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Old October 17th 05, 04:22 PM
Chess One
 
Posts: n/a
Default 95% of opening theory books are rubbish!

In view of the recent Schiller-slugfest I thought it would be interesting to
engage some truly expert opinion on the value of modern opening books.

Here is an extract that deserves our attention - not because of the pair of
high-calibre commentators who contribute to it - but because to correct the
balance of criticism here, 95% of opening titles would need to be banned by
chesscafe if we tend to trend with Taylor Kingston's criticism.

--------
"Yes, there are some really persistent one [errors] which remain
undetected for several decades. I'm not talking about the mistakes that fill
the trash written on 'opening theory' by the dozen. That's what I call
'fortnightly books'. here is how to produce them: take 3 existing 'works' on
your subject, mix them up a little bit, add a lot of fresher games (don't
forget to steal the annotations!), and finally - to make it look better -
put in something analysed by your latest Fritz (or whatever). That's all!

One gets the impression that those who have already read at least one
chess book feel an irresistible urge to write one as well! No wonder Timman
said already in the early 1980's:

'95% of opening theory books are rubbish.'

Unfortunately, the time that has passed since has failed to prove the
opposite! This time, however, I am talking about the errors (sometimes grave
ones) that occur in the quality work of excellent chess writers. ...

The reason for these, potentially fatal, errors (You will find the
refutation to one of them below) is mainly that it is impossible to check
all variations of a bulky work in sufficient depth.In such cases the author,
who also uses earlier annotations, tries to judge who he can 'trust'. Sooner
or later he can single out the respectable writers, as well as those who
produce 'five minute annotations' (There are also the 3 x 5 minute ones:
they take 5 minutes to write + 5 minutes to play through + 5 minutes to
refute."

[[Extracted article from a book currently in process of review, copyright &
publ. 2005, Batsford, A. Adorjan. Black is OK forever!]]
----------

The author then goes on to refute an entire opening series of play at move 9
[!] which was thought to provide White with an advantage.

One additional comment may be worth citing in this section: the author
comments about a previous game; "And yes, it's risky because its fairly
complicated. The spectators who are interested not only in the technical
results do deserve all this!"

Which is also another level of chess commentary which is provided by the 5%
of chess authors who actually know what they are describing in their pages.

This, I submit, is the context for chess book evaluations, and I wish that
USCF officials would take them seriously in their negotiations with their
chosen vendor.

Phil Innes
17 October, 2005



  #2   Report Post  
Old October 17th 05, 05:50 PM
Todd
 
Posts: n/a
Default 95% of opening theory books are rubbish!

I believe opening books are worthwhile if they present you with more than
just moves--clear explanation of the themes and strategies related to that
opening. I have found a few opening books that do that but I've also found
that many non-opening books often explain openings better because they
actually include middlegame analysis that helps you understand the ideas
behind the opening. For example, Nimzovitch's "My Praxis" has a lot of
ideas in it on how to play the Nimzo Indian. Similarly, "The Chess Struggle
in Practice" by Bronstien has a lot of Kings Indian games in it that help
you understand what each side is going for. Of course, these texts were
written many years ago but the strategies contained in these books are still
valid. The "Pirc Alert!", which is an opening book by Albert and Chernin,
tries to blend strategy with analysis. However, the 450 page book seems to
run out of room. Many lines are not covered--just the one's that they
suggest you play are covered. The bottom line it is hard to balance
explanation with complete opening analysis. For that reason, I believe most
opening books leave students of the game somewhat unsatisfied. Perhaps this
intractable deficit in opening books is one reason why strong chess players
advise against spending a lot of time learning openings. Most advice that
your time is better spent learning tactics, endgames and strategy as these
endeavors will help you understand why certain opening moves are played
better than if you just read an opening book. I believe you can get
something out of most openings books but it's hard to get everything you
need to really play an opening well.

