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My Book Reviews,  # 4

November 27th, 2004:  New book reviews to go here. (I am working on many right now.)  

 This is my review of volume one - just for your reference. (Copied here: June 21st, 2006.)  


  Garry Kasparov’s Greatest Chess Games (Volume 1)  

mybk_rev4-bp01.gif, 10 KB

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful:

  Stride gently in the halls of giants.  October 17th, 2005  


A.J. Goldsby I  (Pensacola, FL (U.S.A.)) - See all my reviews

The book that I am reviewing is: "Garry Kasparov's Greatest Chess Games, Volume One," by GM Igor Stohl. (2005 - Gambit Publications)  

My records indicate that I purchased this book in late August of this year, so I have had it for close to two months now. I am a LIFE-Master; chess is not only a hobby, but a passion for me as well. I also enjoy good chess books, and this one is a welcome addition to my collection.

This is a wonderful - if a little pricey - effort by the author of another work ... that I happen to like a lot. ("Instructive Modern Chess Masterpieces.") This is a beautiful hard-back volume, over 300 pages in length. (74 total games.) The book is superbly constructed and well laid out, there is an average of two diagrams per page, and I think there is enough analysis in here to satisfy even the most die-hard fan.

The author tells you that many of Kasparov's earliest efforts are not covered, and refers you to earlier chess works. (Like Kasparov's "The Test of Time.") This is unfortunate, as the average player will be unfamiliar with many of these great games, and some of the volumes that Stohl refers you to - are no longer in print.

I checked many of the games with a computer, I never found any serious mistakes in the author's analysis, and you can rest assured that most of his analysis was carefully checked with a modern computer program. I found the notes to be entertaining, instructive and informative.

Some of my favorite games (in this particular book) are:
# 1.)  Kasparov - Tigran Petrosian; Bugojno; 1982. (Game # 18)
# 2.)  Kasparov - Lajos Portisch; Niksic, 1983. (Game # 24)
# 3.)  Robert Heubner - Kasparov; Brussels, 1986.(Game # 38.)  

These are just three examples, and they range from tactical explosions and pyrotechnics to unbelievable positional squeezes. There are also a few elegant endgames in this book, although the author (understandably) avoided extremely long contests. The openings in here are generally very modern, a serious student of the game would be learning {as well as having a ton of fun} while studying these chess jewels.

This book only covers Garry's games through 1993, the rest of Kasparov's career will presumably be covered in Volume II.

I must say that Kasparov's games are truly beautiful, like all the great players, (Morphy, Lasker, Capablanca, Alekhine, Botvinnik, Tal, etc.); Garry's best games are truly models of great chess. (Outstanding instruction!) And - from a personal viewpoint - other than Paul Morphy, Bobby Fischer and Mikhail Tal; no other players' games give me so much pleasure as those of Kasparov's.

Perhaps my only complaint is that the author occasionally over-uses a question mark to critique moves, often a 'dubious' appellation ("?!") or the 'interesting' symbol ("!?") might suffice. The author also seems to adhere to the requirements of "The Modern School" of chess annotation; this is something I do not necessarily care for. (The curious reader may find several discussions of this topic on many of my web pages.)

In the end, this is a magnificent work; the author is a solid GM who never loses his objectivity. In the final analysis, I do not think any chess fan would be disappointed with this book; however, it might be far too dense a read if you are just a beginner or a rank novice.

Naturally, I eagerly look forward to the release of the next volume ... I can only hope that the author does not keep me waiting for too long!  

I could NOT place the following review on, the above review is being used instead. (Apparently, they {mistakenly} consider this all the same book or product/series. I also posted the review given below on Chess Cafe, because I could not post it on Amazon.) 

  Garry Kasparov’s Greatest Chess Games (Volume 2)  

mybk_rev4-bp02.gif, 11 KB  (Click here to see - or buy - this book on Chess Cafe.)


Like Ali, The greatest of all time?  (Wednesday; June 21st, 2006.)  

