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16/06/2021

The Queen's Gambit

Accepted!

(by Jonathan Arnott and Rosie Irwin)

 

 

You may have seen an advert for this book.  At first glance the title suggests it is yet another opening book written by somebody you have never heard of, probably with a Russian-sounding name.  Had it been the Albin Counter Gambit or the Chigorin Defence it might have looked more interesting.

 

Closer inspection reveals you may have actually heard of the author, who is none other than Sheffield’s Jonathan Arnott, along with the less familiar Rosie Irwin.  All the same, the Queen’s Gambit Accepted is too positional in its strategy to interest the average player, even if Jonathan was involved in writing it.  That said, the opening should not be knocked.  When, decades ago, the present write played for Devon, Peter H Clarke was on top board unless the opposition was too weak for his services to be needed.  (The present writer has actually appeared on board 1 for Devon.)  Not only did P. H. Clarke play the QGA, but he had an amazing knack when he had White of converting the opening into the QGA in reverse!  White plays d4 but holds back on c4.  Then if Black has the audacity to play … c5, then you grab it to give a QGA reversed!  The strategy seemed to bring in satisfactory results.

 

It turns out “The Queen’s Gambit Accepted” does not directly refer to the opening as such.

 

The part of the title “The Queen’s Gambit” is in fact a reference to the 7-episode mini-series of that name which was released on Netflix from 23/10/2020, based on a 1983 novel of the same name by one Walter Tevis.  This Netflix series is popularly held to have been instrumental in a surge of interest in chess among hitherto non-players during Covid lock-down.

 

The “Accepted!” part of the title is where Rosie Irwin comes in.  Rosie, who was not then a chess-player, watched “The Queen’s Gambit” on Netflix, and, identifying with the fictional heroine Beth Harmon as regards her problems in life, “Accepted” the challenge to take up chess.  This led to coaching from Jonathan, and Rosie progressed to the point where she played in four matches (so far) for SASCA B in Division 3 of the 2021 on-line league, season 2 (ongoing at the time of writing), scoring 1 win and 3 losses (the latter against more-seasoned opponents of course).  [ . . and she chalked up a draw the day after this was written.]

 

The book The Queen's Gambit - Accepted! is primarily a beginner’s guide to chess for adults, but is intertwined with the story of Rosie’s experience  through the coaching provided by Jonathan, thus making it somewhat different and perhaps of wider interest.

 

The book measures roughly 21 cm x 15 cm, and has 224 pages.  It is published by Steel City Press (which is Jonathan in disguise), and is being distributed by Chess & Bridge Ltd.  Its ISBN is 978-1-913047-24-5 (paperback) and 978-1-913047-25-2 (hardback).  Chess & Bridge and Chess Direct are both advertising it in softback at £12.99, but Waterstones show it at £19.99, which is presumably hardback.  (Postage and packing may of course vary.)  Interestingly, Jonathan’s price suggested to the distributor was somewhat less, and it was too low to be countenanced by them!

 

This is not Jonathan’s only chess book.  Chess: Skills - Tactics – Techniques was published in 2014 by Crowood Press Ltd.  Somewhat amusingly, except for Jonathan, his text was “proof read” and accordingly “corrected” by someone who seemingly knew nothing of chess.  Consequently, if, in response to Black playing h6, White retreated his bishop at g5 back to h4, the proof-reader would “correct” Jonathan’s “Bh4” to “bh4”, on the basis that Jonathan’s grasp of the correct use of capital letters was sadly awry!  Thus the proof-reader introduced innumerable such errors, not all of which could be re-corrected back due to them being so numerous, resulting in a book with an embarrassing number of typographical errors in it.