English Chess Federation Book of the Year 2011

The judges unanimously decided that John Nunn’s two volume work, Nunn’s Chess Endings Volumes 1 and 2 (Gambit, £17.99 each) was a worthy winner …

Follow this link to visit the London Chess Centre and buy this award-winning book. See for yourself what all the fuss is about … and if you do, the ECF receives a small commission to help further the cause of English chess!

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.

– R B Edwards, J Farrand, D Friedgood – 3rd October 2011

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