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Chandler Cornered

Winning the Won Game - Book Review

First the good news (for me). I've been taken on
as a Chess book reviewer by an Edinburgh Book shop.
I get to choose a book and give it the once over.

I was shown a list of recently published books and chose...

Winning the Won Game by Lubomir Ftacnik & Danny Kopec
Batsford 13.99

Lubomir Ftacnik I don't know. Danny Kopec I do.

You can be sure that any book bearing Danny Kopec's name
will not have been cobbled together in a weekend.

I've worked with Danny, we wrote a book together.
Master Chess from Cadogan Press and don't come
down on me for using the Edinburgh site for plugging our book.
This is the 82nd piece I've done and that was the first plug.

Danny is meticulous. Every sentence and every move was studied,
discussed, altered and polished until Danny was happy that the
point we were trying to get across was perfectly clear.

This is not a fault. Oh if only all writers on Chess were so meticulous.
I found it a wee bitty frustrating having to keep re-writing
sentences until it they had passed teachers examination.

I write like I play. Publish and be damned,
sacrificing grammar along the way.

Of course Danny was right. Master Chess has been voted
one of the best books in it's field. It was Danny's idea,
and Danny's effort that made it the mini classic it has become.

"Those that can, do - those that can't, teach."

Danny is one of the exceptions. He can do and teach.

Pre-judging a book by it's title I expected it to be full
of examples of how to press home an advantage citing well
known cases ranging from Capa to Karpov.

This has been seen before but given the Kopec treatment it
would have been correct and worthwhile. Infact I had
written the review in my head even before the book arrived.

I was wrong. You can put 'Winning the Won Game' in the same
category as 'Simple Chess' by Michael Stean.

Good books but misleading titles (well they mislead me).

WWG is 64 complete games. 64 games that were each awarded the Albert
Brilliancy Prize for games played in the U.S. Championship 1984-2004.

They are not all Wham! Bam! lets sac again type games.
Indeed 33 carry on the brilliance going into the ending.

The idea is a sure winner. The reader is guaranteed excellent games
of Chess which have not been chosen by the authors but by others
who have selected them over other 'best game' entries.

The reason I like the fact it was not the authors who chose the
games is because no matter how hard one would try not too, if the
choice was left to a couple of individuals there would be a 'sameness'
about the selection.

So we have the games. Do messrs Ftacnik & Kopec do them justice?

Think of it like this. You go to an art gallery and see 64 paintings
hanging on the wall. You walk through and come out and say "That was nice."

In this book Guides Ftacnik & Kopec walk you slowly through the gallery showing
you what to look for, what to appreciate and how these masterpieces were created.

First there is a forward by Paul Albert jnr. the gentleman who financed
the brilliancy prizes. He explains the reason why he got involved and
how this book came about. His love of Chess simply leaps from the pages.

Then there are 3 articles: Brilliance in Chess, Beauty in Chess and
Winning the Won Game. In the last article Danny touches on the subject
of computer analysis in Chess. Here Danny is one of few who can safely
approach this subject. He is a Professor of Computer Science.
(I should really be referring to him as Doctor Kopec.)

Next comes something which is pure Kopec. (pure Doctor Kopec.)

Remember what I was saying about Danny being meticulous?

The games have been listed in order of RBI (Ratings of Brilliance).
Each game has been fine toothed comb to see if matches one of eleven
categories. The more 'CATS' it has, the higher the game is placed.

The 'CATS' on which the games are scored were: tactics, strategy,
technical ability, defence, counterplay, Opening, Middle game, Endings,
Brilliance, Brilliance rating (a number between 1 and 10 awarded for brilliant play),
and Instructive play (for winning a won game).

Danny would have been in his element here. I can just
imagine him playing over each game and awarding the 'CATS'.

Does it work? Well as Danny himself says when explaining the chart.
All list are open to discussion. What may be deemed as brilliant by one
player will be condemned by another.

Does the book need this 'hit parade'?
This is unique. I've never seen anything like this before in a Chess book.
Good or bad it highlights what I said at the beginning of this piece.
Danny will not put his name onto anything shoddy. It proves he has looked
and studied every game squeezing the instructive point out of each move.

As I said before, I know Danny, I do not know Lubomir Ftacnik but
I would be very surprised if this table was Lubomir's idea.
It in no way detracts from the book. In my opinion this is Danny tinkering
with something he is proud off (quite rightly so) and won't let it go.

Danny is what I call a running teacher. He teaches Chess but does not
sit still with the same tried and trusted methods. He is always looking
for a new angle to get his point across. This table may work for
some people, it will not do any harm to those it does not.

