Encyclopedia of Chess Combinations

Fourth Edition

Multiple Writers

Reviewer: John Donaldson
Sahovsky Informator
660 pages (hardcover)

Three offerings from Chess Café

* Informant 16
* Encyclopedia of Chess Combinations
* Inside Chess

Informant 16

Not long ago Chess Informant’s days appeared to be numbered. The Belgrade based publishing house produced the first volume of its flagship publication Sahovski Informator (Chess Informant) in 1966 and the initial reception was excellent. Coming out twice a year it was considered the chess bible by none other than Bobby Fischer who pored over each issue carefully studying all the games – but that was 47 years ago.

A decade ago, despite switching from its traditional twice a year publication cycle to four times a year format, the publication still appeared to be a dinosaur in danger of extinction with its tiraz (copies published) but a fraction of the golden times when all World Champions considered it a sacred duty to send in their best games.

Fortunately things have changed and a great product has been made even better. The latest edition, volume 116, is packed with topical material relevant for Grandmasters and ambitious amateurs alike.

The present volume of 342 pages has much to offer. The sections on combinations, endings and crosstables from major events are there as usual. So too is the featured great player – this time the French 2700 Etienne Bacrot. The longtime practice of featuring the Best Game and Best Combination from the previous Informant, judged by a panel of experts, has been continued. The heart of the Informator series, games annotated by top players with a special language less system of symbols, is still very much present and relevant.

All this makes Chess Informant useful but recent additions will only make it more so. First up is Garry’s Choice, where the great Kasparov dissects the top games of modern chess. His choice for Informant 116 is likely a game that has escaped most chess players’ attention up to know. Played between Popov and Amonatov in Russia in 2012 it is an exciting English Attack in the Najdorf where Black succeeds in drawing a rook down in a queenless middlegame.

Kasparov’s article is in English as are series of annotated games and theoretical articles by 2600 and 2700 Grandmasters that run 135 pages. This is really first rate material that is not to be missed, particularly Romanian GM Mihai Marin’s column Old Wine in New Bottles. There are several first rate opening theoreticals on the Sveshnikov, Taimanov and Najdorf Sicilians as well as the Scotch, Ruy Lopez, Slav, the Queen’s Indian and Nimzo-Indian.

Chess Informant is available from Chess Cafe (chesscafe.com) as a stand-alone book for $34.95 (list price $38.95), stand-alone CD $34.95 (list price $38.95) or as package for both book and CD $45.95 (list price $51.95).

Highly Recommended

Encyclopedia of Chess Combinations, Fourth Edition

Chess Informant has another winner with the fourth edition of its Encyclopedia of Chess Combinations. This beautiful and massive (659 pages!) hardback is filled with 3001 combinations arranged by the following ten themes:

Annihilation of defense
Discovered Attack
Demolition of pawn structure
Double Attack

The positions in each chapter, drawn primarily from over one hundred issues of the Chess Informant but also some games played prior to 1966, are arranged chronologically. The positions are well chosen and each is accompanied by a detailed solution.

This is a great book and one that belongs in the library of all serious players who wish to improve.

Highly Recommended for players from 2000 on up.

Yasser Seirawan’s magazine Inside Chess

The third offering by Chess Cafe is something special – all the years (1988-2000) of Yasser Seirawan’s magazine Inside Chess on three DVDs. First, full disclosure – I worked for Inside Chess for its entire run.

There is close to 10,000 pages of material here (over 800 pages a year for a dozen years). The opening articles are dated but almost everything else is still fresh from the high quality game annotations by Yasser and other top GMs, the tactics column by IM Nikolay Minev, the ending column by GM Alex Baburin, the book reviews, interviews, photos and more. There is reporting and games from American events that are to be found nowhere else.

All 284 issues are here on the three DVDs which are in searchable PDF format. One can easily find events, openings and players. There is a table of contents for all issues. The $79.95 price is a bargain.

The complete Inside Chess is available from Chess Cafe (chesscafe.com).

Highly Recommended