Books and rooks

Monday, April 09, 2007 at 7:19 AM

Bonaparte also played at chess, but very seldom, because he was only a third-rate player, and he did not like to be beaten at that game... - Louis Antoine Fauvelet de Bourrienne, Memoirs of Napoleon Bonaparte

Google Book Search is a great starting point for all the Napoleons out there who could use a little help with their chess strategy. You can find books that will help you learn chess notation, like 101 Questions on How to Play Chess, or pick up some simple tactics with The Complete Idiot's Guide to Chess. If you're somewhat of a history buff, there's also this 1790 edition of Franc̜ois Philidor's Analysis of the Game of Chess, the definitive chess manual of its day.

For the seasoned player there's plenty of advice on the finer points of battle, whether it's countering the Sicilian Defense or trapping your opponent with the Benko Gambit. Personally, my favorite chess titles are the ones that examine the careers of legendary players. The self-taught Cuban prodigy José Raúl Capablanca has always been an intriguing figure to me, and I was delighted to find a book containing annotated transcriptions of a tournament that he played against the Cuban national champion at only 12 years old! (Incidentally, Capablanca won.)

As someone who learned to play chess primarily from books, I'm glad to see that Google Book Search includes great resources for players of different skill levels and books with tips on just about every aspect of the game. At the very least, I have a few new ideas for my next match against my coworker Dan Abbe. I just hope the next time Dan and I play, we can find a chess set that isn't missing any pawns!


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