Reviews | September 05, 2013 12:50

Review: Best Play

Some of you might remember my review of Viktor Moskalenko’s controversial book Revolutionize your chess!. Already back then, some readers pointed out a similar method for ‘discovering the strongest move’ by the Russian master Alexander Shashin. Now, Shashin has published his theories in English, and many readers have asked me what I think of his work.

Let me start by saying that in general I do not like books that claim to have found a ‘universal method’ for whatever – be it chess, losing weight, dealing with relationships, or educating your kids. These books never deliver what they promise, because if they did, the scientific world would confirm them, everybody would adopt them, everybody would be happy and the authors would be billionaires (sometimes, the latter does happen). 

So it was with great skepticism that I started reading Alexander Shashin’s Best Play – A New Method For Discovering The Strongest Move, published by Mongoose Press. My first question was: who is this Alexander Shashin, anyway? Not because I believe in the fallacy of the argument from authority, but because, well, I had simply never heard of him. Unfortunately, the book’s back cover only informs us that “Alexander Shashin is a chess theoretician and author in St. Petersburg, Russia, where he trains young international players.”

More promising was Alexander Morozevich’s foreword, in which the Russian super-GM writes of the physicist Shashin that “despite nearly a half century of work in the field of chess, [he] remains unknown to most chess fans, not only around the world, but even in Russia. Remarkably modest by nature, he never sought fame or any increase in his sphere of influence, and he practically never gave interviews. It is not surprising that, for most people who had at least heard of him, he is viewed as a sort of hermit who became somewhat known to the public only thanks to the publication of particular articles on the website ‘e3-e5’ and to previews of this book on the ‘bs-chess’ site.”

This is intriguing, though hardly a guarantee to success. In my own level of expertise –linguistics - there are dozens of well-known cases where so-called ‘recluses’ and ‘amateurs’ have claimed to have deciphered the infamous Phaistos Disc of Crete or the Rongorongo script of Easter Island. Although so far each and every one of these decipherments have been proven wrong, this hasn’t stopped people from trying. Andrew Robinson, author of  Lost Languages (2002) which I can warmly recommend to those who are interested in this topic, has suggested to “put each would-be decipherer in touch with another one” as an interesting and amusing experiment.

The same could be suggested of chess authors claiming to have ‘cracked’ the code of chess, or to play chess well. We could put Moskalenko in touch with Shashin, or Adorjan in touch with Kasparov, or have them argue over whether Lasker, or Steinitz, or Kotov were right, and why…

But let’s not get carried away. Morozevich himself modestly writes in his Foreword that “…even in our super-advanced computer age the chief secret of chess as it is played – the search for an algorithm for finding the best move – is still unresolved. Many people forget this. And along with that, it is still beyond the scope of the chess-reading public’s interest. Moving from the 6-piece tablebase to the 7-piece one in parallel with the further endless plunge into the opening jungle – practically speaking, that’s all that chessplayers concern themselves with nowadays.”

There’s a reason I chose to quote so lengthily from the Foreword, as in my view Morozevich’s sensible words strongly constrast Shashin’s own self-confident tone of voice throughout his book. In the introduction, Shashin claims that “by studying [this manual], you will learn an original protocol for identifying the strongest move in any position, one which has nothing in common with traditional techniques.”

This is quite a statement – and it gets better. Here’s how Chapter 1 begins:

“Our ultimate goal in chess, which we will resolutely pursue throughout Part I, is a universal method for discovering the strongest chess move. More than that, a method that works in all possible chess positions, without exception. In all of them! Without a doubt, we will achieve this goal. This will happen at the very end of the first part of the book, in its sixth chapter.”

Strong words indeed! Moskalenko‘s Introduction to Revolutionize Your Chess, in which he asserted that “famous chess researchers have developed various systems which have been universally accepted in the chess world. But these systems are highly theoretical and often not very realistic. We need a modern, dynamic system. And I intend to offer you one in the present book” suddenly sound reasonable and modest.

I don’t want to dwell on the tone an author adopts in his books, but I do like to point out, as I did with Moskalenko, that extraordinary claims require strong evidence. And Shashin’s claim certainly suggests that his method would also allow us to find, for example, the best move (sequence) in this position:

PGN string

Mate in 262 moves (Stiller, 1991)

Surely this is not what Shashin had in mind, but it is interesting that Best Play seems to focus on middlegame positions mainly though this is not explicitly stated as a limitation. It is also interesting that Morozevich seems to have realized this but Shashin couldn’t be bothered to nuance his position.  Or does he? At various points in the book he does acknowledge that chess is more complex than a couple of basic rules or algorithms (to which I’ll come to in a minute) can convey. Then he speaks of “a miracle”, asserts that “perfect formulations on the whole do not exist” or that:

“An exact ‘formula’ for the beautiful does not exist. It doesn’t, and it can’t, because the world around us is boundless in its manifestations. Nor will an exact, all-encompassing model for playing chess ever come to be, because chess is practically inexhaustible. And that means that, for us chess-players, our game will be an endless source of delight.” (p.198)

True words, I guess, but then why go through all the trouble of introducing a method that’s so complex for the general reader that even trying to grasp all its subtleties gives one a headache? A method which introduces numbers with two decimals and mathematical symbols for delta, greater and smaller than, and various arrows?

