Chess Pattern Recognition for Beginners by Arthur Van de Oudeweetering published by New in Chess 2018 240pp
If you followed my last blog on the late Sevan Muradian’s Chess IQ site then you know that I was a big fan of Dutch IM Arthur Van de Oudeweetering’s first two books, Improve Your Chess Pattern Recognition and Train Your Chess Pattern Recognition. I’d link to those reviews, but sadly with the passing of Sevan and the subsequent shuttering of the Chess IQ site they have been lose to time.
Now comes the renowned Dutch Trainer’s third book in the series, Chess Pattern Recognition for Beginners. When it first arrived in the mail I thought “Well, OK.” since “for beginners” was right there in the title. Since I do some coaching, I do have some use for beginner level materials, but it’s rather limited. However, when I actually opened the book and began to glance through it I realized that “for beginners” was somewhat misleading.
Perhaps it’s the pedantry of no one who’s been playing for any length of time, especially in tournaments, wanting to associate the word beginner with themselves, but this book is clearly not just for beginners, which for the sake of argument let’s say the word would typically indicate those with sub 1000 Elo’s.
Yes, there are the normal beginner level chapters covering things like rooks on the seventh, or getting the king to safety, or the Greek Bishop Sacrifice, but those chapters contain excellent examples which should be of a high level of value for players all the way up to my level (peak rating 1896) or at least close to it.
As I became more engrossed in glancing through the pages I quickly found myself heading downstairs to my basement chess laboratory to sit down at a table with a board and set.
The book is comprised of four parts containing a total of 25 chapters. They are:
Part I – Typical pawns and pieces
Chapter 1 The lingering king
Chapter 2 Queen in trouble
Chapter 3 Rook(s) on the seventh rank
Chapter 4 Botvinnik’s fearsome bishop
Chapter 5 Kasparov’s favorite
Chapter 6 Fischer’s knight
Chapter 7 Opposites are not equal
Chapter 8 Cousins from a distance
Chapter 9 IDP: Isolated Doubled Pawn
Chapter 10 A central striker
Chapter 11 Central supremacy
Exercises Part I
Part II When pawns meet
Chapter 12 Reaching for the hook
Chapter 13 When Harry meets g6
Chapter 14 Deceptive symmetry after the IQP
Chapter 15 Breaking free
Chapter 16 Flank attack!
Part III When to exchange and when not to
Chapter 17 King of all exchanges
Chapter 18 Along the open file
Chapter 19 What remains: toward and good knight versus a bad bishop
Chapter 20 The ace of space
Part IV Sacrifices – the classics
Chapter 21 Bishop takes h7
Chapter 22 The Soviet sac
Chapter 23 The silent knight sac
Chapter 24 From Morphy to Magnus
Chapter 25 Capa’s bishop sac
Exercises Parts II, III, and IV
As you can see by the titles of the chapters alone, the material is not exactly that of the beginner level.
One of my favorite chapters in the book is Chapter 22, which is on the “Soviet sac.” I’ve never heard that used as a term before, so I’m assuming it might have been created for this book, but the concept is one I am certainly familiar with.
The Soviet sac is the sacking of the exchange on c3 in the Sicilian. This is a common concept. Take this well known position which is in the book. This is Boleslavsky-Geller from Zurich 1953.
Here Geller uncorks 15…Rxc3 16.bxc3 Qa5 17.Qe3 Qa3 18.h5 b4
From here Geller won a nice game, which is covered in it’s entirety in this book.
The exercises are also quite valuable. Take for example this one from Part I. The game is Stripunsky-Shimanov 2018
The question asked of readers is “How would you judge the position after 25…Nd4+ 26.Bxd4 Bxd4?”
Take your time and try to answer that question. The solution is at the bottom of the page.
All in all this book is valuable far beyond the expectation given in the title. I think it would have been better had the word “beginners” been replaced with “club players.”
I recommend this book as well as the earlier works by IM Van de Oudeweetering.
Til Next Time,
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The solution to Stripunsky-Shimanov is:
“Black is clearly better: he has the attack with opposite-coloured bishop, with White’s king in the middle (not able to run away via g1). White’s bishop is almost a mere pawn, while Black’s is a superb Botvinnik bishop (see Chapter 4).”