New Book Series: Lessons from the U.S. Chess School

I’ve always felt that I should write books on chess, but I’ve typically been too lazy to do it. However after the 37th United States Chess School, held in New York City a few weeks ago, that all changed.

This camp was a special one, as it was held in New York at the same time as the World Chess Championship match. We even had a special theme for this camp: We went through all of the World Champions one by one, and I presented a lesson themed on each of them.

This work helped me to realize just how much I love chess history and studying the games of specific players. I enjoy it so much that I had an idea for a book series, and wanted to share it here. The books will probably be titled: Lessons From the U.S. Chess School – Learning from the Greats

First off, let me preface this by saying that I believe Mark Dvoretsky to be the absolute best game annotator in the business. Most annotators either use too many concrete variations without explanations, or they use too many ridiculous and superficial explanations that don’t really help a serious player get to the heart of the position. In my opinion, for an annotation to be most useful, there has to be interaction. Therefore there must be many moments for the reader to stop, think, and solve some problem. Dvoretsky uses this method in nearly all his annotations. My goal is to emulate the annotations of Dvoretsky as closely as I possibly can. I am sure that I have my own style, and I don’t think I will ever be able to be as thorough as he was, but I’m hoping that people will like it.

Here is the general theme of the books. Each book will take one great player from history (or in some cases even from modern chess). I will then go through all of their games, and rank them in order from #1 all the way to #25. I will present these games with detailed annotations, and with many moments for aspiring students to stop, think, and come up with a solution. At the end of most games, there will be supplementary exercises based on important themes from the games.

Why is this something I really want to do?

1. No book specifically like this has been done before. What is Kasparov’s best game? Fischer’s best game? Capablanca’s best game? This type of format is guaranteed to start discussion, and I’m sure some people will be miffed if their favorite games don’t make the book, or get ranked too low. It will interest not only serious chess players but also chess history buffs.

2. This series will help instill chess culture into aspiring players. They will have it laid out to them exactly which games are the most important to understand, and the most important ones will be right at the front of the book. This is important because I can’t tell you how many chess books I have read the first 25% of and then put aside. I intend to make books like this for basically all famous players, and therefore by buying these books every young player will be able to absorb the most important historical games and concepts in the most interactive and fun environment a book can provide.

3. I hope that these books will be extremely useful for chess coaches and make their jobs a lot easier!

4. Because I intend to eventually do this for all strong players, I plan to get the community involved. After each book is released, I will let the public vote on who the subject of my next book will be.

I can tell you already that I’m starting the series with Bobby Fischer. I feel like he’s modern enough that everyone has something to learn from him, and I personally really wanted to know more about his games. I felt there was a danger that if I used a much older player, top younger players may find the work not quite as valuable and may be less likely to purchase the book. I hope that the first book will be good enough that in future volumes people will gladly buy them whichever player I write about. If you look at Dvoretsky’s annotation of the famous Zukertort – Blackburne game (from School of Future Champions, Volume 1), you can see how possible it is to provide instructive commentary to even the oldest games.

I have already ranked my top 25 games of Bobby and have started annotating and creating lesson plans for the highest ranked 13 games. The rankings are still fluid though, as after annotating one of these games, I decided it didn’t even belong in the top 25! I have no idea how long it takes to finish something like this or when it will get released, but right now I’m working pretty hard so hopefully it won’t take forever. What you can do to help me right now is the following:

  1. Tell me which games of Fischer are your favorites. Are there are any lesser known Fischer games that you like, that haven’t been covered in many other works? If so, why do you love those games?
  2. There will be a more official vote at some point in the future, but who would you love to see as a subject of this kind of book?

Thanks!

 

 

 

3 thoughts on “New Book Series: Lessons from the U.S. Chess School

  1. One suggestion: Do what you can to allow a Class player to follow the game as much as possible without a board. That means lots of diagrams, of course, but they don’t have to be at every move, every five to ten is enough.

    John Nunn did a great job with this in “Understanding Chess Move by Move.”

    -Matt

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  2. Pingback: In Chess, the Truth is Overrated | Greg Shahade

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