Sunday, April 10, 2011

Book Review--My Search For Chess Perfection by CJS Purdy

This is a book put together by the publisher (Bob Long at Thinker's Press). The previous edition was published in 2007. The book has three parts. The first is a short biography of C.J.S. Purdy. The third is a collection of Purdy's games, all annotated. The heart of the book is the collection of Purdy's articles which are a delight.

C.J.S Purdy was an Australian Master who is best know for his writings (Wiki). He was the first Correspondence Chess World Champion and several times Australian Champion, he also edited several Chess magazines for many years, and wrote copiously for them.

Purdy writes in a very entertaining, but clear style. What he covers is rooted in explanations of Lasker and Nimzowitsch which are easier to understand than the ponderous Manual of Chess or the somewhat enigmatic My System. As I am currently struggling with Suba's Dynamic Chess Strategy, I sure wish Purdy were still around to explain it.

Most of the articles are targeted toward the improving class player, or ambitious beginner. His move method and general positional advice is a good start if Silman's Reaccess Your Chess is still to much to internalize. I particularly like how he describes elimination of error and his shortcut to positional chess (which is to improve your worst piece).

There are quite a few articles that show the evolution of Purdy's thought on how to find combinations.

I have only gone through a few of the annotated games. The annotations are extensive and informative. Fischer thought Purdy a great annotator. Thinker's Press has published several books that are collections of Purdy's annotations of other's games (C.J.S. Purdy's Fine Art Of Chess Annotation)

The index is very good, which is important, because the table of contents is too sparse. I suggest reading the writings straight through, using post it tabs to mark important passages, and making highlights in the index to help rediscover favorite articles later.

Thinker's Press also published Chess Master at Any Age by Rolf Wetzell, which is the guide I am using on my journey. You can contact Thinker's Press through this email Bob Long has a blog where he plugs his business. (Update: Bob has shifted his blog to here)

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