To keep things (relatively) simple, let’s start with Shashin’s “five parameters” which are represented in his “Algorithm Drift Chart And the Search for the Strongest Move” in Chapter 6:

  1. The material factor of a chess position, and the parameter “m”
  2. The fact of chess time, and the parameter “t”
  3. The factor of safety in a chess position, and its parameter
  4. The factor of the compactness of a chess position and the parameter (delta) k
  5. The factor of spatial expansion and its parameter (delta) move.

This, by the way, is not unlike Moskalenko’s ‘Five touchstones of dynamic chess’ (which are Material, Development, Placement of pieces and pawns, King’s position and Time). For a more detailed discussion on the relationship between these elements and its historic development in the history of chess, I refer to my review of Moskalenko’s book. What I find disappointing in Shashin’s book, even more so than in Moskalenko’s, is the complete lack of any link back to older theories on this topic. No bibliography is present.

To be fair, Shashin does present his material in an appealing format. He introduces his ideas by showing games of Tal, Capablanca and Petrosian and linking the elements of his theory back to their respective playing styles (or a combination of them). Thus, the ‘Tal Algorithm’ is all about attacking and there are four elements to it:

  1. Open (one move) and direct (two move) attacks on our opponent’s material targets
  2. The optimal arrangement of our pieces on squares conducive to subsequent open or direct attacks on our opponent’s material chess target’s
  3. The sacrifice of chess material (we sacrifice material in order to increase the tempo of the attack)
  4. Winning chess material.

This all sounds obvious enough, but how does it work in practice? Here’s a glimpse of Shashin’s reasoning:

Tal-Milev
Munich (ol) 1958

PGN string

“In the diagram position, it is White to move – and we’re playing White. What have we got? We clearly have even material, and an obvious advantage in the time factor. Question: Why does White possess this obvious advantage in time? Answer: Because the white king, queen, bishop and knight are already developed: these pieces are already in action. (…) Therefore, we add 4 to our right to make the next move (1)!

Meanwhile, what does Black have? Black only has a bishop and the queen in the battle. Do you think that’s too little? Simple arithmetic: 4 + 1 -2 =3. White has three extra tempi. That’s a solid advantage, which impels us to active play. However, we must acknowledge that our arithmetic is quite crude: it doesn’t always hit the mark. Our calculation is but a rough approximation of the truth. Tempi are ‘rough and concrete’ (to quote the poet Mayakovsky). Truth lies in the arithmetic of the mobility of the chess pieces… So, how do things stack up in that regard?

We have 44/35 in favour of White, where 44 and 35 are the sums of the mobility of all the white pieces and all of the black pieces (…). This means that the factor of time in the current position does indeed impel us to take active measures! In addition, the safety factor also pushes us into action (…). It is more than obvious that Black has a”bad” king – he literally ‘attracts’ enemy pieces to himself.

Tal delays not for a second.

17.d5 A pawn sacrifice to pry open the e-file.

17…exd5 18.Rfe1 This move is not only fearless, but – I say – also correct. With this move, Tal brings the formerly inactive rook into the field of battle. The second and third point of the attacking algorithm (…) are at work, and we have harmony!  (…)”

It does sound attractive, doesn’t it? Just count the number of tempi, the mobility of the pieces, take safety and space into account and there you go – play like Tal! But is it really that simple? Whilst it is certainly useful to evaluate positions using these rough guidelines, how does one conclude from all this that 17.d5 is the right move? Why this? And why now? Why not wait another move? How can we tell? The answers to these questions just don’t follow from Shashin’s explanation – but they are, nevertheless, crucial.

Secondly, even if it could be shown from Shashin’s reasoning that 17.d5 is indeed the right move, we can safely assume that Shashin’s general considerations wouldn’t change much if we placed the Black queen on c8 – in fact, the ‘mobility’ of black’s pieces would be even less! And yet, with a black queen on c8, the move 17.d5 would be an obvious blunder because of the simple 17…cxd5!

It seems to me that the exact placement of the pieces often matters more than general characteristics – however useful these observations still may be for the general assessment of the position.  In other words, there is an element of chance in chess positions that Shashin seems largely oblivious of. (The chance element is especially clear in certain theoretical endgames, which may be one reason why Shashin doesn’t treat them in his book at all.)

It is not my intention in this review to show that Shashin’s method is useless, or flawed. In fact, I do think there is value in the way he introduces to evaluate positions. But there is a huge difference between evaluating a position correctly and distilling the correct move from it.

