Review of Attack and Counterattack in Chess by Fred Reinfeld

Attack & Counterattack in Chess by Fred Reinfeld – 2019 Algebraic Edition by Russell Chess Enterprises, Inc. 88pp $12.95

With this volume REI continues their translation of many of the classic works of Reinfeld into algebraic notation for a new generation of readers.

While Reinfeld is often dismissed these days, it’s important to note that he is referred to by FM Alex Dunne as “The Man Who Taught America Chess” and not without good reason.

Yes, he wrote over 100 volumes on chess, and many of them are rightfully considered to be potboilers. Yet at his best he was very, very good. Even today Reinfeld often serves as one of the earliest authors introduced to young players just coming in to the game. Note for example that Chess in a Nutshell was Ray Robson’s first chess book per his dad.

Let’s also not forget that Reinfeld was immensely strong as a player. The first rating list issued by US Chess in 1950 saw Reinfeld listed with a rating of 2593, good for sixth in the nation behind only Reuben Fine, Sammy Reshevsky, Alexander Kevitz, Arthur Dake, and Albert Simonson.

Attack & Counterattack in Chess is as much a pamphlet as it is anything, which does explain the lower price, but it’s an excellent early book for those starting out. One reason for this is that the annotations are primarly verbal explanations with minimal variations. This allows for concepts to be communicated quite clearly to those players who may not yet be able to understand positions based on the variations that lie within.

This book is presented in two parts. Part One from White’s point of view, with Part Two coming from Black’s.

The Chapters in Part One are

  • How to Control the Center
  • How to Exploit Superior Mobility
  • How to Exploit Black’s Premature Opening Up of the Position
  • How to Exploit Black’s Premature Counterattack
  • How to Exploit Black’s Weakening Pawn Moves
  • How to Exploit Black’s Errors of Judgement
  • How to Exploit Irregular Defenses

The Chapter in Part Two are

  • How to Seize the Initiative
  • How to Play against Gambits
  • How to  Defend Against a Powerful Attack
  • How to Seize the Attack
  • How to Exploit Unusual Openings

Here’s an example of the kind of prosaic annotations readers will be treated to:

White has just played 16.b4!!

“With his last move White has established a lasting bind on the position. By preventing …c5 for good, he has stamped Black’s c-pawn as a backward pawn on an open file. In all the intricate maneuvering that follows, White keeps his eye on this pawn and finally piles up enough force to capture it.”

A few moves later this position is reached after 21…Nd5

“Now that White has pinpointed the weakness, he goes on to the next phase: piling up on the weakness. First comes a very fine knight maneuver aimed at transferring his knight from c3 to a5. At this latter post the White knight will bear down on the weak c-pawn.”

Here’s another excellent example.

“Black’s position looks uncomfortably cramped, but he has his compensations. By attacking White’s e-pawn, he limits White’s freedom of action. Also, Black is well posted to prevent the aggressive advance of e4-e5.

But Black has other ideas. His main idea is to free himself sometime later by …d5. First he must play …c6 to make that move possible. Second, he must play …d5 at a time when the powerful reply e4-e5 is not feasible. The later course of the game will show how Black carries out his idea.”

These types of annotations are invaluable to those who are post beginners.

My only real complaint is that the names of the players and tournament information is omitted from the games themselves. So each game is simply a list of the moves along with the opening.

This is particularly a pity in a work such as this where that could have been easily corrected in this day and age. I especially wish this was done as many of the younger players today aren’t aware of the of the all time greats who’s games appear in this book, such as Gligoric, Tarrasch, etc.

Nevertheless, this book is worth acquiring by anyone who is either just starting out in chess, coaches someone who fits that description, or who wants to relive a volume they might have lovingly perused in their salad days.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

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