Latest book reviews of 1 October 2018

Wilhelminalaan 33 


The Netherlands.
           John Elburg

                                                                                                          Chess Books

Fabiano Caruana:His amazing story and his most instructive chess games by
Alexander Kalinin
New in Chess
266  pages
Price € 19.95
ISBN: 978-90-569-181-32

The well known grandmaster and chess trainer Alexander Kalinin provides the reader with a perfect overview of the  chess genius Fabiano Caruana,who had as child on the age of five irritating anger outbursts and his school teacher suggested his parents chess lessons,this will calm him down where the wise words of his teacher!
As Kalinin describes his father took the five year old boy to the Brooklyn Chess Book,by the way the same club where the legendary Bobby Fischer had begun his career!
Soon the youngster began working with the popular American children’s trainer,Bruce Pandolfini.
This fascinating read hold 62 best games of Caruana starting with his victory as ten year old boy against the experienced grandmaster Alexander Wojtkiewicz: 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 g6 3.d4 Bg7 4.Be3 Nf6 5.Nc3 cxd4 6.Bxd4 Nc6 7.Bb5 Nxd4 8.Qxd4 0-0 9.e5 Ne8 10.0-0-0 d6 11.Qd2 Bg4 12.Bxe8 Rxe8 13.exd6 exd6 14.Qxd6 Bxc3 15.Qxd8 Bxb2+ 16.Kxb2 Raxd8 17.Rxd8 Rxd8 18.Ne5 Bf5 19.g4 Be6 20.Re1 Rd2 21.Nd3 Bxg4 22.h3 Bf3 23.Re3 Bc6 24.Kc1 Rxd3 25.Rxd3 Kg7 26.Kd2 Kf6 27.Ke3 Kg5 28.Kd4 Kh4 29.Rg3 f5 30.Ke5 Be4 31.c4 g5 32.Rb3 Bg2 33.Kxf5 h6 34.Kg6 and wins!
Of course the game is far from being a masterpiece,but there are not many who play so well at that age.
Included in this book are the games of the 2018 Berlin tournament where Fabiano realised his dream of obtaining the right to play against Magnus Carlsen a match for the world title!
And that makes this read super interesting!
All material is divided into two parts The rise of an American chess star and Learn from Fabiano’s best games.
I would like to end with the last game in this book where Fabiano goes for a positional queen sacrifice for two minor pieces!
Caruana,Fabiano (2823) - Nakamura,Hikaru (2779) [B96]
London Classic 8th London (6), 15.12.2016
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 h6 8.Bh4 Qb6 9.a3 Be7 10.Bf2 Qc7 11.Qf3 Nbd7 12.0-0-0 b5 13.g4 g5 14.h4 gxf4 15.Be2 b4 16.axb4 Ne5 17.Qxf4 Nexg4 18.Bxg4 e5 19.Qxf6 Bxf6 20.Nd5 Qd8 21.Nf5 Rb8 22.Nxf6+ Qxf6 23.Rxd6 Be6 24.Rhd1 0-0 25.h5 Qg5+ 26.Be3 Qf6 27.Nxh6+ Kh8 28.Bf5 Qe7 29.b5 Qe8 30.Nxf7+ Rxf7 31.Rxe6 Qxb5 32.Rh6+ 1-0.
Conclusion: Fascinating read!

Thoughts Twenty Years on by Bob Meadley
This is an expensive book today at $250 Aust. When published in 1998 it was $25.50 US so clearly a very limited print run. Fortunately the State Library of Victoria (slv) recently sent their copy through Interlibrary loan for 2 weeks with me paying the postage of $16.50. The library received their copy 3 Feb. 1999. It is a paperback with pages 158/159 back to front and many typos but the dedication to the archaeologists and historians in China for their significant contribution to origin-of-research around the world is deserved. This is a ground-breaking chess history book.
How was it missed in 1999? This is an area I love, I was still working, mad on chess research, my chess friend Ken Fraser (1928-2014) of the State Library of Victoria (Now I note, on 15 May 2018 considered the 4th best library in the world) was doing his projects, my best chess friend John van Manen (1922-2000) was OK and somehow it missed us all. Over the last few days I dug out BCM, Chess Notes by Edward Winter and my main 1999 chess files for mention of this book and its author. Nothing. I did note in BCM 1998 p.330 in the late Ken Whyld’s ‘Quotes & Queries’ that Germany was the focal point of chess history and that a conference in February in Berlin considered the significance and spread of chess along the Silk Road. Mr. Manfred Eder could even provide funds from a charitable trust to assist any applicant to continue research. Perhaps German chess literature may have mentioned DHL’s book?
In his Preface DHL explains his love of research with humour and a racy style that may have annoyed many of the world’s chess historians of which I am a laggard member. It didn’t annoy me. DHL is not young and shames me  as I’m 12 years younger. It is a solo effort he is proud of and he asks readers to be the jury to his detective. He has a good case. David is 90 this year, happy birthday David. He was 70 when he wrote it.
Part 1 is a dissection of Western Literature on the origins of chess and a precise of 26 author articles from Cessolis to Sanvito in its 101 pages.
Part  2 presents the birth of Xiangqi (Chinese Chess)  DHL builds a strong evolutionary case with games. 115 pages.
Part 3 Covers Chinese chess and its spread to nearby countries and includes a summary, genealogy, epilogue, bibliography and index. 174 pages. Parts 2 & 3 are where the book stands or falls.
In Part 1 DHL takes the historians of yesteryear to task for their research and his brief resumes of their books were good to read as it saved digging out all the books and sifting through all the unhelpful material. I had not heard of 5 of the 26 historians discussed by DHL.
He liked only Cessolis and Hyde up to the 18th century. Everyone would have a copy of the BCM Caxton reprint but it is hardly a chess history and more a morality. Cessoles even says so. The Hyde is, but in Latin so the English translation was welcome. DHL reminded readers that Victor Keats had published an English version of most of Hyde in his beautiful 1994 book. DHL’s resume was easy to read. Hyde declared the game was invented a thousand years ago in India and spread abroad during Emperor Justinian’s reign (527-565AD). He dismisses all other views and names the inventor of chess one, Sissa. DHL thought Hyde ‘flawed’ because his learning was in Arabic not Sanskrit but was impressed by the inclusion of Xiangqi in the book but not of Hyde’s other views on Chinese/Indian inventions. DHL takes no prisoners and Hyde sadly is executed because he had decided chess was invented in India and not China. My copy of the 1694 work with vellum covers had just been devalued! I also have Victor Keats trilogy which included the Hyde translation in Vol.2. Keats made it a far more readable book with plenty of photos of chess sets and generous layout. It would take a Latin scholar to determine how much of the complicated 1694 edition was translated. It looks close to all but my schoolboy Latin was not up to the task. That said, I looked for proper names in many places and could not find them and so concluded some culling had occurred. There also seems to be some movement of articles in the 1694 Hyde in Keats work.
In the next 50 years to 1801, Robert Lambe’s book The History of Chess is examined and DHL is caught out as the first edition appeared in 1764 with author named but no printer. In 1765, the author was anonymous and the printer named (Wilkie). A pirated edition? Using ‘THE’ in The History of Chess is dangerous and even H.J.R. Murray used the letter ‘A’ in his title A History of Chess and cannot be accused of presumption in his great book. DHL is right as Lambe’s book is a condensed and Anglicised version of Hyde and as he sides with Hyde on India as the birthplace is thereby executed by DHL. Lambe mentions China and that they call chess (Sianghki), the game of the elephant but that it had come from India. He also writes that young Chinese maids are taught chess and that it is part of their education. He also gives 10 pages of instructions on how to play Chinese chess which was taken from Hyde. The Lambe is a lovely little 143p book that I have owned for over 40 years and it has a nice item on Philidor including that wonderful 56 move game out of the 1749 work that ended in a draw.
And then Daines Barrington (1727-1800) who disagreed with Hyde and gave the invention of chess to China. He was a lawyer, antiquary and naturalist. He never married. DHL found it a real pleasure to read and quote.. It appears, if the ‘Mechanics Magazine March 12, 1830 is correct, that Barrington mentioned ‘Hemsing’ in his ‘Disquistion’ and that he was Commander of a Chinese army 379 years after the time of Confucius. That is surely Han Xin but DHL does not comment. The article in the Mechanics Magazine was written by ‘Henry D. of Liverpool’. It may be a false comment about ‘Hemsing’. Next came Sir William Jones who batted for Hyde and India and though a Sanskrit scholar, can find no evidence for his claim. DHL found Jones candidness admirable.
Onto Eyles Irwin  (1751-1817) who got a Chinese friend to consult ancient books on the introduction of chess into China and that friend discovered Han Xin (277?-196 BCE) the Chinese general who invented chess as DHL believes and so Irwin got a very big tick. Irwin was an East India Company man. He had married a Miss Brooke and they had 3 sons and 2 daughters. He was an Irish poet and had books to his credit. In 1792 he was made Superintendent of the Company’s interests in China and he lived at Canton until 1794. Now the Chinese friend was Pan Zhen-Guan and he got a friend Tinqua to seek out the history of Chinese chess. Time was spent in ancient books one being the Kang Kien (1130-1200 CE) a version of which had been sighted by Himly and Holt later. Murray has some good notes on p.123 of his History and concluded that whilst a reference to ‘chess’ was cited about Liu Hsien in 154 BCE, Himly & Holt could not find the reference Irwin’s friends found. A pity.
Going back to the article published by the Royal Irish Academy in 1793, it originally was posted by Irwin to his friend the Earl of Charlement who then forwarded it to the Academy. It later appeared in ‘The Incomparable Game of Chess’ (Ponziani) translated by J.S. Bingham (Captain John Smith) 1820. The translation as published on p. 135 writes of two dates:- one is 379 years after the time of Confucius (551-479BCE) and 1965 years ago which seems to be 1965-1793 = 172 BCE. Or 172-100 BCE  Confucius time. Han Xin was well dead by then. The article is posted in full on Google on many websites and is called ‘An Essay on the Origin of the Game of Chess’. It is this article that DHL builds his chess origins on and he builds well. As for Irwin he died at Clifton near Bristol and is buried in the Clifton Church near Brunel’s bridge.  
Hiram Cox (1760-1799) mystified DHL who concluded he was unsure as to whether Burma, India or China invented chess.
I tried to buy the next book by James Christie (1773-1831):-his 1801 An Inquiry into the Ancient Greek Game-petteia but it proved beyond me. This game is related to xiangqi and with Christie disagreeing with India as the origin and being the younger son of the founder of the Art Auction House-Christies, it looked good for China as Christie spent a lot of words trying to link petteia and xiangqi but DHL felt he had failed and so at the end of 1801 India led China 3/2 on the birth of chess.
In the next period 1847-1870 DHL was very annoyed about the Opium War of 1839-1842 lost by China. He has more to say on page 353 when Hong Kong and Macao returned to China in 1997.
Nathaniel Bland (1803-1865) spent 70 pages in the Royal Asiatic Society (RAS) Journal of 1852 concluding that Persia invented chess not India. DHL condensed Bland down to 6 pages.
DHL gave Duncan Forbes (1798-1868) 5.5 pages for his readable 1860 book. DHL gave another vote to India. My copy came from the late Dr. Niemeijer of Holland who had got it from ‘someone’ in the Melbourne Chess Club (MCC). The copy then came back here to me. It had been presented to ‘someone’ in that club on May 23 1870 but the name had been scratched out. The MCC stamp is liberally placed throughout the 312 pages + 60 page Appendix and 3 foldout plates. That is a mystery too, as a presentation copy is usually pristine. Why the MCC stamp? I think Forbes book is underrated. He writes of China in 9 pages and his Appendices are most interesting. Mine is a very battered copy but lovely to browse and I have now repaired it minimally so that it can be read safely but preserving its historical value. The back cover of Forbes has a lovely gold stamped chess set in the starting position with a black square in the RH Corner! I’ll bet Forbes was annoyed at that. The front cover has the chaturanga board with 4 players. DHL let readers know that this book appeared in a series of articles in the Illustrated London News of the 1850’s as did Murray. A pity he discredited Forbes, and it must have been hard to go against the Professor of Oriental Languages at King’s College, London, for his 5000 year date on chaturanga. This book has been republished in 2013 by Moravian Chess. Anyone having this copy will find it impossible to follow as the frontispiece drawing opposite the title is in black and white and the original is in colour showing the red pieces in the bottom RH corner, the Black in the top RH corner, the green pieces are in the bottom LH corner and the yellow pieces non existent in the diagram are in the top LH corner. The text cannot be followed unless this is known. To repeat there are 4 sets of men not three.
Then came another new boy to me H.G. Hollingworth and his 34 pages article on Chinese chess in the North China branch of the RAS 1866 but it was just noted by DHL as it did not discuss the origin of chess.
3 years later from Forbes in 1863 came Karl Himly’s article on the Chinese Game of Chess. It was the first in-depth paper (14p) by a non-British writer. Himly (1836-1904) was certain elephants were used in Chinese warfare and as many British writers claimed the Chinese did not, could not have invented chess.  Murray knew of the elephants in China (p.119 note). DHL is critical of Himly for certain lapses, one being the introduction of Cambodia as the birthplace for chess with India. At the end of 1870 the vote was India 4.5, China 2 then ‘daylight’ next.
1874-1899 We are now in the period of the ‘heavy guns’ and DHL leads off with Antonius van der Linde the angry Dutchman. His 3 works are in German, long, thorough and full of criticism of previous authors including some not considered here such as Madden, Massman and co. Van Der Linde is very harsh on Forbes yet concludes that India was the birthplace of chess. I wish I could read them as I have them. Both Himly and van der Linde had died in Weisbaden in 1904 and 1897 respectively. Did they know one another?
Next was H.F.W. Holt who in a 13 pager gave a tick to China. I don’t know him but he too chides Forbes. DHL likes him for his logic. This paper is in the RAS Journal of Great Britain and Ireland 1885.
Z. Volpicelli spends 36 pages in the RAS North China branch 1888 discussing Chinese Chess but not its origin.
And at last Brunet y Bellet and his 1890 work ‘El Ajedrez’ A truly beautiful book that I have tried to buy over 4 decades with no luck. My chess friend Bert Corneth bought one recently in Spain to add to his fine collection. Brunet y Bellet goes for Egypt as the place of birth. He amusingly omits India because of its climate and eroticism. DHL delighted by this conclusion thought a devastating blow had been struck to an Indian chess birth. But DHL was awry; for playing chess on a glorious bed with a beautiful woman in a hot Indian climate seems pretty good to me.