It would be interesting to test Shashin’s methods experimentally, by giving him, for instance, a position from a game between two club players and ask him to come up with the best move based on his own method. I couldn’t do it without serious study, for which I don’t have time – but it’s possible Shashin himself can. This would certainly reduce my suspicion that many of his comments are inevitably based on some kind of hindsight-bias (it’s easy to know 17.d5 is the correct move if you’ve seen the entire game, or if you have an engine running along).

Above, I have mentioned two basic points of criticism, and even though Shashin goes into more and more detail as the games flow from the pages, it doesn’t necessarily become clearer what he means. This is from the same chapter on Tal: 

Tal-Panno
Portoroz 1958

PGN string

“Let’s do an interim review of this truly uncompromising and gory encounter. The question is: how are we doing in terms of material? Answer: status quo! It’s easy to see that White has succeeded in losing a rook, a bishop, and the b-pawn. In those same four moves, though, he has acquired the black g7-pawn, plus the rook and the c4-knight. A combination? Yes, yes, yes! Beyond the shadow of a doubt! A trivial exchange of a bishop for a knight? Yes?! Or yes!? Or…  We will not torture ourselves. We will not swim pointlessly amid the flotsam of inevitably imprecise definitions. We simply say: the combinations in this game are exchange combinations. Combinations with a clear foretaste of the Capablanca Algorithm. Tal’s next move involves a pawn…

32.g3 The first in a series of moves to improve the position. For now, he will do it with his g-pawn. A move later – with the h-pawn. And then, with the king himself!

32…Be4 33.h4+ Check – be it merely the very humblest check from a pawn – is always an open attack on Target No. 1. “Tal”? Unquestionably, yes. “Capablanca?” Yes?! Or yes!?

33…Kg4

PGN string

34.Kh2 An exceptionally strong and – just as important – very beautiful move. Tal improves  his king’s position. In other words (excuse me: I’m getting too far ahead), Tal clearly is playing strategically. He plays in perfect harmony with the first element of the Capablanca Algorithm.”

I don’t know about you, but I find this extremely confusing (and annoying) prose. What is Shashin saying here? Why isn’t he, first of all, evaluating the position after 31…bxc4 according to his own principles? Perhaps then he might have found the move 32.Kh2! which, according to my computer, is much better than the move Tal played. Why doesn’t he mention that 33…Kg4? is a serious mistake and 33..Kg6 would’ve saved the game? 

Also, what’s with all the exclamation marks and the “I’m getting too far ahead”? If you think you are, why don’t you skip the entire train of thought for now? Why didn’t the editor? For someone who wants to convince his readers of the validity of his revolutionary theory, Shashin’s certainly not an example of sense and sensibility. Some may find this kind of writing refreshing, typical of his alleged eccentricity, or even funny - but I found it merely distracting.

There’s plenty of good stuff in Shashin’s book – it features great games, classical and modern, and most of the analysis work is computer-checked and accurate. But the way the material is presented and structured is confusing and doesn’t add much practical value. Does Shashin seriously expect his readers to count the number of squares their pieces can go to in each position? And if not in each position, how is the reader to assess which positions are critical and which aren’t? (That’s another curious thing in his book: he always takes critical positions as the starting point of his explanations, but doesn’t explain why these are the critical positions and how to recognize them in our own games.)

Without the theorizing and tiresome algorithms, Best Play – A New Method for Discovering The Strongest Move would’ve been a very good book with very good game analysis, and generally useful to read for anyone with an interest in chess. With the theories, it’s just another decipherment of the Phaistos Disc: too good to be true.

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Arne Moll's picture
Author: Arne Moll

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Comments

Anonymous's picture

Great review, thanks as always!

Anonymous's picture

A more practical way of reviewing such a book would be to look up its author's Elo rating.

Bruno Luyckx's picture

2350 ELO according to 365chess.com.

Honest John's picture

The best coach of swimming in the world, do not know how to swim.

moran's picture

So why is Shashin not the world champion?

Honest John's picture

Because he is just a coach.

paul's picture

Who is the author of this well written review.....reminds me a bit of Arne Moll's

SierraSunset's picture

The author is displayed just above the comments, but the text is so tiny it's easy to miss.

paul's picture

thanks Sierra

Anonymous's picture

Mongoose...ah, this can be good!

Leavenfish's picture

I have the book. What always strikes me about these 'best moves in any position' ideas...is that they tend to be 'critical positions'. Back it up3 or 4 moves and the algorithm tends to be useless. Critical positions 'can' be deciphered...but the trick is to know you are dealing with one. Most positions though...the traditional ways of looking at a position are fine, and prod you towards types of moves, but not 'the best move'. That's all any system can do. Also, I found myself constantly thinking of Carl Jung and his archetypes way of looking at things. This bears a resemblance. I tend to think this books is perhaps a bit closer to Dorfmans' The Method in Chess and it's 'statics vs dynamics' bent than Moskalenko‘s.

