Thursday, 17 May 2007

Chess in Amsterdam: books

het paard chess shop Amsterdam

As well as being a strong over the board chess player and a former British correspondence chess champion, Paul Dargan is also 'fortunate' enough to be able to jet around the world in the name of work.

Earlier this week, Paul shared a line in the Morra Gambit with us. Today he contributes a couple of posts about the chess scene in Amsterdam:

Recently my work took me to Holland and I had the opportunity to spend some personal time in Amsterdam. I lived in Holland for a year or so back in 1991 and remember the lively chess scene. Leiden, the city I lived, in had 7 (yes seven!) chess clubs then and the one I joined (LSG) had over 100 members. So in a city famed for its museums, red light district and euphemistically named “coffee shops” – what attractions are there for a chess player on a rainy day in Amsterdam?

I always like to have a look for interesting chess books that might not be readily available in the UK, and of course Holland has New In Chess publishing – as well as access to German publications so there were always likely to be a few gems to unearth.

So I headed for “het paard” (the knight) on Haarlemmerdijk (basically come out of central station, turn right and keep going). They have a good selection of books and software for chess, bridge, go, poker and backgammon – plus a wide range of boardgames. Ignoring the ubiquitous Gambit and Everyman books that I can get at home, my attention was caught by a couple of NIC publications that I hadn’t seen in the UK, that focus on very different styles of play.

On the Attack" by Timman is a collection of attacking games by top players (Kasparov, Shirov, Topalov, Anand, Short, Polgar together with some less obvious choices) and instructive game fragments to illustrate both typical and unusual ideas. Browsing in the shop I recognised a fair proportion of the games from other sources (over a quarter) but the commentary and analysis were well balanced and I believe the book would be both entertaining and useful to players from average club players up to 2200, with great material in the second part for trainers and coaches.

Endgame Virtuoso: Anatoloy Karpov” by Kirolyi does what it says on the tin. There are over 100 of Karpov’s endgames, presented in full – which allows readers to see the transition from opening to middlegame to endgame. Relatively light notes on the early stages of the games (except where key concessions are made that will impact on the ensuing ending) and what looked like pretty comprehensive analysis of the endings. A thematic index allows you to look-up endings that demonstrate particular techniques.

Eventually I felt that I had browsed long enough – and I really ought to buy something or leave the shop. Reviewing my Euro supply and doing a quick calculation of the rail fare to the airport, lunch and beer requirements I could afford only one of the two….those familiar with my play will have no difficulty in guessing which I chose.

They also have a wide range of second hand books available – in particular game collections of Keres and Bronstein caught my eye, so if you get there quick they might still be in stock.

Paul Dargan

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Chess Tales by Roger Coathup: A collection of online articles about chess and chess players.