Though much fewer positions are presented in the next section – just the four, in fact: three studies and the ending of the game Lasker-Reichhelm (1901) – it is the meaty heart of the book. For 114 pages or so the authors discuss and analyse this quartet, showing how one can derive coordinate squares for the two kings from a situation of simple opposition. To follow their arguments, you hardly need a set and board, since there are usually two diagrams to a page, about 200 diagrams altogether.
We learn much about these men (they are all men, as it happens), as an instance about the exact nature of Evans’ historic contribution to nautical safety (the good captain invented the coloured lights system for ships travelling at night, as well as the celebrated gambit in the Italian Game), though as Harding readily acknowledges, there is much that remains unknown to this day.
The aim of this book is to enable adults to teach chess to children, and in this it succeeds admirably. Although intended for one-to-one tuition (a mother teaching a son or daughter, say), the exercises and mini-games can quite easily be adapted for use in the classroom. And certainly the advice, insights and troubleshooting fixes are applicable to both contexts.
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.
Published in 1932, it is a book about those rare pawn endings where the distant opposition and the theory of coordinate squares plays a crucial role in determining the outcome. One can find helpful discussions of these sorts of positions in Pawn Endings, Maizelis and Averbakh’s classic text, and in one of Jon Speelman’s endgame books (I think, Endgame Preparation); and the Italian endgame theorist Rinaldo Bianchetti covered similar territory somewhat earlier.
Perhaps Black’s best response is 2…d4, taking the opportunity to gain space in the centre. In The Dynamic Reti (2004), Nigel Davies recommends 3.g3 with a reversed Benoni set-up. This is how the late Bent Larsen played the position and Jon Speelman has played this way also.
The rigour of Marinho’s writing is to be commended and his systematic presentation of the plans and possibilities available to both sides is impressive. But his game annotations are too light, leaving one all too often perplexed as to what the turning points in a particular game actually were.
Also, it looks at those situations where the king departs from a castled position, either for defensive purposes (e.g. the opposing forces are about to batter on the door and the king does a runner) or as a preparation for attack (e.g. both players have castled on the kingside and one marches their king out of harm’s way, before advancing the kingside pawns and opening lines on that side).
The crucial point about Zurich 1953 is that it was an elite tournament before such events became relatively common: 15 leading players participated, none of them weak or decidedly inferior to each other, over a period of about two months. Many of the 210 games played are now considered classics, and all except for a very few have moments of great interest.
To illustrate the range of the book, one chapter looks very specifically at sacrifices and different kinds of compensation, another at how to aim for decision-friendly positions, where there are clear, straightforward plans and the moves are relatively easy to come by.