30 June 2013

Book completed: Zurich International Chess Tournament, 1953

After two years I've completed David Bronstein's classic on the 1953 Candidate's Tournament.  Rather than give a review or a full description of the book, which has been done many times elsewhere (or you can see the link above), I'd like to focus on its benefits for training purposes.

The first benefit of the book is its breadth and unbiased game selection (containing all 210 games of the tournament).  GM Alex Yermolinsky observed in The Road to Chess Improvement that when looking at game collections for improvement purposes, you should be wary of an author's selection bias.  This means that authors can, consciously or unconsciously, select games that support their particular viewpoint, while excluding ones that could contradict or undermine their assertions.  Tournament books such as this one are by nature complete and unbiased in terms of selection, which if you think about it is a rather rare thing in modern chess.  (Tournament books used to be much more popular in chess literature, which is another topic.)

Another benefit is the accessibility and relative compactness of the game annotations.  Running through a game a day at the office while on lunch break, which typically took from 10-20 minutes, has been a key component of my being able to maintain a consistent engagement with chess.  This is important, as both consistency and constancy are necessary to the success of any long-term training program; progress made is much more likely to be lost if effort is only made sporadically.  I found myself able to maintain the necessary state of mindfulness, even during a busy workday, with that level of effort.  Just as important, the amount of time taken was both meaningful and sustainable.  Coming away from a study period with just one observation or insight that could help my play was sufficient, as there were 210 of them in the book.

Bronstein has been criticized by some purists for not providing full annotations for the games (or perhaps even doing much of the analysis himself).  However, for my purposes, that was not the point of going through the book  - nor in fact was it Bronstein's own stated goal in writing it.  Rather, it was to obtain useful, discrete insights into the chess struggle in practice (a title of an earlier edition of the book) in an enjoyable way.  Bronstein's writing style is very engaging and understandable, which helped provide a welcome distraction during the workday as well as contributing to my chess studies.

I expect to continue the practice of studying individual games during breaks at the office and will look for something new from my collection that's suitable, probably Korchnoi's annotated game collection.  We'll see how long it takes to get through that.

1 comment:

  1. Bronstein's book is one of my favorites. While I was reading it, I could swear that my games were much improve and netting me excellent results in tournament play. You are right, his writing style is indeed engaging and very clear.

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