Monday, August 13, 2012

Sixty Memorable Annotations

#11: Errattta

Were White to play, he would immediately draw after 1 Kg3 and 2 h3.

Jesus de la Villa, 100 Endgames You Must Know (2nd Edition: New in Chess, 2009)

Mistakes. We all make them. No biggie. What matters is what comes next. How to put things right? That's the question.

Correcting a mistake is very obviously A Good Thing, but all you achieve is the sorting out of one problem. Fixing the process that lead to things going pear-shaped, on the other hand, makes it possible to avoid an infinite number of future headaches.

The ECF's summary time-line for the FIDE legals means we now have more known knowns and is therefore something to be welcomed. Questions are still being asked, however, not only for the simple reason that there are still questions to be asked - 'how did Kasparov come to believe that the ECF President had given him "oral authority" to proceed?' is not the least important of them - but also because the statement doesn't address key structural issues around how the Federation does or does not hold its officials to account. There's no reason why it should have done, no doubt it was never intended to, still it is to be hoped that the ECF will see their report as a starting point from which they can start drawing some larger circles.

All this talk of making things good reminds me that I'm indebted to EJH for bringing the New in Chess Errata page to my attention. They certainly deserve credit for it although, at the same time, I do wonder about the process that allows a publishing house to produce quite so many books that drop quite so many clangers.

If you write anything at any level then typos, homophones and other types of silly error will be a problem. That it's as true for me as it is for anybody else is proved by Seani, our invisible blogger, kindly pointing out mistakes in both of my two most recent posts. Since my words appear on the internet, however, I at least have the advantage of being able to fix things as I go along.

Where bloggers are disadvantaged, and rightly so, is that our writing generates no income. If it did, though, I would use some of it to pay somebody to proofread for me. I gather that some chess publishers have decided that they either can't or won't employ people to check their books any more. That doesn't seem to be the case at New in Chess and yet even very good books, de la Villa's 100 Endgames You Must Know for example, are published full of mistakes.

NiC have two corrections listed for de la Villa's book. The position at the head of today's blog is not one of them. I was on a train heading home from Ipswich when I first saw it. I remember reading what JdlV said, thinking "Really?" and pulling a pencil from my pocket to scribble a few notes in the margin.

Clearly after 1 Kg3 Kg5 (what else?), 2 h3 gxh3, 3 Kxh3 Kf4, 4 Kg2 Ke3, 5 Kf1 Kxd3, 6 Ke1 Kc2 Black wins easily. White can draw after 1 Kg3 Kg5 as it happens, but certainly not by pushing his h-pawn.

If it was just this one mistake I probably wouldn't bother to mention it, but reading the book I found 19 in all. Credit to New in Chess for encouraging people to let them know when they find mistakes, then, but let's also hope that at some point they'll have a think about how it is that so many appear in the first place. Any processes that they have in place to stop this sort of thing happening are clearly not working.

Anyhoo, I'm off to email Before I go, let me ask you for a favour. If you happen to spot something amiss in today's or any other post please do let me know. Not errattta, that was my little joke, but anything else and I'll be very glad to hear from you.

Sixty Memorable Annotations Index

100 Endgames You Must Know (2nd Edition)
Jesus de la Villa (New in Chess, 2009)


1. Page 63
Position 4.7
“2” is printed on g6 and e7.

The number should be “1”. As stated on the following page, “… the stronger side’s king must be one step away from the two key squares ….”

2. Page 73

The first of three diagrams
“Draw, no matter who moves. Underpromotion to a knight. With the rook on h1, White wins (just count).”

Counting or otherwise, White only wins if s/he has the move. Black to move draws with 1 … c3!

3. Page 94
Position after 4 Bh6!
“… victory comes easily, since White cannot offer the bishop exchange without obstructing his pawn ….”

The note should read “ … since White can offer ….”

4. Page 109
“When the two pawns are on the 5th rank or further up, if the defending side reaches the right defensive set-up, the ending is drawn.”

De la Villa shows on page 105/106 that two pawns on the sixth rank is usually won. The text should read, “… on the 5th rank or further back …”

5. Page 112

Diagram given as Position 9.1

It should be labelled as Position 9.10

6. Page 127
Section heading
“Section 2. Pawn on the 5th rank or less”

Should read, “… on the 5th rank or further

7. Page 134

Note to 1 Kd6+!, second to last sentence.
After the variation 1 Ra1? Rb7+!, 2 Kd8 Rb8+!, 3 Kc7 Rb2 the text reads, “The pawn needs one tempo to reach the 7th rank, so the black rook seizes the opportunity to recover distant effectiveness and save the game, as we will see in Ending 54.”

