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  More Chess Miniatures  
  (Page # 2, on Nunn's Book of this type of game.)  

Tuesday / September 8th, 2009:  A new page ... that will contain lightly annotated miniatures. 

NOTE:  All the games - on this page - are from/in Nunn's book of short games / miniatures.  

December 14th, 2003:  I remain deeply interested in  miniatures  ...  although a few have accused me of abandoning this area completely.  (Miniatures are cool, I just have been involved in other projects lately.) 

When the time and energy permits, I plan on returning to this area to do more work and to annotate more games. Stay tuned for more good stuff! 

A couple of weeks ago, I purchased the book:  

"101 Brilliant Chess Miniatures,"  by  GM John Nunn 

This is a great little book that was published in 1999. All the games in here are from 1971 or later. Much new material and games most of us have not seen before. All the players are VERY strong, Nunn set the cut-off for these games at a minimum rating of 2500! A chess book full of modern marvels and true chess diamonds.   

(Stay tuned for a book review, an analysis, and maybe the best game of this book.) 

 (My book review of this book, as it appears on


  101 Brilliant Chess Miniatures,  
  by  GM John Nunn  (****)  


I have always had a soft spot for this topic … I have built entire web pages – and even web sites – dedicated to great, short games of chess. So I was very happy to see that a player/writer of Nunn’s stature did a book on this topic.  


I don’t know what motivated Nunn to write this book, but I am very thankful he did. He took his database, (and after deciding to look at ONLY post-1970 encounters); and decided (properly) that a miniature was any game that lasted only 25 moves. (or less) "To my horror, there were over 65,000 such games." – GM John Nunn. In order to get this down to a more manageable number, he decided to further limit the games to those where both players were rated at least 2500 (Elo) or better. This got the number down to around 1,300 games. Nunn then played through all of these and whittled the number down to about 120 games. [From the period 1971 to 1999.] (He knew that some games would be eliminated once they were subjected to thorough analysis. The publisher had already given the mandate of only 101 games for the final version of the book for publication.)


I would have liked to see more detailed analysis, maybe some opening stuff and commentary … but Nunn notes the format of the work placed great restrictions on the amount of space. (Although we wonder why some games deserve five pages of analysis, and others only get one!)


But in the end, we are presented with 101 great games of chess. Some of these are true masterpieces, I doubt (very much) that the average player has seen more than a handful of these games prior to studying this volume.  


Now the $64 question is: Is this book any good? And … "Will it help me get better?"
I think the answer to both questions is a resounding YES!!! Chess is a primarily about tactics. And the emphasis here is definitely on the "hand-to-hand" aspect of chess. Chess is also about surviving the opening and eliminating mistakes, and a careful study of this book will also help you achieve this goal as well. And to be really successful, your chess study should also be fun, and I think this book meets this criterion as well. I give this book my HIGHEST recommendation!!  


There are a few shortcomings to this book. A couple of the examples are turkeys, and probably should not have been included … they are definite lumps of coal in the presence of diamonds. A couple of the games are more curiosities and opening traps than they are real games of chess. 
(# 92. H. Spangenberg – V. Tkachiev; BLACK wins in only 12 moves.) But much of this is really a matter of taste too.  


A real oversight is the lack of any index. How many times did Kramnik make this collection? (Three times, that I can see.) How many times was the Najdorf Sicilian played? (Four times out of the first ten.) How many times did Tal score a touchdown? (More than once.)  


It would have also been nice to see a list of groupings like: "The best win(s) in under 15 moves, the best Sicilians," etc. It would have been nice to know what the sources were for some of the annotations. (Mostly they came from the Informants, I imagine.)  


But in the end, this is a great little book. Its fun and it is filled with really scintillating tactics. If you don’t enjoy this book – you should consider giving up chess!  

Having written a review of this book, I decided my next task was to offer more critique ... and maybe try to find the most brilliant game in this book. Naturally this is a very daunting task. It is like giving an appraiser a handful of the finest jewels, and asking him to pick the very best one. 

I even decided I would pick one of the best games from this book, and try to annotate it. (To be posted later on one of my web sites.) 

Firstly, many of the games were difficult for me to really appraise. Right after I got the book, I whipped out my favorite (small) chess set. Less than an hour later, I had played through all of the games in this volume. 