A really good opening book, IMO, would have to include a lot of discussion
about the tactics, strategy and likely endgames that certain openings are
going to generate. That's the only way that an opening book can prepare you
for what to do when the average player varies from the book. I don't blame
the authors for not writing such books. If they proposed to an editor to
write a thousand page book that explains everything, I imagine the editor
would probably reject the idea as he would correctly note that probably not
enough people would buy it.

Some opening books try to just update you on recent theory. IMO, the
opening databases can do a better job of that as they can be updated as time
goes by, although most databases cost more than the books. Theory opening
books become obsolete very quickly. We do seem to need better education
about what is important for chess players to learn. Then, they wouldn't
spend so much time studying these books and becoming disappointed with lack
of improvement. Sadly, I fear that someof these books may actually turn
people off of the game. In contrast, others (e.g., Chernev's Most
Instructive Games of Chess Ever Played) can increase interest and possibly
lead to genuine chess improvement. I do with that book reviewers would more
commonly point out these pitfalls with opening books.

Todd


"Chess One" wrote in message
news:[email protected]
In view of the recent Schiller-slugfest I thought it would be interesting
to engage some truly expert opinion on the value of modern opening books.

Here is an extract that deserves our attention - not because of the pair
of high-calibre commentators who contribute to it - but because to correct
the balance of criticism here, 95% of opening titles would need to be
banned by chesscafe if we tend to trend with Taylor Kingston's criticism.

--------
"Yes, there are some really persistent one [errors] which remain
undetected for several decades. I'm not talking about the mistakes that
fill the trash written on 'opening theory' by the dozen. That's what I
call 'fortnightly books'. here is how to produce them: take 3 existing
'works' on your subject, mix them up a little bit, add a lot of fresher
games (don't forget to steal the annotations!), and finally - to make it
look better - put in something analysed by your latest Fritz (or
whatever). That's all!

One gets the impression that those who have already read at least one
chess book feel an irresistible urge to write one as well! No wonder
Timman said already in the early 1980's:

'95% of opening theory books are rubbish.'

Unfortunately, the time that has passed since has failed to prove the
opposite! This time, however, I am talking about the errors (sometimes
grave ones) that occur in the quality work of excellent chess writers. ...

The reason for these, potentially fatal, errors (You will find the
refutation to one of them below) is mainly that it is impossible to check
all variations of a bulky work in sufficient depth.In such cases the
author, who also uses earlier annotations, tries to judge who he can
'trust'. Sooner or later he can single out the respectable writers, as
well as those who produce 'five minute annotations' (There are also the 3
x 5 minute ones: they take 5 minutes to write + 5 minutes to play through
+ 5 minutes to refute."

[[Extracted article from a book currently in process of review, copyright
& publ. 2005, Batsford, A. Adorjan. Black is OK forever!]]
----------

The author then goes on to refute an entire opening series of play at move
9 [!] which was thought to provide White with an advantage.

One additional comment may be worth citing in this section: the author
comments about a previous game; "And yes, it's risky because its fairly
complicated. The spectators who are interested not only in the technical
results do deserve all this!"

Which is also another level of chess commentary which is provided by the
5% of chess authors who actually know what they are describing in their
pages.

This, I submit, is the context for chess book evaluations, and I wish that
USCF officials would take them seriously in their negotiations with their
chosen vendor.

Phil Innes
17 October, 2005





  #3   Report Post  
Old October 17th 05, 06:32 PM
Bateman
 
Posts: n/a
Default 95% of opening theory books are rubbish!

I've stated on this forum before that chess books are mostly a rip-off.
Books that deal with opening theory, ie: Lalic's "Budapest Gambit" are
less of a rip-off than those with the generic title of: "buy this piece
of crap and you to will be a gm." but they dont represent value for
money either. The last poster mentioned Chess Praxis by A Nimzowitsch,
I dont have it but I do have a copy of My System by the same author.
It's all you need. If you got any talent at all that book by itself
will get you to 2000. If you dont got no talent there's not a book in
the world that will get you to 2000. Simple as that.

