I got Laszlo Polgar’s “Chess Middlegames” as a birthday present from my girlfriend this January. As an introduction, I will give a short review of it, then we can move onto solving puzzles. The book itself is collossal: the book consists of 4158 positions, sorted out by themes. Honestly, it feels like more than enough of middlegame madness I would need for a long time. The positions presented are instructive, complex and cover a lot of your typical middlegame ideas. After all, Laszlo Polgar, the author of the book is notorious for presenting the chess world three undoubtedly genius chess players: his daughters Judit, Susan, Sofia. For this reason, the book actually reeks of professionalism as it displays the same method which was used to train his daughters. Without a doubt, if a player manages to study the book in a detailed fashion, it would have a great outcome. The only problem here lies in the fact, that for that all to happen, it is actually necessary to go through that book!
Starting to work with the book seems not to be all that easy either. Basically, it definitely need some sort pre-given self discipline and other traits, such as being able to work on positions independently. The book consists of chess and nothing but chess: diagrams, solutions, references, themes. Deciding where to start, how to work with the positions, in which manner – it’s all up for the reader. The book itself can be regarded multi-purpose, it is a great tool for chess coaches, and a great tool for the improving player. It is especially good for trying to deliberately work on weaknesses, given that a theme presented in the book addresses the problem. As I mentioned earlier, it presents a carcass for the complexiety which resides in the dreaded middlegame. To add even a secular dimention to it, on the back cover, there is one of my favourite chess quotes, by Tarrasch: “God has placed the middlegame before the endgame”. Indeed, it gives the book even a biblical feel.
So far, I haven’t really used the book yet, more like gone over a few puzzles. Curiously, there are a lot of themes in the book which I can regard as weaknesses in my play, so I have a lot to choose from, which makes the book very attractive for me. With this post, I am actually trying to establish a more structured way of working with the book. I have already done a post on Panchenko’s “Mastering Chess Middlegames”, so I thought I would follow it up. I have decided to regard the books of Panchenko and Polgar as the backbone of my middlegame training.
Similarly to the post on Panchenko’s “Middlegames”, I will now present the reader with four exercises from the book. For the exercises, I advise the reader to spare some time, at least one hour (with no disrespect to players able to solve them faster!). Scrolling even further down, there will be diagrams with the solutions with my own annotations of how I went though them.
I will also mention that these type of sessions consisting of four exercises has become my main method of going through more difficult puzzles. I have also found it a good tool in increasing the depth in my play.
The theme of these puzzles is liquidation, which is chosen because a) training these types of is always useful, b) it is something I need to work on. Anyway, here they are:
All are White to Move!
For me, the first one proved to be the most difficult. Overall I think I did better than with the Panchenko’s exercises (one reason would probably be that Panchenko gave a study for one exercise!). I managed to find the right idea three times, but of course I missed many subtleties. However, this is in my opinion what makes these puzzles worthwhile. As in a real game, even if you manage to find a nice idea, the following play could still pose practical problems. This is probably one reasons why these positions are piled up in a book!
Here are the solutions and my thoughts:
The first proved to be the most difficult for me.
The second one:
The third featured some very nice technical liquidation.
The fourth I had trouble with too, especially the assessment of the final position.
I hope you enjoyed reading my post. Until next time!