Latest book reviews of 1 October 2009

Wilhelminalaan 33 


The Netherlands.
John Elburg

                                 Chess Books

Isaac Kashdan American Chess Grandmaster by Peter P.Lahde
Career Summary with 757 games
McFarland & Company,Inc.,Publishers Box 611
Jefferson,North Carolina 28640. 

348 pages
Price $65,00
ISBN 978-0-7864-3296-7

Peter P.Lahde describes in this beautiful printed hardcover of McFarland the life,chess career and games of Grandmaster Isaac Kashdan (19 November 1905, New York – 20 February 1985, Los Angeles},who was one of the best chess players in the world of the late 1920s and early 1930s.
The main part of this work,273 pages holds hundreds of his tournament games,match games, simultaneous exhibitions, speed games etc.
Many of these games cover original analyses of the great Kashdan or other prominent chess players of his time.
For example in this book I found nine games from Kashdan against Alexander Alekhine where Alekhine only managed to win one game from Kashdan in serious competition, and that was the Pasadena Chess Congress game from 1932.
A other lost game can be found in the consultation game between Kashdan & Phillips against Alekhine & Wahrburg,New York 1933.
Alekhine thought sufficiently highly of this game, that Alekhine included it in his book,My best games 1924-1937.
Kashdan had the talent to extract victories from seemingly even positions and some called him "The little Capablanca".It was Alekhine who  named him one of the most likely players to succeed him as World Champion.
For financial reasons,Kashdan was forced to earning a living as an insurance agent and administrator in order to support his family.
Peter P.Lahde writes: Since Kashdan could no longer make his living by playing chess in tournaments and exhibitions,he advertised in January 1938 in Chess Review that he would be a special agent for Prundential Insurance Company.He invited anyone interested to consult him for life insurance and investments.
Kashdan best performance was the 48th United States Open,Open Christi of 1947,where Kashdan won 10 of his 13 games,while drawing the other 3.
Mrs.Kashdan took quite an interest in chess herself.She even formed a chess club that would consist of seven men and eight women,and Helen Kashdan even played in the United States Women’s Championship of 1938!
There is a story that Sir Umar,the master of Sultan Khan,was deeply impressed by Helen Kashdan. He wanted to add her to his harem and offered Isaac Kashdan £150.
One of Kashdan's children, Howard  had serious health problems,born in 1941 and saidley died in 1955.
The cause of death was “idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis”which is probably “cystic fibrosis”.
Their younger son,Richard born in 1944,is a lawyer with offices in San Francisco.
Howard’s health is one reason Kashdan did not compete in any events in 1949 and 1950.
In 1963 and 1966 Isaac Kashdan was director of the first and second Piatigorsky Cup tournaments, and these belong to some of the best tournaments books that where ever written.
An interesting sidelight was in 1996, that Kashdan’s wife Helen,was instructed to locate a smaller set of board and pieces  for Bobby Fisher.
Included in this book is a introduction with missing games, tournament crosstables,bibliography,Index of players,index of ECO openings and 11 photographs!

Conclusion: On of those fabulous made McFarland  chess books!

Understanding chess endgames by John Nunn
Gambit Publications Ltd
231 pages
Price $ 24,95
ISBN 978-1-906454-11-1

Dr.John Nunn provides the reader in this book with all the necessarily endgame knowledge,that you must be aware of!
All material from Nunn is provided by 100 endgame positions and the World Chess Solving Champion explains, you in readable text the secrets of these endgame positions.
As GM Nunn explains some knowledge of elementary mates with King and queen vs king,and king  and two bishops vs is necessarily for a good understanding of this book.
Pleasant to mention are the wealth of new positions in this book and that makes it also interesting for the more experienced club player,who likes to expand his or hers endgame skills.
Nunn calls each group of two pages a ‘section’.Where each section is good for four columns and there is a diagram at the top of each column and this all makes the material very understandable.
Nunn is the man of detailed analyses but honest this book is unbelievable readable!
The sections in this book are divided into: King and pawn Endings,Knight Endings,Same-Coloured Bishop Endings,Opposite Coloured Bishop Endings,Rook Endings,Rook vs Knight Endings,Rook Endings,Rook vs Minor Piece Endings,Queen Endings,Other Material Combinations and Tactical ideas.
Here I found the classic beauty Kmoch – Nimzowitsch,Bad Niendorf 1927,where black is a pawn up with two connected passed pawns,but at the moment his pawns are blocked.
How can he lift the blockade and win?
Please see page 227!
Conclusion: A very understandable endgame book!

 The most valuable skills in chess by Maurice Ashley
Gambit Publications Ltd
159 pages
Price $ 27,95
ISBN 978-1-904600-87-9

I have seen a lot of book on chess tactics but how the Maurice Ashley brings his chess pieces to life is very special.
Ashley goes back to there their fundamentals and learn you to be a hunter and sometimes you have to play like a butterfly.
Ashley describes the board as a minefield where potential peril lurks behind every pawn front.
The words from Ashley make a lot of sense,for example: the position between Petrosian and Bronstein,Amsterdam Candidates 1956.
White,a future World Champion,overlooked the fact that his queen was being threatened by the black knight on f5.He played 36.Ng5?? and gave immediately after his opponent pocketed the queen.Sometimes we feel a little better if we know it happens to legends of the game too.
Just how can we learn to avoid these hazardous squares?
The way beginners usually learn is through the school of hundred blunders and bruised egos,we finally begin to stay  away  from the greedy mouths hungering to swallow up our pieces.I think that is not a bad way to learn {we have all been through it}but I believe there are ways to train your self to learn  your self to learn how to become much more aware very quickly.
In the chapter Wall street the player learns to asses and make good trades.
The book holds five fabulous,well analysed  games,Paul Morphy – Duke of Brunswick/Count Isourd,Paris 1858,Wilhelm Steinitz – Curt von Bardelen,Hastings 1895,Mikhail Botvinnik – Milan Vidmar,Nottingham 1936,Donald Byrne – Robert James Fischer,New York 1956 and Bent Larsen – Boris Spassky,Belgrade 1970.
All these games cover a wealth of text.
Included are a lot of exercises to see if you have, understood the lessons from Tiger Woods of chess GM Maurice Ashley!
Conclusion: Also highly  recommend for chess trainers!