Bruno Luyckx's picture

Shashin's method can be used in any position, not just in critical positions. I don't recall Shashin mentioning otherwise.

Leavenfish's picture

And I am the ruler supreme of 4 or 5 (the fifth just doesn't admit it yet) galaxy's. I can say it....but it doesn't make it so.

jussu's picture

Thank you for the warning.

Vijay Raghavan's picture

How disappointing that Morozevich implicitly endorses a method he himself would never use!

Bruno Luyckx's picture

In his foreword Morozevich writes: "(...) discovering the conclusions of [Sashin's] theory (...) significantly enriched and broadened my horizons: while selecting a move, I often succesfully employed the ideas he presented to me. The fact that the period from July 2003 to July 2014 was the most successfull of my entire career, I owe in great part to our kitchen-table discussions. I returned triumphantly to the Top Five, along the way winning practically every tournament I participated in."

Bruno Luyckx's picture

sorry, it should be "July 2003 to July 2004".

Remco G's picture

Maybe the right player, who is already very strong, can use this sort of thing as a source of inspiration to look for new ideas.

For me, I think this is the kind of book that would make my chess worse...

Borislav I's picture

i dont need this book.

Parrot's picture

Perhaps following these teachings is Moro's problem.

Frits Fritschy's picture

I very much liked Moskalenko's book on the Winawer, a worthy successor of Moles' 1975 book. I liked the style of it, because it was more about enthusing, about giving ideas to work with, than about claiming absolute truth. Reading the quotes from Shashin's book, I'd say that on the surface it resembles this style of writing, but the content sounds rather hollow in comparison.Why can't he just enjoy the games (and enthuse us)? Good analysis doesn't just give the right computer moves, or the prove of the author's ideas; it also tells the story of the game. In the Tal-Panno game: Panno was clearly looking for a win, and rightly so. There was time trouble, and Tal may well have played for it - and right he was too, and proved it. But others have told this story before! In my case it was Bouwmeester's 1960's series of books (devoured it like a monk does the Bible), and many others must have followed. You can't keep reheating the same food over and over, no matter how good it was the first time.

Bruno Luyckx's picture

"The best doctor is the one that cures you".
The best chess teaching is the one that makes you think about the game and that makes you stronger. It isn't about truth, but about what works for you.
To me (I'm but a 1900 Elo player) Shashin's theory isn't that complicated at all. There is very much chess wisdom in this book that you can't find in any other chessbook.
I don't bother to calculate mobility, density and expansion (and evaluate the safety of the Kings) if that sets me in the proper (Tal, Capablanca or Petrosian) mood, which can save a lot of time and energy.

...

Arne writes: " In other words, there is an element of chance in chess positions that Shashin seems largely oblivious of. "
On the contrary (I believe), as a physician, Shashin is very much aware of this; "Chess is chaos", he writes.
Elsewhere he writes "Chess is on the border of order and chaos".
Which means, there is a way to meet chaos.
(You can compare this with metrology: the wheather on most places on earth is completely inpredictable, but nevertheless it makes sense to study cylones, anticyclones,...)

...

About Tal - Milev:
In the Tal algorithm the King is target no. 1 and the Queen is target no. 2. So it perfectly makes senses to attack the pawn on c6 (defender of Qc7) and the pawn on e6 (defender of Ke8). In the Tal algorithm also we don't have to be afraid to make sacrifices (to speed up the attack).
Whether d4-d5 is correct or not, you can't surely know without analysing it, as chess is indeed a matter of chance.
The value of "Tal" is that it learns you that you HAVE to look at d4-d5.
Without "Tal" there is a (big?) chance that you miss this idea or that you don't take it very seriously.

Arne writes: "It seems to me that the exact placement of the pieces often matters more than general characteristics".
Shashin fully agrees with this (cfr. game no. 116 on p. 324 and cfr. p.163 as he discusses the sensitivity of the safety parameter).

Shashin has spent a few decades on working out his method (meanwhile teaching it not only to Morozevich but also to Kamsky), and you can sense these efforts when reading the book.
It's really no "cheap" thinking.

Enigmatic thinkers like Shashin may take you out of your comfort zone. You might get confused in the beginning, but don't be afraid, in the end you will have learned a lot of it.

PS: whenever you are ready reading Shashin, you might want to try Bangiev's Square Strategy.
On Tal - Milev he would write something like "black squared strategy, white squared initiative, target square e7". Another very interesting journey on black and white...

Arne M's picture

Bruno, with regards to the mere evaluation of positions, Shashin's method adds little to nothing to existing theories. Instead his claim is to find best moves, which is something else entirely. I love to be taken out of my comfort zone for good reasons, but this book simply doesn't deliver in this respect.

