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Meet the legends - again

What is a chess genius? Well, you could find an argument for a number of different criteria, but one that seems quite feasible is that every World champion was a genius. At least that's the argumentation in the book Sjakkgeniene by Norwegian authors Atle Grønn and Hans Olav Lahlum. I bought this book when I was in Norway over Christmas, and I have enjoyed it very much. For most of you, I guess this review will be of little value, since the book is in Norwegian. But who knows, it might be translated to other languages in the future? We'll see about that, but for those of you that can read Norwegian, I hope you'll enjoy this little bonus review.

What can you expect from this book? This is not your typical chess book. It is a one-volume book about all the chess champions to this day. In other words, it follows in the tradition of Kasparov's My great predecessors series, but everything is captured in one volume instead of five. So how is that? Well, it is quite simple. The…
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Adventures in Wijk aan Zee

Wijk aan Zee is a tiny wind-swept town on the Dutch coast. The main attraction for the town seems to be the large beach that is several kilometers long. But in the winter, the town is invaded by hundreds of chess players and fans who want to see the World's greatest players battle it out over the 64 squares.

As part of the whole Tata Steel chess event there is a weekend tournament for amateur players. A friend and I decided to play and do a bit of chess tourism at the same time. This was the first time for me at a major international event, so it was a bit exciting.

After checking in at the hotel on Thursday afternoon, the first person we saw was Anish Giri. And at breakfast the next morning, Vishy Anand sat down just a few tables away from us, and several famous grandmasters appeared: Fabiano Caruana, Rustam Kazimdzhanov and Pavel Eljanov. We were speculating whether Magnus Carlsen was staying at the hotel as well, but he did not show himself. However, we saw his parents as well…

Attack more!

I took a trip to Wijk aan Zee in Holland this January to play a weekend event in the Tata Steel tournament. It was a fun and well-organized event, and I managed to take second place in my group. To my surprise, there were book prizes for first and second place, and I found a little book that caught my attention. This little book is Attack & Counterattack in Chess by Fred Reinfeld.
What can you expect from this book? Fred Reinfeld (1910-1964) was an incredibly prolific writer, and has written well over 100 (!) chess books. Many of these have been out of print for a long time, but in recent years, several of his books have been updated and republished. Attack and counterattack in chess is a "21st century edition" of the original publication from 1958. The book has been translated to algebraic notation, and the variations have been checked with engines. For the most part, the variations are correct, and on the rare occasions where they are not, alternative lines are given a…

Nunn’s secrets

Let me tell you a secret. There is no such thing as 'the best chess books'. It all depends on the preferences and expectations of the reader and of course the work s/he puts in when working with the book. So just because someone else claims that a certain book belongs in the 'best books of all time' category, it does not necessarily mean that it is a book that you will appreciate. This little intro may have given away the content of this review, but that's ok. Secrets of practical chess is an example of a book that has gotten a lot of praise on a more than one occasion. So let's dig in and see what the fuss is all about.
What can you expect from this book?Secrets of practical chess has seemingly been well received in the chess world. Overall, the opinions are very positive. John Watson gave it a very positive review, and Jacob Aagaard has listed it among the top 10 books of the 20th century. It is also mentioned in another list of 'best' books. On the ot…

Meet the legends

A while back, I set myself a challenge to memorize all the 16 undisputed world champions along with the matches they played. During this process I became aware of the long periods that some champions reigned. This fact alone made me realize that Botvinnik was one of the great champs, but I knew next to nothing about him. Curious to learn more, I decided to pick up the definitive (?) book on the world champions - My great presecessors by Garry Kasparov.
What can you expect from this book? This is a book that will be different thing to different readers. It gives an account of the lives and games of past world champions along with the events that took place in (and outside) the chess world at the time. Some will be in it for the chess; others for the history.

My great predecessors is a massive work of chess literature. It is a five-volume series that covers a more than a hundred years of chess history. Since I was curious about Botvinnik, I picked up vol 2. I have not read the others, an…

Next level patzer

I have a new goal. I am going to become a Grandpatzer. You read that correctly; it's not a typo. As you probably know, Grandpatzer is not an official title, and the term is actually not very established at all. But there is a very entertaining and enlightening book by the title Secrets of a Grandpatzer by Kenneth Mark Colby. When I saw it, I fell for it directly and bought it without hesitation. If you are as enticed by this book as I was, please read on for my full review.
What can you expect from this book? Kenneth Mark Colby (1920-2001) was a professor in psychiatry and an amateur chess player. In the introduction of the book, he describes how he 'floundered around' as a 1600-patzer for several years before deciding to do something about it. He did something about it, and achieved a 1800+ rating within a year. This book describes the his 'secret' method so that you and I can do the same.

The book was first released in 1979. My copy is a reprint from 2011 with a …

What is average anyway?

The term 'average chess player' comes up every now and again. But what does that even mean? I am sure that every person who has ever used that kind of term will have different interpretations of what it means. So I figured I would take a look at some statistics from the official FIDE rating list.

The official rating lists can be downloaded from the FIDE website. One problem, however, is that there are almost 350,000 players on the rating list, which makes the files so big that they are rather difficult to handle. But with some spreadsheet magic, I was able to extract the information.

The diagram below shows the rating distribution of all players on the official rating list. The diagram simply shows the number of players with a certain rating. I have used a quite wide range (100 points) for each category, so the numbers will indicate the number of players with a rating between the indicated number and 100 points higher. For instance, the number at the peak (rating = 1700) is ap…