Gary Lane has a happy aptitude in his books of taking the reader back to the basics in chess and then teasing out games and episodes from modern practice that provide examples of the basics. He does so in style in his latest publication by Everyman's.
It is quite extraordinary that so many games are won in ten moves or less. Even experienced campaigners are not immune to such disasters. Take, for instance the game Petrosian - Ree from the 1971 Wijk aan Zee tournament that the ex world champion won in eight moves. Knowledge of the nature of the mistakes made in such games is indispensable to the serious player and this book moves through all the themes that are used in producing such disasters. This is achieved in two main sections being a look at all openings and then a smaller section on classic attacks.
To keep it manageable the opening section is broken down into four chapters i.e.
Open Games: 1.e4 e5
Semi-Open Games: 1.e4 - various replies
Queen's Pawn Openings: 1.d4
Flank Openings: 1.c4, 1.Nf3,etc.
Here practically all the main openings receive attention and there is something to be learned about your own favourite opening.
Probably, if just the examples were given, the readers attention would soon flag, but Gary keeps the interest going by inserting text on the history of the trap etc. together with tidbits of information "on the side". Also after each example, a table is given that demonstrates the author's conclusions on the surprise value, risk, chance of success and reward.
As in all his books, Gary diligently researches his subject and provides little known examples that succinctly make the point under review. It will be of interest to West Country readers that some home grown examples are used i.e. a Teignmouth club game Walker J. - Smith F.W. is given to demonstrate the mate known as "Philidors Legacy". In fact the mating pattern was initiated by the queen giving check from almost the furthest square possible from the opposing king. (see diagram opposite.) One would have expected that as the check is administered from such a distance a simple intervention would have prevented the mate. But such is not the case here. If he tries such intervention Black sinks either deeper into the mire or suffers a ruinous loss of material. The only reasonable chance is 1.....Nd5 but after 2.Nxd5 Be6 3.Nxe7ch the game is up.
This example is taken from the "Classic Attack" section where a number of themes are examined such as the Greek Gift, Boden's Mate, Morphy's Concealed Mate, the Thornton Castling Trap and the Back Rank Mate.
The essence of the book is captured in the very first paragraph of the Introduction which is worth repeating here:-
"This collection of opening tricks and traps is designed to be a guide to winning chess. I have tried to find ways to win quickly in the opening, usually within the first ten moves to make sure that the opponent has a chance to go wrong. These will be ideal for people who wish to improve by discovering the pitfalls and traps in various opening systems. the games include a wealth of practical tips, anecdotes, and hints on how to improve."
One gets the feeling that the author has a great enthusiasm for this subject and writes with relish on the various themes that appear and re-appear in many games. Most certainly it is necessary to be well aware of the pitfalls that can appear in the opening in order that should you have the chance to get a game that is immediately in your favour or to ensure that you are not on the receiving end of a devilish trick.
Although the main section of the book is devoted to tricks etc in many openings, one should not just confine ones examination to favourite openings as some of the traps can appear in other openings in various guises. So a diligent review of all this section will prove to be very fruitful. We are advised in many instructive treatises that pattern recognition is a great aid in obtaining winning positions. A close study of this book will install some very valuable patterns that will help to improve your results. For instance the game Walker - Smith cited above will provide a pattern recognition of the resultant mate that can be achieved from positions other than that of this example.
One would expect that winning a game in ten moves or less would be a brutal affair, but on occasions the game may be won in ten moves but then it needs further moves to demonstrate the win. Here, Gary winkles out some very pretty combinations, one of which appears in the section on the French Defence.
This position occurred after Black's 17th move from a Milner Barry Gambit played in a Greek Team Championship of 2004 between G. Mavrikakis and K. Dermentzis. White has sacrificed two pawns and in return has developed a winning attack mainly brought about by hectoring the black queen until it has been uncomfortably placed at f7. From the diagrammed position White unfurled the pretty mating combination of 18 Rxd5+ exd5 19.Qxd5+ Bd6 (19....Qxd5 allows 20. Re8 mate) 20.Qxd6+ and Black resigned.
The book is lavish in its use of diagrams. The example above, although only lasting 20 moves, has been allocated four diagrams. It is possible in many cases to follow a complete game without recourse to a board and pieces.
Another technique used is to give particular manoeuvres a name. Thus we get "The Bishop Trick" arising in the Bishop's opening and "The Siberian Trap" in the Morra Gambit. This has the merit of establishing the pattern in one's mind more so than having to remember a sequence of moves.
To provide examples of Gary's style, two games are attached and can be seen HERE.
Gary Lane is a well respected author having many best selling titles in his oeuvre and this is no doubt destined to become one of his top sellers. It will appeal to a vast span of players from near beginners to county class and everyone will benefit by a steady and diligent study of its contents.
Everymans have provided a good platform for enjoyment of the publication. It has 235 pages all in single column printing that makes the book easy to read and is encased in a well designed and eye catching cover.
If you are still looking for a Christmas present for your chess loving son (or father!), you will not be making a mistake in getting this book.
The recommended price is £14.99 and this is good value for your money.