There is then a section which deals with “Mentions of Chess in Sanskrit literature”. Jacobi, Macdonnell, Thomas (2), Windisch all reply in 1890 on the above in various journals that do not help with the origin.
Then A.A. Macdonnell produced a 14 page paper on “The Origin and Early History of Chess” in the RAS of Great Britain and Ireland in 1898. DHL spends 5+ pages analyzing it and concludes a vote for India which at 1899 had 7.5 votes to China’s 3.
Twentieth Century-John Griswold White starts with his quote from Stewart Culin’s “Chess & Playing Cards” 1896 saying that Forbes was antiquated and van der Linde was bitter and sceptical though a mine of information as we arrive at 1900. It should be said that Baron von der Lasa met with White at Cleveland in 1888 during his world tour which included Australia and New Zealand. They clearly compared their collections and surely must have discussed the origin of chess. I have not seen any article on that meeting which may be in a USA journal.
The letters by LND (DLN?) ,Fiske and Hopkins all started due to LND’s studies of the Talmud which took chess to Babylon ca 485AD. It got a bit heated and Fiske, tetchy now and hardened to his views of the 1850’s when he was in love with Chess History and had started The Chess Monthly 1857-60 USA. A terrific magazine and though Fiske was dazzled by Paul Morphy’s career, his articles on chess history are Jan 1857 p.29-The Birth of Chess; p.60 Chess as a historical study; p.124 Chess among the Tartars; p.156-A Thousand Years ago. 1859-p.289 The True Story of Chess; and 1860 p.58 A scene from chess history. Here is that first article:-The Birth of Chess
The time and place when and where chess originated have been approximately settled; the manner of its origin is still undetermined. Was there some one being in those remote ages, and in that farthest land whose mind possessed a more than Shakesperian imagination, a more than Miltonian boldness, and a more than Baconian acuteness, who gave the world an invention so profound, and then forgot to leave his name to the admiration of centuries and the immortality of time? Or, was our game developed, part by part, through the subtle study and elaborate practice of successive generations? There is no antiquarian so daring, no historian so venturesome as to point to a shadow of the past, and say, Behold the discoverer of music! no effort of fable is so absurdly untrue as the story of Apollo. The early mortals caught the inspiration of music from the melodious nature around them; every freshening breeze, every lofty mountain, every deep valley, every sunrise and every sunset, and every gladsome bird were their teachers. Song grew up among men as naturally as trees grow out of the earth. In a like manner, why may not an inborn love of amusement and a native distaste for the rudeness of physical sports, have given birth, as easily and as gradually as the bud bursts into flower, to the game of Chess?
And so we come to Murray’s 1913 ‘A History of Chess’ for which DHL’s 9 page resume is excellent. It is a pity Murray didn’t clarify his remarks in that footnote on p.120 that the moves in Chinese chess may be older than Indian chess and that chess might be a Chinese invention. DHL writes of Murray’s Asian language handicap and his puzzlement with Xiangqi. Where did it fit in? If seems hardly correct that the Chinese game has been in the direction of restriction of power especially based on what is read in that section of DHL’s book. By 1930 India had 9.75 votes, China 3.
In Annex A are more mentions of chess in Sanskrit literature and Louis Gray’s 1913 translation of the Vasavadatta by Subandhu was just too late for Murray. DHL was impressed with Gray’s work and wrote scholarship at its best. If Murray had used this translation his use of the word ‘chessmen in the passage dealing with frogs (p.51) would not be so certain and a blow to Indian origin.
1950-1996-Joseph Needham’s 1962 article “The Magnet, Divination and Chess” in ‘Science and Civilisation in China’ went for a Chinese chess origin. These 5.5 pages are very helpful for distant historians and DHL gives a small tick to Needham for raising the Chinese origin again.
 I recall when Cecil Purdy (1906-1979) the great Australian chess authority and editor of the national magazine for 38 years (1929-67) and John van Manen were very excited about the origin of chess. The year was 1976 and we had been bombarded by Needham, Venafro, and Dickins. Cecil even changed the history’ section of his ‘Chess Made Easy’ to take in the new research. We knew later the Venafro pieces were not as old as first thought thanks to Alessandro Sanvito but Cecil thought the weight of evidence favoured the theory that Xiangqi was not a divergence from the Indian game and that made chess older than 14 centuries. He was impressed with trade routes and wrote that the normal route between China and India would favour the idea of a Chinese origin and that it was better than a 50-50 chance. He thought chess a better game than Xiangqi and much better than shogi which he felt would be gradually overtaken by chess in 50 years. He wrote on 18 May 1976 that …the Indian game diverged more from Sian k’i than our game diverged from the Indian ...In August he wrote:-Picture then the hypothesis that the Indian game was a divergence from the original Siang k’i. Because the Indians did not use picture writing ….they may possibly have tried discs and drawn little pictures of Kings, elephants, etc but somehow they got the idea of stand-up men, and they would make them simple just to save labour and expense….As they had no lathes then, they had to carve but would naturally evolve a type of design that would consume a minimum of carving time (although prepared no doubt to carve elaborate sets if a maharaja commissioned them). Orientals’ lives centre very much round economic facts of life just as ours do.
So my theory, put forward for the first time, is that the Moslems did not originate the so-called symbolic style chessmen; they simply took over the normal chess sets they found in India and indeed other countries by that time, eschewing only the few elaborate sets used by the rich. They were reasonably suitable, if tusks and chariot shafts etc. were merely suggested rather than carved representationally. True, in course of time the Moslems developed sets that were even more symbolic and imageless, e.g. I was given a Moslem set in Madras, in which the pieces had different shapes certainly but it was hardly possible to tell which was which except by the size.
So the idea of these pieces “anticipating” in some mysterious way the Moslem pieces is putting the cart before horse. I say they just had no religious significance at all.
It is true that this particular set was a cut above the poor man’s level, being carved of bone with ivory knobs and what more likely than that a chap well-to-do enough to travel a long way to Rome, either for a holiday or as a merchant, would own a fairly expensive set. But it might be compared to, say, an ivory Staunton set of 50 years ago, since when ivory has at least quintupled in value—yet would not be used by the mass of players, who would use a wood or now plastic Staunton set. (I recall seeing in Hong Kong, a good size Staunton set carved in ivory for $5000 in 1990-BM)
If the game originated in India it does not in the least affect my theory. But by the way, I now think it unlikely that Siang k’i was a divergence from the Indian game, because if it were, the non-poor Chinese would surely have used Indian type (stand-up) pieces instead of confining themselves 100% to discs. Never has there been a stand-up Siang k’i set till about 1971 when my friend Chan Ping Yuen started making them from plastic (alias Leo Chan)-in Hong Kong.
I think one can get quite a way by applying common sense to these problems…C.J.S.Purdy
In 1963 Murray’s A Short History of Chess appeared with an Appendix 1 that dealt with Chess in Asia but was then outdated if written in 1917 by Murray. Joseph Needham’s work had appeared in 1962 and a comment on it in the Appendix by the authors H. Golombek and B. Goulding Brown would have been useful.
Pavle Bidev got 4.5 pages on magic squares and as China was the home of those it was likely chess may have also had its home there. Likewise Tony Dickins, the chess problemist plumped for a Chinese chess origin. Being English his refutation of Murray and the use of the Silk Road expansion from east to west rather than west to east was unpopular but noted. Harry Golombek the strong English Grandmaster however did not agree and countered in his book ‘Chess: A History’ 1976.
Isaac Linder the great Russian Chess Historian thought Russia might be the birthplace of chess based on archaeological finds and he did not like Needham’s conclusions based on the Chinese Emperor Wu Ti.
C.Panduranga Bhatta in his 1994 book ‘Origin and Genesis of Chess’ used his Indian background to analyse the language and thus chess history through it. He concluded chess originated in India, DHL disagreed. Richard Eales 1985 book ‘Chess the History of a Game’ featured an Indian origin as did Ferlito, Sanvito, Averbach, Linder and Meissenburg chipped in with the Who? Where? How? And Why? of chess origin.
It continues today. One book ‘The Anatomy of Chess’ by Ellinger 2003 contains 10 articles by current historians, many in German. India still seems the favourite place of origin based on the articles I can read, but fine articles like  “Is Chess a Hybrid Game?” by Jean Louis Cazeaux , Gerhard Josten with “Chess-A Living Fossil” and Myron Samsin with “Pawns and Pieces-Towards the Prehistory of Chess” add to the early history.  I did note brief comments on DHL in that book.
The historians of yesteryear would have loved these.  The final vote was 13 for India, 6 for China and then the rest totalling 25 in all. 
Part 2 The birth of Xiangqi
p.124-Weiqi.  DHL makes a good case for this game known as GO outside China as an ancestor of chess. Together with another ancient game Liu-Bo that relies on chance by the throwing of 6 bamboo sticks, chance being part of chess. Both games are very old with Weiqi 2300 BCE and Liu-Bo 1700 BCE.
DHL gives the invention of chess to a Chinese General named Han Xin (277?-196 BCE). A full biography of Han Xin is in Sima Qion’s ‘Shi Ji’ which was shortened by Herbert A. Giles in his ‘A Chinese Biographical Dictionary’ 1898. There is a portrait and biography of the General on p.144+ of DHL’s book. It seems when inventing Xiangqi, Han Xin examined Weiqi and Liu-Bo. He settled on a date for invention of chess at 204/203 BCE. His life ended badly.
A full description of Weiqi and Liu-bo game moves was needed now but DHL sadly assumes we know.
The analysis by DHL and the ancestral games ending with the creation of xiangqi, fill many pages. All well done. For example p.138/9 Han Xin’s friend Chang Liang may well have suggested board games to Han Xin such as Weiqi and Liu-bo and it is true that people ‘need to be forever ready’ for unseen events. The Black pieces in Weiqi represent Nature and offense which includes flooding as Emperor Shun 2000 years earlier knew. We do today! The White pieces represent humans and we must defend against that threat. The comparison of flood waters and isolated Weiqi Black pieces becoming a threat by merging as water does is clever. Han Xin would not have had far to look from his encampment on the banks of the Mian-Man River to know that. As for Liu-bo and its chance elements with the throwing of the six bamboo sticks, Han Xin knew war is chance and this game needed to be somehow included into this ‘new’ game he was thinking about. It makes sense to intrigue his soldiers away from home with a faster game that had risks for both sides.  His sketch on p.144 shows a very imposing fellow and how well represented early Chinese history is today. It was sad to read Han Xin’s life ended badly.
This General had written a lost book called ‘Art of War’ and chess marched in step with war. Murray in his opening sentence in the 1913 book called chess a game of war. DHL thought a war game designer needed to demonstrate good warfare principles with no interference to combat readiness and leisure time. The game needed to be simple, convenient, able to be postponed and over quickly. It would be a military game in line with Han Xin’s skills and be conducted as war. Trouble was a game used sides equal in force and wars were fought with unequal sides. The general had the largest army of all at that time.
