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MACA Book Review
The Greatest Ever Chess Tricks and Traps The Greatest Ever Chess Tricks and Traps
by: Gary Lane

Price: $24.95
ISBN: 978-1-85744-577-0
Format: Book 235pp.
Publisher: Everyman Chess

Reviewed by:  Stacy Angle
Recommendation: Recommended

Wouldn’t it be fun to have a quick victory when playing a game of chess either in a tournament or in just a casual game? Or to avoid an embarrassing early loss? As Gary Lane points out, this can occur at the highest levels of competition. This book is a collection of 110 games illustrating tricks and traps where the game is won or the outcome determined usually within the first ten moves. These games are by a variety

of players and they cover the time period from 1750 to 2008.
The games have been chosen from a wide range of openings, so there is something for everyone. Lane writes that he “found it important to chose lines that, should the trap be spotted, one can carry on without fear of having a worse position.” He also notes that he made an effort “to find ancient ideas that still work in modern openings.” Along the way he offers practical tips, anecdotes, snippets of chess history, and hints on how to improve.
The games have been chosen to cover a wide range of openings, so there is something for everyone. In addition to an Introduction, the chapter titles are
1 Open Games: 1 e4 e5
2 Semi-Open Games: 1e4 - various replies
3 Queen’s Pawn Openings: 1 d4
4 Flank Openings: 1 c4, 1 Nf3, etc.
5 Classic Attacks
The chapter Classic Attacks contains “some common, winning ideas and how to apply them.” There are familiar names like The Greek Gift, Boden’s Mate, Pillsbury’s Mate, Morphy’s Concealed Mate, The Arabian Mate, Philidor’s Legacy, The Thornton Castling Trap, and Back Rank Checkmate.
The tricks and traps are each illustrated by at least one game that is extensively annotated and includes several diagrams. The trap is identified by its common name, i.e., “Chase the Bishop.” At the end of each example the traps are rated on a scale from one to ten according to four criteria: Surprise Value, Risk, Chance of Success, and Reward. The author describes this rating as “just a fun way of assessing the trick.”
As an example of how the various tricks and traps are presented, consider Blackburne’s Shilling Gambit from Chapter 1. This was used by Joseph Blackburne (1841-1924), but it is illustrated with the game M.I. Samer - Ju. Reyes, World Junior Championships, Timisoara, 1988. The game goes as follows:
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nd4?!
4.Nxe5 Qg5 5.Nxf7? Qxg2 6.Rf1 Qxe4+
7.Be2 Nf3 checkmate
There is considerable annotation throughout the game. For example, what if 5.Bxf7+ instead of 5.Nxf7? There is also an extra diagram for this variation. This trap was given a score of six for surprise value, seven for risk, five for chance of success, and nine for reward.
This trap was given a score (maximum of 10) of 6 for surprise value, 7 for risk, 5 for chance of success, and 9 for reward.
As with many of the traps, the author added a little paragraph called “DID YOU KNOW?”. This one reads “The tournament of Vienna 1873 called Blackburne the ‘Black Death’ and the nickname stuck.”
At the end of the book there is an Index of Games as well as an Index of Openings. It was a disappointment not to find an index of common names for the traps, i.e., The Greek Gift, Legall’s Mate, etc.
This is a fun book. The thought of springing one of these traps on an opponent or avoiding falling into one should be incentive to spend time studying the book and learning tactics in the opening. This book is recommended for anyone who wants to improve his/her chess game and have some fun doing it.


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