There are many ancient writings about chess and the various pre-chess games that obviously inspired chess itself. The first recorded European chess writing was a poem called ‘Versus de scachis’, in 997 AD. According to wikipedia, the first book to be completely about chess is the ‘Göttingen manuscript’, written in Latin sometime around 1471. There were several older works that either dealt with chess in a non-modern form, or were not entirely devoted to the play or strategy of the game itself.

This past Valentine’s Day, my lovely wife was kind enough to buy me a book as a gift! I think she knows me pretty well, because it was a chess book: ‘The Complete Book of Chess Strategy’ by IM Jeremy Silman.


So far I really like the book. And since it was chess related, I thought I’d mention it here. It is very blunt and to the point. Every topic is covered, but in an almost “cliff notes” style, with only one or two pages per subject. The writer seems to hone in on just what you need to know about any given opening, maneuver, point, etc. He waste’s no time with repetition of each point, nor example after example.

He does, however, seem to have a bit of a sense of humor. It’s a great read thus far, and I look forward to reading all of the book, but I think it will last a long time thereafter as a reference guide as well. Here’s a snippet of his whit:

Zwischenzugs are important for the following reasons:

1) You’ll sound like a genius when you say, “I won by playing and unforeseen zwischenzug.”

If image is everything, huge, foreign, sophisticated, sexy words like this one will go a long way towards changing your personal from “chess nerd” to “that mysterious, super intelligent guy/girl who happens to play chess.”

Of course, he goes on to list “more important” reasons to use a zwischenzug…. I think this book might be very interesting to use to implement an opening book for my Just Chess Engine as well. We’ll see!

Linux – keep it simple.

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