He moved onto the board size and wanted it much smaller than a Weiqi board. He liked a 10x10, 10x11 and 10x9 with the latter favoured due to the supremacy of the number 9. As for the  pieces he thought maneuverability the key and selected the number of pieces at 19 down to 11 dependent on boards size. He settled on 11 and being close to his troops decided to place the footsoldiers first after deciding on 5 which was another magic number and masculine. How to deploy them? He recalled old strategy that had won for him in the past. So deployment was single, mobile and self reliant. Their weapons would be different and the soldiers would stand in one line.
He realised that he could get four 10x9 boards out of 1 Weiqi board playing on the lines. This was a useful fact.  His game would be one of intellect and not of chance. Weiqi had won over Liu-bo. With a playing board 10 lines long and 9 wide where would the footsoldiers be-in front or at back? Where will the Commander and other playing pieces. Weiqi and Liu-bo couldn’t help as they have only one type of playing piece. He turned to Sun Tse’s ‘The Art of War’ which was written 300 years earlier. Sun Tse used sheer power and unstoppable force with chariots and mounted horse leading and foot soldiers following yet in unorthodox battles the reverse was true. Should the footsoldiers lead as there is less risk to the Commander and allows defence, surveillance and offense to be deployed by them. So they were in the front and on the fourth row not too close to the enemy or their own commander. They are poised for offence and defence.
Now what about the chariots and horsemen? Sun Tse said the uttermost flanks behind the soldiers on the back row. Therefore two chariots. Clearly next to them are the horsemen so two of them next to the chariots on the back row. DHL has surely used Sun Tse’s book from 512 BCE to prove up why the pieces are where they are. He now has 10 pieces each side and needs an 11th. It will be close to the Commander and central to the army. BUT this extra piece which he calls an adjutant to advise and protect the Commander must not block his view of the soldiers. There is a maneuverability ratio of 4/1 (90points/22 pieces). Han Xin has made good progress.
Now, what are the rules of this new game? Two armies led by a Commander. In war, victory is when one Commander is killed, surrenders or flees. He wanted the field personell to be self reliant, innovative and enterprising which meant they could win the war themselves or the enemy Commander could be killed but there would be NO RETREAT as in Sun Tse. Liu-bo rules will help with capture and blockade moves.
And so Han Xin arrives at the moves:- Footsoldiers-one move straight ahead, captures are forward and if blockaded by an enemy piece it can be captured. No lateral moves.
Chariot-Any number of steps forward or lateral unless blocked. Captures by removing and replacement.
Horsemen-An arc in one space laterally plus one space diagonally OR one space forward plus one space diagonally. No blockade. (Even today the Knight’s move is a difficult explanation BM).
Adjutant-one space forward diagonally. Can be blocked. NO RETREAT for any of the above.
Commander- Forward or backward or lateral but restricted to the last 3 rows of home territory. No diagonal moves. Can be blocked. This supports a message against fleeing.
Up to page 177 DHL thinking as Han Xin has produced a game with moves of the 11 pieces a side on the 8x9 board. He then gives ‘Experimental Game 1’ with the Chinese move descriptions. I have changed this to straight algebraic with lettering a to i and numbering 1-10 PLAYING ON THE LINES not squares. There are 1 King (Commander), 2 Rooks (Chariots), 2 Knights (Horses),1 Adjutant(A) and 5 Pawns each side.  The pieces on their normal starting points are the R’s,  N’s, the Kings are on e2 & e9, the adjutants on e1 & e10 and the 5 Pawns are on the 4th line from the white end and the 7th line taking up the a, c, e, g & h points. Just play through it making up a 8 squares wide x9 squares high board. Here is game 1 :-
After this game p.184 Han Xin analysed it and concluded the foot soldiers did nothing. The Chariots and Horseman were active and the NO RETREAT rule was OK but did encourage defence and made one worry about squandering forward moves as there was no retreat. The Commander also may be restricted on the bottom 3 rows (lines) The xiangqi move notation on p.186/7 is easy for good xiangqi players but difficult for those used to algebraic.
Han Xin decided to alter the NO RETREAT rule to NO RETREAT TO HOME TERRITORY which meant pieces could retreat when at home (not over the river) and also retreat when attacking over the river but not back to home territory. The Commander and Adjutant were also restricted to the squares d1/d3/f1/f3 & d10/d8/f10/f8. The Horses too were stopped hopping over a friendly piece. Pawns can only capture when blocked by the enemy or move forward one square. They can not retreat.
Game 2:-1.Nc3..Nd9;2.Ng3..Ni8;3.Rd1..Rb10;4.Rd7..Rf10 (as Game 1);5.Pe5..Rf3!;6.cNe4..Rb2+’
7.Ad2..Pi1;8.Rh1..Pg6;9.Pe6 (which allows the WN to move forward)..Pe7xPe6;10.Rh9+..Ke8?;
If 10..Af9;11.Rf7..Pe5;12.fRxAf9+..Ke10;13.Re9+..Kd10;14.RxNd10+..Ke10;15.hRe9+..Kf10;16.Rd10++
On p.197/8 the Offensive Option 2 seems unplayable.
Han Xin reassessed his new ideas after the 2nd game. He was pleased. All the pieces had moved and the foot soldiers had made 8 moves. There was one concern; the foot soldiers on the edge were “almost irrelevant” He wanted equality and decided that on moving into enemy territory the foot soldiers could move laterally. He liked the restriction on the Commander and Adjutant in the 9 point zone and it helped shorten the game.
He was satisfied but one more evaluation was needed. Were the warfare concepts sound? He felt the limited backward moves helped. Did it illustrate Sun Tsen’s ‘the Art of War’? It did. The game showed the difference between a win and a loss as life and death. The game taught strategic planning, attack preparedness and defense before offence and also taught Location Theory (occupying the right points) and the need for surprise. He summarized the final moves:-
Foot Soldier (P)-one step forward in home territory and one step forward or lateral in enemy territory.
Chariot (R)-Any number of steps if not blocked in home or enemy territory.
Horseman (H)-One orthogonal step with one diagonal step (if vacant) with one diagonal step forward or behind.
Adjutant (A)- A diagonal step forward or backward in the last 3 rows and middle 3 files (9 point zone)
Commander (K)-One orthogonal step (front, back or side) in the 9 point zone.
There could be 2 teams one each side and called Han (red) and Chu (blue) on a 10x9 board (90 positions)
The pieces were round as in Weiqi and Liu-bo with simple lettering, 11 a side. The game was to be called ‘Game to Capture Xiang Qi. (Prince of Chu) and would reflect Han Xins war with the Prince of Chu Xiang Qi. Han Xin was the Commander of the Red Forces and Prince Chu the Commander of the Blue. The Chariots and Horsemen would be Manned for Red and Unmanned for Blue suggesting the demise of the Blue Forces. The Foot Soldiers were Ping for Red and Zu for Blue and the game propaganda to destroy the confidence of the Blue force.
Part 3- The evolution of Xiangqi and its decline after Han Xin’s death. And resurgence.
It was a clever move to invent the game before the final battle and showed the troops that Han Xin was at the top of his game. Xiangqi would memorialize the coming battle of Jing-Xing (203BCE). That battle saw a victory for Han Xin’s army. (Note 2.p.212 The coloured map of the battlefield appears to be missing from the book).
Xiangqi began to wane quickly after the battle because the defeated leader Prince Chu Xiang Qi escaped across the Black River where he lamented the loss of 8000 men and took his own life.
This soured the victory for Han Xi’s army as the Prince of Chu was the prize to be taken alive and with his death the bounty offered by Liu Pang to the army was lost. He was the Prince of Han and saved a lot of land and money by not having to pay the bounty. The suicide had tainted the game and it quickly fell out of favour.
Han Xin’s brilliance as a military leader led to contempt for his own leader Prince Han Liu Pang and in 196 BCE Han Xin’s death was manipulated by Empress Lu, Liu Pang’s wife. Many of Han Xin’s family died also.
People played Xiangqi at their peril and the game faded. Page 215 is a critical page in DHL’s attempt to prove chess was a Chinese invention. He had done a great job up until his hero Han Xin’s death.
DHL dedicated this book to the contribution of the Chinese historians into the origin of chess. The Chinese Language Bibliography (p.363-366) lists 50+ titles most unknown to the west yet they were unable to prove Eyles Irwin’s claim that Han Xin invented chess. It would have helped if DHL had listed the total number of ancient texts still accessible, the ones researched, and why his team of researchers were unable to confirm Eyles Irwin’s source.
The Sui Dynasty (581-618) banned Xiangqi and this was a good indication that the game existed well before 581. Did the Sui dynasty historians refer back to the time when Xiangqi was first played in China? DHL’s team did not expand on that yet he makes a good point about Murray (p.120) referring to Emperor Wen’s replacement of an Indian Razah in a game Murray calls t’shu-p’u. I wish DHL had disclosed what game this was.
Xiangqi recovered in the Tang dynasty when Emperor Tai-Zong (626-649) became an enthusiast. His daughter in law even played it in her dreams. The poem on p.216 is a lovely rendition by DHL:-
“In Xiangxi, foot soldier pressing the chariot”  And, as they are out front, this poetic setting can only be in enemy territory as required by Sun Tse and Han Xin-no retreat. In note 9 p.216 DHL describes another fascinating game called Tan chhi or Crossbow-bullet chess. It was popular in the Han dynasty (206BCE-220CE) and he must have been tempted to write “if Tan chhi why not Xiangqi?” He did not.
The game reached a new high in the North Sung dynasty (960-1126) when another army commander  Kuang-hong ascended to the throne. He decreed that the court would learn and master the game. And a parallel occurred in the South Sung dynasty when General Wen Tien-Xang (1236-1282) ascended. He composed Xiangqi chess problems.
During the early part of the Tang dynasty (618-907) a new piece was added to bolster defence. It was on the 3rd row in front of the Commander. An interesting story related to a burial in 632 in which generals, chariots, horsemen and foot soldiers were found dated the new piece and raised another question “Where are those pieces today?” The new piece was the Prime Minister and its move was two steps diagonally any way in home territory.
DHL explained the word ‘Xiang’ and that it had 200 meanings! One meaning was ‘elephant’ The new piece would be called Minister ‘entrusted’ for red and ‘external’ for blue. He thought Han Xin would not have liked this new piece because it obstructed the Commander’s view and it increased the number of pieces to 12 a side which made the foot soldiers lose status. The game though was more interesting and challenging but it broke open a game that had remained the same for 800+ years. More was to come with the addition of two cannons by Niu Seng-hu (780-848),a Minister under several emperors in the Tang dynasty. The cannons reflected the real world of gunpowder. They were placed on the third row and moved like Chariots but needed a ‘frame’. They would be named ‘fire’ Side 1 red) and ‘stone’ Side 2 blue) This took the total number of pieces per side to 14 and then a second Minister was added making 15 and finally an Aide de Camp giving 16 pieces per side. There were now 8 pieces on the first row-2 chariots, 2 Horsemen,2 Ministers 1 adjutant and 1 aide de camp. Then the Commander in the middle on the 2nd row, the 2 cannons on the 3rd row on the 2nd and 8th lines plus the 5 foot soldiers on the 4th row.
The game still favoured offense so all move restrictions were lifted. Only the foot soldiers could not retreat but could move laterally (at 90 degrees) in enemy territory. The cannons could use any playing piece as a frame and the Commander finally moved to the first row making 9 in all on that row.
