The book you have in your hands contains more than 1,000 combinations from games played over the last two millennia. Many are classics, an important part of chess education for beginners and intermediate players. Some examples, like Anderssen-Kieseritsky, are so famous that practically any chess player has seen them. Yet there are many more. Huge chunks of chess history from the nineteenth century are omitted from textbooks. This book was designed to fill the gap. While it is hard to determine which games are the most famous, let alone the best, Chess Gems contains many beautiful combinations that have amazed and delighted chess fans.
When amateurs talk about sharp combinative play, they often refer to the greats of the past: Anderssen, Morphy, Chigorin, etc. Others have more contemporary heroes: Tal or Fischer. Many people from my generation could be called Tals children. I grew up on his games; in my childhood I tried to copy his style. There is a perception that today somehow professional chess has become dry and boring.
The way chess is played at the top level has changed quite a bit in the last few years. There are a lot more tactics involved, and the positions are much more complicated – thats not a coincidence. Nowadays, thanks to computers, to get an advantage out of the opening, one has to go for complicated positions. It is much harder to win a game without taking risks; one cannot just slowly grind down an opponent, playing for two possible outcomes: win or draw. A lot of recent wins at high-level tournaments are achieved through enormous complications and tactics. In fact, in a future edition of this book covering the twenty-first century, I am sure quite a few recent games will be worth including.
No discussion of recent changes in chess can ignore the elephant in the room: computers. Here I want to dispel a popular myth: computers will make (or have already made) human chess less popular. Cars can go much faster than the 100-meter world record holder, and farther than the best marathoner. Yet that hasnt diminished interest in track and field. If anything, computers make chess more accessible to a broad circle of chess fans. They allow amateurs to spot errors of top professionals in real time, to explore all sorts of what- if scenarios, and to provide an instant (though imperfect) assessment of the game being played. One cannot ignore the benefits of training with a chess program at all levels. All in all, while computers make the life of a chess professional harder, their overall contribution to the game is positive.
I suppose one can distinguish between computer chess and human chess. Playing computer chess (really the only way to play against a computer nowadays) involves watching extremely carefully for your own mistakes. There is no psychology involved, no tactics based on intuition. One small error will bring your demise at the hands of the silicon monster; whereas against a human opponent, a mistake occasionally results in an interesting and entertaining twist. To me, chess has always been about competition between two people, with all their human emotions and blunders. Not surprisingly, only human games bring about spectacular intuitive sacrifices and memorable combinations. One thing is clear: for as long as people play chess, for as long as there is appreciation of art, beauty, and logic, this book will not become obsolete.
Introduction Combinations have long been considered the most creative aspect of chess. It is hardly surprising that many books have been devoted to them, and published in Russia as well as abroad. Most of them, however, share the same drawbacks: The combinations are classified by theme; The majority of the examples are from the end of the twentieth century; The enormous legacy of the great masters of the nineteenth century has been underestimated; In solutions to the problems, the authors do not supply sufficient variations, and they often do not indicate other moves which are even more effective and spectacular than those which were played in the games; The same mistakes are repeated in every new edition. In our book, the material is presented in chronological order. We begin with some examples of the combinational skills of the masters of Shatranj and end with illustrations of the tactical strikes by contemporary grandmasters. The basic material in this book samples the tactical skills of the world's leading players from all eras, rather than fragments of games between unknown amateurs. We have devoted special attention to matches for the world championship. Combinations of twentieth- century chess players comprise less than half of the combinations.
The book has 14 chapters with a consistent structure. First, we show several outstanding combinations of the period, followed by the section, How would you play? in which readers are challenged to solve several instructive positions with the best moves. The solutions to the problems are at the end of each chapter. In some cases we indicate alternative combinations. The level of difficulty of the problems in this book varies considerably. There are some brilliant combinations with a checkmate in two, as well as complex combinations requiring many moves and with numerous side variations. The reader should be prepared for traps and surprises, since some would-be combinations have refutations. Accordingly, even if a position is well-known, it would be advisable to analyze carefully all possible variations, and not just try to remember what happened in the game. All the positions included in the book have been analyzed thoroughly. There are many famous examples that are not a part of this book for various reasons: some have been refuted; or the advantage after the best defense by the opponent is insignificant; or a similar combination occurred earlier.
There are plenty of positions from the games of crowned and unofficial world champions and candidates for that title (in particular Anderssen, Morphy, Chigorin, Tarrasch and Alekhine.) In the challenge sections, the reader is faced with a diagram that says White to move or Black to move, without any additional information – unlike thematic collections of combinations. The idea is to simulate competitive chess, when the player does not know the theme of a combination, or even the exact problem (whether he is looking for a win or a draw). The reader does have advantages compared to the competitive player, in that he knows the position requires a tactical solution, and his time for thinking is not restricted. Still, if the reader finds a beautiful combination which occurred in a game of Alekhine, Fischer or Kasparov, for example, then he can consider himself to be almost a true champion. Igor Sukhin
Contents Bibliography p. 5 Preface by World champion Kramnik p. 7 Introduction p According to the Rules Shatranj (IX – XV centuries) p. 10 How Would You Play? Solution. 2. From Lucena to Greco (XV – XVII centuries) p. 15 How Would You Play? Solution. 3. From Stamma to Philidor (XVIII Century) p. 26 How Would You Play? Solution. 4. From Napoleon to Staunton (the first half of XIX century) p. 38 How Would You Play? Solution.
5. Anderson and Murphy (1851 – 1860) p. 65 How Would You Play? Solution. 6. First Unofficial World Championship Match (1861 – 1870) p. 90 How Would You Play? Solution. 7. Zukertort and Chigorin (1871 – 1880) p. 105 How Would You Play? Solution. 8. Steinitz – The First World Champion (1881 – 1890) p. 123 How Would You Play? Solution. 9. Lasker and Pillsbury (1891 – 1900) p. 150 How Would You Play? Solution.
