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Print is not dead

The source of the quote is unknown, but I’ve heard it said that “print isn’t dead; it’s just having a midlife crisis”.

That might sound strange coming from someone whose stock in trade has been (almost exclusively) writing professionally for the electronic medium. But the fact is that I love print books, and have a home crammed full of them (to my spouse’s neverending regret). Although the electronic medium has storage and (often) price in its favor, there’s nothing quite like the feel and portability of print books. It’s tough to read in bed with a laptop propped in your lap, and the smell of a new DVD doesn’t match the smell of the pages of a new book.

When it comes to chess instructional materials, ChessCentral deals primarily with non-print works. But we do offer a number of traditional print books and we’re presently having a sale on three humdingers worth looking into acquiring.

Masater of Attack

The first is Master of Attack: The Chess Games of Adolph Anderssen. I freely admit that I am completely and unabashedly an Adolph Anderssen fan. If you’ve never seen the Immortal Game or the Evergreen Game go look them up now. Go ahead — I’ll wait…

Those two mindblowing games are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Anderssen’s genius. He was a ferocious attacker and a sacrificial mastermind. Master of Attack is more than a treasury of games; it’s a tribute to the man. The vast majority of the nearly 900 games in the book are annotated; many of these annotations come directly from period (1800’s) sources. Additional annotations are provided by FM Ron Burnett with additional contributions from GM Anatoly Lein. The games are divided into sections on Anderssen’s serious (match and tournament) games, his informal games, and his exhibition games. An additional section offers eighty chess compositions by Anderssen (ranging from mate-in-two to mate-in-four) which can themselves be looked upon as a separate “chess tactics book” within the book itself. The volume also contains an 1879 obituary for Anderssen; its inclusion in this volume is its first publication in English.

The Puzzle King

Speaking of chess compositions, America’s Sam Loyd essentially invented the art. The Puzzle King: Sam Loyd’s Chess Problems and Selected Mathematical Puzzles pays tribute to this bona fide genius. After Sid Pickard’s introductory essay we’re treated to more than 700 of Loyd’s chess problems, categorized into mate-in-two problems, mate-in-three, mate-in-four, and “novelty” problems. The solutions are also provided, of course, and many of the solutions are heavily-annotated. Consequently The Puzzle King isn’t a mere historical curiosity — it’s a relevant, vibrant book of tactical exercises, invaluable for sharpening one’s own chess play.

Sam Loyd, for all intents and purposes, created a job for himself. He was not only America’s leading composer of chess problems: he actually made a living at it. Loyd also composed mathematical problems for publication in the popular press, and The Puzzle King also provides a selection of thirty-four mind-boggling masterpieces. Even if you can’t solve some of them you’ll be staggered (as I am) by Sam Loyd’s imagination and mathematical gifts.

The Games of Wilhelm Steinitz

The third in our triumvirate of print books also deals not just with chess’ “classical period” but with the man who literally wrote the book on chess strategy. The Games of Wilhelm Steinitz, First World Chess Champion collects the great man’s games between two covers; many of these games are annotated by Steinitz himself. A brief foreword (again by Sid Pickard) leads into a complete collection of Steinitz’ games. As in the other two volumes, the one thousand plus games are categorized for easy reference (match/tournament, informal, exhibition, and that great “lost art” of the 19th century: odds games).

Steinitz was emphatically not an example of “If you can’t do, teach”. The man practiced what he preached; Steinitz not only categorized and advocated strategic themes, he put those ideas to practice in his own games. Wilhelm Steinitz’ career constitutes the demarcation line between the wild tactical melees which preceded him and the start of modern strategy’s evolution. Steinitz was “the lawgiver”, defining chess strategy as we know it today, and you’ll see those ideas in action in their embryonic (and thus easily understandable) form throughout The Games of Wilhelm Steinitz.

All three of these books are a valuable addition to every chess player’s personal library, and all three of them are presently on sale for $10 each from ChessCentral. Please don’t miss this chance to own (or give as a gift) Master of Attack, The Puzzle King, and The Games of Wilhelm Steinitz at this reduced price. Rediscover the joy of print while appreciating the genius of these chess masters and improving your own chess skills at the same time.

Have fun! — Steve


2 Responses

  1. recently i read a review/column about Fritz Powerbook 2010 as a study tool [compared with ‘mega” and ‘big’.

    i purchased it on the basis of the column which i have not found in ‘exchange’ , many searches ,etc.

    i’m pretty sure that you wrote the column.

    can you provide a URL for it??

    i guess that now being in video production tou don’t have as much new in print. but i like your stuff . . . for years. is there some way for me to efficiently attract/direct me to your stuff [new] or must i
    keep doing random internet searches?

    • I wish I had better news, but even I can’t find all my stuff online anymore. It gets sent in and is either used or not, depending on whim, and is seldom archived.

      I’m not even sure I can compile a complete self-bibliography anymore. I’ve written material for at least six publishers (if I recall) over the years, and a fair bit of it is gone with the wind — stuff I slapped on a disk someplace and subsequently lost in the Byzantine recesses of the Skull Cave.

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