Ridge Writers on Books: ’The Complete Book of Chess Strategy’

By MEGAN R. KEENAN

Ridge Writers on Books: ’The Complete Book of Chess Strategy’I’ve known the rules of chess for as long as I can remember, and from childhood had played the occasional friendly game with family and friends. When I was in high school, though, my casual attitude changed dramatically as a fierce rivalry developed between my brother and me. We played with increasing frequency and increasingly higher stakes, culminating in multiple games a day that decided who would do the other’s chores or who would be buying the next time we visited the local ice cream shop. We were evenly matched, so when I caught my brother reading a chess book one day, I snatched the nearest one I could find so I could stay competitive.

Unfortunately, the first chess books I read were bewildering, almost arcane, and composed of a series of masters’ games and moves listed in dense algebraic notation with little to no commentary. Or there would be a list of openings to be memorized, again with little explanation offered concerning the context or the logic behind them.

Feeling discouraged, I was ready to resign myself to doing all my brother’s chores until I left for college when I picked up “The Complete Book of Chess Strategy.”

I could tell at a glance that this was exactly what I needed. Like the other books I’d examined, this one had diagrams accompanied by moves written in algebraic notation. Unlike the others, it had clear section and chapter divisions and well-written text in plain English. In short, it was perfect for someone like me, an experienced and enthusiastic amateur eager to improve my game.

Intended for a pre-tournament to experienced tournament player, the book covers the beginning, middle game and endgame where many others take a microscope to a single aspect. It synthesizes many details into the basic principles underlying the whole game, encouraging readers to think like chess masters instead of merely imitating moves without understanding why.

“The Complete Book of Chess Strategy” includes a list of different openings (with pros and cons of each), tips on analyzing each player’s respective strengths and weaknesses in any given position, tricks and more.

I highly recommend this book, especially to those who, like me, have been disappointed by the esoteric style of other books on the market. I still consider it the finest I have read, and I am still giving my brother a run for his money when we play.

Members of the Ridge Writers, the East Sierra Branch of the California Writers Club, write this weekly column. Meetings are held the first Wednesday evening of each month at High Desert Haven and free programs are offered throughout the year.

Ridge Writers’ book “Planet Mojave: Visions From a World Apart” is available at Carriage Inn, Jawbone Station, the Historic USO Building, the Maturango Museum, Red Rock Books and from the official website www.planetmojave.com.

Story First Published: 2013-01-23