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Encyclopedia of Chess Miniatures

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Encyclopedia of Chess Miniatures

Post  jiri on Wed Sep 06, 2017 5:19 pm



INDEPENDENT REVIEW

Small games, big book

Tadic, Branko, and Goran Arsovic, ed. Encyclopedia of Chess Miniatures. Belgrade: Sahovski Informator, 2014. HB 560 pp.  ISBN 978-8672970715.

What makes for a miniature in chess?  The game must be short. (‘Short’ has historically meant anywhere from 15 to 25 moves.) It should be bloody, filled with tactics and blunders.  And it should be beautiful; or, at the least, there should be something aesthetically pleasing about it.

The Encyclopedia of Chess Miniatures contains 1636 fully annotated games sorted by opening variation, with no game running past 20 moves.  It follows in a tradition of books of miniatures, including books by Irving Chernev, Neil McDonald and John Nunn. Is ECM an improvement on this august tradition? Yes and no.

On the one hand, there is undeniable value for your money in this book. You can find wonderful miniatures in nearly any opening variation you desire, although – and this should not surprise – the majority of the games are in the B and C sections of the ECO coding system.  Closed systems don’t lead to short slugfests as often! The game selection represents a decent cross-section of chess history, with games from Morphy (10), Anderssen (7), Alekhine (12) and Tal (12). Among contemporary players, Jobava has 6 games in the book, and Beliavsky has the most (on my scan) with 17. Even Deep Blue gets in on the action with one game – I’ll let you guess which one.

On the other hand, some of the recent games – particularly those that have also appeared in the Informant – are more workmanlike and less spectacular than their diminutive brethren. In some one of the players just makes a blunder and is duly punished. While they may technically be miniatures, they don’t feel that brilliant.  Part of this has to do with the undoubted advances in chess skill and knowledge through the years, but all the same, some of the newer games don’t sparkle the way that the older ones do.

I have found the book to be particularly useful for teaching. In my work with kids, for example, I’ve found that miniatures are both pretty and short enough to keep their attention.  I showed two games (three, including Morphy at the Opera) from this book to a student in recent weeks, but I learned something too – I knew how to handle the 4…Qh4 variation of the Scotch because I’d studied the Maczuski-Kolisch game, beating an opponent who outrated me by 200 points!

Is this book for you? If you teach chess, particularly to kids, ECM will prove very useful indeed. If you enjoy playing through tactical melees, there are plenty here. And I suspect that using this book to help learn an opening – by seeing how typical mistakes are punished – would be a fruitful endeavor.

The price may turn some people off, and its lack of ‘utility’ may dissuade others. That’s a shame. Unlike an opening book, which is outdated as soon as it is printed, this is a book that will entertain for years and years to come. Sometimes we – and by we, I mean I! – forget that chess is supposed to be fun. Playing through the games in the Encyclopedia of Chess Miniatures will help you remember.

The new Encyclopedia of Chess Miniaturespresents a rich collection of short games that will evoke a sense of surprise, sensation and even shock in the mind of the chess playing reader.

When should a game be classed as a ‘miniature’? Well, in terms of length, those given here do not go beyond the 20th move. And although there are in fact some examples that do last slightly longer, this is solely due to ‘chess inertia’ – a player’s reluctance to accept the inevitability of a humiliating blitzkriegdefeat!

The prime objective of this Encyclopedia, however, does not lie in numbers, but in promoting an acute awareness of the many potential disasters lying in wait for the unsuspecting chess player in the early stages of the game. Each one of these miniatures spells danger and requires vigilance from the very first moves. In fact reading this book might well prompt readers to step up their level of reconnaissance in the opening phase. In this way they will not only protect themselves against devilish traps and pitfalls but also be primed to plant a few tactical devices of their own.

All chess players will learn valuable lessons from these miniatures, as there are concrete reasons why a game of chess ends so rapidly. After all, even grandmasters sometimes find themselves on the receiving end of a first round knockout!

Apart from the basic introductory examples, the miniatures in the book are classified according to the ECO code. This makes it easy for readers, familiar with the Chess Informant environment, to navigate their way around the large amount of material and quickly locate games played with openings that form part of their own repertoire.

Meanwhile, apart from the utility value, it is funto play through miniatures, as they also offer pure chess enjoyment. On the one hand, we see cute checkmates and well-coordinated combinations, on the other, instructive mistakes and the shock of the unexpected.  No, we are not talking about players making crude blunders, but rather succumbing to the subtle art of deception.

Because miniatures are all over so quickly, there is often no need for the reader even to use a chessboard, let alone a computer, to understand the reasons why the loser was never in with a chance of reaching the middle game!

In the process of selection, the authors, GM Branko Tadic and IM Goran Arsovic, compiled a ‘short list’(!) from more than 10,000 candidate games. This has resulted in an Encyclopedia of 1636 miniatures, all annotated, played between 1560 and 2014, and thereby covering chess creativity and ingenuity, past and present.

Josip Asik, CEO of Chess Informant

The new Encyclopedia of Chess Miniaturespresents a rich collection of short games that will evoke a sense of surprise, sensation and even shock in the mind of the chess playing reader. The prime objective of this Encyclopedia, lie in promoting an acute awareness of the many potential disasters lying in wait for the unsuspecting chess player in the early stages of the game. 

Each one of these miniatures spells danger and requires vigilance from the very first moves. In fact reading this book might well prompt readers to step up their level of reconnaissance in the opening phase. In this way they will not only protect themselves against devilish traps and pitfalls but also be primed to plant a few tactical devices of their own. 

All chess players will learn valuable lessons from these miniatures, as there are concrete reasons why a game of chess ends so rapidly. After all, even grandmasters sometimes find themselves on the receiving end of a first round knockout! Apart from the basic introductory examples, the miniatures in the book are classified according to the ECO code.

This makes it easy for readers, familiar with the Chess Informant environment, to navigate their way around the large amount of material and quickly locate games played with openings that form part of their own repertoire. Meanwhile, apart from the utility value, it is fun to play through miniatures, as they also offer pure chess enjoyment. 

On the one hand, we see cute checkmates and well-coordinated combinations, on the other, instructive mistakes and the shock of the unexpected.  No, we are not talking about players making crude blunders, but rather succumbing to the subtle art of deception.

Because miniatures are all over so quickly, there is often no need for the reader even to use a chessboard, let alone a computer, to understand the reasons why the loser was never in with a chance of reaching the middle game!

In the process of selection, the authors, GM Branko Tadic and IM Goran Arsovic, compiled a ‘short list’(!) from more than 10,000 candidate games. This has resulted in an Encyclopedia of 1636 miniatures, all annotated, played between 1560 and 2014, and thereby covering chess creativity and ingenuity, past and present.

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mediafire.com download/tf6bj5tu65ko5re/Tadic_&_Arsovic_-_Encyclopedia_of_Chess_Miniatures_(2014).djvu



jiri

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