Publishers and Diagrams

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One thing that I really wish chess book publishers would take into account more is the placement of diagrams.

One of the harder things for me to learn when I came back to chess in 2011 after an absence of almost 20 years was how to hold a position in my head so that I could reset it after playing through a line of analysis. I suspect that I am not alone in this.

Yes, I’ve read the musings of those who say they play through games with two boards, making the move on both boards, then using one to keep the position while they play through the analysis on the other board. I personally don’t find that to be an appealing thought at all.

I was drawn to the idea, both then and now, that learning to hold positions in my head would ultimately make me a stronger player. I believe this to be as true today as I did a decade ago when I was struggling to do this at all. If it’s relevant to anyone, my rating then was about 1600, whereas today I’m generally in the high 1700’s with a peak of 1896. Not exactly a strong player, but certainly not weak.

With that said, publisher’s do include diagrams for a reason. For some, it’s clear that they are trying to give readers a visual anchor in order to read through the book without needing a board. I am nowhere near that level, though I do often try to play through the analysis in my head without moving the pieces and have found that this has helped me visualize better. At first, I could hold the position well enough, but didn’t understand things like “why …Qd6 there” until I’d eventually realize that a pawn was unprotected on g3 or something like that.

That takes me to today’s quibble. Books which don’t have diagrams in places they clearly should.

Let’s take a look at this page from Enqvist’s 300 Most Important Chess Positions

We are given a diagram before Black’s 19th move, which is followed by a good explanation of why that move was played, but we are not given a diagram either after Black’s 20th move, where it would be much more useful. As you can see, the analysis runs to the next page and contains parentheses and brackets.

I’d really like to know the reasoning behind the placement of diagrams. This one makes no sense to me.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott