Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Review of "Find the Right Plan with Anatoly Karpov"

We have all got lost in the Great Unkown of the Middlegame. I very well known feeling to have survived the opening phase of the game just to realize that a murky, clueless middlegame is about to start. You might survive the opening thanks to basic principles and a few memorized opening lines but in order to do well in the middlegame you need to use the mythical concepts of The Grand Plan.

So, what is a plan? How deep is a plan? We have all heard mantras along the lines that “A bad plan is better than no plan at all”. How can a bad plan be a good thing? I think that Eisenhower can help us to put plans and planning into a context:

“In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless but planning is indispensable”

OK, the plan might turn out to be useless because the opponent did something clever that we totally overlooked but the act of planning will be very important because the planning relies on a careful evaluation of the position.

Will the book “Find the Right Plan with Anatoly Karpov” help the improving player to learn how to make a plan? Only to some extent! I think the book does a great job presenting a scheme for evaluating a position and the book has several fine examples of evaluated positions. However, I am not convinced that the book does help to the reader to improve the planning process. The book is full of fine games which will be of interest to coaches in search of examples but with rather condensed annotations and the light annotations do not help the beginning player to use the evaluation of the position to form a plan of action.

The book does a good job presenting how to schematically evaluate a position, which of course is a very valuable lesson and an importat step towards a plan, but the book does not in detail help the reader to learn to transform the outcome of the evaluation process into a plan.


  1. Ooh, thanks for the review. I just ordered this from Amazon the other day, actually. I'll have to settle for "some extent" I guess. Anyway, I like "light annotations"; I tend to skip over them a lot when I read a game anyway. :)

  2. Well, Buddy! The book is full of quality games so I think you will enjoy it. I am looking forward to hear what you think about the book.

  3. Ach..I read a decent review at Chessvibes and at Marsh Towers (although, the latter is invariably positive ). I think one of them also noted the 'chess coach' aspect. I also ordered it yesterday ( although unlike DeepGreene, from the postage-free bookdepository.co.uk [ advert !] )so I may have it by the weekend, depending on the post-volcanic air-freight situation in Europe.
    Looking forward to it, as I rather like Karpov's style ( both writing & playing ) so doubtlesss, I will be happy !

  4. Sounds good! It will be most interesting to hear what you both think about the book. My big hang-up with many chess books is the desperate "one book suits all" illusion. Sure, the market for chess book is smallish but trying to create a smorgasbord type of product with something for everybody will leave most of us hungry for more!