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Understanding Chess Middlegames Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
It goes without saying that those topics cannot be detailed exhaustively in just one book but nevertheless the book can be very useful for a tournament player to take a step back to reconsider what chess/the middle game is really about and to appreciate anew the beauty and complexity of chess. The 100 topics are grouped as follows: material imbalances, strategy, activity, attacking play, defensive play, pawn structure, typical central pawn formations, typical mistakes:
* Each topic is illustrated with 2 games and each selected game contains a short introduction, usually 3-5 moves/variations in more detail and very good common sense explanations and especially conclusions (we all know what computer analysis looks like). This combination of detailed variation with meaningful verbal comment is one of the highlights of the book.
* The games (most of which are not well-known) are typically from the last 5 years, mostly played by top grandmasters and contain some real gems.
* Most intriguing for me is the selection of the topics since the middle game is not nearly as well charted as the endgame or the opening.Read more ›
Book was full value for money, compared with others of a similar vein.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
It's worth listing the pawn structures he points to: Isolated pawn in general; isolated queen pawn; closed Ruy Lopez; Winawer French; Scheveningen; Najdorf; Caro-Kann (also the Slav); Sämisch King's Indian; Benoni. As you can see, this is hardly a comprehensive survey of middlegame pawn structures, but the 8 covered (not including isolated pawns in general) cover a terrific amount of chess knowledge and a large majority of games played. When you consider that other sections focus on pawn chains, hanging pawns, and doubled pawns, most important pawn structures are covered.
Similarly, the chapter on the attack nods to several classic sacrifices: Bxh7+ (obviously), sacrifices on H6, g7, and f7; and several standard sacrifices in the Sicilian, as well as looking at Rook lifts, the long diagonal, attacking a fianchettoed position, and more.
Overall, this book isn't a comprehensive training manual; such a work would probably be several thousand pages long. Rather, it's a good way to check your grasp of middlegame play. If you play through each section of the book, you'll quickly identify which areas of middlegame play you need to improve on. If you see nothing new in the section on the attack, but the sections on defensive play are a revelation, that's probably a good place to focus. Any unfamiliar theme is worthy of follow-up in your own study.
I'm just hoping that Nunn will follow this up with a couple more volumes on the middlegame, as he did with the endgame. There's no hint of this yet, but hey, I can dream, can't I?
Most of the topics are developed with two very well selected examples which make the book a quick reference. After playing a chess game you can search the middlegame feature(s) than in your opinion were more relevant in your game and compared with the example(s) in the book. Since chess is so vast your game may not match the example exactly but the book will provide a good start.
I am very please with the book content and its practical value. For example, my last rate chess game feature the Queen Vs 3 minor pieces. I searched G. Flear endgame book beyond the basics but this endgame was not covered (the author stated that this endgame occurs less than 1% so it was not covered). Fortunalety, Nunn provides two examples of battles between the Queen and 3 pieces. I founded the annotations very clear and I was able to extrapolate his advise to my game.
In summary, this book gives you a lot in return for your money.
This is a breadth over depth book and it will probably be of most use to advanced beginners or middle-strength players. No one book could hope to address in depth the broad range of topics that can arise in middle game positions in a reasonable number of pages. So Nunn takes a reasonable approach and chooses 100 topics in 7 major categories and provides two examples of each topic. And to illustrate the chaotic nature of the middlegame, each topic really consists of an example and a counterexample, one illustration where the application of the topic succeeds and one where it fails. Thus, the treatment of the isolated queen pawn (IQP) has one example in which the side with the IQP (White) uses the dynamic potential of the IQP to push through a win and one example where the IQP is successfully blockaded and the side without the IQP succeeds in getting good piece activity and getting the win.
Noteworthy is the clear analysis that Nunn provides with each example, pointing out a remarkable number of inaccuracies by both sides. Either the winner of the game could often have found ways to win quicker or the loser of the game missed opportunities to either delay the loss, force a draw, or even reverse the result. This is not meant to criticize the players or demean their achievement in any way, it is merely a reflection of the complex nature of middlegame positions. It is much easier to find better moves after the fact with a lot of time on one's hands and the help of a good chess engine than to find the precise required moves over the board with the clock ticking.
I'm giving the book 4 stars rather than the 5 stars that it may deserve when considering its intended audience primarily because of my own personal bias. I just can't visualize a single book addressing this broad topic that could deserve 5 stars. Certainly if the book were narrower in scope each major category and many of its topics could easily become an individual book with many more examples and different levels of difficulty and subtlety. But that would then be a completely different book and could not be compared with this book. So overall I am very satisfied with this book and would recommend it without hesitation to its intended audience.