As the first edition of Edward Laskcr's CHESS STRATEGY was exhausted within a comparatively short time of its appearance, the author set himself the task of altering and improving the work to such an extent that it became to all intents and purposes a new book. I had the privilege of co-operating with him to a slight degree on that second edition, and was in consequence able to appreciate the tremendous amount of work he voluntarily took upon himself to do; I say voluntarily, because his publishers, anxious to supply the strong demand for the book, wished to reprint it as it stood.
A little later I undertook to translate this second edition into English for Messrs. Bell & Sons. Only a few months had elapsed, the tournaments at Petrograd, Chester, and Mannheim had taken place, several new discoveries had been made, and it is the greatest testimony to Edward Lasker's indefatigable devotion to the Art of Chess that I am able to say that this is not a translation of the second edition, but of what is practically a new book. It contains a new preface, a chapter for beginners, a new introduction, new variations. Furthermore, a large number of new games have taken the place of old ones.
I have no doubt that any chess player who will take the trouble to study CHESS STRATEGY will spend many a pleasurable hour. Incidentally new vistas will be opened to him, and his playing strength increased to a surprising degree.
The author says in his preface that he appeals to the intelligence and not the memory of his readers. In my opinion, too, the student should above all try to improve his judgment of position.
Than the playing over of games contested by experts I can hardly imagine a greater or purer form of enjoyment. Yet I must at the outset sound a note of warning against its being done superficially, and with a feverish expectation of something happening. Every move or combination of moves should be carefully weighed, and the student should draw his own conclusions and compare them with what actually happens in the game under examination.
This applies particularly to some of the critical positions set out in diagrams in the course of the exposition of the several games.
The reader would derive the greatest possible benefit from a prolonged study of such positions before seeking to know how the games proceed. After having formed his own opinion about the merits of a particular position, he should compare the result with the sequel in the game in question, and thus find out where his judgment has been at fault.
The deeper study of the theory of the openings is of course a necessity to the student who wishes to become an expert, but the development of his judgment must precede it. To him Griffith & White's admirable book, Modem Chess Openings, will be a perfect mine of information. There are thousands of variations, and in most of them the actual game in which they were first tried by masters is named, thus adding to the interest and value of the work.
I must not omit to mention the invaluable help afforded me by my friend Mr. John Hart, to whom my warmest thanks are due.
JULIUS DU MONT.
THE large majority of chess players who would like to improve their game, have not the necessary opportunity of pitting themselves against players of master-strength, or at least of obtaining the desired instruction from personal intercourse with them. It is for such players that the present work is intended. The books on which the learner has to rely hardly ever serve his purpose, being mostly little more than a disjointed tabulation of numberless opening variations, which cannot be understood without preliminary studies, and consequently only make for confusion. In the end the connection between the various lines of play may become clear, after the student has made an exhaustive study of the subject, but very few would have either the time or the inclination for such prolonged labour.
Therefore another shorter and less empirical way must be found in which to acquire the understanding of sound play. My system of teaching differs from the usual ones, in that it sets down at the outset definite elementary principles of chess strategy by which any move can be gauged at its true value, thus enabling the learner to form his own judgment as to the manoeuvres under consideration. In my opinion it is absolutely ESSENTIAL to follow such strategical principles, and I go so far as to assert that such principles are in themselves SUFFICIENT for the development and conduct of a correct game of chess.
Even though instruction in chess is possible on very general lines alone, yet I think it advisable and indeed necessary to explain the application of such principles to the various phases of each game of chess. Otherwise the learner might unduly delay his progress, and lose valuable time in finding out for himself certain essentials that could more profitably be pointed out to him.
With regard to the way in which I have arranged my subject and the form of its exposition in detail, I have thought out the following plan.
After discussing at length the leading principles underlying sound play, I have first treated of the OPENINGS, in which such principles are of even more deciding influence than in any other stage of the game, as far as could be done on broad lines without having to pay attention to middle and end-game considerations.
I proceeded as follows, by taking as my starting-point the "pawn skeleton" which is formed in the opening, and round which the pieces should group themselves in logical fashion. As a consequence of the pawns having so little mobility, this "pawn skeleton" often preserves its shape right into the end-game. Applying the general strategical principles to the formation of the pawn skeleton, the learner acquires the understanding of the leading idea underlying each opening without having to burden his memory. Not only that, he will also be able to find a correct plan of development when confronted with unusual forms of opening.
The most important result of this system of teaching is that the learner does not lose his way in a maze of detail, but has in view at the very outset, the goal which the many possible variations of the openings are intended to reach.
Before I could proceed to the discussion of the middle game, I found it necessary to treat of the principles governing the END- GAME. For in most cases play in the middle game is influenced by end-game considerations. Here also it has been my endeavour as far as possible to reduce my subject to such principles as are generally applicable.
Finally, as regards the MIDDLE GAME, to which the whole of Part II is devoted, I have again made the handling of pawns, the hardest of all problems of strategy, the starting-point for my deliberations. I have shown at length how the various plans initiated by the various openings should be developed further. To ensure a thorough understanding of the middle game, I have given a large number of games taken from master play, with numerous and extensive notes. Thus the student has not to rely only on examples taken haphazard from their context, but he will at the same time see how middle-game positions, which give opportunities for special forms of attack, are evolved from the opening.
It has been my desire to make the subject easily understandable and at the same time entertaining, and to appeal less to the memory of my readers than to their common sense and intelligence. I hope in that way not to have strayed too far from the ideal I had in mind when writing this book, namely, to apply to chess the only method of teaching which has proved productive in all branches of science and art, that is, the education of individual thought.
If I have succeeded in this, I shall have the satisfaction of having contributed a little to the furthering, in the wide circles in which it is played, of the game which undoubtedly makes the strongest appeal to the intellect.