  #4   Report Post  
Old October 17th 05, 06:55 PM
Harold Buck
 
Posts: n/a
Default 95% of opening theory books are rubbish!

In article .com,
"Bateman" wrote:

If you got any talent at all that book by itself
will get you to 2000. If you dont got no talent there's not a book in
the world that will get you to 2000. Simple as that.



You state it like you either have talent or don't. Obviously, there are
people who have a great deal of talent and can get to 2000 without much
work. Others have a little talent but can work really hard and get
there. And I'm sure there are people that could devote their entire
lives to it and never get there.

Some books will help some people but not others. True, a book by itself
won't take you anywhere, but there's some combination of talent, work,
and knowledge that's needed, and books can be part of the last two
components.

--Harold Buck


"I used to rock and roll all night,
and party every day.
Then it was every other day. . . ."
-Homer J. Simpson
  #5   Report Post  
Old October 17th 05, 08:35 PM
David Kane
 
Posts: n/a
Default 95% of opening theory books are rubbish!


"Todd" wrote in message
news
I believe opening books are worthwhile if they present you with more
than
just moves--clear explanation of the themes and strategies related

to that
opening.


An alternate theory is that a book
is useful if it recommends moves
better than the ones the player
would come up with on his own.
While I won't argue that people
*should* buy their books this
way, I suspect many do.

While not excusing poor
quality of the type Vince
Hart has described (and seen
some samples myself), I think
this is the demand Schiller is
meeting.










  #6   Report Post  
Old October 17th 05, 10:56 PM
Nick
 
Posts: n/a
Default 95% of opening theory books are rubbish!

David Kane wrote:
"Todd" wrote in message
news
I believe opening books are worthwhile if they present
you with more than just moves--clear explanation of the
themes and strategies related to that opening.


An alternate theory is that a book is useful if it
recommends moves better than the ones the player would
come up with on his own. While I won't argue that people
*should* buy their books this way, I suspect many do.

I suspect that many people buy chess books because they
expect that those books will help them improve their
levels of play. Often, they may be disappointed.
But life's disappointments are not limited to the
purchase of chess books.

While not excusing poor quality of the type Vince Hart
has described (and seen some samples myself), I think
this is the demand Schiller is meeting.


FM Eric Schiller would seem better qualified than most
club players to recommend chess moves, *if* he were to
make a more conscientious effort to do so.

--Nick

  #7   Report Post  
Old October 18th 05, 02:04 AM
David Ames
 
Posts: n/a
Default 95% of opening theory books are rubbish!

I don't understand. Is 95% of each book rubbish? Or are 95% of books
sold rubbish?

The Everyman series of opening books seem to meet Volchok's criterion
that you should study 50 or more games with a given opening. Not that
you can't find 50 games elsewhere, but here you are going to find a
consistent point of view that you can adopt or challenge.

David Ames

  #8   Report Post  
Old October 18th 05, 05:01 AM
Ray Gordon
 
Posts: n/a
Default 95% of opening theory books are rubbish!

I believe opening books are worthwhile if they present you with more than
just moves--clear explanation of the themes and strategies related to that
opening. I have found a few opening books that do that but I've also found
that many non-opening books often explain openings better because they
actually include middlegame analysis that helps you understand the ideas
behind the opening. For example, Nimzovitch's "My Praxis" has a lot of
ideas in it on how to play the Nimzo Indian. Similarly, "The Chess
Struggle in Practice" by Bronstien has a lot of Kings Indian games in it
that help you understand what each side is going for.


Bronstein's first-person account of the 1953 Candidates Matches is one of
the best chess books ever written. I spent a good six months with that book
while training full-time. It helped me understand the middlegames that
result from the King's Indian, and while I don't play that opening, the
formations are common to several other lines that I do play.