Many might argue that Garry Kasparov was one of the greatest players of all time. I will not even enter that debate here, but simply agree that Garry is one the best ever … and certainly one of the most important chess world champions since the dawn of the twentieth century. 

I just received this book about a week ago … normally, it is my practice to read a chess book for months (or even years) before attempting a review. But here I wanted to record my thoughts as soon as possible. A desire to be first? Simple laziness? None of the these, it is just that I have anticipated this volume for some time, and also Kasparov’s games are very familiar to me. (The announcement of Kasparov’s retirement … just after Linares, 2005 … was a bitter blow to me, he is one of my favorite players.) 

First of all, this is a beautiful hard-back book of the highest order. The pages are opaque and printed on the highest quality paper, its gorgeous, and easily one of the most attractive of all the books in my chess library. The printer/publisher, Gambit, knows about chess books and they have been doing this for some time. 

Secondly, a word about the author. Once a promising young player, Stohl is now a hardened competitor. (42) He has also turned into a wonderful author, both of his preceding works have won awards and turned heads, even in the (sometimes jaded) chess world. 

Now down to brass tacks, what about the book? Is the analysis good, are the games chosen carefully? Patience young patouin, all of your questions shall be answered in time. 

One thing I feel forced to note is that some of the author’s analysis lines match mine exactly. Since many of my web pages are 10-15 years old, there can be no question that I copied GM Stohl’s work. Of course, it is possible that a master – using a good analysis engine – could reproduce some of the same variations … often times, especially in forcing situations, there are only so many moves to be seriously examined. But other times, I will take a ‘book’ line, (say from MCO or the Informant); and carry it to the point to where I feel that there could be no question of who is winning. So it is curious to find key analytical lines that match my own, exactly. (Just an observation.) 

I started with game one in this volume, which is Garry’s brilliant win over Ivanchuk from Linares, 1994. (Stohl makes the excellent observation that Garry was both a trendsetter … and that he {almost} never backed away from a theoretical showdown.) It’s a brilliant game, one of the first magnitude – against another player that I consider to be a true chess genius. The notes are very detailed; perhaps the only criticism is that a student trying to learn the opening … would need a companion guide, such as MCO-14, to really be able to grasp the intricacies of such a complex opening system as the one that is used in this grand contest. (D44, The Botvinnik “Ant-Slav” Gambit.) 

On an on it goes … page after page … and super chess battles galore. I quickly punched in two of these games, along with all the notes, (into the computer); I found no real errors of any kind in any of the analysis. (One note: In the game vs. Dreev … in the back of the book … the analysis is very complex. The recommended continuation is 18…0-0-0!; 19. Qe2, with an advantage to White. The analysis is very detailed, and not all the programs agree on what is the best move in these lines. I could have taken a few weeks … and eventually determined “who is right – and who is wrong” … but I did not see the point of such a venture.) 

Of course, I have followed Garry’s career intently - it is probably no accident that the last four games in this volume - are also annotated on my various websites and web pages. 

The writing in here is very good, the analysis is superb. I will even be so bold as to predict that this volume will also garner the author and publisher more awards for the excellence of their work. 

Is Garry’s greatest game in there? You betcha! Most pundits agree that Garry’s greatest game is his 1999  win  versus GM Veselin Topalov, the current FIDE World Champion. (Game # 101 in this volume.) This game receives special treatment with copious notes after all the key moves. (This grand contest can also be found – analyzed in some detail – on my main GC website.) No stone is left unturned here, this is as thorough an analysis of this game as I have ever seen or read. 

Perhaps the only real criticism I can offer is that many of my favorite games are missing. Let’s take just one example to make a point. 

Garry has had an intense rivalry with GM Michael Adams, Kasparov’s win (from Linares, 2005) is the last game in this book. But what about all of Garry’s other excellent victories? Since this volume picks up Garry’s career circa 1994, I pulled up ChessBase 9.0 and called up all of Garry’s games versus Adams … from 1994 until their last contest. I spent an entire evening playing over all of these games, in an effort to make some intelligent commentary here. 

