Reviews - What do customers think about Improve Your Positional Chess?
A very reliable author Feb 17, 2006
By positional chess the author means those aspects of the game that cannot be determined by pure calculation alone. Other factors based on our experiences and acquired knowledge come into play, and it is these factors combined that make up the concept of positional judgement.
The book falls into four parts. In Part One the author sets out to define three important terms - imbalance, initiative and weakness. Several examples are given to illustrate the importance of each concept. Then in Part Two, titled Relative Value of Pieces, it is the turn of the pieces to come under scrutiny. There is a chapter each on Bishops and Knights, Rooks, the Exchange and Queens. In Part Three he turns his attention to the Pawns, with two chapters, one on structural weaknesses and another on Pawn sacrifices. Finally, Part Four, Big Decisions, shows how to take advantage of all those weaknesses that have been identified in previous chapters in a chapter entitled Where to Attack and How. Finally there is a chapter of exercises and a chapter of solutions. Apart from this chapter of exercises there are test positions appended to each of the chapters in the book, so the reader has ample opportunity to test his newly acquired knowledge.
Carsten Hansen is developing into a very reliable author, and this book only serves to enhance his growing reputation. Compared with twenty or thirty years ago, the chess player of today has an enviable choice of books to study on different aspects of the game, and this one is well worth adding to your list.
This review first appeared in the magazine En Passant.
Review of Improve Your Positional Chess Dec 5, 2005
Usually, books on positional chess strategy book feature games from the Stone Ages where X, who was either way ahead of his time or perhaps a kid from our age with a time machine and a sadistic streak not satisfied by the Internet Chess Club, demolishes a set of Neanderthals who have so little concept of positional ideas that our hero's plan is crystal clear. Hero has just to cause a doubled pawn and the whole game is determined from there on. Sadly this does not work for us, as every kid you play, including your sister's pre-school darlings, is well up on the latest computer-tested theory. This is the book to solve your problems! Hansen gives clear examples, not from dinosaurs but from the very best players in the world now. If even they can make positional errors then our chances of beating the neighbour's teenage tournament winner are pretty good. Hansen insists that "chess is at least 90% based on positional factors" so if you master them, you're well on your way. And as well as dozens of inspiring examples, he gives you carefully chosen exercises with instructions like "identify the most important weaknesses in Black's position, and put a plan together for White to exploit them." That's just what you'd have to do in a game, and he really helps you work out how to do it! Not only that, but if things have gone horribly wrong and your position looks like Katrina passed through, he gives you ideas on how to derail your opponent and get back on level terms. What about tactics, I hear you say? Well, it's amazing how many more tactical tricks you can play if you have the better position to start with!
Well thought out book on positional chess Jul 14, 2005
I've had this book sitting on my shelf for a little while and finally got around to working through it. I sure am glad I did. If you are like me, you start studying a chess book and after a while you discover that you are not studying the right book, so you start a new book only to repeat the process. Well I can now say that I have settled my study pattern. I have some openings that I work on, some tactical excersises, I study Dvoretsky's Endgame Manual (excellent book) and this one.
One reason I like 'Improve Your Positional Chess' is that it helps me tie all the other stuff together. The book has sections on imbalances, initiative, weaknesses, bishop v. knight, open files, etc. All the stuff a book on positional chess should cover. The examples used by Hansen are taken from recent Grandmaster play and are well anotated. The key ideas and critical moments in the examples are explained in clear language with important variations noted.
Each section of the book includes excersises for the reader. Here I have my only beef with the book. I do believe that the excersises should be presented in order of difficulty or at least the author should give the reader some idea of the difficulty of each exercise. I don't mind working out the solutions, but if Anand screwed up a position, I am unlikely to do better. This is a relatively minor beef, don't let it persuade you not to buy the book.
This book probably must useful for players rated over 1600 USCF. Below that, your time is most likely better spent on tactics.