Of course, these texts were written many years ago but the strategies
contained in these books are still valid. The "Pirc Alert!", which is an
opening book by Albert and Chernin, tries to blend strategy with analysis.
However, the 450 page book seems to run out of room. Many lines are not
covered--just the one's that they suggest you play are covered. The bottom
line it is hard to balance explanation with complete opening analysis. For
that reason, I believe most opening books leave students of the game
somewhat unsatisfied. Perhaps this intractable deficit in opening books is
one reason why strong chess players advise against spending a lot of time
learning openings. Most advice that your time is better spent learning
tactics, endgames and strategy as these endeavors will help you understand
why certain opening moves are played better than if you just read an
opening book. I believe you can get something out of most openings books
but it's hard to get everything you need to really play an opening well.


It takes time to internalize the knowledge from any chess book. That's why
repetition and training full time are usually required of those who wish to
be grandmasters.


A really good opening book, IMO, would have to include a lot of discussion
about the tactics, strategy and likely endgames that certain openings are
going to generate. That's the only way that an opening book can prepare
you for what to do when the average player varies from the book.


A player who understands opening formations should not be thrown by an
opponent deviating. That's the last stage of opening knowledge, however;
better to first play the right moves and then understand them, as at least
your positions will be objectively stronger, and the games will be more
meaningful study tools.

I don't blame the authors for not writing such books. If they proposed to
an editor to write a thousand page book that explains everything, I imagine
the editor would probably reject the idea as he would correctly note that
probably not enough people would buy it.


e-books and databases don't have printing costs or space limitations.


Some opening books try to just update you on recent theory. IMO, the
opening databases can do a better job of that as they can be updated as
time goes by, although most databases cost more than the books. Theory
opening books become obsolete very quickly. We do seem to need better
education about what is important for chess players to learn. Then, they
wouldn't spend so much time studying these books and becoming disappointed
with lack of improvement.


It's easy to teach this stuff, but what should be taught is where the
roadblock occurs.



  #9   Report Post  
Old October 18th 05, 05:30 AM
Rob
 
Posts: n/a
Default 95% of opening theory books are rubbish!


Chess One wrote:
In view of the recent Schiller-slugfest I thought it would be interesting to
engage some truly expert opinion on the value of modern opening books.

Here is an extract that deserves our attention - not because of the pair of
high-calibre commentators who contribute to it - but because to correct the
balance of criticism here, 95% of opening titles would need to be banned by
chesscafe if we tend to trend with Taylor Kingston's criticism.

--------
"Yes, there are some really persistent one [errors] which remain
undetected for several decades. I'm not talking about the mistakes that fill
the trash written on 'opening theory' by the dozen. That's what I call
'fortnightly books'. here is how to produce them: take 3 existing 'works' on
your subject, mix them up a little bit, add a lot of fresher games (don't
forget to steal the annotations!), and finally - to make it look better -
put in something analysed by your latest Fritz (or whatever). That's all!

One gets the impression that those who have already read at least one
chess book feel an irresistible urge to write one as well! No wonder Timman
said already in the early 1980's:

'95% of opening theory books are rubbish.'

Unfortunately, the time that has passed since has failed to prove the
opposite! This time, however, I am talking about the errors (sometimes grave
ones) that occur in the quality work of excellent chess writers. ...

The reason for these, potentially fatal, errors (You will find the
refutation to one of them below) is mainly that it is impossible to check
all variations of a bulky work in sufficient depth.In such cases the author,
who also uses earlier annotations, tries to judge who he can 'trust'. Sooner
or later he can single out the respectable writers, as well as those who
produce 'five minute annotations' (There are also the 3 x 5 minute ones:
they take 5 minutes to write + 5 minutes to play through + 5 minutes to
refute."

[[Extracted article from a book currently in process of review, copyright &
publ. 2005, Batsford, A. Adorjan. Black is OK forever!]]
----------

The author then goes on to refute an entire opening series of play at move 9
[!] which was thought to provide White with an advantage.