Some final touches were made to the 9 point zone or ‘palace’ allowing for diagonal lines in the magic square 3x3 configuration. The moves were- Ministers-two steps diagonally in home territory; aide de cap-one step diagonally in the 9 point zone; cannons-as chariots i.e straight forward or backward or lateral BUT only from a frame made of any piece. This acted as the cannon support when fired and was a piece directly behind the move direction.
The creation of the blank space by removal of the vertical lines between the two halves of the board created the “river’ a tribute to Han Xin. Some well made boards have a decorated river called Hong-gou (the Grand Channel) and the piece names were simplified to adjutant, chariot, horse, cannon, and the commanders were named Shuai (side 1 red) and Jiang (side 2 blue)
This tribute to Han Xin so late in the day is evidence of his involvement in the birth of xiangqi in my view but DHL did not acknowledge it.
Page 231 has a very important reference to the meaning of the name of the word Xiang-Qi. The word ‘Xiang’ meant ‘Elephant’ and had many other meanings but when ‘qi’ is added referred to the Prince of Chu-the leader opposed to Han Xin. There was a push to call the game Jiang Qi as Jiang was the commander of the Side 2 blue forces. And the word ‘Jiang’ when the commander was attacked was used like the word ‘check’ today but change had now ended and there were no further alterations to the game after the Tang dynasty (618-907 CE).
This was much earlier than the changes in European chess ca 1475. In the summary DHL listed all the changes that had occurred since the invention of Xiangqi in 204/3 BCE. He explained in Annex E the increased defensive capacity offered by a Minister and as Chapter 13 concluded it looked like Xiangqi had become more complicated at the end of the Tang dynasty. Contrast that with the changes to European chess which von der Lasa places at ca 1475 in France, Spain or Italy. At least 500 years later than the last change in Xiangqi. Murray wrote on p.779 the “rapidity with which the new game displaced the old game was phenomenal.” The old European game being obsolete by ca 1530. 
Are there any conclusions here?
1.Xiangqi went through change from the death of Han Xin until the end of the Tang dynasty in 907 CE with the number of pieces growing from 11 to 16 and some changes in moves.
2.European chess stayed the same at 16 pieces from its invention in ca 600 CE until 1475 CE when there were changes in moves. Xiangqi did not change from 907 CE to today. That is astonishing.
DHL and his cohorts have researched with wonderful detail Xiangqi’s early history which was obscure until his book and Zhang’s 1991 book appeared. The latter being in Chinese is unknown to me.
The number of pawns and their positions is of interest. The 5 in Xiangqi line up against the 8 in European chess and their placement is very different.  Yet the piece totals in both games are the same at 16. There is no doubt the European game is simpler and faster to play and it would be interesting to know the average time for a 40 move game in Xiangqi and European chess. Going back to Cecil Purdy’s view that the Chinese game was not a divergence from the Indian game one must look at the pawns. Would 8 pawns revert to 5 pawns or vice versa? To counter that Xiangqi has 11 major pieces, India 8. And then there is positioning which seems far more simplified in the Indian Game than the Chinese. Can one say modernity simplifies or is that too long a bow? Another simplification is castling. What better way to place the King in safety? Impossible in Xiangqi. Finally the pawns in Xiangqi do not promote, they just sit on the last line. In chess the pawns promote. This surely is a plus for Xiangqi being older.
Chapter 14 included games and problems from early Chinese literature. DHL was proud of the lack of change in Xiangqi for 1000+ years.
Chapter 15 contained variations of Xiangqi that thrived and then died. The elite class brought in the changes which included decorative disk shape pieces and bronze pieces which look beautiful items and very collectible. Then came 3D pieces cast in bronze and later wood but as time passed the pieces reverted to simple wood discs with ideograms. I bought a nice board with enclosed disc set at a Dubbo ‘swapmeet’ in 2016 made by the Shanghai Handicrafts Company for $16. The dealer had held it for over 2 years  to sell at $25. And then came the 8-qua-board introduced by Emperor Tai-Zong (reign 626-649) with 3D pieces matching the teaching in ‘The Book of Change’ which ladies-in-waiting preferred to Sun Tse’s ‘The Art of War’. And thus the 8x8 shaded board arrived. A beautiful item with characters and decoration (p.257) and the Emperor decreed that the 8x8 board would be used with the pieces moving on the squares NOT lines. The 11 pieces looked good on that board but there were drawbacks. The 5 foot soldiers were not spaced equally, the river was lost and with that no retreat. This board made for faster games.
Then came the 11x11 board in the late Tang and Sung dynasties. The 16 pieces were back as was the space between the foot soldiers and the river. The pieces moved on the lines for a time then back to the squares and then a 9x10 board playing on the squares with 16 pieces.
The multi handed board of 19x19 (like Weiqi) catered for 7 armies with a triangular shape of 17 pieces per army (7/5/3/1/1) A spectacular sight. (1019-1086) There was even a tri-angular Xiangqi board in the 3 Kingdom period (220-280CE). All became extinct in time.
Chapter 16-Westward Xiangqi. The game came to Persia along the Silk Road once the enemies of China were subdued by the Great Wall but was a failure (455CE). Emperor Tai-Zong with his 3D pieces and decorated 8x8 boards paved the way (626-649) The Persians liked the 8x8 board with 14 pieces (8 footsoldiers) playing in the squares not lines. Then came 16 pieces as European chess or Chatrang. The Indian merchants reconstructed a 4-handed game with piece name changes as the Persians. The Chinese game was still popular in Persia and versions of 4-handed chaturanga with or without dice. The 2-handed game was popular in larger centres. The 11x11 board was also played in Persia as it declined n China. DHL gives comparisons between the Chinese and Persian games and finishes the chapter with a Chatrang composition of Mate in 9 (all checks) .
Chapter 17-Eastward Xiangqi.
The Koreans adopted Xiangqi in toto. DHL wrote that it was an excellent case study on how a game evolved and there are many identical features today. The most important of the 9 changes appears to be the lateral move of the foot soldier at any time and diagonal moves by Chariots, cannons and foot soldiers within the palace. There is a Hypothetical game in Appendix H.
There was a two stage evolution to Japan and when it came over during the reign of Emperor Xiao (756-762) there was no change by the Japanese elite. Then came experiments with the 8x8 board and placement of the 32 pieces in 4 rows on the squares. There were two rows between the sides where the river was and one row between each line of one’s army.
The name became Shogi whilst in Korea it was Changgi. There were 12 variations in piece movements and names. Then came board sizes varying from 9x9 to 25x25! With the 9x9 popular including 20 playing pieces per side. The last move changes in Shogi were in 1436. The main difference between Xiangqi and Shogi was that the Chinese game was played on lines, the Japanese on squares and the promotion of foot soldiers not allowed in Xangqi was so allowed in Shogi. DHL made a case that promotion was permitted in xiangqi when a foot soldier moved into enemy territory and got the power of lateral movement “in a concepted sense”. A bit thin.
An excellent chapter on the differences not discussed here. DHL differs from Koichi Masukawa that Xiangqi was NOT the parent of Shogi.
Chapter 18 –Chess as a Chinese Invention-A Summary
DHL makes a case that Han Xin was not acting alone when he invented Xiangqi as he was drawing on the society in which he lived. He considered it unlikely that an invention could come about without societal support. He considered 8 facets:-Environment, Legacy, Theory, Incentive, Methodology, Audience, Teachings and Evolution.
Environment:-Han Xin had to be competent in the 4 performing arts of music, board games, calligraphy and painting. DHL felt that China was at one of its peaks in 206BCE and that it offered the opportunity to invent.
Legacy:-Games like Weiqi and Liu-bo were there to inspire invention.
Theory:-The purpose of playing chess was to improve understanding of war as portrayed in Sun Tse’s “The Art of War”.
Incentive:-Han Xin needed to keep his army happy.
Methodology:-Han Xin adopted the ‘time honoured trial and error approach’
Audience:-Han Xin’s army of ½ million soldiers needed to be kept mentally alert over long winters.
Teachings:-Chess reminded people of war and ways of preventing it.
Evolution:-In the Chinese context evolution was long and gradual.
He made up an acronym of VLTIMATE and hoped that was easy to remember when considering the 8 facets. The MATE finish is great but surely TILE is a better start and reflects the chess board. TILEMATE. DHL would disagree but it makes little difference which facet is first. The V looks odd.
He then considered the ‘Chess was invented in India’ story. That is the most popular among chess historians. He showed that the elephant was in China before 2100BCE and gives a sketch from the Shang dynasty (1600-1100BCE) of the bronze elephant standing 23cms high  x 14 wide x 26 long. Did the Buddhists bring the game from India to China and judging by Yuan Zhuang’s 7th century journal which gave an inventory of 657 sacred books and 150 relics but no chess in all that material brought back from India was a form of proof that the game did not come from India. It is fair to mention Yuan Zhuang cared only for Buddhism and like Paul Morphy when in London playing chess he didn’t wish to see Westminster Cathedral.
DHL’s Genealogy Chart promotes his view that the game began in China on a 9x10 board with 11 pieces a side-two people playing on the lines not squares and evolved to Persia, India , Korean and Japan. A clever chart.
His Epilogue of 9 pages is harsh on British chess historians of yesteryear but conceded van der Linde produced a shift which eventually led to David H Li writing this book after contact with European historians. Material since the book appeared in 1998 such as ‘The Anatomy of Chess’ by Hans Ellinger containing 10 articles in English and German by various authors has continued the search for the origin of chess. His contribution builds a solid case for a Chinese origin and the jury is still out. I am one member of that jury and he has my vote. His Bibliography of 12 pages and Index of 16 pages continues to a satisfying end.
Critique by Peter Banaschak - His 4 page review of DHL’s book is still on the Internet. Whether one agrees with it, one has to agree that DHL has done sterling work for chess history. PB is generally positive though he states he could defend against DHL’s claims of a Chinese origin. I would like to see that!  I am not competent to discuss Peter Banaschak’s critique in 1999. He thought DHL’s book a pleasure to read as did I. It is modern and very clever and hopefully he has contact with western historians these days. He is certainly a respected member of the Chess History Club and has brought to all of us fresh ideas and viewpoints that make us think anew about our great game. Maybe more archaeological or literary finds that help are just around the corner. I should have found his book earlier. Horst Remus’ article on the origin of chess and the Silk Road was only found a few months ago and mentioned DHL’s book and that’s when I started a quest for the book. It’s a pity it is so dear. I recently sent it back to the slv, most reluctantly! Part 2 is the best in which DHL thinks like Han Xin and describes the formation of the game of Xiangqi. I can’t recall any other book that goes to this trouble. One can almost hear DHL thinking. The 2015 book ‘The History of Chess in Fifty Moves’ by Bill Price has an excellent 4 page chapter ‘A Chinese Alternative’ which gives that other view to an Indian chess birth. He too is unconvinced of the Chinese claim. A pity Rainer Schmidt in his 2016/7articles in Caissa does not mention Li’s book.    14 June 2018  

