Franco Zenon – The Chess Scalpel – 32 Master Games Dissected – ISBN 9789464201512 – 288 pages.
The idea behind this book is for you to ‘play’ as in a real game, and it is my job to ensure you have a pleasant time while training. I suggest you take at least an hour and a half for each game and as your coach I will indicate when to guess the moves. Sometimes there will be suggestions — including tricky ones — to measure your concentration level. The ideas behind the moves are always explained.
Points are awarded for the ‘right answers’ as well as for some other moves, and at the end there is a general assessment plus a review of some of the things to be learned from the game. During my coaching period I was able to witness how motivating it is for kids to receive points for the right answers, their ‘lives are at stake’ when they try to find the answers, and it is a challenge much appreciated by them. Later I also noticed a similar eff ect with adults although, unlike the kids, the older students try to hide it.
The final score is not that important; it is not scientifcally based. But of course the more points you get the better you ‘would have played’. The effort you put into trying to find the best move every time is what matters most. I firmly believe it really helps to learn a little more about playing chess with every game. The methodology recommended for solving the exercises is the ‘old-school’ one of using a piece of paper to cover the text and scrolling down the page as you advance.
The games have been chosen according to my personal liking and commentaries are based on those by the players themselves, which is a great help in understanding what indeed happened. In some games you will have to guess moves for the losing side too. Indeed, I expect that as you proceed you will become familiar with the question of Mark Dvoretsky: “What could my opponent play?”. Importance has also been given to the practical aspect, which doesn’t always coincide with the suggestions off ered by the engines as best. This is to make it more like ‘a real game’.
It was enlightening to read that the current world champion, Magnus Carlsen, mentioned that the diffi culty involved in playing a position is a factor to take into consideration, and that in such cases the engine’s assessment is not that useful.