This should read, “ … recover distant effectiveness and save the game, as we saw in Ending 54.” (This is a note to Ending 58. Ending 54 is examined on page 127/128).

8. Page 145
Note to 5 … Kg4 =
“White has to allow … Kf5 or suffer checks from the black rook.”

… Kf5 is illegal (White pawn on e4). The note should read, “ … allow … Kf4 or ….” [I know this looks like it's wrong too, but if you have the book you'll know what I mean - JMGB].

9. Page 154
Note to 2 … Rg4!
“Dvoretsky considers 2 … Rg1?! losing, on account of 3 Kc6! … but in this line 3 … Rc8! holds.”

3 … Rc8 would draw, but is obviously illegal. The note should read, “… in this line 3 … Kc8! holds.”

10. Page 159
Middle Diagram of the first set of three
The label reads “White wins” and the following text runs, “If you check the winning method studied for the first position and the variation commented on the 7th move ….”

There is no variation on the 7th move, the text should read, “ … and the variation commented on the 6th move ….” (assuming you want to leave the text as it is).

The diagram label should read “White to move wins, Black to move draws” (…Rg1+! =)

11. Page 160
First Diagram
The position is labelled as a “draw”.

The label should read, “White to move wins, Black to move draws”. (… Rg1+! =).

12. Page 160
Third Diagram
The position is labelled as a “draw”

The label should read “White wins whoever is to move”.

13. Page 160
The fourth sentence of the text following the diagrams

“This resource does not work in the second position, as White can simply answer 2 f5, ignoring the threat on his h-pawn.”

This should read, “… simply answer 3 f5 ….”

14. Page 160
The final sentence of the same passage reads, “If the h-pawn has not reached the 5th rank, the defence works again.”

This clearly refers to the third diagram, incorrectly labelled as a draw (see 12, above).

In fact from the third diagram after 1 … Rg1+, 2 Kf6 Rh1, White has four moves that win. It is true, however, that 2 … Rg4 would draw for Black. Nevertheless, 2 Kf5 wins for White.

15. Page 167
Text after 10 … Rb2+=
“We can observe that, if the second white pawn was on the h-file, White could not win either. Not even if White had doubled pawns on the h-file. In those cases, the pawn stuck on the 7th rank could be on any other file.”

The context implies that only in the case of an h-pawn can the pawn on the 7th rank be “on any other file.” In fact this is also true with a g-pawn as in the game. [NB: it is not possible to check a 6-piece Tablebase as to whether Black can draw with doubled pawns on the g-file too. I wouldn’t take my word for it either way]

16. Page 168
Note to 6 Kf4
“As soon as White pushes the a-pawn one step further, the black rook will be transferred to the rear of the pawn and we will reach Ending 76.”

Infinite loop! This is Ending 76. The text should read, “ … will reach Ending 75.”

17. Page 170
Analysis to 5 … Ka6!
5 … Kb8, 6 Kc6 Kc8 7 b7+ Kb8 8 Kc5! is given followed by, “… 8 b5 looks logical and would lead to an easy win in the case of a central or bishop’s pawn, but not here: 8 … Ka7 and anyway White has to give up the more advanced pawn, because 9 Kc7?? is stalemate.”

This is true enough, but 8 … Ka7, 9 b8=Q Kxb8, 10 Kb6 is a trivial win for a knight’s pawn too, as shown by de la Villa himself on page 34. In fact, 8 b5 leads to mate in 16 compared to mate in 20 for the suggested 8 Kc5.

18. Page 174
Text (referring to Position 12.6 on page 173) reads, “Were White to play, he would immediately draw after 1 Kg3 and 2 h3.”

In fact, after 1 Kg3 Kg5 (the only plausible move), 2 h3 gxh3 Black wins (mate in 17) although 2 Kf2 does draw. As given, the text would only really make sense if it was something like, "Give White two moves and he would immediately draw after 1 Kg3 and 2 h3."

19. Page 201

Heading: “Pawn majority on one wing, doubled pawn on the other”

This should read “ … doubled pawns on the same side.”


Jonathan B said...

After writing this post I found #20. I'll edit the post to add it in when I get a moment.

AngusF said...

