Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Chess: Lost in Translation

Chess: Lost in Translation

Hello from the Caribbean as my wife and I are cruising among the islands while you guys are weathering record rain and flooding.

Armed with my kindle on this vacation and 1/2 a dozen e-books, I decided to e-buy the chess book entitled "The Art of Boxing in Chess" by Thomas Grady only because I was looking for an electronic chess book. I would not recommend this book because it beats to death the boxing metaphor relating to chess. I would say if you are a boxer and a beginner chess player you would get something from the book. But for the rest of us, including Evander Holyfield, I would recommend to sticking to chess books by either former world champs, theoretical experts, or good teachers.

And while I have seen sports announcers from hockey to curling use the " looks like a chess game going on" expression, its application usually doesn't impress me.

This internet book brings to memory my reading of "Pawn Power in Chess" by Hans Kmoch. This was considered a very important chess book 40 + years ago, but to me was very painful to read. Having four years of Latin in high school and an undergrad with a speciallized study in philosophy I was aware of the fact that Kmoch's book in English was one awful translation. So to cope with that I decided to play thru the positions and not get tied up by the painful descriptions and explanations. Just figure out what the positions are trying to say to me and don't let the language get in the way. This realization was actually a pretty important lesson as I learned to deal with chess and chess ideas in a non language way. Just look at what the position is telling you, under the guidance and direction of the annotations, but look at what the position is telling you. You should be aware what a Capablanca, Alekhine, or CJS Purdy says; but in the end, it's what you think about what is in front of you that matters.

So I think while language is necessary to convey ideas to each other chess; it is really about positions - not language. Do you think the language in chess books or the analysis is as useful to a person as one working thru the positions and trying to derive the lessons?

Please Comment.

Thank You and Happy Saint Patrick's Day .

Mike Griffin 03/17/2010

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