10. Matces of the Second World Champion (1901 – 1920) p. 191 How Would You Play? Solution. 11. Capablanca, Alekhine, Euwe (1921 – 1940) p. 222 How Would You Play? Solution. 12. Botvinnik, Smyslov, Tal (1941 – 1960) p. 255 How Would You Play? Solution. 13. Petrosian, Spassky, Fischer (1961 – 1980) p. 277 How Would You Play? Solution. 14. The Great Opposition: Karpov – Kasparov (1981 – 2000) p. 305 How Would You Play? Solution. Index of Players p. 329
The joy of great inventions is in the remote past. Now, thousands of tactical ideas are recorded in the black list of theory. All is known – that is, almost all. Naturally every chess player improvises over the board in accordance with his talent and imagination. But that which is already known, must be known! Mikhail Tal
We cannot resist the fascination of sacrifice, since a passion for sacrifices is part of a chessplayers nature Rudolf Spielmann
I. According to the Rules of Shatranj (ninth – fifteenth centuries) Our book with 1000 combinations starts with the exquisite tactical operation found about 1000 years ago by the renowned master of Shatranj Abu Naim Al-Khadim, a resident of central Asia in the ninth century. White to move
1. Ng3 – h5+! Rh7xh5 2. Rg1xg6+! Kf6xg6 3. Re1 – e6# This is a beautiful combination which would make any present-day chess player proud. White does not have a single redundant piece in the final position...
The Legend of Dilaram Many centuries ago, somewhere in the East, Dilaram, whose name means Ease of the soul in Arabic, was the favorite lovely wife of a nobleman. He liked to gamble, and the game of shatranj was his passion. Once however, he had the mishap to be opposed by a strong player and the game was played as usual for high stakes. Our hero kept losing, but he was kept arranging the pieces for each new game in the hope of recovering. The stakes were increasing, and finally the nobleman had lost everything he possessed. He insisted, Let us play one more game, the last one. At what stakes? Stakes? I pledge my loving wife, beautiful Dilaram, the man said. That exquisite beauty came over to the players and stood humbly next to her husband. His opponent said, I will bet everything I have won, if you will wager Dilaram. He was overwhelmed with lust. The battle started and it was tough and fierce. Still, the players abilities were unequal, and the guest was already attacking. It looked like the nobleman was about to surrender. He was losing hope, and his opponent was smiling triumphantly. Suddenly the host heard his wife whisper Oh, my master! Sacrifice both your rooks but do not surrender me, your Dilaram. So he kept his composure, and he saw a beautiful combination, winning by force. He sacrificed two rooks and he checkmated his opponents king...
Chess Gems Reviews – reviews&catid=11&Itemid=111 "My heart sank when this book arrived. Not another book on tactics! I feared the worst... So I opened it up... and... fell in love with it!" Jeremy Silman (Read the whole review – 3Asilman-review&catid=11&Itemid=111) "While there are countless books on tactics,... it is rare that a book of this type breaks new ground. Typically, there are a large number of tactical problems organized by theme and/or difficulty, with little or no commentary. Chess Gems is an exception to this rule. Yes, it is a compilation of chess combinations, but they are interwoven into the story of chess history, creating a unique experience for the reader". Edward Scimia (Read More – 3Ascimia-chessgems&catid=11&Itemid=111)
Chess Gems Reviews – reviews&catid=11&Itemid=111 "Ask strong players what they do to improve and you will get many answers, but at least one in common - keep your tactical eye sharp! CHESS GEMS by Igor Sukhin passes all the requirements of a good book on tactical exercises with flying colors and more". John Donaldson (Full review – icle&id=14%3Adonaldson-chessgems&catid=11&Itemid=111) "Work through the entire book and assuredly your rating will go up a hundred pointsthe rare gift that would suit players of all levels!" Virginia Chess Newsletter (Read More – icle&id=13%3Avcn-chessgems&catid=11&Itemid=111)
Chess Gems Reviews – reviews&catid=11&Itemid=111 "Seldom a chess book on combinations has impressed me so much as this work from Igor Sukhin". John Elburg Chess Reviews (See the full review – 3Aelburg-chess-gems&catid=11&Itemid=111 ) "Chess Gems is instructive, engaging, and downright fun to work though" (from Chess.about.com – ''If you're looking for a relaxing book where you'll learn a good deal about the history of chess and improve your tactical skills, don't hesitate to order Chess Gems, one of the most refreshing books of it's kind that I've seen'' (from Chessvideos.tv – Sukhin-17.php)
Chess Gems Reviews – reviews&catid=11&Itemid=111 ''A very fine book, for self-study or as a gift to a promising player'' (from Chessville.com – Chess-Gems-by-Igor-Sukhin-17.php) ''CHESS GEMS is attractively produced. It is features an attractive cover, a clear two-column design, crisp diagrams and sturdy binding. This book is an excellent first effort by the new American publisher Mongoose Press'' (Jeremy Silman – ''...a veritable treasure chest, crammed full of glittering combinations and sparkling tactics'' (from The Compulsive Reader – =article&sid=2154)
Chess Gems Reviews – reviews&catid=11&Itemid=111 "Chess Gems is instructive, engaging, and downright fun to work through" (from Chess.about.com – ''If you're looking for a relaxing book where you'll learn a good deal about the history of chess and improve your tactical skills, don't hesitate to order Chess Gems, one of the most refreshing books of it's kind that I've seen'' (from Chessvideos.tv – 17.php) ''A very fine book, for self-study or as a gift to a promising player'' (from Chessville.com)