                                                                                                           Chess DVD's                           

Smash the Sicilian with the Smith-Morra Gambit
by  Michael Rahal
Price Euro 29.90
Minimum: Dual Core, 2 GB RAM, Windows 7 or 8.1, DirectX11, graphics card with 256 MB RAM, DVD-ROM drive, Windows Media Player 9, ChessBase 14/Fritz 16 or included Reader and internet access for program activation. Recommended: PC Intel i5 (Quadcore), 4 GB RAM, Windows 10, DirectX11, graphics card with 512 MB RAM or more, 100% DirectX10-compatible sound card, Windows Media Player 11, DVD-ROM drive and internet access for program activation.

IM Michael Rahal does not only explain the strategies of the Morra Gambit,1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.c3! but provides the user with a wealth of latest chess theory as the Siberian Defence,Chicago Defence,Paulsen Defence,Najdorf System,Systems with Nge7,Scheveningen Systems,Morra Gambit Declined and various test sections to see if you have learned from the master of attack!
As we can see in the following example, white often ends with a dangerous initiative:
1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.c3 dxc3 4.Nxc3 Nc6 5.Nf3 d6 6.Bc4 e6 7.0-0 Be7 8.Qe2 Nf6 9.Rd1 e5 10.Be3 0-0 11.Rac1 Bg4 12.h3 Bh5 13.g4 Bg6 14.Nh4 Rc8 15.a3 Ne8 16.Nxg6 hxg6 17.Qd2 Nc7 18.Nd5 Nxd5 19.Bxd5 Qd7 20.Kg2 and white has all the play of the world.
Included is an extra data from over 60 entries where many of these games are more than excellent analysed.
This all comes in with two impressive download files where it is even possible to go for a Spanish edition!
Video running time is 4hours and 5 minutes.
Conclusion: Very exciting!

