I am, quite unashamedly, an avid chess book collector and since my interest was first stimulated some 60 years ago , I have managed to stack more than six hundred volumes on my book shelves. It would be a fair question to ask me if I have read each book, and the answer would be in the negative. Many a chessplayer has said to me that they are cutting back on the chess books they buy because they never read all of them. This in my opinion is an error as I have barely read the whole of a new book as soon as I have purchased it, but I do read most of them in due time, when a particular item may be of such an interest that I consult a book that I may have acquired some 40 years ago in order to fill out my knowledge of the subject that I am currently studying. This has lent my library some purpose and justifies my purchases.
Why do I mention this subject?
Recently a number of quite exceptional books have been published. These include the following superb volumes:,
1. the "The 1948 World Chess Championship" by Paul Keres published by Verendel Publishing. This is the first English language edition of best seller first published in Russia circa 1949 and took Keres three months to prepare immediately after the tournament. The value of this book lies in the superb annotations, which supplement Harry Golombek's book on the championship whose participants included Botvinnik (the winner), Euwe, Smyslov, Reshevsky and Keres, all of whom played each other four times. When this book was first advertised by the New in Chess maazine it sold like hot-cakes.
2. "Chess for Live" by Mathew Sadler and Natasha Regan published by Gambit Books. The authors here look at the changes that come about during a player's career, changes of playing technique that are either enforced or come about quite naturally. Some interesting statistics are offered to demonstrate the trend of the changes by a selection of players. One of the most interesting sections deal with the play of Keith Arkell which, with some subtle adjustments, has kept him in winning form for long periods.
3. "Chess Strategy for Club Players" by Herman Grooten published by New in Chess. This is a book that I wish had been available some ten/fifteen years ago. I am sure that this would have improved my play considerably. It lives up to it's title in that it is written by an accomplished author who has a thorough understanding of the needs of players of club standard. It is the second edition of a work that first saw the light of day in 2009. Much new material has been added which makes this a book of 460 pages, a large book even by modern day standards. In a review, Mathew Sadler frowns at the length of some examples, claiming this is rather unnecessary. However, I do not agree as I want, and need, instruction of some length in order to get a thorough understanding of the subject matter. After all, I am a mere club player.
When you are passing a chess stall at a congress, I would urge you to take a look for these three books and judge for yourself their worth.
Speaking of congresses, those held in the West Country in recent months have enjoyed a surge of attendance. Many claims have been made that this is the result of offering entry by on-line application. No doubt that this has had an influence, but may I offer a work of caution. Cyber crime is very much in an ascendency (witness the recent world-wide ransom malware)and no matter how foolproof such methods of entry may claim to be, perpetrators of identity theft are pretty clever at using such vital information. So I urge you to think carefully before choosing a method of entering events. In one case I noticed with some distaste that on-line entries were being favoured by a discount on the traditional paper entry, so may I also urge organisers to give this matter some serious consideration. I am given to understand that organisers of events tend to favour on-line entry, because it saves them some work. Come on you organisers, by its very nature this post demands work! This urge for less work by organisers has seen much more responsibilities afflicted on arbiters. It was drawn to my attention quite recently that one arbiter had to fill out the pairing cards and set up the wall charts. Arbiters have enough to do without getting them involved in such clerical matters that are really the duty of the organisers.
One of the congresses that benifitted by increased entry was the East Devon Congress held in Exeter. This was a fitting reward for Sean Pope who has steered the congress through some pretty rocky years. Sean has stayed steady in his involvement whilst other helpers fell by the road side. Well done Sean!
When offering congratulations to chess workers throughout the county, I would like to applaud the steady involvement of Alan Crickmore and his wife, Linda, for their input into maintaining the Paignton Congress for so many years. Alan has decided that partly because of ill-health, his involvement must be curtailed. However, he still has some involvement and the other helpers can well benefit from his experience and expertise in running such an event.
As congratulations are in the air, may I also draw your attention to the fine work executed by Trefor Thynne and Dave Regis in nurturing the skills of our younger players for so many years. This can be a thankless task at times, but occassionally they have produced some very fine players who have served the county well.
During the latter part of this season we lost the arbitting skills of Tony Tatam due to a serious illness which he is now thankfully recovering from. This left gaps in administration of the Plymouth Club and local congresses that were difficult to fill. It is from such disasters that we learn the true value of dedicated workers such as Tony and I am sure that everyone wil join me in offering him a speedy recovery and return to the game.
Another season is drawing to a close and this will lower the curtain on some significant events that have occurred. Newton Abbot have increased their impact on the local leagues and Teignmouth have been adversely affected. There is a need for a stronger campaign to attract new players into clubs and encourage junior players participation. New players will not appear by walking through the club door, they have to be sought out and encouraged. This is where "Chess Devon" provides a good PR service. I have many enquiries from players seeking clubs brought about by their surfing of "Chess Devon" on the internet, so make certain , if you are a subscriber, that your site is up-to-date and eye-catching.
Finally, my I draw your attention to an increase in the number of Devon players who are searching out and participating in events in other countries. Their results may not be scintillating but it does bring a glow to see the St George flag included in on-line reports of international events.