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I have a chess book which I find great in terms of tone, formatting, etc., but the computer does not agree with some variations I gave it.

How much has chess changed since 1977? I imagine the rise of the computers (and computer chess) the last couple of decades had quite some impact. Is my book (published in 1977) still worth reading?

I'd like to know before I buy the other books of the series.

Addendum
The series in question is "praktische schaaklessen" (practical chess lessons) by Euwe. The book I have is on opening theory, but the other parts are on the other aspects and stages of the game (it's a six book series).

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This depends on a lot of things, but most importantly: your playing level and the topic.

For example, if it is an opening book, it heavily depends on the opening. Some opening variations which are main stream today, didn't even exist in the seventies, or were rarely used (like the Berlin Wall in Ruy Lopez). Others haven't seen that much development (QGD, and offbeat openings like the King's Gambit).

Middlegame & strategy books usually last longer; Nimzowitsch' Mein System is 90 years old but still a useful read. The same is true for endgame books, with one notable exception (which doesn't appear that often in practice): endgame tablebases have completely changed the view on certain endgames like K+Q vs. K+B+B (thought to be a draw, now known to be a win for the Q) and K+Q vs. K+N+N (the other way around).

If you are a <2200 player (like me), you shouldn't worry too much about computer evaluations. Though it is a very good practice to analyse the lines given by the books, so kudos for that.

  • "If you are a <2200 player (like me), you shouldn't worry too much about computer evaluations." I agree, though they can still be useful. If you're sitting there with your book and board and you can't understand why the author a position or variation the way they do (especially if you think you have a move that busts it), checking with the computer is really helpful: authors do occasionally make mistakes. If author and computer agree, try harder to understand the position; if they disagree, probably don't worry about it too much. – David Richerby Sep 26 '15 at 10:14
  • @DavidRicherby sort of. It depends how deep the evaluation is. Usually at our level (yes, I've improved A LOT) we've got better "at a glance heuristics" than a machine, I actually have some old electronic chess boards and I actually rely on fooling them into thinking "yes that'll be good in 8 moves" not realising that the 10th is death. – Alec Teal Sep 26 '15 at 20:07
  • @AlecTeal OK but I was assuming the computer in question to be a reasonably modern program on a general-purpose computer, not an old electronic chess board. – David Richerby Sep 26 '15 at 20:28
  • @DavidRicherby in that case the likes of us should defer to them entirely. There is literally no way they are wrong. – Alec Teal Sep 26 '15 at 20:29
  • Whats Berlin Wall??? – ferit Jan 1 '16 at 1:08
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Well, Aaron Nimzowitsch wrote a book called "My System" in the late 1920's, and it's still worth reading today, so just because a book is old doesn't mean it's bad.

It's hard to say whether a book has stood the test of time just knowing what year it was published, but one thing is for sure: many lines can be faulty, as computers were not used to verify lines as they are today back in 1977.

If you find the book enjoyable, I would say it's worth reading. The given variations may contain some errors, but ultimately there might be some things to gain from reading it. The only exception is if it's a book on specific opening theory. Opening theory has changed quite a lot, and many main lines played in 1977 are not main lines anymore. In that case it's better to look for more up-to-date sources of information.

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Which book? Assuming a Grandmaster wrote it... Well, here are the names of some Grandmasters from the 1970s:

I think those men, and men like those men, still have the ability to impart lessons.

If you can stand descriptive notation, books from the 1970s can still teach. And chances are, there are addenda on the web that call out faulty variations.

So it depends on the price. If these are US$30 each, and you are interested only in chess value (not the look/feel of the old tome) then perhaps a modern book is more cost effective.

  • Thank you for your answer. The book in question is from the series "praktische schaaklessen" (Dutch for "practical chess lessons") by Euwe. – 11684 Sep 26 '15 at 8:52
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The computer finding a better line does NOT mean the given line is bad.

If it was good enough for Euwe it's good enough for you :-)

For a kid whose realistic goal is to be a GM someday this might be bad advice. But I suspect that isn't you.

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