Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess

Bobby Fischer Teaches ChessBobby Fischer Teaches Chess by Bobby Fischer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Note to readers looking for a little light reading enjoyment on a sunny afternoon: "Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess" is not the book you're looking for. It has two woefully undeveloped main characters, with poor distinction between protagonist and antagonist. These mysterious main characters, known only as "White" and "Black", have the sole purpose of meddling constantly in the affairs of thirty-two minor characters, also lacking more than cursory description or much development. With "mating" being the rather single-minded goal of these opposing forces, there isn't much that can be identified as a main plot. There is a fair amount of action, and there are hints that other books have been written featuring these characters, so perhaps there is hope for some story arc. Though lacking a focused, cohesive central plot, it is fraught with flashbacks and countless tedious sub-plots, often leaping from one action scene to the next without so much as a "by your leave" en passant. Worse still, the setting is terribly unimaginative in its scope, as if the medieval landscape had been designed by one whose vision was limited to black & white. I hope Hollywood decides NOT to make this into a movie...

This book gives a beginning player plenty of interesting examples, and focuses on two important aspects of the game: thinking ahead and recognizing opportunity (although there also seems to be huge emphasis on achieving mate while the opponent's king is trapped in the back row, presumably by his own errant play). The complexity of the presented game situations increases as one progresses through the book. Despite its failings in some areas, I believe this book to be a very handy learning tool for any beginning player.

Did it help me as a beginner? Sure, but just like most of us will never be NFL quarterbacks or Olympic gold medalists, I also will never be a master at chess. That said, the fact that I still continue to have my @$$ handed to me almost every time I engage in a friendly game of chess in no way detracts from the enjoyment of exercising the brain... nor from my opinion of this book when viewed in light of its intended purpose. So, yes, I believe my game improved some from having read it, and I'm equally certain that no one shall ever bestow upon me the title of chess master.

Beginning chess player? Yes? Then read this book.

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