Game Spotlight: Four Decades of Simple Chess
For those of us trying to improve our Chess while at home, it might be better overall to look at general theory books rather than opening books. Previously, I’ve looked at the most influential of these, Aron Nimzowitsch’s My System. As another option, let’s look at a more modern classic. Michael Stean’s Simple Chess was published in 1978, and our Chairman at Nairobi Chess Club has called it “The Bible”. So, does it live up to this high praise?
Well, not quite. For one, I’d expect the Chess Bible to be longer than 176 pages. I’d also expect it to be more comprehensive — there’s very little in here about tactics or endgames, for example. But what is here is done incredibly well. Stean has a talent for distilling ideas down to their essence and presenting them in a way that is both concise and easy to understand. Each of the six chapters talks about one basic positional idea, with example games that largely stay on topic. It’s not quite a book for beginners, but is a good place to go for a good understanding of what you’ll need to get to the next level.
In short, if you still have issues with tactics and keeping your pieces safe from tactics, study that first. Once that’s down, you should read this. (While if you’re rated over 2000, you probably already know this material.)
Let’s look at some of what Stean had to say about the idea of space, using a game from the year his book came out: