Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Cats have nine lives, queens have only one

More Raetsky and Chetverik. I was flicking through their section on 5...a6 - reaching the diagram below - with which line Anand beat Leko in Morelia. (I hate it when my pet openings become trendy, by the way. Except that a Cat isn't really a pet.)

They say:
White can choose to prevent ...b7-b5 by spending a tempo on 6. a4 .... but this cannot be recommended because ....the weaknesses of both b3 and b4 will prove significant. The difference between this system, and 5...c5 can be appreciated in the following variation: 6...c5 7.O-O cxd4!? 8.Qxd4 Qxd4 9.Nxd4 e5 when the inclusion of a2-a4 and ...a7-a6 benefits Black as b5 is unavailable to the knight and a4 to the queen.
Readers may be able to work out for themselves what is absurd about that last claim.


Tom Chivers said...

You're not exactly selling me this book, you know . . .

ejh said...

Mind you, there's similar mistakes in rather better books (scroll down to #4867).

Tom Chivers said...

Yikes. The one here is worse though - since Fischer wasn't trying to explain a nuance of ..O-O (just a nuance of ..h6 I think.)

Jonathan B said...

the coincidences continue ...

I was thinking about writing a piece on that very game to coincide with Fischer's forthcoming birthday.

Anonymous said...

Hang on a minute guys and go back to the original blog.
What R&C are doing is comparing the lines in Chapter 5 (starting 5...a6 ) and Chapter 7 (starting 5...c5 ) which appear similar after a possible 5...a6 6 a4 c5 ).
They ask what is the effect of the additional moves 5..a6 and 6 a4?
Well firstly, as compared with the traditional line 5..c5 6 Qa4+, 7Qa4+ is not possible because there is a pawn on a4, and secondly, as compared with the line 5...c5 6 0-0 cd 7 Qd4 Qd4 8 Nd4 e5 9 Nb5, 10 Nb5 is not possible because it would be en prise to the a6 pawn.
Not absurd, just unexplicit ( if such an adjective is permitted ).
What's wierd about the Catalan is it's Jekyl and Hyde character. It's either slow and positional or wild and wooly ( a pussy cat or a tiger? ).
Khalifman's Life and Games has some good examples of the latter. He descibes the Catalan Gambit as a "wilderness" (uncharted territory); not, though, nota bene, a "desert" (infertile).
As Justin suggests, as the Catalan gets trendy, we may now find others wandering around our lost world sampling its secret delights.

ejh said...

Yeah, but they don't like 6.Qa4+ against 5...c5!

You're right that they may mean that, but if that's so they've written it in so clumsy a fashion as to render their meaning not just inexplicit but essentially invisible. It would be very simple to write something like

7.O-O (because of the pawn on a4 the queen check is unavailable)

or similar.

Either way, I'd attribute the problem to hurried writing and an absence of proof-reading (both typical of Everyman books and characteristics which I shall be mentioning again in the future).

From experience I know that what may seem clear to the writer - because they know what they're trying to say - can be badly expressed in print precisely because the writer knows this and therefore doesn't take sufficient care to make sure that what they've written actually says what they wanted to say!

It's one reason why you need somebody else to go through the MS and raise questions like this. With Everyman this doesn't seem to happen. (I'll let Martin go through R&C and spot the variation where they say "Black" when they mean "White"!)

Anonymous said...

You're right, it is sloppy and if
I had a pound for every false "black" "white" substitution I'd found in chess books I'd give up on the Lottery... (Martin)

Tom Chivers said...

You must have a lot of chess books then Martin! Do you really do the lottery?

Anonymous said...

Alas, too many chess books....and I don't mind funding good causes or even sport through the Lottery -maybe chess will be one of them! (Martin)