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ECF Book of the Year (2011)

Nunn's Chess Endings wins ECF Book of the Year 2011

John Nunn's Endings

John Nunn's Endings |

John Nunn's two volume examination of the Endgame became the 10th winner of the ECF Book of the Year award. The judges RB Edwards, Julian Farrand and David Friedgood were not only impressed by the detailed analysis and clear explanations but that this book contains much that is original and so actually advances our knowledge of the game. Read more below with their full comments, the other nominees (Chess Lessons - Vladimir Popov, The Joys of Chess: Heroes, Battles & Brilliances - Christian Hesse and Correspondence Chess in Great Britain and Ireland 1824-1987), PDF extracts to most of the books and list of the previous winners.

Running since 2002 the award has served to highlight books that might not necessarily stand out from the crowd when first released. An example is Tim Harding's book on Correspondence Chess in Great Britain and Ireland 1824-1987 which the panel describe as "beautifully printed. A fascinating insight into the past". Unfortunately it is the only one of the nominees without a PDF extract so I really can't comment further.

I've recently purchase my first chess books in a number of years in an attempted improvement binge (I'm particularly pleased with previously ECF nominated Winning Chess Middlegames by Ivan Sokolov - PDF Extract) and the PDF extract of the book Chess Lessons - Vladimir Popov was certainly an interesting read on its own. The Joys of Chess: Heroes, Battles & Brilliances - Christian Hesse is more of a personal essay on chess and again the extract below is well worth reading on its own.

ECF Page of Nominations 2011

ECF Announcement about Nunn's win

Nunn wins prize for 2011

Buy Nunn's Chess Endings Volumes 1-2 - John Nunn - Gambit

PDF Extract Volume 1

PDF Extract Volume 2

The question may be asked whether another lengthy work on the endgame is required (670 pages in all). In fact the author asks this question himself. Nunn’s answer is that he is approaching endgames from a different angle than normal manuals. First of all he is focusing on endgames requiring precise analysis, rather than the strategic endgames of players such as Karpov and Smyslov. He concentrates exclusively on end games from practical play; in other words the real life situations that so often cause difficulties for the player over the board. As always with Nunn his exemplary use of the computer ensures that the analysis is faultless.

This is not inconsiderable, but of itself not sufficient to win the award. Where the book excels is the combination of analysis with excellent and clear narrative which enables the reader to understand the lessons from the well chosen examples. Here Nunn’s experience as a world class player and his established writing skills come into play. He is careful to illuminate the difference between computer analysis and the human approach over the board. As a result the instructional value is considerable. To take but one example only, Nunn gives interesting game positions where the maxim "the outside pawn always wins king and pawn endings", would appear applicable. He then demonstrates the circumstances in which it may not apply.

Another major feature is the correction of previous published analysis. This shows what a difficult and complex game chess is and how even strong grandmasters can reach incorrect conclusions both over the board and in published analysis. Nunn has undertaken a considerable amount of work in writing these two volumes. The result is not just an excellent text book, but one which expands our knowledge of chess endgames.

We should point out that a basic knowledge of end game theory is necessary to get the best out of these two volumes. Lastly, though the books may appear somewhat daunting, there is much pleasure to be had in working through fascinating positions (some of which match endgame studies with their aesthetic appeal) with John Nunn as your erudite guide.

ECF Panel - R B Edwards, J Farrand, D Friedgood - 3rd October 2011

Also Nominated for 2011

Buy Chess Lessons - Vladimir Popov

PDF extract of Chess Lessons

Citation by the ECF

Popov is a distinguished Russian chess coach whose most famous pupils are the leading women players, the Kosintseva sisters, whom he coached from an early age. In this book Popov demonstrates his teaching methods by identifying the various areas that led to their improvement and illustrates how to learn by examples based on his experiences with the sisters. There are also plenty of exercises for the reader. An excellent self tuition manual. But in addition and importantly this book also provides a methodology for any chess trainer.

Buy Correspondence Chess in Britain and Ireland 1824-1987 - T. Harding - McFarland

Full table of Contents

Citation by the ECF

Based on his doctoral thesis and subsequently expanded into this book, Harding has produced a comprehensive history of a facet of chess playing which has its own set of values and leading exponents. The book is well illustrated with pictures and documents from the past and, as always with McFarland, beautifully printed. A fascinating insight into the past, particularly before 1900.

Buy The Joys of Chess: Heroes, Battles & Brilliances - Christian Hesse

PDF Extract

Citation by the ECF

It is difficult to describe this remarkable book in a few sentences. The author is a Professor of mathematics who has an interest in the correlations of chess with the wider world. Nearly a hundred short essays, introduced by quotations from many sources cover almost every aspect of the game. Two examples only give an idea of the range: "Death at the Board" (literally) and "The theory of relative beauty". There are hundreds of positions, games and problems of all types. All in all, a wonderful cornucopia. It is not just the judges who think so. World Champion Anand wrote the Preface and his predecessor Kramnik wrote the Afterword.

Previous winners:

2002Fundamental Chess EndingsKarsten Muller and Frank LamprechtGambit
2003My Great Predecessors Part 1Garry KasparovEveryman
2004Pal Benko My Life, Games and CompositionsGM Pal Benko and IM Jeremy SilmanSiles Press
2005My Great Predecessors Part 4Garry KasparovEveryman
2006Van Perlo’s Endgame TacticsNew in ChessVan Perlo
2007San Luis 2005Alik Gershon and Igor NorQuality Chess
2008From London to ElistaEvgeny Bareev and Ilya LevitovNew in Chess
2009Kasparov vs Karpov 1975-85Garry KasparovEveryman
2010Attacking Chess Volumes 1 and 2Jacob AagaardQuality Chess

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