Sunday, October 15, 2006

Book Review: How to Choose a Chess Move - Andrew Soltis

This will be my first book review here at this blog. I hope to review a book once every while to give my readers out there an idea of some of the better chess training books available to the public. Andrew Soltis' "How To Choose A Chess Move" is one such book.

Holy Grails, in chess, are like those in real life, unattainable. Improving players constantly search for the 'holy grail' of chess - that one book, method or inspiration that will show them the light and allow them to advance beyond their current level. Every chess player has reached their own personal ceiling at one point. Some teachers shout 'tactics! tactics! tactics!' from the balcony, but for Expert to Class A players, that may be insuffucient. The derelictions in their play is usually not a tactical flaw. I think Andrew Soltis' book is geared very specifically to the Category B/A/Expert level player, or, Club player as Batsford likes to categorize, and comes as close as possible to being the 'Holy Grail' of chess for us human players.

The book begins with some really good examples of the thought processes of players considered Post-Beginners up through Masters. Soltis defines what he thinks are the best ways to disseminate good moves - 'Candidate Cues' - move triggers you should look for when trying to decide on your group of candidate moves. He continues on with 'Move Triggers', an organized thinking process of what to do in reaction to your opponent's last move. The beauty is in the details, however, and Soltis' dives right into it by going over how much analysis is too much, Analysis trees, Evaluations, several thinking models, reality checks, tweaking, risk assessment, and finally clock management, all important factors when trying to select a chess move.

This is a very practical book on selecting very practical moves.

This book is everything Think Like a Grandmaster by Kotov tried to be. Soltis' writing is clear and concise, and wastes no time in getting his point across to the reader. The ideas he presents and the methodology he outlines in choosing playable candidate moves is intuitive, practical and accessible to players of any grade. Simply reading Chapter Two 'Candidate Cues', if duly applied, will reorganize your chess thinking and improve your game probably 100-200 points, and find yourself avoiding blunders on a regular basis.

I give this book 5 stars in my adhoc scale of 1 to 5.

Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Batsford (October 28, 2005)
Language: English
ISBN: 0713489790


hylen said...

The book "Think Like a Grandmaster" tried to be? Isn't it widely (and rightly) considered to be successful?

And it is available: Amazon

Mark said...


I believe Think Like a Grandmaster was successful because it was the first of it's kind, but is hardly a 'practical read' by any stretch of the imagination.

Have you read the book? It is not a book any teacher would give to a class player and expect them to improve greatly from it. It is mostly about calculation methods: It does not go into great detail of how you selected your candidate moves - a methodology. This is where the Soltis' book is miles ahead of TLAG.

And you are right, it is widely available. My Mistake. I have corrected that error.

hylen said...

Yes, I've read it. I thought it was excellent. Perhaps it's aimed at slightly higher-rated players than the Soltis book is.