Perhaps I am a little jaded, as a master - it is hard to get excited about White winning a Sicilian. The sacrifices on b5, e6, or even the Knight leap to the d5-square ... all this is known and has been done before. 

Some of these games struck me as a tad ugly. I felt they were out of place with some of the really breath-taking stars in this book. 

Of course there are Tal games!! I feel very strongly that  Tal's  win over  Uhlmann  (Game # 2) is  the most brilliant game  in this book. There are at three to five moves that I could legitimately award a double-exclam to. But to play the flip-side, it is easy for anyone to say I am a big fan of Tal ... and therefore unable to be completely objective. In the end, I decided not to do this game, and hopefully it will go into my collection of Tal's  games

Spassky also had a very brilliant win ... his win over Rashkovsky from the U.S.S.R. Championship in Moscow, 1973. This is an old favorite of mine, and it is also a sack on e6 in a Sicilian. (Black's defense is also less than stellar.) 

I am also a big fan of Kasparov. He is in this volume at least seven times. And he is the ONLY player who is in here - as far as I can determine - who is  NOT  on the "wrong end" of at least one of these great, short games of chess. (He also wins from both the White and the Black side of the board ... a true sign of his chess genius.)  

In the end, I decided for some basic criteria for the selection of the game. I decided ALL the Black wins should be ignored ... in most of these White not only violated good chess principle, he played like a player who was actually trying to fall on his own sword. 

Before I name the best/most interesting game of the volume ... I would like to stop and say again that:  # 1.) Just about ALL the games in this book are very, very good;  # 2.) The tactics in these contests are all worthy of close study ... if, for no other reason, you don't make these mistakes in one of your own games. 
(Especially a tournament game!) 


  Honorable Mentions:  

  1. (Game # 2.)  Tal - Uhlmann;  Moscow, 1971. 
     Maybe the most brilliant miniature in this whole volume!!  

  2. (Game # 6.)  Spassky - Rashkovsky;  Moscow, 1973.  
     Spassky wins quickly against a very strong player. 
     (From maybe the strongest tourney of this series.) 

  3. (Game # 49.)  Ivanchuk - Csom;  Yerevan, 1989.  
     Black gets two extra Queens ... and gets mated. 

  4. (Game # 56.)  Smagin - Sahovic;  Biel Open, 1990.  
     White unexpectedly sacrifices in the opening ... I was 
     wondering if the sacrifice was even sound or not. In 
     the meantime, Black is subdued completely. Incredible!! 

  5. (Game # 58.)  Sveshnikov - Scherbakov;  Moscow, 1991.  
     This game is already famous, it can be found in many books 
      that cover tactics, combinations, and puzzles. (I decided not 
      to include it as Black apparently missed many good lines, 
      and then blundered to allow White to give mate.) 

  6. (Game # 76.)  Spangenberg - Ftacnik;  Moscow Ol, 1994.  
     Easily the most interesting and spirited Black win in this book.  

  7. (Game # 89.)  Kasparov - Hracek;  Erevan Olympiad, 1996.  
     One of Kasparov's most brilliant {and quickest!} wins. 

  8. (Game # 96.)  Onischuk - Hertneck;  Biel Int. Tourn, 1997.   
     Another game of fantastic brilliancy ... with an artistic finish!  [see it]  

  (This is just my list ... when you have studied this volume you could probably come up with a list of your own!!!  
   Just about all the games are incredible.) 


I also decided to grade the games  ...  and try very hard to start with the latest game ... and work my way back from there. Eventually  ...  after  much  wrangling with myself ...   I decided to pick the outstanding game:    GM Rafael Leitao - GM Alexander Baburin,   (Click  HERE.)  
Europe vs. The AmericasBermuda;  1998. 

A truly great game. 
There is much sacrificing  ...  but it is also highly  original.   Surely one of the better modern miniature games of recent times. 

Feb. 10th, 2004:  I have not forgotten about this game, it is already annotated. It is only a matter not of reviewing the words and analysis, and then finding/making the time to create the web page. (May, 2004. I lost a lot of files when I converted to my new computer.  I will have to re-do this game.) 

Click  HERE  to return to my HOME PAGE  ...  for this site. 

Click  HERE  to go to my web page devoted to short games. (Miniatures) 

Click  HERE  to go to a page ... ... ...  with even more short games!  My latest  page  devoted to short games. 

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  This page was first created in November, 2003. It was last updated on 04/14/14.  


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