Review of Strike Like Judit! by Charles Hertan

Strike Like Judit! – Published by New in Chess – 2018 – 256pp

Like many people I was already familiar with FM Charles Hertan through two prior endeavors.  One was his former tactics column in New in Chess, and the other was his incredible book Forcing Chess Moves which was recommended to me by several strong players who pretty much universally agreed that it revolutionized the approach to searching for tactics in games.

So it was with great delight that I sat down to his latest offering, also published by New in Chess, Strike Like Judit!: The Winning Tactics of Chess Legend Judit Polgar. I have been a fan of Judit for almost as long as I have been playing in tournaments.  I distinctly recall her bursting onto the international scene as a pre teen girl, and began following her career almost immediately.

This book is broken down into six chapters.  They are:

  1. Geometry lessons
  2. Sicilian Slayer
  3. The art of calculation
  4. Endgame Empress
  5. Shots!
  6. The classics

Unlike FM Hertan’s previous book this is not just a puzzle books with positions for solving where the reader is looking for the final shot.  Instead, the positions given are tactically rich, and then analyzed in some depth by the author.

One really nice feature of this is that instead of just a diagram with a “White to move and win” style, each position is given multiple diagrams, in many cases there are both game position diagrams and analysis diagrams.  This makes it possible to read this book without the use of the board for most players of even moderate strength like my own (my peak Elo is 1896) which is useful for developing visualization skills.

In a few (albeit rare) cases complete games are given, but most positions are more like this one, which is taken from the Sicilian Slayer chapter.

The game is Polgar – Kientzler-Guerlain from the 1986 U16 World Youth Championship.  It is White to move.

19. f6 Her signaure lever! 19…gxf6
20. gxf6 Bxf6 21. Qxd6 Like Fischer, JP had no qualms about carrying the
initiative into an ending or a queenless middlegame – an objective approach
almost unheard of in a 10 year old attacker. 21…Bg7 White has a small but
pleasant advantage after 21… Qxd6 22. Rxd6 Rc6 23. Rhd1 Bg4 24. Rxc6 bxc6 25. Rd6

analysis diagram

22. Ng5

22…Bc6 Forced was 22… Be8 but White keeps a nice
attack with the paradoxical 23. Qd3 Bh6 24. Qe3 23. Rhf1 Qxd6 Now 23…
Be8 24. Nxf7+ Bxf7 25. Rxf7 Rxf7 26. Bxf7 Qxf7 27. Qxb6 is practically
winning. 24. Rxd6

f7 is indefensible, and the massacre is on. 24…h6 25. Nxf7+ Kh7 26. Be6 Rc7 27. Bf5+ Kg8 28. Nxh6+ Kh8 29. Ng4 Nc4 30. Rd3 Be8 31. Rh3+ Kg8 32. Nd5 Rd7 33. Be6+ Rdf7 34. Ne7# 1-0

This book manages to achieve something that I don’t find that often in books in that it is more or less accessible to everyone, while at the same time being of value to stronger players.  Especially within the calculation chapter, which contains many examples annotated at quite some depth.

Therefore I feel comfortable recommending this book to everyone and giving it a solid four out of five stars.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

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