Bruno Luyckx's picture

Hi Arne, thank you for your reply.
And also thank you for the review of “Best Play” and for all the efforts you've put in it (I should have started my first reply in saying that).
I'm not sure what you mean exactly with the "mere evaluation of positions". As I see it, Sashin's parameters indeed aren't meant to tell you who has the better game and by how much, but what they want to make clear is which algorithm you should follow, as playing the wrong algorithm probably will make you lose ground.
As you say, it's all about finding the best moves. For this you need an appropriate set of candidate moves. An appropriate set of candidates means that the best move should be included and that you shouldn’t have too many alternatives.
What Shashin promises is that choosing the right algorithm and searching for candidate moves by working through the algorithm should help you finding a (more or less) appropriate set of candidates.
In this it’s important to note that there is very much freedom for the players due to the mixed algorithms (TC, CP, TCP) and also because due to the sensitivity of the security parameter, it isn’t always clear which is the right algorithm (e.g. “is it Tal or is it TC or maybe even TCP?”,…).
What Shashin does not promise is that when using his method you will always find the best move.
“Our ideal goal in chess is faultless play in all possible positions. This goal is unattainable. Eternal is the desire to achieve it.”
The proof of the pudding is in the eating.
There are several ways in which you can test experimentally if this (or any other) method does or does not work for you. E.g. you take a set of difficult for you exercises (difficult to evaluate and difficult to calculate), well above your current level (we all want to improve, don’t we?). Take your time to find all of the relevant candidate moves, without using the method. Then you turn yourself to the method, in this case you try to figure out which algorithm to use and you scrupulously work your way through the algorithm, to see if you can come up with even better candidates (and maybe you can eliminate some of the previously found moves). When comparing your results with the intended solutions, you should notice whether or not the method helps you. Maybe one (stronger) player doesn’t need the method, but for another (weaker) player it may be a big help. Besides, we all have our blind spots, our weak points. What’s easy for one player, may be difficult to grasp for another.
I would also like to note that for me at least (for someone else it may be the other way around) Shashin’s account of dynamic chess is much clearer (less fuzzy) than all the other theories I’ve read about until now. His theory of dynamic play (the Algorithm Drift Chart) is highly original and I don’t know anything that comes even close to it.
I wish to end by stating that I’m a merely 1900 player, not playing competition for a long time and way below your own level of play and understanding. Meanwhile teaching children for several years (this year for the first time Step 6) and with a decades long interest in (human) move search algorithm. Which is why I entered this discussion.
Sincerely yours.

Arne Moll's picture

Bruno, one of the problems is that Shashin's words are often highly contradictory. One moment he promises that his approach works in all situations, next thing you know he says chess is way too complex for this. What are we to make of this? You can't have your cake and eat it.

With regards to finding candidates moves, there are also problems with this. His reasoning is often extremely confusing, instead of helpful. And as for finding suitable candidate moves? Well, he often ignores this altogether. Take the example of Fischer-Dely on p. 171. After 2 pages of reasoning he only mentions the winning tactic 16.Rxf8+ - no alternatives are mentioned. This in fact happens quite often. But during an ordinary game you don't know which tactics are working and which aren't. Even if you conclude that this position requires the 'Tal' approach, the tactic only works because of the specific characteristics of the position (with a black pawn on a5 instead of a6, the tactic wouldn't have worked). This is a major flaw in his theory in my opinion.

There is, of course, great value in studying positions from the champions, but this obvious fact doesn't say anything about whether Shashin's theory works better or not. I myself think it doesn't add much value and will certainly confuse many players (like myself) instead of helping them.

Septimus's picture

Good review. Perhaps a bit generous. The book sounds like complete nonsense.

JPS's picture

Indeed. It seems as if Arne was afraid to destroy another book and was therefore making an extra effort to say something positive about it. We already have plenty of good books with games from Tal, Petrosjan and the likes, so if this book doesn't offer anything beyond that, it is just superfluous.
I can't believe the author even trains his own pupils according to his 'method', because it is obvious crap. We all know that chess is 95 % tactics (if not more), and there will never be a formula for that (apart from simply calculating).

Anonymous's picture

The valuable thing here is not the audacious style of the book and his hermit writer,but the coherent response it generated,and from that we learn

eltollo's picture

Does the method/formula explain which first move I should play?

Bruno Luyckx's picture

Happily it doesn't...

Anonymous's picture

The case of Arne Moll is very commun,smells the knows profile of frustrated players that invested a lot of mental energy in chess and attached hopes in his young years and finnaly lose his way back home,now adult,still roamming chess topics and couldnt divorce it completle at all...Arne deeplest wish is to find out exactly" this" that he suspect was the source of his failure:the holy grial of perfect chess trainning,unmature enogh to divorce that youngster dream,smart enough to apply science and logic,and wealty enough to dispose free time and money to spend,Arne's loop of life engage again and again in the same topics...angry when he discover his ddreams is still far away
Arne failure in chess is a well known and commmun that could be described in the the story between the frog and rabbit:once upon a time a rabbit dances worderfuly,and every animal in the forrest admired his performances,but the frog was jealous,one day she got a plan,approuched to the rabbit and asked
-beautiful rabbiti admire and love your dances,and always wonder and wonder..what is your technique?! U firt move forward and then turn back in the left side,or u jump and turn around as fast as ur tale correct the right position??!
And the rabbit started to think what he realy was doing while he was dancing...he never danced again
He got blocked

Webbimio's picture

And please, Sir, how do you know it? Are you Arne moll's sister/brother or best friend?

