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Play Winning Chess from the publisher "Everyman Chess"

Winning Chess Tactics from the publisher "Everyman Chess"

Winning Chess Strategies from the publisher "Everyman Chess"

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Title: Play Winning Chess Price: 12,99 ISBN: 1-85744-331-4
Title: Winning Chess Tactics Price: 14,99 ISBN: 1-85744-333-0
Title: Winning Chess Strategies Price: 14,99 ISBN: 1-85744-332-2
Language: English Pages: 222 - 257
Cover: Paperback Published: 2003
Publisher: Everyman Chess Homepage:
Author: Yasser Seirawan (with Jeremy Silman)
Reviewed by: Soren Sogaard Date: 17/4 2003

Winning Chess

Everyman has published the first 3 books in the new series "Winning Chess" by American Grandmaster Yasser Seirawan (co-author IM Jeremy Silman). The other two books in this series are "Winning Chess Endings" and "Winning Chess Openings" that I suppose will be published later although I haven't seen any information concerning these books. To call these books "new" is not exactly the words I would use after a closer look! After looking at the books for a while, I couldn't help thinking that I heard of these books before, but nowhere in the books can I find anything telling that the books in fact is a reprint!!

I don't mind that good books are printed again, and maybe even expanded or revised, but the least a publisher could do is to tell it to the reader/buyer. I am not sure about when these books were published the first time, but I know that Microsoft Press published the books in 1999. Furthermore in the book "Winning Chess Tactics" you can read that

"As we go to press with this book, we are stunned to learn of the death of Mikhail Tal at the age of 55. We are all poorer for his loss. His games will be his everlasting memorial"

Tal died in 1992 so my best shot is that these books were written about ten years ago. I have nothing against this, but why didn't the publisher/author go over the book and made a few corrections? Then I didn't have to read about Seirawan that "Seirawan lives in Seattle, Washington, where he is the editor of Inside Chess magazine. Readers are invited to write to: Inside Chess... for a complimentary copy." Everyone knows that Inside Chess doesn't exist any more ;-) Well enough of this, my point is that these books was written 10 years ago, and that this edition seems to be a reprint of the original books. Before I go on a little word about the cover and the layout of the books: The cover is very nice to look at and is much better than the average chess book. Also the layout and proofreading of the book is of high quality which I guess is due to Microsoft Press?!


Play Winning Chess

The first book in the series is written for absolute beginners. In this book you learn about the pieces, the chessboard, how to move and other basic stuff. After this introduction Seirawan moves on to talk about his 4 Principles Force, Time, Space and Pawn Structure: "Each is easy to understand and each is a weapon that will enable you to defeat most anyone you challenge to a game." I guess that you cannot expect more from your first chessbook ;-)

To learn the beginner about the above 4 principles is of course only one way to write a book for beginners. I don't want to discuss if I agree with his method, but I think that the beginner can learn a lot from this book. Before we go on to the next book let's take a look at the content:

  • The Evolution of Chess
  • The First Principle: Force
  • The second Principle: Time
  • The Third Principle: Space
  • The Fourth Principle: Pawn Structure
  • Annotated Games
  • The Four Principles and You
  • Photo Album
  • Glossary
  • Answers to Quizzes and Tests

Throughout the book there are 31 quizzes and 24 tests to be solved by the reader,  QUIZ 31:

In an endgame should you:

  • Continue to defend your King?
  • Bring out your King to join in the battle?

Overall I think that this book is quite good, and I especially like that the readers are examined throughout the book.


Winning Chess Tactics

The second book is about chess tactics, and here the reader learns about the basic tactics and combinations like The Double Attack, The Pin, The Skewer and Zwischenzug. In the Introduction you can read was this book is all about:

"Winning Chess Tactics won't teach you anything about tactics and combinations that the chess world doesn't already know. However, I've found that accessing this knowledge about these concepts can be anything but easy. Few of the books that teach combinative play explain tactics and combinations in an instructive. The rare exceptions tend to be for advanced players, making a study of this subject rather difficult for those with less experience. In this book, I divide tactics into themes, which I thoroughly explain and illustrate."

The main readership for this book should be players with an ELO between 1000 and 1600. This is one of the best books I have seen about this subject, and with 137 test positions you get a good start in this area. Besides dealing with the typical themes Seirawan also included a chapter with some of the greatest attacking players like Anderssen, Morphy, Marshall, Tal.... Like in the other two books you also find a Glossary at the end of the book which leads me to show you the content of the book:

  • Tactics and Combinations  (132 pages)
  • Great Tacticians and Their Games  (64 pages)
  • More Tests and Solutions  (35 pages)
  • Glossary  (14 pages)

At the end I will show you one of the toughest tests from this book, and if you solve this easily maybe you should look out for another book. If you haven't got a clue about what is going on, I can highly recommend this book ;-) It is White to move.


Winning Chess Strategies

The third book could also have the title "Positional Chess" as this is the next step after learning the moves and learned about the tactics ;-) As you can see from the content below Seirawan writes about many of the basic things you have to know after you learned to mate your opponent!

  • The Importance of Strategy
  • Making the Most of a Material Advantage
  • Stopping Enemy Counterplay
  • Understanding Where the Pieces Go
  • Superior Minor Pieces
  • How to Use Pawns
  • The Creation of Targets
  • Territorial Domination
  • Attacking the King
  • Faulty Strategies
  • The Great Masters of Strategy
  • Solutions to Problems
  • Glossary

I think that Seirawan made a pretty good work, and I looked a bit closer at the chapter "Understanding Where the Pieces Go". This chapter actually reminds me of what GM Rowson wrote in his book "The Seven Deadly Chess Sins" about that you should "talk to your pieces"! Of course it is more advanced than what is being discussed in this book, but to ask the pieces where they would like to go is a good start when you are about to think about your next move.

"Understanding Where the Pieces Go" is one of the most important things to learn, and I was very pleased with Seirawans introduction to this chapter:

"Where do the pieces go? Seems like a strange question, doesn't it? After all, everyone reading this book knows how to move the pieces, and the majority of readers are also aware that most pieces are stronger if they are placed in the center of the board. However knowing how to move the pieces has nothing to with where to put them. Only when you examine the specific needs of each of the pieces and learn the laws that govern them do you start to understand where the pieces go. In fact, this chapter may be the most important one of the book...

The chapter is, in my opinion, very good, as is the rest of the book, although I do not always think he chose the best examples. 1.Kd2! in the Diagram below is a very impressive move, but I'm not sure that it is a position you will meet at the level this book are aimed at. Take a look at the position and decide for yourself:

Seirawan - Timman
Wijk aan Zee, 1980



Final Remarks

My overall impression is that the book "Play Winning Chess" is a good start if you are a beginner, and the two other books are recommend if you have an ELO below 1600.

The Series "Winning Chess" is a good start for the beginner and players up to ELO 1600. Overall Seirawan wrote three good books, and my only complaint is that the books weren't revised for this edition. A minor detail is that the publisher didn't tell that the Series is a reprint. This aside, I will nevertheless recommend the series to beginners to the game.



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