A few more:

P61 (Ending 17 - Queen vs. 7th-rank rook’s pawn)

Position 4.4 (8/6KP/8/4k3/3q4/8/8/8 b - -) is chosen to illustrate two standard procedures for winning – one produces an obviously won position after Black’s fourth move and the other after Black’s fifth move. Perhaps a different position should be chosen as Black can achieve a won position more quickly viz.: 1 ... Kf5+ 2 Kg8 (otherwise Black plays 2 ... Qh8, occupying the square in front of the White pawn) 2 ... Kg6 3 h8=Q (other promotions don’t help and Kf8 loses the h7 pawn) 3 ... Qd8 mate

P79 (Chapter 5 - Rook vs. pawn; Ending 27 – The rook’s pawn. Pushing from the rear)

Above position 5.12 there is a reference to position 5.4. I think the reference should be to position 5.12.

P113 (Chapter 9 - Opposite coloured bishops: Bishop + 2 pawns vs. Bishop; Ending 46 – Pawns separated by two files)

The conclusion box states: “The bishop’s pawns (c- and f-files) win unless the position belongs to the second draw scenario”. The reference should be to the third draw scenario (in which the bishop restrains both pawns along the same single diagonal; the second scenario, on the other hand, concerns positions where two pawns are separated by one file).

P129 (Chapter 10 – Rook + pawn vs. rook; Position 56 – Central pawns. Kling and Howitz defensive technique).

I think it would be useful to add the text ‘or bishop’ to the title after ‘Central’ and before ‘pawns’ – since, of, course, the technique applies to both central pawns and to bishop pawns.


In general, I think the text descriptions in the book leave something to be desired – presumably it hasn’t been very well translated from the Spanish edition of the book.

That said, it’s one of my favourite chess books. I like the selection of the positions. I like the way the author takes the trouble to describe and break down the winning or drawing techniques. I like the introduction which tells us, for example, why studying endings is important and provides some interesting statistics (one stat: in a database of 4 million games, 8% had a rook ending). I like the quizzes at the start and end of the book to assess initial and gained knowledge.

ejh said...

presumably it hasn’t been very well translated from the Spanish edition of the book.

I reviewed it for Kingpin, and I had originally intended in my review to make this point. I didn't, in the end, because I wasn't satisfied that the examples I chose were bad enough to complain about. Or, to put it another way, that in fact the standard of English was really quite good given that the translator didn't seem to be a native English speaker*. So in a way I thought they'd done reasonably well, or at least I couldn't properly illustrate my case if I thought they hadn't, and so I left it. (At least I think I did. I don't have the review in front of me.)

Nevertheless, it wasn't quite adequate. Translating is a hard thing to do - I'm in a position to know this. But you really have to have somebody who knows really well the language into which you are translating, almost always a native speaker, or you're not going to do it properly. Naturally you have to know the original language as well. But a translation needs to read as if it were not a translation.

Many don't, even of famous novels - I've had to put aside translations of The Idiot and Madame Bovary because I thought them unreadable.

[*I say they didn't seem to be a native English speaker. Obviously one can't tell that from the name, but one can surmise it from their use of the language. If they were a native English speaker, then it was a pretty poor translation. ]

Jonathan B said...

Thanks Angus.

My #20 was the one you also noticed on page 113.

Like you, I also like the book very much. I hope nobody reading this will be put off buying it because of all these mistakes - it's good enough to survive them.

What it has done, however, is to make me very wary about buying any other New in Chess books in the future. Not that I wouldn't in any circumstances, I'll just make sure there aren't too mistakes in them before I splash the cash.

Timman's Study book, for example, I won't be going anywhere near. That's one lost sale for NiC.

I also thought the translation was rather poor. Either that or the original text was abysmal.

John Cox said...

Blimey, what on earth have you got against Timman's study book? It's fantastic.

Ra8 Ps a7 g2 g3 Kf2 -v- Ra1 Kg7 is definitely also a draw, by the way, if that was your point higher up.

Jonathan B said...

I'm sure I'd love it, John, but I'm predisposed to assume that the diagram must have a printing error anyway - see, e.g, The Penarth Pier Problem - when I know that there are actually loads of mistakes I think it would drive me mad. The NiC errata page lists more than a dozen mistakes. Even if I corrected them all myself I'd always be worried there was another one.

I'll wait for the second edition, I think.

Jonathan B said...

Oh, and thanks for the confirmation re: the rook's pawn on the 7th and doubled g-pawn result.

AngusF said...

The mistake I identified on page 79 (in my earlier comment) was a figment of my imagination.

Jonathan B said...

Credit to NiC: they've updated their errata page now.