Septimus's picture

Dude, put down the crack pipe. Time to wake up.

Jeroen's picture

Wow, not a native English speaker, that's for sure. After the eigth word I stopped reading as the message got blocked and I got bored.
Another Anonymous failure...

jussu's picture

I have obviously no idea about AM's "deepest wish", but in this review, he states that he tried to find from a book an algorithm that was promised by the book's author, but didn't find it. Sounds like the author's failure, not the reviewer's one. If you found the algorithm from this book, you did better than Arne, and we shall surely hear about you soon in chess news.

René Olthof's picture

Remarkable that Arne Moll has never heard of Alexander Shashin.
This is one of his top games

[Event "Leningrad ch-city"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "1973.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Shashin,Alexander Alexandrovich"]
[Black "Kortchnoi,Viktor Lvovich"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "E56"]
[NIC "NI 2.3"]
[PlyCount "69"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e3 0-0 5. Bd3 c5 6. Nf3 d5 7. 0-0 Nc6 8. a3
cxd4 9. exd4 Bxc3 10. bxc3 dxc4 11. Bxc4 Qa5 12. Bb2 e5 13. Re1 Bg4 14. h3 Bxf3
15. Qxf3 Rad8 16. Re2 Rd7 17. Ba2 Rfd8 18. Rae1 exd4 19. cxd4 Qb6 20. Qc3 Nxd4
21. Re7 Rxe7 22. Rxe7 Nf5 23. Rxf7 Rd1 24. Kh2 Qd6 25. g3 Ng4 26. Kg2 Nh4 27.
gxh4 Qh2 28. Kf3 Qxf2 29. Ke4 Qe2 30. Kf4 Rf1 31. Kg5 h6 32. Kg6 Ne5 33. Qxe5
Rg1 34. Qg5 Qxb2 35. Rxg7 1-0

Not many people have defeated the Great Viktor in a similar way...

brabo's picture

Rene, if you look in the megadatabase then you can find almost 1000 losses from Kortchnoi.
I don't see why it is remarkable that somebody (born in 1973 so certainly not yet actively following the actuality) doesn't know Shashin. As FM I also dare to state that I never heard about him before.

Anonymous's picture

I live in ukraine,Western players for a long time were unable to understain soviet success,an consider it some sort of pedagogical trick,when basically western players view chess training as  a relationship between u and the board and ur book,like a passive method of reading literature(westerns are very good in that),developing eventually a dangerous closed/loop that feed itself again and again learning only with ur own arguments,ur own explanations,ur own discoveries,and the loop restart again,this was a very slow process.While, a paradox ,soviet players were rude ,cold and practical in their view of "training",under a soviet social system usually a master or a advanced player was assigned to a job of gather and training pupils everywere ,factories,school,universities,instituts,.they were more concerned about their own future than of their pupils,achieving a master level could allow them to travel outside the steel curtain,the right to claim an apartment,an automobile,tv,refrigerators,buy original jeans,colourfull western shirts and shoes that signals thenself as privilege citizens in that boring/monotone .basically the"trainners"just gather their best pupils and started to play games after games in handicap mode,some sort of boxing sparring style ,while the master seating alone in the connor facing the moves generated by their pupils on the other connor,in low voice,,perhaps bodie language/voice recognition like typical postmortem analisis ,every delivery ,every single moves was consulted,discused,analysed... Every one was highly motivated,their master received some sort of high quality moves after moves,and finnaly..trained himself,the pupils highly motivated to defeat their master were methodicaly delivering punches after punches,the weak pupils learned from the advanced,the advanced learned from the group,the group learned from the postmortem analysis with their master,their master learned from the whole process,there was not a single boring chess session,that communly overpassed the reglamentary allowed hours ,like this quotes 'wereever u see a challenge,u'll see men' and i should said highly motivated men,is our nature,thats why we shoudlnt be sorprised why there were not to much ladies engaged in chess,why there are not to much ladies actually playing chess,and why will never be to much,chess is basically a men business.so esencially brute force and simple ,soviet masters were having "their versions" of rybkas and houdinis  since the  years 1940 and 1950 ,its interesting to note that in capablanca games vs a group of unknown advanced players from a city of havana and santiago cuba,4games in total,capablanca luckly survives 2,draw1 and a win,the players in consultations were able to set such a pressure to capablanca that if u analise their moves,are a highly matches with fritz8 and rybka 2.3.2 !! In 1930ties ,is well known that lasker used to challenge very often,offering sums of money to players in consultation that could defeat him ..lasker,the smart wolf,was really hiring them for his trainning.As modern times and computers,uci new algoritms improvements ,databases enters the stage,a colourful cocktel of different nationalities are challenging the russian feud,and the tendency is to grow.western people shouldnt be so sorprised by the numbers of soviet masters ,esencially ,looking at the mass scale approach that was used.

Anonymous's picture

So,when compared both players,during a year term,365 days of comtemplative self enjoy practice of devoring ches literature of the western players with the 365 days of "cold brute force" of the soviets players,a gap arise between them,and of course the gap tendency is to be periodicaly wide and wide each day

Anonymous's picture

Recently in the last years because of computers the methods has dramatically changed 
Specially on GGMM
Its based in the teory of managing advantages,it said basicaly the main different between players is the amount of advantage they could handle succesfully securely and safetly to the next steap of advantage,a novice will need a ( 7.00) or a lot more{standard Houdini2.0/2012year } a Houdini2.0 may could need a 0.35-0.40 to almost surely win against himself and a disadvantage-0.10 to be sure will not loose a game against other strong UCI,Anand may need maybe 0.90 or a bit less to manage ,besides they could handle 1.00 at some stages,1.30 it the secure advantage they could handle at 2800 club(2012standard) none of then could handle more than 0.60, and 0.70. Now imagine others levels,a 2600 GM could handle, a 2500 etc (,10 decimals is too much margin and its just expressed as example,it need a lot more complicated explanation but this is the basis)This is a fact .they work in such position and only such positions are handled in a special soft developed by an ukrainian developer,a player select his main opennings lines,a set of final positions he could reasonably reach in his opennings during real tournament games(all his set of opennings of an specific one),then a computer create a database UCI games based of such positions playng thousand of games vs another UCIs simulating a human model,from that database is determined the overal percent of well known standard typical :"positions and situations" wich is mainly divided in queen presence and without queen(queens dramatically influence the tactic and strategies in the chessgames)later there is a well clasic middle game center paw,derivatives in another centers..oposite castle, etc every typical position derivates and related with another and create a red net of 60 or even more,the situatiojs are like" the attack that stoped". Another:"pawn down compensated"  ," "a draw no one could stop" etc a situations are like a poem to be remembered,a positions are clear like a math table..this is done to organise the knowledge the chess players is acumulating into categories( its how our brain works,unconsciency remembering set of thousand typical positions and situations present in daily chessgames,the oposite is chess960 fisher of composing problems,beside the fact it is also chess under chess rules,it wouldnt help as a trainning knowledge background),so the new adquired knowledge are always connected and related and basically 99%they are learning from computers in how they are managing to materialise such advantages,the time cicles administrated carefully watching the percent  of such position in the database( for a computer an almost equal endgame is not viewed as a goal,instead its a fault in materialising advantages in the middlegames,do not administrating 30% of the training time to endgames that only represent 8% of overal games and so on)
They never analise human games( only for practical purpose,oppenings and so on)
All of this is derivated from openinngs they use to play
The goal is to go deep in uunderstanding the complexity,no going wide tryng to achieve many positions
They do not view tactic trainning as a set of well known position that contain an   almost forced sure win or combination to win as in real games such rich positions are rare ,and disorientating the player to" fish off" a force combination in his real games,far from reality
Tactic and strategie are view differently as such concepts are united
Any position that has more less 3  alternatives with more less 0.08 in difference between then is considered an strategic position,were no sure hit is near and chosing amounst then is hard only apealing to strategic fundaments(contrary to the general view that strategic moves are always in quite waters)
A tactic position only differ in 0.25 or more difference needed 
So basically a normal game is a set of short tactic solutions( as humans we can only see arrays of short tactic solutions in chess)were strategic solutions are "the tactic difficoult ones" to clarified 

When such a positions are set the play two games vs the main program(then back i remember rybka2.3  was the top) one of 25minuts and another of 35minuts( they never play fast games ,and paradojically never classic 2hours games because there is to much time the mind is idle and resulting in an unproductive training session ) as long as they are playng tryng to materialise such exact amount of advantage given,the computer is playng 6 different games in the background from the same position but with different programs lowering in level,(to later show how the advantage could have been materialised from different perspectives under different situation vs different levels of resistance
Every session is very emotional intense lived( as chess was ,is ,and will be a challenge,no a nursing course)and emotions push forward the mind and the memory and the asociation and the analisis,and the knowledge saved into the brain is a long lasting one
Later such questions are always a rule:
What was the commun point in all these different solutions?, the different amount all this almost similar positions?
Looking for the commun in the different and the particulary different in the almost commun,its apply to everything he saw in this day
Later such questions are for others games and other days ,the comp just ask,and its not comparing results,its just an open task the player should do,the player is always flooded by tasks as long as possible,but keeping the motivated tone of challenge as long as it could

