What I’m Reading: Logical Chess

I’m in a chess arms race with my son (age 12). I’ve always been able to beat him in chess, but last spring he beat me two out of three games. I knew it was time to upgrade my skills! I started playing chess online at chess.com. I prefer the 15-minute rapid game, and settled at a rating in the mid-700s.
But then my son opened his own account there, and started playing online. And when we played, I could tell he was getting better. So I did some research, and found that this book, Chess Logic, by Irving Chernev, was highly recommended by several folks on the interwebs who seemed to know what they were writing about. Chess Logic contains 33 actual historical games, with each and every move clearly explained for a chess beginner—why does Capablanca move the knight and not the bishop? Why does Tarrasch castle now and not later? And so forth.
And the book has worked—I feel a lot more in control of my chess game, my rating has risen to the low 900s, and most importantly, my son hasn’t beaten me in months. But now the real problems has arisen—I think I’m addicted to chess. I never considered it anything but an amusing diversion before, but now things are different. When I start playing, I feel a little shaky as the adrenaline starts to flow, and when I lose a game online and my rating falls, I’m upset for the rest of the day. I’ve mostly given up beer with dinner so I’ll have the clearest possible mind when I play in the evening. Worst of all, my playing is even starting to cut into my writing time.
So do I recommend this book? Well, if you’re not interested in chess, obviously it’s not going to be something you’ll want to read. And I don’t think it would work for a novice, either–you have to have some familiarity with the game to make sense of it. But for an amateur chess player who’s been playing for a while and wants to improve his game, this is the consensus book for doing so, and I’m inclined to agree with the consensus. I mean, I’ve never read a chess book before, so maybe reading any chess instruction would’ve improved my game, but I doubt other books would have done so well as this one.

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