21 October 2014

Cascading Translations

We lost our Internet connection for close to a day -- and thanks to 'bundling', our TV connection as well -- which meant that I had some spare time to spend on something besides writing my daily blog post. On a whim I opened my copy of 'The Art of the Middle Game' by Keres and Kotov (Dover 1989), turned to the last chapter on 'The Art of Analysis' by Keres, and, with the help of an engine, started looking at Keres' analysis.

Although I intended to turn that exercise into a blog post, a curious inconsistency caught my attention. The chapter on 'Art of Analysis', at 63 pages the longest chapter in the book, has nothing to do with the middlegame. It's about the endgame. More specifically, it's about analyzing adjourned positions, which used to occur at move 40, usually after the heat of the middlegame had passed. So what's going on here?

The copyright page of the Dover book, 'Translated by H. Golombek', tells us that it was first published by Penguin Books in 1964. The same page carries a 'Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication' record (CIP; see Cataloging in Publication Program for more) that tells us the book is a translation of 'Konsten att vinna i schack'. Google translates that Swedish title as 'The trick to winning in chess', but translates other pages where the title occurs as 'The art of winning in chess'. I prefer 'The art of...'.

Other sources tell us that 'Konsten...' was published by Prisma in 1961, translated from the original Russian by Bengt Hörberg and Lars Warne. I wasn't able to determine the Russian title of the book, and suspect that it might be a collection of four separate essays, two by Keres and two by Kotov. Did Golombek work from the Russian, as he usually did, or from the Swedish?

One more point: the last section of the Dover book is an 'Index of Middle-Game Themes', with about 25 entries. Only the entry on 'Zugzwang' points to the chapter on 'The Art of Analysis'; zugzwang is most often found in endgames.

In his 'Editorial Forward', Golombek explains his choice of the last chapter:-

Keres, adopting as always a practical point of view, has taken the subject of analysis of adjourned games, so revealing how a master's mind works and how a chess player should set about the task of analyzing any given position.

Now that I know the connection with the middlegame, I can move on to Keres' remarks.

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