Reinfeld Reissued!

This review has been printed in the August 2014 issue of the British Chess Magazine.  A penultimate version of the review is reproduced here.  My thanks to the good folks at BCM for allowing me to do so.

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Reinfeld, Fred. 1001 Brilliant Ways to Checkmate: 21st Century Edition. Translated into algebraic notation by Bruce Alberston. Milford: Russell Enterprises, 2014 (1955). PB, 224pp. ISBN 978-1936490820. List $19.95, currently $16ish at Amazon.

Reinfeld, Fred. 1001 Winning Chess Sacrifices and Combinations: 21st Century Edition. Translated into algebraic notation by Bruce Alberston. Milford: Russell Enterprises, 2014 (1955). PB, 240pp. ISBN 978-1936490875. List $19.95, currently $16ish at Amazon.

Fred Reinfeld (1910-1964) was also one of the most prolific authors in history, having written hundreds of books on topics ranging from numismatics to philately to science. He was best known, however, for his many books on chess. Reinfeld wrote fine biographical works on many of the major players of his day alongside dozens of elementary texts and primers. His two most famous books are the two currently under review, with new algebraic editions of these classics just out from Russell Enterprises.

1001 Brilliant Ways to Checkmate and 1001 Winning Chess Sacrifices and Combinations are, as their titles suggest, collections of tactical problems for solving. These books were fantastically popular with American players of a certain age, and both titles went through dozens of printings over the years. Now Bruce Alberston has converted both books from descriptive notation to algebraic, making them available once more for a new generation who never learned to read descriptive.

1001 Brilliant Ways to Checkmate consists of eight chapters of problems, beginning with queen sacrifices, moving through some typical mating attacks, and ending with a selection of mate-in-n compositions. 1001 Winning Chess Sacrifices and Combinations is (literally) the prototypical tactics workbook, with puzzles broken down by tactical motif into twenty chapters. Both books tend to put easier problems towards the beginning of a section, but the difficulty can range dramatically from problem to problem.

Unlike other authors in the Russell Enterprises stable, Alberston has resisted the temptation to ‘correct’ Reinfeld’s analysis with the help of the modern computer. This decision has both pros and cons attached to it. On the one hand, the books are rather faithful renderings of classic works; on the other, some of Reinfeld’s solutions are less than accurate. The design of these new editions resembles the originals, but all the text and diagrams have been reset in modern fonts, improving the books immensely.

If pressed, I would say that 1001 Winning Chess Sacrifices and Combinations is the better book of the two. The sorting of problems by motif is useful for the player learning the basic grammar of chess tactics. Both, however, can be recommended to players rated from 1200-2000, with 1001 Brilliant Ways to Checkmate skewing slightly to the lower end of that range.

The author was an American master.

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One thought on “Reinfeld Reissued!

  1. GeneM

    In June I also published to the web my own review of these updated Reinfeld puzzle books. The review can be found at the following Http addresses:

    http://www.castlelong.com/essay/Essay-FredReinfeld-Updated2014-1001WCSaC-Review-by-GeneM-20140627.shtml

    http://www.chesspub.com/cgi-bin/chess/YaBB.pl?num=1403852688

    Naturally in the pre-Fritz era some of Reinfeld’s solutions are wrong. I can easily see value in retaining Reinfeld’s incorrect original solutions. But I do not feel any downside would have been suffered if Alberston had added corrections after the flawed solutions.

    I am unsure, but I think the Amazon Kindle edition of Alberston’s update has a touchable link from every problem to its corresponding solution near the end of the Kindle file. I do not know but i can only assume that each solution has a link back to the puzzle diagram. I am unsure whether the person reading the Kindle edition can see the diagram with the solution on the same screen, or whether he is forced to flip back and forth.
    For an excellent example of how to smartly design the layout of a chess puzzle book on the Kindle format, see John Nunn’s book 1001 Deadly Checkmates.

    Thank you. GeneM. 2014-08-19.

    Reply

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