So many beautiful chess games, so many wonderful combinations. Perhaps one of my favorites was Garry’s victory from Linares, 2002. His blow, (32.d5!!!); is a move even the best programs do not immediately discover … even in 2006. (I used Fritz 9.0, Shredder 9.0, Deep Junior, ChessMaster 10th Edition; and one of my on-line students used Rybka.) Adams was so stunned by this idea, he was unable to find the best defense, and soon succumbed to Garry’s intense pressure. 

I would argue that this game … and dozens of others … should have been included in this volume. Of course, if they had followed my advice, this might have been a 10-volume set, instead of just two! 

Therefore, I would advise any student who wants to seriously study Garry Kasparov’s games, would have to get a good chess database program – in addition to this excellent treatise. However, my final verdict is that this book fully deserves FIVE STARS, and my fullest and most sincere endorsement! (Highly recommended!) 

- USCF LIFE Master, A.J. Goldsby I  (See this book on  

My analysis of the following games:  (which are like the last three contests of this book) 

 [Kasparov - Dreev, 2004]  [Kasimdzhanov - Kasparov; 2005]  [Adams - Kasparov; 2005]  

  My review of the book,  Chess Openings for White Explained,” 
  by GM Lev Alburt, GM Roman Dzindzichashvili and IM Eugene Perelshteyn  

 Review by A.J. Goldsby I 


Firstly, you should know that I am a USCF LIFE-Master, and that I make a great part of my income from teaching chess. I am also a recognized author, I write a regular column for the Florida State chess magazine and I have some of the best {private} chess web-sites on the Internet. 

This is not a “How To Play Chess” type book, nor is it a beginner’s book … but I ask the question, “How should you learn the game of chess?” (This may seem like a wild and offbeat tack, but if you stay with me, you will see where I am heading.) 

So just what is the best way to learn the game of chess? There seems to be NO universal consensus about this very crucial question. 

Some – like Capablanca – felt you should learn the game slowly, playing endgames and simple positions, acquiring a feel for chess a little at a time … before being given a full field of chessmen. Others feel you should be given a complete army and learn the game from the initial set-up, a sort of “trial-and-error” type method. (I have my own ideas about this topic, and toward this end, I have written my “Beginner’s Chess Course.” Its on the Internet, you should be able to find it with any adequate search engine.) 

And in the same vein – as above – the question of “Which openings should the student learn first?,” is one that I have often posed to GM’s. And once more – you might be surprised to find that there is not a complete agreement, even among the experts about how you should go about this very difficult task. 

I feel that the American tradition is probably the best one. The great Harry N. Pillsbury promoted the platform that the aspiring chess player should learn the KP openings first. Only after the student has acquired a basic mastery of tactics and fundamental chess ideas, could he move on to the more subtle aspects of other openings … like the QP and wing openings. Frank J. Marshall and Bobby Fischer fundamentally agreed with Pillsbury, Fischer often stated that the KP opening was “Best by test.” And many other well-known American GM’s have echoed this sentiment. For example, GM Larry Evans said that until you became a solid chess-player, say rated above 2000 by the U.S. Chess Federation, “you first name should be tactics, your middle name should be tactics, and your last name should be tactics.” (I personally heard Evans make this statement at a public lecture and simul in the mid-1970’s.) This book follows this excellent advice, and gives the amateur player a complete opening repertoire based on opening with the KP. 

Now there are some basic principles that you can learn that govern the opening. (Like “Control the center,” “Develop your pieces,” etc. See R. Fine’s book, “The Ideas Behind The Openings,” for more details.) But can general principles alone take you through the very complex opening phase? My answer for the student - especially for those who want to really improve or have their eye on the goal of becoming a chess master – is that while simple things might get you out the opening with a playable game, they are NOT a replacement for a complete opening repertoire!! 

