Sun-Herald Chess Column for April 16

Last century, players wishing to improve their chess would sit down with chess book and set and play through the plans and strategies recommended by the author. In the modern world, top players prefer to mouse pieces around a computer screen, leaving the exertion of relocating wooden pieces on boards to tournament games, and the small but growing number of players who compete exclusively on the internet might have thrown away their chess sets altogether.

Chess books may also be on the endangered list. Instead of buying a specialist opening book and viewing the latest games every four months from the journal 'Chess Informant', many players now choose to subscribe to internet services such as ChessPublishing.com. CP began life in late 1999, employing a team of experts to write about the full range of chess openings. Each month the sites are updated by the addition of recent games, annotated by the relevant expert. The advantages for a chess student of the CP method over books are clear; huge amounts of material can be made available on even the most arcane openings, new developments in that line can be followed month by month and, best of all, if you are baffled by a line or feel that your pet opening is not getting fair treatment, you can email that opening's editor and ask for help.

However there are downsides to such internet study. The CP sites are only as good as their openings experts and in some cases CP has assigned players to cover territory that stretches their knowledge to the limit. In addition, while CP games may be downloaded for later study, books, being ordered and indexed, are currently easier to use for reference.

It may be an exaggeration to claim, as a prominent NSW coach did recently, that "Our juniors don't read chess books any more." However, when one can obtain lessons on internet sites such as ChessClub.com and ClubKasparov.com, or hone opening skills with CP, there are not too many reasons why chess students should ever turn off their computers.

#April Chess Competition#

The diagrammed position arose after four moves by each side from the start of a normal game. What were those moves?

The first correct entry opened after Tuesday, the closing date, will win a special bronze medallion commemorating the 1972 Fischer-Spassky match.  The next six correct entries will win a commemorative envelope from the 1972 match. Entries should be sent to: Sun-Herald April Chess Competition, GPO Box 506, Sydney 2001, or faxed to 02-92822151.

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Last chance - April Chess Competition.

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