The Tarrasch Defence
by  Erwin l'Ami

Price Euro 29.90
Minimum: Dual Core, 2 GB RAM, Windows 7 or 8.1, DirectX11, graphics card with 256 MB RAM, DVD-ROM drive, Windows Media Player 9, ChessBase 14/Fritz 16 or included Reader and internet access for program activation. Recommended: PC Intel i5 (Quadcore), 4 GB RAM, Windows 10, DirectX11, graphics card with 512 MB RAM or more, 100% DirectX10-compatible sound card, Windows Media Player 11, DVD-ROM drive and internet access for program activation.

The well known Dutch professional Grandmaster Erwin l'Ami show us in three heavy loaded download files every thing you need to know how to play and understand the Tarrasch Defence that runs with the moves 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c5,yes these moves give immediately activity at the cost of an isolated pawn.
But on the other hand black obtains freedom of development and active play,there fore we can speak of the most perfect line for aggressive players!
All material is divided under the sections analysis,model games and analyses ,and the last section is so good,that I even consider this as very useful for the better players under us!
In big lines all material is brought under,Introduction,The right exchange,Structre vs Activity,Changing the pawn structure,The Squeeze, and at last material on the Exchange sacrifice on e3.
There is also an extra database of 50 entries, and where all games are covered with excellent analyses!
Running time is over hours and of course as all these excellent made ChessBase openings videos it comes with highly instructive interactive training video feedback!
Conclusion: Also useful for chess professionals or for those who would like to become one!

The Reliable Petroff
by  Daniel Fernandez

Price Euro 29.90
Minimum: Dual Core, 2 GB RAM, Windows 7 or 8.1, DirectX11, graphics card with 256 MB RAM, DVD-ROM drive, Windows Media Player 9, ChessBase 14/Fritz 16 or included Reader and internet access for program activation. Recommended: PC Intel i5 (Quadcore), 4 GB RAM, Windows 10, DirectX11, graphics card with 512 MB RAM or more, 100% DirectX10-compatible sound card, Windows Media Player 11, DVD-ROM drive and internet access for program activation.

A other heavy loaded openings file comes from the young chess genius Daniel Fernandez who is at the moment the youngest Grandmaster in the UK and he has the same style as wonder boy Magnus Carlsen,which makes his the perfect author for this first rate defence the so reliable Petroff Defence.
Here white must struggle to gain even  a small advantage, but as our young author explains  there are some interesting suggestions for black to go for!
All material is packed into two English download files and good for around 5 hours and 30 minutes of your precious time.
Interesting are the words from our young author after the moves:1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.Qe2:This line has long been seen as a safe way for white to draw.However,the second computer generation,which comprises those players born between 1989-1998,has learned that even in very simplified and symmetrical positions there is considerable room to outplay a slightly weaker or simply over ambitious opponent by sheer patience and willpower.
In big lines all material is divided in several sections as  Introduction and Overview,Small lines,Minor d4 systems,Old main lines,Currently fashionable lines,Games and a collection test sections. And all under dived into 49 instructive lines,plus an extra database from 57 entries where many of them cover extra annotations.
Conclusion: One of those killing Chessbase DVD's!

The Baffling 2.b3 Sicilian
by  Lawrence Trent
Price Euro 29.90
Minimum: Dual Core, 2 GB RAM, Windows 7 or 8.1, DirectX11, graphics card with 256 MB RAM, DVD-ROM drive, Windows Media Player 9, ChessBase 14/Fritz 16 or included Reader and internet access for program activation. Recommended: PC Intel i5 (Quadcore), 4 GB RAM, Windows 10, DirectX11, graphics card with 512 MB RAM or more, 100% DirectX10-compatible sound card, Windows Media Player 11, DVD-ROM drive and internet access for program activation.

The well known International master Lawrence Trent comes with a exciting DVD based on the move order 1.e4 c5 2.b3 has become throw the years a dangerous anti Sicilian and we even see this move in top level play!
As for example please see the following game: Kramnik,Vladimir (2784) - Kobalia,Mihail (2651) [B20]
FIDE World Cup Tromsoe (2.4), 16.08.2013
1.e4 c5 2.b3 Nc6 3.Bb2 e5 4.Bc4 d6 5.d3 Nf6 6.Ne2 Be7 7.Nbc3 Nd4 8.0-0 0-0 9.f4 a6 10.a4 b6 11.Nd5 Rb8 12.fxe5 dxe5 13.Ng3 Nxd5 14.Bxd5 Bh4 15.Qh5 Bf6 16.c4 g6 17.Qd1 Bg7 18.Ra2 Qe7 19.Bc3 Be6 20.Raf2 b5 21.axb5 axb5 22.Kh1 h5 23.Bxd4 exd4 24.Nf5 gxf5 25.exf5 bxc4 26.f6 Qd6 27.fxg7 Kxg7 28.bxc4 Bxd5 29.Qxh5 f5 30.cxd5 Qg6 31.Qh4 Rbe8 32.Rf3 Re3 33.Rxe3 dxe3 34.Qe7+ Rf7 35.Qxe3 f4 36.Qe5+ Qf6 37.Qxf6+ Rxf6 38.g3 f3 39.Kg1 Rf5 40.d6 Kf6 41.Kf2 Ke5 42.Re1+ Kxd6 43.Re3 1-0,and it looks all so easy!
All material is pleasantly divided into 7 opening sections plus 22 analysis plus some quiz sections.Ofcourse there is also a extra game file from 94 games but unfortunately no annotations to the games.
Running time is 5 hours and 49 minutes.
Conclusion: The theoretical contribution is super!

The Vienna Variation - a reliable and ambitious weapon against 1.d4
by  Yannick
Price Euro 29.90
Minimum: Dual Core, 2 GB RAM, Windows 7 or 8.1, DirectX11, graphics card with 256 MB RAM, DVD-ROM drive, Windows Media Player 9, ChessBase 14/Fritz 16 or included Reader and internet access for program activation. Recommended: PC Intel i5 (Quadcore), 4 GB RAM, Windows 10, DirectX11, graphics card with 512 MB RAM or more, 100% DirectX10-compatible sound card, Windows Media Player 11, DVD-ROM drive and internet access for program activation.

Grandmaster  Yannick Pelletier provides the user of this DVD with a detailed repertoire coverage of the Vienna variation of the Queens Gambit that runs with the moves 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 dxc4,a fine instructive example  that I found in the model games runs:
Anand,Viswanathan (2770) - Kramnik,Vladimir (2787) [D39]
FIDE Candidates Khanty-Mansiysk (4), 17.03.2014
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.e4 Bb4 6.Bg5 c5 7.Bxc4 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Bxc3+ 9.bxc3 Qa5 10.Bb5+ Nbd7 11.Bxf6 Qxc3+ 12.Kf1 gxf6 13.h4 a6 14.Rh3 Qb4 15.Be2 Ne5 16.h5 Qd6 17.Qd2 Nc6 18.Rd3 Qh2 19.f4 Rg8 20.Bf3 Bd7 21.Ne2 Qh1+ 22.Ng1 Nd4 23.Rxd4 Bb5+ 24.Kf2 Qh4+ 25.Ke3 e5 26.fxe5 Qg5+ 27.Kf2 Qg3+ 28.Ke3 Qg5+ 29.Kf2 Qg3+ 30.Ke3 Qg5+ ½-½.
The editioral team of ChessBase later wrote:  A fabulous and exciting game, which was unfortunately rather short. Kramnik busted out his Vienna which is a sharp and interesting line, accepting a pawn sacrifice for which White obtains a strong initiative. Anand's opening was not the best and it allowed Kramnik a creative and powerful counter play that resulted in a perpetual check.
Video running time is around 4 hours and 22 minutes, installation file is available in German and English language.
Included is heavy loaded game file of over 130 entries and where many of these games cover excellent annotations.
Conclusion: A very high quality made ChessBase DVD!   