The market is NOT flooded with books on complete opening repertoire’s, but there have been a few volumes that have been designed to give the amateur a range of choices in perhaps the most complicated phase of the game. However there are NO books of this type. Allow me to explain. 

The authors are all well-known players, Alburt and Dzindzhi have a five U.S. Championship titles between them. Al Lawrence, (the editor and basically the project manager); is a former executive director of the USCF and has authored many chess books. The authors of “Chess Openings for White, Explained” have gone to great pains to give as thorough and complete an opening repertoire as possible, this volume 548 pages … and it is packed with chess instruction. There are opening lines, chess traps, and many complete master-level games. (I have often said that the best way to learn chess is to thoroughly study a good model, and towards that end, thoughtfully annotated master-level games are the best way to go.) 

Some of the ideas in here are not new to me. For example, about 20+ years ago, I had a young Navy Pilot, who was undergoing his flight instruction at Pensacola N.A.S., and he came to me with a problem. He basically wanted a good line versus the French Winawer. He did not want to re-learn chess, he hated playing with the doubled pawns, and he had tried some systems … like the King’s Indian Attack …. and these had failed him miserably. After some thoughtful research, I offered this student the following line: 1.e4, e6; 2.d4, d5; 3.Nc3, Bb4; 4.e5, c5; 5.Bd2!? My student adopted this line and had immediate success with it, defeating several higher-rated opponents. And this is the same line that our team of authors are advising you to play, but they have laid it out in far more detail than I ever attempted. 

I have had this book for several weeks now … and I have deeply examined and analyzed many of the lines – always using a strong chess engine, (like Fritz, Junior or Shredder); running in the background. I found NO major errors or oversights of any kind. I did find a few – extremely minor – things, but nothing of the significance what would cause the average student any real concern. For example, at the bottom of the page, after the first column … on page # 78; I thought that 13.Neg5! looked to be the most forcing move, and once I checked it with the computer, several analysis engines agreed with me. (13.Neg5! 0-0; 14.Bxe7 Nxe7; 15.Bxf7+!! Rxf7; 16.Nxe5 Qf6; 17.Rae1 h6; 18.Nexf7! hxg5; 19.Nxg5+ Kh8; 20.Qb5 Bf5; 21.Rxe7! Qxe7; 22.Qxf5 g6; 23.Qxa5, "+/-") However, the authors’ main line, (13...Kxe7; 14.Qa3+ Ke8; 15.Neg5! Rf8; 16.Bb5 Bb6; 17.Rae1 f6; 18.Nxe5!, “+/-“); is also winning easily for White. I also found one variation, (in another chapter); where although Black is a Pawn down, he has a Rook on the seventh. My stance on such matters has always been that the average player should categorically avoid such positions, as he does not have the skills to overcome the problems that are associated with them. There were a few other things that I noticed … but they were all relatively very minor concerns. 

This team of authors has gone through the whole range of openings. They have systematically laid out every possible opening and defense that you could possibly face … and provided you with an antidote. In many cases, they have advocated a new system that is chock full of TN’s and fresh ideas. 

There are “memory markers” practice problems, analysis diagrams … in short, this book is laid out like the previous volume (Openings for Black) was, and is nothing short of revolutionary. (Other publishing companies take note; this is how an openings book should be made!) 

Do I have any complaints or criticisms? A few. #1.) Depth. The authors many times go far too deep … I doubt the average player would grasp or remember the bulk of this in a tournament game. A good idea would to be to create an opening repertoire in ChessBase … only carrying the first 10-12 moves of the MAIN LINES. (In that way, you could review them the night before a tournament.) However, if you are going to err, I would prefer it be on the side of too much analysis, as opposed to possible superficiality. # 2.) Memory would play a large role here; players with a very poor memory might not do well with this particular repertoire. #3.) Complexity, the average player would do well to simply try to reach an equal and playable position, than possibly seek an advantage in such difficult analysis … I am sure that the beginner or rank novice would find this volume too difficult or dense to absorb. 

