Review of Sharp Endgames by Lund and the Forward Chess App
If, like me, you may have taken a brief look at the Foreward Chess app in the past and then set it aside you may want to go back for a closer view.
I used the app briefly for a review I wrote several years back for the now defunct ChessCafe. I thought that it was interesting, but not overly functional, especially on an iPhone.
While the truth is that the reader would still be best served using an iPad instead of an iPhone, the reality is that the app has come along by leaps and bounds and deserves another chance.
So when I was offered the chance to read Esben Lund's new book Sharp Endgames using the app I decided to see what may have changed over the years.
The most pleasant surprise I received is that now when you click on one of the blue diagrams it pops open in a separate window for viewing, which is considerably larger.
This allows great ease of use.
You can see what I mean by the above images.
Now, on to the book itself.
As promised in the title, this book covers non-theoretical endgames, which is to say endings where a lot of calculation and precision is required.
After introductory chapters in which the author walks the reader through concrete tools to be used in the decision-making process the author gives several chapters covering various types of endings.
- Knight Endgames (including knight versus pawn)
- Rook Endgames (including rook versus pawn)
- Bishop versus Knight Endgames
- Rook vs Minor Piece Endgames (exchange up)
- Queen Endgames
Following these chapters there are 39 exercises given as the main exercises (there are also chapters giving extra exercises and even exercises from other books Lund has written) which show not only the position and the game it's from, but also lists a degree of difficulty and a recommended solving time.
This reviewer would like to impart the advice to readers that it's probably better to spend more time solving the exercise than is allotted if you have not quite discovered the solution when time is up.
The extra exercises chapter gives two types of extra exercises, both built on the theme of the main exercise. The first type is the "alternative try" exercise in which you can explore a similar path as in the main exercise in order to exhaust the possibilities within the puzzles.
The second type is what the author calls the "turn the board around" type. Anyone familiar with a program such as CT ART and it's "counterplay" function will have spent time solving like this already.
I should point out that in the chapter covering exercises from other books written by Lund, the positions themselves are not given, only the page and relevant details. So the reader would need to own those other books (see what they did there!) in order to get the most out of this section.
Nevertheless, I found that to be a wholly unique idea and one that I would not be surprised to see other authors copy in the future.
Another quite unique feature of this book is that it does include a chapter on how to set up positions in Komodo 10 for training purposes. While I don't use Komodo, I think that this idea in general is another one that will hopefully catch on with other writers and publishers.
Overall I have to say that the quality of this book is quite high, which should surprise no one coming as it does from Quality Chess, far and away the leading publisher of high level material today.
I would caution players under a rating of say 1600 from spending too much time with this book unless they are willing to work extremely hard.
I also showed some of the material in the book to quite strong professional players and their opinion was that titled players would get quite a lot out of this book as well.
As far as the app itself, anyone stands to benefit from using it, and I can personally attest that it's great on a plane!
Best Chess to You,