Saturday, June 13, 2009
Book review: Standard Chess Openings
I got this and several other books for free several years ago and was interested in checking out what looked to be the biggest chess book in existence. All of the Standard Chess openings! Wow this would be lots of fun to read was my initial idea. How would this stand up in comparison to NCO and other big opening omnibus?
Well I'm sorry to say it but this book is a big let down. First this guy (Eric Shiller)is a PHD yet his published book has so many spelling errors I was shocked. I mean even chess blogs written hastily have less mistakes. For example: on page 240 we get this classic sentence, "The Sozin Variation appears in several Sicilian Defenses, including the Najdort, Sahevening and Classical Variations."
Has anyone heard of the Najdort? or Sahevening? Did you mean Najdorf and Scheveningen?
In his intro game to the Semi-Slav the analysis is very poor. 23...d4! The move is actually a mistake and leads to a quick loss for black.
Many of the openings have only one game to show them off, this would be fine but sometimes the one game he uses is a pointless early deviation which shows little about the opening.
Shiller defines a Standard Opening as "...any opening which an active chessplayer might reasonably expect to encounter frequently(Shiller 14)".
Ok so then he includes the "Elephant Gambit" 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d5. Has anyone ever encountered this line in a rated game? this line is weak and the game to highlight it happens to be a telegraph match from 1954 where black gets crushed.
Questionable is the inclusion of the so-called "King Walk Variation" [A59] if you are interested which in Mega Database 2009 out of over 4 MILLION games had a whole 500 or so games with this line. Not exactly standard.
The Janowski Indian which you may never face in your lifetime 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 d6 3.Nc3 Bf5 which again has hardly any games in the Mega database.
These are but a small sample of many mistakes in this book. I do have to give the author credit for attempting to annotate this many games from all kinds of openings. It must have taken lots of time and effort.
overall I rate this as a 1/5 as far as chess books are concerned.