9:41 PMImprove Your Opening Play - Chess
# Publisher: Everyman Chess
Grandmaster Chris Ward explains the important ideas behind every major opening, unraveling among others the secrets of the Sicilian, the mysteries of the Modern and the fundamentals of the French. He emphasizes the need to understand the key elements of each opening rather than simply memorize a series of complicated variations that leave you stranded if the opponent varies from the expected route. This book deals with every important opening, focuses on the application of simple principles and has a revolutionary layout to help readers absorb the key ideas.
Excellent, but not overwhelming....
"Improve Your Opening Play" is an excellent FIRST book on openings for a beginner who knows all the basics, but needs a deeper understanding of the purpose of various openings. It will be particularly helpful for occasions when the beginner is white and is met by various popular openings that would put him or her at a disadvantage without some knowledge of the intent, strengths and weaknesses of the various approaches black can take. It will also give the beginning a player a variety of strategies for countering white. This can help a beginner to gain an edge on another beginner who is not familiar with a particular opening.
From a pedagogical standpoint, this book provides a broad overview of each of the most important openings and their variations. This provides a framework for building on the basics and deeper study down the road. The immediate advantage is that the beginner will soon be able to recognize various openenings and avoid major mistakes. It will also give him the knowledge he needs to look up what someone else used against him and do further research.
This book is NOT intended to be a comprehensive text on openings. As such, it is not overwhelming. It provides approximately 6-8 moves of each opening and variation, the simple logic behind these moves and the advantages and disadvantages of the resulting position. It also provides some questions as to how to proceed and encourages the reader to think on their own from there. I think this is a good way to go because it allows new players to learn the basics of the various openings quickly and then experiment on their own. This makes further study more meaningful and with real game experience advanced study will be more productive and beneficial. There is nothing like losing a game because of a bad opening due to lack of understanding to motivate one to learn more!
I have several opening books and although I have been playing chess for a long time, sometimes I feel overwhelmed reading them. It is much more interesting for me to master general concepts and then build upon each of the major themes over time. This partly because I only have limited time to devote to the game and studying it. This is probably the boat most people are in. If you like chess, but are turned off by the density and apparent complexity of other openings book, this might be just right for you.
Chris Ward writes in a simple, straightforward and conversational tone. This makes this text very readable and the major principles easy to digest. There are also lots of useful diagrams and he doesn't present so many moves between diagrams that it is difficult to memorize the board position. In short, this is an informative and enjoyable read.
Lastly, while the book isn't exhaustive in its treatment of openings, it does provide some strategic guidelines as to how to continue. It doesn't give examples, but it encourages you to experiment with the position. I think this is a great approach in a world of <$20.00 chess engines with tutoring capability. As a pianist, I know that reading about music is not the same as practicing. I think the same applies to chess, you need to digest a certain amount of material and then apply it in real game situations before learning more. In summary, I think this book accomplishes its objective of providing beginners with just enough opening material to give them basic understanding, some direction as to how to go forward and enough challenge that learning is exciting rather than frustrating or overwhelmin.
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