I watched the Germany Spain game in the World Cup recently and commented to a friend how much like chess the encounter was. It was an off-hand observation with nothing really to back it up at the time, just an intuition that the tactical structure Spain had used throughout the World Cup perfectly nullified the German game. Watching that match a second time, I noticed just how tired the Germans looked but, no matter, a seed had been planted in my head and I wondered just what were the similarities between chess and football. It was with a little sense of frisson I then discovered this book on Amazon.
As "frissons" go, it was a brief and disappointing one.
It has all the hallmarks of the amateur academic. If a point can be made clearly and distinctly once, then it can be made again. And again. Then add diagrams.
A midfield player may choose not to pass the ball forward to a striker. "Forward"? We need a diagram. Little circle in the middle. Arrow. Pointing to. Little circle a bit more forward. But. He may choose instead to pass sideways to a winger? Another diagram. Little circle. In the middle. Arrow. Points sideways. Little circle on the side. Evidently, in case you are that one person reading this book with no knowledge of the language it is written in and hence no understanding of the words "forwards" or "sidewards". But that is also just half the thesis. We also need chess diagrams of pieces that are more "forwards". Pieces more "sideways".
When we talk of having lots of pieces in the middle? Diagram. Lots of pieces are in the middle.
I stopped reading and turned to the blurb, fearing I had mistakenly bought a book that satirised the whole taking football seriously bit. It might indeed work that way. As a book about football and chess though, it is superficial, obvious and just unexpectedly tedious.
Sadly, Amazon does not allow me draw diagrams so you'll have to picture, in your head, a circle, two dots for eyes and a down turned arc for a mouth.
Occasionally it does say interesting things, there are some good comments on the whole concept of "space" and connecting play (why I gave it two rather than one star). Just, it would make a really interesting article in a Sunday supplement. Or a nice blog maybe. But there is not enough insight or material here to sustain a 267 page book. It over-stretches itself significantly. And it is not worth, in this format, purchasing.
I would not recommend it.