One additional comment may be worth citing in this section: the author
comments about a previous game; "And yes, it's risky because its fairly
complicated. The spectators who are interested not only in the technical
results do deserve all this!"

Which is also another level of chess commentary which is provided by the 5%
of chess authors who actually know what they are describing in their pages.

This, I submit, is the context for chess book evaluations, and I wish that
USCF officials would take them seriously in their negotiations with their
chosen vendor.

Phil Innes
17 October, 2005


Dear Phil,
I just wanted to continue my thought on this from another news group. I
just wonder why there is so little new creation and imagination in new
opening development. To me, as a layman, there appears to be very
little that is new. Has there been anything new in the last 30 years?
Take Care,
Rob

  #10   Report Post  
Old October 18th 05, 07:36 AM
Angelo DePalma
 
Posts: n/a
Default 95% of opening theory books are rubbish!

"Rubbish" is a relative term. Anand once stated that he doesn't read chess
books, he only plays over games. Timman, when he made his comment in the
1980s, was one of the world's top players.

What's rubbish to a GM who plays 60-100 games per year against 2300-2700
opposition may not be rubbish to me, a lowly A player. I consider a book to
be valuable if it provides me with insight I did not possess before reading
it. Maybe it's junk to Anand, who plays the first 23 moves from memory, but
it's not junk to me.

The best opening books present both ideas and moves. Gallagher's Nimzoindian
book does this quite nicely. Nunn's books on the Sicilian are too dense for
most sub-master players, and immediately out of date for top tournament
players, so one might consider them rubbish since they can't help anyone.

"Chess One" wrote in message
news:[email protected]
In view of the recent Schiller-slugfest I thought it would be interesting
to engage some truly expert opinion on the value of modern opening books.

Here is an extract that deserves our attention - not because of the pair
of high-calibre commentators who contribute to it - but because to correct
the balance of criticism here, 95% of opening titles would need to be
banned by chesscafe if we tend to trend with Taylor Kingston's criticism.

--------
"Yes, there are some really persistent one [errors] which remain
undetected for several decades. I'm not talking about the mistakes that
fill the trash written on 'opening theory' by the dozen. That's what I
call 'fortnightly books'. here is how to produce them: take 3 existing
'works' on your subject, mix them up a little bit, add a lot of fresher
games (don't forget to steal the annotations!), and finally - to make it
look better - put in something analysed by your latest Fritz (or
whatever). That's all!

One gets the impression that those who have already read at least one
chess book feel an irresistible urge to write one as well! No wonder
Timman said already in the early 1980's:

'95% of opening theory books are rubbish.'

Unfortunately, the time that has passed since has failed to prove the
opposite! This time, however, I am talking about the errors (sometimes
grave ones) that occur in the quality work of excellent chess writers. ...

The reason for these, potentially fatal, errors (You will find the
refutation to one of them below) is mainly that it is impossible to check
all variations of a bulky work in sufficient depth.In such cases the
author, who also uses earlier annotations, tries to judge who he can
'trust'. Sooner or later he can single out the respectable writers, as
well as those who produce 'five minute annotations' (There are also the 3
x 5 minute ones: they take 5 minutes to write + 5 minutes to play through
+ 5 minutes to refute."

[[Extracted article from a book currently in process of review, copyright
& publ. 2005, Batsford, A. Adorjan. Black is OK forever!]]
----------

The author then goes on to refute an entire opening series of play at move
9 [!] which was thought to provide White with an advantage.

One additional comment may be worth citing in this section: the author
comments about a previous game; "And yes, it's risky because its fairly
complicated. The spectators who are interested not only in the technical
results do deserve all this!"

Which is also another level of chess commentary which is provided by the
5% of chess authors who actually know what they are describing in their
pages.

This, I submit, is the context for chess book evaluations, and I wish that
USCF officials would take them seriously in their negotiations with their
chosen vendor.

Phil Innes
17 October, 2005





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