‘Exploration in Chess Beauty’ by Andras Toth

21 May 2012 | by Peter Wong

IM Andras Toth, originally from Hungary but now an Australian resident, has published his first book, Exploration in Chess Beauty. This volume examines the feature of the game that perhaps draws us most to it, that of artistic and beautiful play. All important facets of the game where beauty can arise are expertly covered, from practical play to endgame studies and composed problems. Andras introduces these various fields in an accessible way, without recourse to jargon and excessive analysis. There are eight chapters, each dealing with a broad theme, such as “The tricky knight” and “Fortress”, or a genre, such as “The beauty of compositions – the joy of solving” which focuses on directmates, and “Games of the century – Our own masterpieces”, a selection of the author's most attractive games.

Andras has put together a very entertaining anthology, with a nice balance of material from the different types of chess art. From the problemist's perspective, I particularly enjoyed the chapter on helpmates from Hungary, a country that boasts some of the greatest composers of that genre. Another fun chapter, “Secrets of the starting position”, features puzzles in which you construct a game to fulfil certain conditions (e.g. find the game that begins with 1.e4 and ends with 5…Sxh1 mate – this is quite challenging!). In selecting works for this book, Andras aims mostly for those that are unlikely to be familiar to the reader, and I recognised just a few famous problems that are cited. My only quibble is that a few gremlins have crept in, but they are minor errors. Overall this is an engagingly written book, filled with examples of eye-catching play.

A. Herbstman & L. Kubbel
Troitzky Tourney 1937, 1st Prize

White to play and draw

Here are two such compositions from the collection. The study has a wonderful number of thematic variations. After 1.Sg1!, Black avoids promoting to a queen as it would allow a fork. 1…Se3+ (1…Sf4+ 2.Kh1 e1=S 3.Sf3+ Sxf3=) 2.Kh3 Sf4+ (2…e1=S 3.Sf3+ Sxf3=) 3.Kh2 Sg4+ 4.Kh1 Sf2+ (4…e1=Q=, or 4…e1=S 5.Sf3+ Sxf3=) 5.Kh2 e1=S. Three knights vs one knight is normally a win, but 6.Sf3+! Sxf3+ 7.Kg3 Ke3=. Five stalemating positions appear in different lines, and the best one is saved for last!

H. Wittwer
Olympic Tourney 1936, 1st Prize

Mate in 3

The three-mover begins with a startling key, 1.c8=S! (threat: 2.Sg5 mate). The choice of a knight promotion has an original motivation, revealed after 1...Ke4, when only 2.Sa7! works. The sole purpose of this move is to clear the c8-square and so threaten the battery mate 3.Rc8 – any other promotee on c8 would have been trapped. 2…Kf3 or Sd4 3.Sg5, 2…Se3 3.f3, and 1…Bh6 2.Sg5+ Bxg5 3.Rg6.

Exploration in Chess Beauty is available both as an e-book from iTunes and as a hard copy. The e-book version (see the e+books.com review) enables you to play through the positions without the need of a chess set. The print edition can be purchased for AU$33.00 from Andras Toth (atothfadd{at}yahoo.com), or from info{at}sydneyacademyofchess.com.au (the latter is more convenient for NSW customers).