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Normal Topic Best Play by Alexander Shashin (Read 4590 times)
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Re: Best Play by Alexander Shashin
Reply #2 - 10/17/13 at 18:19:35
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Yes, I did read that thread.  I'm still interested to hear from our Forum members who would care to share their thoughts.
  
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brabo
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Re: Best Play by Alexander Shashin
Reply #1 - 10/17/13 at 17:54:23
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Best Play by Alexander Shashin
10/17/13 at 17:48:10
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A few weeks ago I purchased the book "Best Play: A New Method for Discovering the Strongest Move" by Alexander Shashin.  For those of you not familiar with Shashin, he is both a physicist and chess master / trainer and he takes a mathematical approach to characterizing chess positions as a guide to finding the "best move" that the position demands.  When I first scanned the book in a bookstore, I decided not to buy it because it seemed too theoretical and the writing style (perhaps influenced by the translation from Russian to English) seemed hard to follow.  I looked at it again a few weeks ago and decided to give it a go.  As expected it was slow going and I had to reread whole sections to be sure I was following him (mostly due to the writing style which is often conversational and sometimes lacks clear explanation.)  I have completed the first six chapters of the book which explains his approach (the remainder of the book is a series of exercises to practice the theory.) 

My overall assessment is that it contains some real "nuggets" of value - but you have to be willing to work hard to "mine" them.  It is definitely a book intended for a more advanced player (and probably with a math/technical orientation.) I won't repeat an overall description of the 5 parameter method (material, time/mobility, safety, compactness, spatial expansion) which you can find elsewhere but I thought his approaches to calculating time/mobility of pieces and compactness of position were useful in conjunction with his guidance (illustrated through GM games) of the implications of these factors to selecting the proper candidate moves in a given position.  On the flip side, the actual math of calculating these parameters during a game seems impractical to me.  I do see value in the systematic way he evaluates a position to objectively assess how aggressive to be in selecting candidate moves.  One of my own weaknesses as a player is to over reach as an attacker.  He makes some interesting points about the inter-dependency of the compactness of yours and your opponents's positions and how expanded / extended they are to assess whether you would be better served to attack, maneuver or defend.  One of the classic differences between solving a chess problem and a live game situation is knowing when (and what type) of moves to look for in a given position, and Shashin does help provide a method to accomplish this (though finding the actual moves and calculating the variations is of course still up to the player!)

I am curious if other Forum members have taken the plunge to study the book and what value you have derived from it?

Bill
  
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