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William Ewart Napier

Lockdown and subsequent restrictions have given me time to browse the dustier reaches of my chess library, including Napier's Paul Morphy and the Golden Age of Chess, a compilation of his three booklets Amenities and Background of Chess, each a selection of 100 lightly annotated games to amuse and provide an educative ABC. Horowitz edited this combined work and commented:

Reflections on chess resources

I started coaching adults at the Exeter club in 1993, about the same time as Alan Maynard started up the current incarnation of Exeter Junior Chess Club. I went looking for some useful resources for teaching, and there were some, but mostly I became a magpie, picking shiny bits out of various good books. I did find it irksome that so many books repeated familiar examples, and I thought I could at least pull those out for my colleagues, and that became the core of the Canon. I found particularly useful:
* Tony Gillam - Simple Chess Tactics and Simple Checkmates

Morphy vs Steinitz

I keep seeing "Morphy would have beaten Steinitz", which we will never know, but here is some food for thought, from Steinitz' International Chess Magazine of 1886: (Nov 1886 pp 333-335)
To what I have said on the subject before, I may only add quite in conformity with the substance of my previous remarks that I have never quarrelled with anyone who bonafidely believes that Morphy could have beaten me even, if he had made progress with the time. But if anyone says that the Morphy as he was, and not the one who might have been, could give Pawn and move

Lessons from Judit Polgar

I don't entirely like the parade of endless men in the 'Lessons from...' series, so here's one from the other half of humanity, and a fine Appendix to the list of guys that ever joined the 'Vera Menchik Club'.

Judit Polgar was strongest woman chess player ever. She never became World Champion, and was never interested in becoming World Women’s World Chess Champion ( a title held by her two sisters, Susan and Sofia). She was in the world top ten and improving when she retired.

Opening

[Event "Buenos Aires Sicilian"]

Lessons from Anand

Anand's easy manner sits on top of a breathtaking attacking verve and capacity for creative counterplay.

Opening

The imaginative attacking finish seems to belong to an earlier era, while the opening play is all modern. The Scandinavian leads to an early release of central tension, and, if Black can develop smoothly, will have no problems. This line is an attempt to prevent Black from developing smoothly, and no end of rule-breaking goes on to that end.

[Event "Biel"]
[Site "Biel"]

Lessons from Carlsen

Carlsen often seems to win without doing anything in particular, but doing it very well. Commentators have tried to explain his peculiar gift by appealing to 'nettlesome' moves, moves that have no obvious dangers, but perhaps are surprisingly awkward to meet.

Opening

Carlsen, particularly when younger, has been noted more for his avoidance of sharp and theoretical lines, than having signature opening systems. He often seems content to aim for a 'normal' White plus in the opening, hoping to build on it later on, particularly in blitz.

Lessons from Kramnik

We have entered an era where it is not always obvious what the best players are doing. They are better than previous generations, they play all positions well, and they are fighting against players who also do everything well, and what makes the difference is not apparent to me.

But while Kramnik's play is subtle and deep, there are games which makes it look as though what he is doing is as simple as it looks.

Opening

Kramnik brought to several apparently settled opening systems a new clarity in pursuing White's main plans. In the Grunfeld, it was White's

Lessons from Karpov

Karpov had a marked preference for positional play, although, in his own words, "if my opponent offers sharp play, I do not object." Karpov had no soft spots that anyone could discern -- an alleged weakness against 'romantic' openings was less of a handicap than the openings some chose against him.

Opening

Karpov has always embraced the need for deep preparation. Here he digs deep into a position that was all the rage at the time.

[Event "Montreal"]
[Site "Montreal CAN"]
[Date "1979.04.25"]

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