Chess for Hawks
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Winner of the 2017 Best Instructional Book Award of the Chess Journalists of America (CJA)
Are you a dove or a hawk? Is your natural instinct at the chessboard for caution and strategy or do you crave adventure and confrontation? This question may be more important than you think because being aware of your personal style (and that of your opponent) is essential in your development as a chess player.
As an 8-year-old boy, Cyrus Lakdawala realized to his horror that he was a dove when his chess teacher reprimanded him for playing an unnecessary defensive move instead of banging out a better and more aggressive one that was not so difficult to find. Since then, Lakdawala has devoted an important part of his efforts as a player to trying to resist his natural tendency to over-solidify positions and avoid complications.
Chess for Hawks is the fascinating and often hilarious story of Lakdawala’s struggle to release his inner hawk. It is also a highly instructional guide that will make you think about questions you may not have thought about before:
-- Does deliberately breaking a rule come easy to you?
-- How good are you at ignoring a threat?
-- And at refusing a draw offer?
-- Why do you miss opportunities to win a won game?
-- Are you able to distinguish between patience and apathy?
-- Do you hate to trade queens?
-- Do you find it difficult to weaken your structure in exchange for initiative or attack?
-- Do you like games with opposing wing castling?
-- Do you know when to trade in initiative for material?
-- Crossing the point of strategic no-return, does that ring a bell?
-- Does your chess playing style fit the rest of your personality?
Cyrus Lakdawala does something no other chess writer has done before: he makes you reflect deeply about your style of play and its consequences.
After reading Chess for Hawks you will be a stronger player because you have mastered an essential but neglected skill: you will know how to obey the position’s requirements instead of your natural inclination.
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"Lakdawala writes in a charming and highly instructive manner."
GM Raymond Keene, The Spectator:
"Inspirational examples (..) The prime message conveyed is: never give up, even if you have the most microscopic of edges, carry on fighting. Persistence is everything."
Elburg Chess Reviews:
"Truly a masterpiece of explanation."
CHESS Magazine (UK):
"Drawing heavily on his own playing career, Lakdawala has essentially penned a practical primer."
Carsten Hansen, American Chess Magazine:
"A very good manual for those who feel they got stuck at a certain level and can’t quite find the way to break through to the next level."
IM Gary Lane, ECF Newsletter:
"There are plenty of instructive games (..) The majority of these games are local rapid play encounters but help Lakdawala to reveal how to thwart Hawks and the right way to imitate them (..) A book that will help you to move up to the next level."
Miguel Ararat, Florida Chess Magazine:
One of the best efforts by Lakdawala (..) It helps the reader to be aware of their playing style and the limitations a conservative or aggressive approach have on their performance."
Mark Haast, Schaaksite.nl:
“The focus of attention is on the practical side of playing chess. What are my strong and weak points? Which openings fit my playing style? What kind of position do I wish to reach against this opponent? To these and other questions Lakdawala responds in an instructive way with lots of humour.”