Chess for Zebras: A Different Perspective on Black and White Strategy (PDF)
Over the course of time, I also found that I was playing better, which I attributed to breaking down a lot of the preconceptions that held me back when I was younger. Indeed by the time I started writing the book properly I was already close to 2600 (ridiculously close in fact) and British champion, so I felt I was on to something worth sharing. The difficulty was that I now had about three books inside me, but one outstanding contract, with a peculiar title, had to be upheld, so I started looking for more information about zebras to see if I could find a unifying theme.
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The problem with most chess books, as I see it, is that they could have been written by anybody. The author frequently disappears in analysis and positional platitudes, and when he or she does appear it is with a hackneyed joke, usually followed by an exclamation mark, in case you missed it. Since the lifeblood of chess is moves and variations, and most readers care primarily about improving their results, the brute facts of the game inevitably clip the wings of even the most adventurous author. Nonetheless, I have always felt that if you are going to allow trees to be cut down in your name, you should make a contribution that is as distinctive and personal as possible.
Central ideas in the book include: the difference between knowledge and skill and why we should place more emphasis on improving our skill, the important relationship between chess understanding and storytelling, how to cultivate concentration, why chess seems so difficult, why we struggle to understand non-material factors when evaluating positions, what stops us from defending better, and whether there is any basis to the claim that White starts the game with some advantage. These themes, and more, are illustrated with games from players of a variety of strengths, and include lessons I have learned from my own games with players like Aronian, Adams, Morozevich, Short and Miles, and conversations with luminaries like Dr. Hübner, Dvoretsky and Yusupov.
Jonathan Rowson, author of the highly acclaimed Seven Deadly Chess Sins, investigates threequestions important to all chess-players: 1) Why is it so difficult,especially for adult players, to improve? 2) What kinds of mental attitudesare needed to find good moves in different phases of the game? 3) IsWhite's alleged first-move advantage a myth, and does it make a differencewhether you are playing Black or White? In a strikingly original work,Rowson makes use of his academic background in philosophy and psychology toanswer these questions in an entertaining and instructive way. This bookassists all players in their efforts to improve, and provides fresh insightsinto the opening and early middlegame.
Chess for Zebras offers fresh insights into humanidiosyncrasies in all phases of the game. The depth and breadth of this bookwill therefore help players to appreciate chess at a more profound level, andmake steps towards sustained and significant improvement.
Jonathan Rowson is an accomplished Grandmaster andScotland's strongest ever player. In 2002 he shared first at the World Open, in2004 he won the Hastings Premier and the British Championship, and in 2005 hesuccessfully defended his British title. In 2006, he won the BritishChampionship for an extraordinary third year in succession. He is also aprolific and successful chess writer and book reviewer for one of the world'sforemost chess magazines, New in Chess. His previous books for Gambit,Understanding the Grünfeld andThe Seven Deadly Chess Sins, have beenwidely praised in the chess press.
"It goes much further than plain instruction, delvingbeneath the skin of not only chess, but also the human mind and nature. Icannot give the writing of the book enough praise. Rowson mixes straightforwardfrankness with light-hearted wit, and teaches with an impressive authority andconviction. Chess For Zebras would be pride of place in anyone's chesslibrary!" - John Lee Shaw, ChessGateway
"If you are a chess player then you will need this book.Players will be quoting from it for years to come and if you do not own it thenyou will be left out in the cold, clutching some worthless opening book andwatching your grade slide." Geoff Chandler,
"It is impossible to do full justice to the book in a shortreview such as this. Suffice it to say that for me at any rate this is the bestchess book to appear in print for a long time and it gets my vote as chess bookof the year by a long mile." Alan Sutton, En Passant
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chess for zebras thinking differently about black and white by jonathan rowson
chess for zebras first published in the uk by gambit publications ltd 2005
chess for zebras copyright jonathan rowson 2005
chess for zebras isbn 1 901983 854
chess for zebras distribution worldwide except usa central books ltd london
chess for zebras usa continental enterprises group inc seneca sc usa
chess for zebras edited by graham burgess
chess for zebras typeset by petra nunn
chess for zebras printed in great britain by the cromwell press trowbridge wilts
chess for zebras dedication to shiva who helps me find the taste in water
chess for zebras gambit publications ltd managing director gm murray chandler
chess for zebras gambit publications ltd editorial director fm graham burgess
chess for zebras gambit publications ltd german editor wfm petra nunn
chess for zebras gambit publications ltd web site www.gambitbooks.com
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"Jonathan Rowson, one of the premier chess thinkers, showshow to find good moves in different phases of the game, especially for black,in Chess for Zebras. One of the year's best reads." GM LubomirKavalek, Washington Post
"...wise advise from Rowson: If you want to become a betterplayer, you need better habits, and you cultivate better habits throughtraining.The best training is the kind that pushes you up against the edges ofyour comfort zone, where you force yourself to take responsibility fordifficult decisions." - John Elburg, chessbooks.nl
"I warmly recommend the book, especially to playersfrustrated by a long period of stagnation. Most chess books attempt to changewhat we think, but Rowson's helps us to change how we think, and in the longrun, that's what will pay the biggest dividends - if we follow through withwhat we read." - Denis Monokroussos, Chess Today
"Everyone, who wants to learn more than the normal stuffabout chess, who has an interest in profound reflection (of a chessy,psychological, or philosophical nature), who wants to improve his practicalresults on the strength of a wider horizon, will reach for Rowson's book withenthusiasm (even if he doesn't agree with all his theses)" - Dr. W.Schweizer, Rochade
"The good thing about books by GM Jonathan Rowson is thatyou always have the feeling that you have found someone with whom you canreally talk about chess, even if it is a somewhat one-sided communication." -Fernando Offermann, BerlinerSchachverband
I often receive questions from chess players of various levels on which are the best books to study chess. The theme is so important that led me to record an Online Lecture exclusively on the best chess books ever written.
At the time I wrote a simple article with the list of those I considered the seven best books in the history of chess. I decided to re-edit the article, including six works which in my opinion are the most appropriate to help his training.
In my opinion this Yusupov series revolutionized the study of chess players from basic to intermediate levels. It addresses all important issues for chess development and places emphasis on the most important: decision-making. The theoretical exposition is always short and the reader is asked to solve a series of exercises. All books from this series are recommended! I have three in my library and I can say that many positions are interesting even to grandmaster level.
This work is distinguished by its original format as the book depicts a conversation between a player of about 2100 rating (Joel Sneed) and a GM with a deep understanding of the game (Boris Gulko), in which they talk about the decision-making process of a grandmaster, showing where it differs from the process of weaker chess player.
Indispensable collection for chess players of all levels. Advanced players will find in the analysis of Kasparov + Computer great material to train calculation. Chess players with candidate master strength will benefit from the study of chess evolution. In addition, beginners will know a bit more about the history of the great champions. My favorite is Volume 4, in which Kasparov analyzes the legacy of the greatest chess player of all time (in my opinion), Bobby Fischer.
I highly recommend the book Art of Attack in Chess. [...] If you're serious about learning how to attack, one of the best book written ever on attacking chess. Highly recommended for players over 1200-1300