However, if you are an ambitious player with a good memory and would like a COMPLETE opening repertoire, than look no further than this book! Even if you don’t want to play these lines, you had better purchase this book to find out what your opponents will be playing. Coaches will want to get this book to help prepare their students. Correspondence players … in search of new ideas … will want to plumb the depths of this highly instructional volume as well. In short, virtually everyone will want their own copy! (Five Stars - Highly recommended.)  

 Friday; July 28th, 2006.  


 My review of:

  Grandmaster Chess Strategy 
  (What amateurs can learn from Ulf Andersson’s Positional Masterpieces.) 

  By Jurgen Kaufeld and Guido Kern. 



Tuesday; May 10th, 2011

I just received this book in the mail – and I wanted to review it without delay. 

Firstly, I must apologize to my regular fans and readers. I have not completed hardly any book reviews in the last few years, I guess I was suffering from depression, (my wife died of cancer in 2008) … but I feel that I am getting better now. 

To let you know my qualifications, I am a USCF Original  LIFE  Master, a tournament director, chess organizer, writer, and I am probably best known for my many web pages (on chess) on the world-wide web. 

I had thought about doing a web page and a brief bio on this player, but this is not necessary … a Google search of the Internet will reveal many of these that are more than satisfactory for our purposes. 

Since I have been playing chess since the 1960’s, let me tell you about what I remember of this player: he is VERY strong, at one time, he was in the {much coveted} “Top Ten” (in the world) list. His style is slow and he seems to want to try and take you into an endgame, where his superior patience and skill will simply wear you down. Andersson has won more (strong) tournaments than I care to count, and has many other honors that distinguish him as one of the leading players of the last 30-50 years. (I did a search; there are over 2,700 games of this player in my personal database!) 

So – on to the book, what did I think? 

Firstly, the publisher is “New In Chess,” they have a modern reputation in the field of chess books as having no peer -– nearly always, seeing their logo on a book means careful planning, meticulous editing, high-quality printing and authors that have done their homework. 

The first thing I did was to “look up” about 15-20 of these games -  in the games database. (This is very easy to do with the ‘ChessBase’ program.) Then I quickly played through these games, all the while with my favorite chess engine (Fritz) running in the background. Then, I had my youngest daughter (Angel) choose three games, all at random. I played through each one of these games carefully, taking around 30 minutes for each one of these games. While I was looking at the games and analyzing, I had 2 engines, (not Fritz this time); running in the background, and I was carefully reading the notes. Then, Monday night, I took the book to a chess lesson with one of my local students. (J. Laning) We carefully played through the first game … taking at least an hour, as my student had many questions. [The first game is MOST impressive: GM Karl Robatsch is reduced to virtual ashes in a very simple endgame (symmetrical pawn structure) after only a mere 33 moves. Andersson’s style (here) was to slowly improve his position, until his opponent simply runs out of decent moves!] 

My verdict: This is an outstanding book on an excellent player! The authors have done an exceptional job. There is just the right balance of comments and annotation. The presentation is clean and neat, and most of the average player’s questions have been anticipated in the text. There are eighty games here, with many different themes: endings, space, play on the d-file, two Bishops, playing against an isolated Pawn, various types of specific endgames, etc. 

I was always {mostly} a tactical player, usually playing “head-hunter” chess. If you are anything like me – your eyes glaze over when anyone even mentions the term, “Positional Chess,” yet you know you need to master the basics of this area of the game if you are to improve. If this is true – or if you have ever had a desire to learn the fundamentals of positional play or are a fan of this player – then you simply must get this book. I can promise you many hours of enjoyable reading and learning as you progress through this wonderful volume. 

Recommendation: go over these games on a real chess set … first. Then later, especially if you have any questions – (of a tactical nature) – you can always use your favorite chess software / chess engine to figure out what you might have missed. In this way, I believe you will get the most fun, good use and chess education from this tome on our beloved past-time. 

  - A.J. Goldsby I; Pensacola, FL (USA)  (Click here to see this book / read my review ... on the Amazon website.) 

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