticise them for it, but I think that's missing the point.

Aside the points I raise here, are you really saying that the contents of a book are not a relevant subject to raise in a review?
  

www.streathambrixtonchess.blogspot.com  "I don't call you f**k face" - GM Nigel Short.
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