So, eventually, Winning the Won Game, good or bad?

Well when I do my review for my 'employers' I will not be
given as much space as I've taken here. So in a nutshell:

A good book with 64 brilliant games. Most have been deeply annotated
following the theme of the book 'How to Win Won Games.'

"The hardest game to win is a won game."
Emmanuel Lasker, World Chess Champion 1894 - 1921.

I have played over 6 games. I've no need to play over them all.
They are, by the fact that they are brilliancy winners, all good games.

Each game is given an introduction to tell us what to look out
for and is well supported with diagrams at the critical moments.

One can use this book as a tool for improving one's play or just simply
for the pleasure of playing over entertaining well annotated games.

One word of warning/advice. If you want to use this book to improve
your play then the rules are the same for any book. You will have to
put some work in yourself. Simply playing over the games will not
suffice. As good as the notes are you must study and question everything.

Then look for holes in the combinations. They have been 'Fritzed' but
don't let that put you off. Perhaps your idea was also seen but due to
space commitments it was not mentioned.

I recommend all Chess players get this book. Having 64 excellent and
well annotated games under one cover is a worthy addition to any library.

And basically that is what I'll write and I'll stand by that.


I've played over 6 games but browsed over the writing in
all games. Three bus trips from Edinburgh to The Gyle, there
and back again gave me time to do that.

Anyone who has experienced Edinburgh traffic will know that
one could finish 'War and Peace' on that journey.

The book appears to have a "Within You Without You." track.

(what on earth are you talking about Chandler....Ed).

Sgt Pepper is the greatest L.P. ever made but there is one
duffo track. Harrison's "Within You Without You." I know it's
a matter of taste. Some whacko's think this is the best track.

One of the games I played over, Game 63,
was not given much 'air time'(I chose them at random).

Nothing wrong with the game, Seirawan v Lapshun. It was a good game,
an excellent game, but it is the least annotated game in the book.

What disappointed me was after this diagram.

The authors have written;
"This opening system suits Yasser Seirawan extremely well.
There are straightforward positional motifs and there are
simple tactics to support them."

The rest of the game is annotated in 'Informator style'
with just a couple of sentences about Yasser's style and
a note when the brilliant sac is played on move 22.

I was looking forward to having some of the
straightforward positional motifs explained.
Instead we are being force fed variations by 'Fritz'.

OK Danny does mention that the theme of the book is
Winning Won Games. Some of these brilliancies fit into this
category and some do not. The RBI chart states that 49
games fit with the theme, including game 63.

Why is game 63 so sparsely annotated - the least in the book?
It's lack of written words really stand out when compared with every
other game. (I wish they had numbered it game No.64 then I could
do a link with the Pepper track "When I'm Sixty Four".)

This is really a minor gripe but game 63 is a 'sore thumb'.

Never mind, the other 5 games I played over made up for it.
Don't let this one blib distract from what is really
a good Chess book. And those of you know me will know
that if I thought the book was duff, I would say so.

The book itself will prove me right.
I call it how I see it. This is a good Chess book.

Game 11 (No.35 on the RBI chart, Kudrin v Dlugy)
was a pleasure and I know I picked up an idea or two.

[Click here to replay the game]
Kudrin vs. Dlugy

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Bg5 e6 7.Qd2 a6 8.0-0-0 h6 9.Be3 Nxd4 10.Qxd4 Qc7 11.f4 b5 12.Be2 Bb7 13.Bf3 Rc8 14.Kb1 Be7 15.e5 Bxf3 16.gxf3 dxe5 17.fxe5 Rd8 18.Qf4 Rxd1+ 19.Rxd1 Nd7 20.Qg3 Qxe5 21.f4 Qb8 22.Qxg7 Bf6 23.Qg2 Bxc3 24.Qc6 Bg7 25.Qxd7+ Kf8 26.Ba7 Qa8 27.Qc7 Bf6 28.Bc5+ Kg8 29.Rg1+ Bg7 30.Bd4 Rh7 31.Bf6 Qf8 32.a3 Qa8 33.h4 h5 34.Qe5 Qf8 35.b3 Kh8 36.Rxg7 Rxg7 37.Bxg7+ Qxg7 38.Qxh5+ Kg8 39.Qg5 Qg6 40.h5 Qxg5 41.fxg5 1-0

And finally...
I came across this whilst searching for other
reviews about this book. Was another cover planned??

And if anyone thinks I'm joking - check out

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