Lessons with a Grandmaster 2 by Boris Gulko and Dr. Joel R. Sneed

Reviewed by P.P.O. Kane

Lessons with a Grandmaster 2
By Boris Gulko and Dr. Joel R. Sneed
Everyman Chess, 2012
ISBN: 9781857446975

This book is as good as its predecessor.

Well-annotated, high quality games provide the richest source of educational material in chess, a fund of instruction and insight. When they are set in a question and answer format as here, with Joel Sneed, psychology professor and keen amateur, asking the questions and Boris Gulko, an acutely insightful, artistic grandmaster answering them, the instructional value (not to mention the sheer entertainment) is enhanced threefold.

Picturesque pyrotechnics can be seen in many games, notably in the draws with Shirov and Vaganian and the two titanic encounters (resulting in a draw and a win for Gulko) with Bronstein. There are also two wonderful miniatures where Renet and Lputian (strong grandmasters both) succumb quickly, the games clocking in at just 19 and 20 moves apiece.

This second volume places the emphasis squarely on dynamic chess. The themes and topics covered centre on attack: sharp play and risk-taking (e.g. in the form of a speculative sacrifice), the importance of the initiative, how to acquire combinational vision and accuracy in calculation.

Develop your chess intuition and trust it, don’t rely solely on brute calculation – that’s probably the main message Gulko is seeking to get across. Computers can crunch chess moves to their engine’s content, and may one day ‘see everything’, but human beings shouldn’t be asked to. Our cognitive strengths lie elsewhere, in intuition and judgement, and acquiring a sense of pattern, proportion and beauty, that’s what works for us. This must, however, be allied with accurate calculation.

A study of these 30 games of exceptional depth and beauty cannot fail to improve your chess.

About the reviewer: P.P.O. Kane lives and works in Manchester, England. He welcomes responses to his reviews and you can reach him at ludic@europe.com