Small Steps to Giant Improvement (Paperback)
In chess you cannot take your move back, but you can always return a misplaced piece to its former square at the cost of some time. Pawns on the other hand can never move backwards, making pawn moves truly permanent decisions.
This irreversibility makes Pawn Play among the most difficult aspects of chess strategy, which is one reason few books have been written about this topic – and some that have are almost incomprehensible. Double Olympiad gold medallist Sam Shankland has gone the other way – breaking down the principles of Pawn Play to basic, easily understandable guidelines every chess player should know. Shankland starts with extremely simple examples, but then lifts the level, illustrating the universality of the book’s guidelines by showing how grandmasters could have made better decisions by using them.
Sam Shankland is a Grandmaster and permanent member of the US national team, winning an Individual Gold Medal in 2014 and Team Gold in 2016. In 2015 and 2017 he played Board 1 for the US team at the World Team Championship. In April 2018 he became US Champion. This is his first book.
Carsten Hansen, American Chess Magazine:
"In the present book, Grandmaster Sam Shankland discusses pawn play, especially the implications of having far advanced pawns and how to provoke or force them to be pushed too far. There is also a discussion of doubled pawns from both your own and your opponent's perspectives.
The book accomplishes its goals very well and the discussions are enlightening even if suited for stronger players in the intended readership. For players of at least 2000 Elo strength it will certainly provide first-rate instruction, but for those rated below that it may be a little complex at times. Nevertheless a self improvement manual well worth studying!"
John Hartmann, Chess Life:
"An intimate, unvarnished interrogation of a strong Grandmaster’s mind at work, and a clear articulation of the pragmatism at the heart of contemporary chess praxis. It is a fascinating first effort from the new US Champion, and I sincerely hope that the promised second volume soon sees the light of day."