Such sessions are later expanded in a general knowledge background,and everyting that passed in the screen pc is saved ,all his games,and all the moves that overpassed the others moves in 0.30 are also saved( later such key moves are showed and showed ,comfronted with new knowledge and compared even moonths and years later)

The trainings sessions are in cicles,and there is a week were the player is analising nothing,or playng a single game,he just seat back and the entire week he is remembering the solutions he used to play(authomaticaly showed by the computer) ,the responses,the games,the days,it happened the comparision with now days,it creates a sensation of special pleasure while remembering,and apparently the mind is idle,but is really in such momemts when the training is getting high efects,and then all back to the same
They never play vs computers from the start,since they couldnt handle an advantage needed to trainning and barely they could reach a 0.40 or 0.50 and hold it for some time
So basically is it,maybe it could be reached a level of 0.80 within some generations,perhaps 25years who knows,but 0.60 are far away from humans and equall to rybka or houdini: mission impossible
 its based on Davidov teory books of pedagpgical science and psicology of soviet times,the developers are all ukrainians,
The soft is entirely built in russian,it has many other features,like a transposition option to turn black pieces into whites  instantly to evoid the "Semeon Furman effect :world champion with white",turn the up-down entirely with all comments and turn the same pieces but in different squares
Soviet masters improved very well very fast because theyused a trick the burocracy system allowed them to do,every master was allowed to have an income salary fixed and assigned to schools institues,universities,everywere is was possible to set a teacher job,they dreammed with national championships qualifications,this allowed them to a foreing treap to West Europe countries and a big apartment,so they decided to train thenself instead of training someone else ,but the process was mutual benefical, their trainning was like that:day and night constantly they organased a handicap games vs students,  a master seatting in a connor playing a game with a serious as a tournament game,,students in another connor consulting and moving the pieces tryng to defeat him,the result : playing vs a rybka4 since 1950'
Just as simple as that,petrossian keep his power,beliavsky and many other that "copied that way of life"soviet system allowed to do,look at capablanca in 1938 his 4 games vs few 4 chessclub players in consultations from havana,and two from santiago de cuba provinces,A11,a12,a13 ,they played like a deep junior,capablanca could only survive hardly just in one game with draw,loosing the others

John Herron's picture

Interesting article and book! While there is certainly no "universal" method for always determining the best move, it is another useful tool.
My book, "TOTAL CHESS: Learn, Teach and Play the Easy 1-2-3 Way" presents a simple 1-2-3 approach for learning and teaching chess. It categorizes all basic chess concepts into related groups of three. For example, chess tactics are categorized into 8 related groups of 3, as follows...
- Direct tactics (tactics involving only one piece): Single Threat, Tie Down & Pile On, X-Ray.
- Dynammic Tactics (tactics involving more than one piece): Fork, Pin, Skewer.
- Discovered Tactics (moving to uncover another piece): Discovered Attack, Discovered Check, Discovered Threat).
- Double Tactics (two things happen at the same time): Double Attack, Double Check, Double Threat.
- Decoy Tactics (getting a piece onto a square): Trap, Lure, Interference.
- Deflection Tactics (getting a piece off of a square): Clearance, Undermine, Overload.
- Defensive Tactics (escaping the opponent's tactics): Break-Out, Counter, Desperado.
- Delay Tactics (tactics that do not occur immediately): Nachzugler, Zwischenzug, Zugzwang.
You may review the first 20 pages of the book and see the entire Table Of Contents through my website http://HairBallPublishing.sharepoint.com/.

John Herron's picture

If you are interested in universal linguistics, I recommend the book, "In The Land Of Invented Languages " by Arika Okrent, 2009.
You may also want to look at the ROSETTA Language through this website http://www.grex.org/~herronjt/rosetta.html

Clive Waters's picture

The review to this book which I have read very carefully, amounts to little more than trolling. Forming an opinion and advertising it for mass consumption to influence others, of such a deep and complicated book, and in such a short time after publication, is indefensible. Not to mention that most of the points of criticism made in the review are answered in the book it 'self. Deciding whether Shashin is right or wrong, I would advise the reader to discover for himself, and not allow cursory people to influence them. A lifetime of work should not be trashed so easily and superficially.

Trefor's picture

A very interesting review, I am sorry that I have only just chanced upon it . . . I confess that I own and quite enjoy Moskalenko's book so this might be another book that I will give a chance. Of course I don't believe all of the hype about new complete systems suddenly making me a stronger player but I am hopeful enough to think that I am becoming a better chess player and that somewhere, somehow these interesting books might make a tiny difference.
AND some good news, my brother, who has lived on Crete for over 20 years is about to publish a decipherment of the Phaistos Disc ( maybe only 90% atm but enough to encourage linguists worldwide I hope)

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