Endgames of the World Champions from Fischer to Carlsen
by  Dr. Karsten Müller
Price Euro 29.90
Minimum: Dual Core, 2 GB RAM, Windows 7 or 8.1, DirectX11, graphics card with 256 MB RAM, DVD-ROM drive, Windows Media Player 9, ChessBase 14/Fritz 16 or included Reader and internet access for program activation. Recommended: PC Intel i5 (Quadcore), 4 GB RAM, Windows 10, DirectX11, graphics card with 512 MB RAM or more, 100% DirectX10-compatible sound card, Windows Media Player 11, DVD-ROM drive and internet access for program activation.

The remarkable endgame specialist grandmaster Karsten Müller provides the user of this DVD, with a collection smashing endgames all based on the world champion games from Bobby Fischer till wonder boy Magnus Carlsen.
Pleasant to mention are the uncountable complete games as the following one from Bobby Fischer: Walther,Edgar - Fischer,Robert James [B99]
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Be7 8.Qf3 Nbd7 9.0-0-0 Qc7 10.Bd3 b5 11.Bxf6 Nxf6 12.Rhe1 Bb7 13.Kb1 Rc8 14.g4 Nd7 15.g5 Nb6 16.f5 e5 17.f6 gxf6 18.gxf6 Bf8 19.Nd5 Nxd5 20.exd5 Kd8 21.Nc6+ Bxc6 22.dxc6 Qxc6 23.Be4 Qb6 24.Qh5 Kc7 25.Bf5 Rd8 26.Qxf7+ Kb8 27.Qe6 Qc7 28.Re3 Bh6 29.Rc3 Qb7 30.f7 Bg7 31.Rcd3 Bf8 32.Qxe5 dxe5 33.Rxd8+ Ka7 34.R1d7 h5 35.Rxb7+ Kxb7 36.c3 Kc7 37.Ra8 Kd6 38.Rxa6+ Ke7 39.Re6+ Kxf7 40.Rxe5 b4 41.cxb4 Bxb4 42.h3 Kf6 43.Rb5 Bd6 44.Be4 Re8 45.Rf5+ Kg7 46.Bf3 Re1+ 47.Kc2 Rf1 48.Rd5 Rf2+ 49.Rd2 Rxd2+ 50.Kxd2 h4 51.Kd3 Kf6 52.Kc4 Ke7 53.Kb5 Kd7 54.a4 Kc7 55.b4 Kb8 56.a5 Ka7 57.Kc4 Bg3 58.b5 Bf2 59.Be2 Be3 60.Kb3 Bd2 61.b6+ Kb7 62.Ka4 Kc6 63.Bb5+ Kc5 ½-½,
the story is that Bobby was ready to resign after 38.Re8!
54.a4? was a mistake and as our endgame expert explains to construct a blockade.
The Swiss endgame composer Fontana showed the right path for white:54.b4 Kc7 55.Ka5 Kb8 56.b5 Ba3 57.b6 Kc8 58.Ka6 Kb8 59.Bg2 and wins.
Included are around 109 games and positions and for over 9 hour video entertainment!
FM Edgar Walter died in 2013 at the age of 83,he was also a very strong correspondence chess master.
Conclusion: Smashing till the last endgame! 

ChessBase Magazine extra issue 185
September  2018
Videos by Adrian Mikhalchishin, Yannick Pelletier and Georgios Souleidis

ISSN 1432-8992
Euro 12.99
System requirements:
Minimum: Pentium III 1 GHz, 1 GB RAM, Windows Vista, XP (Service Pack 3), DirectX9 graphic card with 256 MB RAM, DVD-ROM drive, Windows Media Player 9, ChessBase 12/Fritz 13 or included Reader and internet connection for program activation. Recommended: PC Intel Core i7, 2.8 GHz, 4 GB RAM, Windows 8.1 or Windows 10, DirectX10 graphic card (or compatible) with 512 MB RAM or better, 100% DirectX10 compatible sound card, Windows Media Player 11, DVD-ROM drive and internet connection for program activation.

This overloaded ChessBase Magazine comes with a overloaded file from over 37000 entries and all played between 9/6 and 14/8 of this year!
Highly recommended is also the following video file by Adrian Mikhalchishin:
Hoffmann,Michael (2471) - Cornette,Matthieu (2599) [C70]
Bundesliga 2016/17 Germay (2.4), 16.10.2016
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nge7 5.c3 g6 6.d4 exd4 7.cxd4 b5 8.Bb3 Bg7 9.d5 Na5 10.Bd2 Nxb3 [10...c5 11.d6 (11.Bc3 Bxc3+ 12.Nxc3 d6 13.0-0 Bg4 14.h3 Bxf3 15.Qxf3 0-0 16.Rfe1 b4 (16...Kg7) 17.Ne2 Nc8 18.Ng3 Nb6 19.e5 c4 20.Bc2 dxe5 21.Rad1 Nd7 22.d6 1-0 (30) Georgiadis,N (2460)-Ipatov,A (2608) Doha 2014) 11...Nec6 12.Bc3 (12.Bg5 Bf6 (12...f6 13.Bh4 c4 14.Bc2 0-0 15.Nc3 Nb4 16.Bb1 Bb7 17.0-0 Qb6 18.Bg3 Rae8 19.h4 Qc5 20.a3 Nbc6 21.Nd5 Nb3 22.Ra2 Ne5µ 1/2 (64) Duda,J (2542)-Jirka,J (2453) Czechia 2013) 13.h4 c4 14.Bc2 h6 15.Bxf6 Qxf6 16.Nc3 Bb7 17.Qd2 Nb4 18.Bb1 Kf8 19.e5 Qe6 20.Ne4 Qg4 21.0-0 Bxe4 22.Bxe4 Qxe4 23.Qxb4 Nc6 24.Qc3± 1/2 (68) Volokitin,A (2686)-Iordachescu,V (2646) Brasov 2011) 12...0-0 13.0-0 (13.Bd5 Bb7 14.Qd2 Nb4 15.Bxb7 Nxb7 16.0-0 Nc6 17.Bxg7 Kxg7 18.Nc3 b4 19.Na4 Qa5 20.b3 c4 21.Qe3 Nxd6 22.Rad1² 1/2 (34) Ponomariov,R (2734)-Blagojevic,D (2514) Istanbul 2012; 13.Bxg7 Kxg7 14.Bd5 Bb7 15.0-0 Qb6 16.Qc1 Nd4 17.Nxd4 cxd4 18.Bxb7 Nxb7 19.e5 f6 20.exf6+ Rxf6µ 0-1 (26) Kozakov-Mikhalchishin,Lviv 2015) 13...Nxb3 14.axb3 Bb7 15.Qc1 Nd4 16.Bxd4 cxd4 17.Qf4 d3 18.Nc3 Re8 19.Rfe1 Qf6µ 0-1 (39) Yemelin,V (2568)-Matlakov,M (2694) St Petersburg 2014;
10...Bxb2 11.Bxa5 Bxa1 12.Nc3 Bxc3+ 13.Bxc3] 11.Qxb3 c5 12.dxc6 [12.Bc3 c4 (12...f6) 13.Qb4 f6 14.a4 a5 15.Qxb5 Qc7 16.Nbd2 Ba6 17.Bxa5 Qa7 18.Qb4± 1-0 (44) Shabalov,A (2522)-Durarbayli,V (2611) Indianapolis USA 2016;
12.a4 b4 13.Bf4 a5 14.Nbd2 Ba6 15.Be5 f6 16.Bg3 d6 17.Nc4 Bxc4 18.Qxc4 0-0÷ 1/2 (43) Perske,T (2399)-Stopa,J (2544) Deizisau 2015] 12...dxc6 13.Bc3 Be6 14.Qc2 [¹14.Qa3] 14...f6 [14...Bxc3+ 15.Qxc3 0-0 16.0-0 Qd6 17.Qe3] 15.0-0 c5 16.e5 f5 17.Ng5 Qc8 18.b3 0-0 19.Rd1 Bd5 20.e6 Bh6 21.h4 Bxe6 22.Bb2 ½-½.
Conclusion: Superb material!