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    Entries in Efstratios Grivas (2)

    Thursday
    Oct032013

    A Grivas Update

    Late in 2012 I reviewed Greek GM Efstratios Grivas's Chess Analytics, a good and solid work aimed at strong and ambitious players - 2000+ in my opinion. There was some controversy around the book as one section clearly reproduced Lubomir Kavalek's analysis of and commentary on a particular ending, and did so without citation or permission. There was a huge hullabaloo about this which is not worth rehashing; I'll simply offer the conclusions I've drawn from seeing Kavalek's and Grivas's pieces on the ending in question and from Kavalek's and Grivas's discussions of the plagiarism charge:

    1. Objectively, Kavalek's material was plagiarized. It's just about impossible to deny it, and Grivas acknowledged that he made the mistake.

    2. Culpability: Grivas asserts (in a letter he sent to various sources that did not publish it, and then to me much more recently)  that it was an accident and not intentional. As he is certainly a strong enough player to produce a competent analysis of that ending and as there are no other controversies around the book (of which the particular ending constitutes a very small part) it seems reasonable to give Grivas the benefit of the doubt in the bigger picture. That doesn't mean that plagiarism is okay. The point is more modest: there's good reason to take him at his word and accept that it was an accident.

    In the comments to that earlier post, however, other alleged instances of plagiarism are alluded to. Via email, Grivas has offered a reply (to at least one of the charges), which I've also posted in the comments to the original piece:

    On the other case on my 2003 book (my God, it is already 10 years with this crap!) which is mentioned in the comments: it was contracted with the Greek Chess Federation and it was clear from the first moment that this will be a collection of material for a training program of the federation – not any original work at all. 2/3 of the book was translated material and 1/3 was coming from older books of mine – nothing new under the sun, as the bibliography of the book can justify. The entire negative story is created by Mr. Ilias Kourkounakis and his (opposition to the federation) friends who love to fight me (I support the federation’s Board) and the Greek federation.

    It is to allow Mr. Grivas to reply to the charge in the comments that this post was written; the dispute with Kavalek is off the table for discussion from all parties. If Mssrs. Kourkounakis and Grivas wish to discuss the matter here, they may do so (preferably briefly and with civility); otherwise I would prefer that these rather fetid discussions end with this.

    Thursday
    Dec202012

    Book Notice: Efstratios Grivas's Chess Analytics: Training With A Grandmaster

    Efstratios Grivas, Chess Analytics: Training With A Grandmaster. Foreword by Robert Zysk. (Russell Enterprises, 2012.) 320 pp., $24.95.

    Efstratios Grivas is a Greek grandmaster probably best known nowadays for three things. First, he has with some justification named a variation of the Sicilian (1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Qb6) after himself. Second, he has made a name for himself as a writer of training materials, and this book is best considered as another entry in that genre. And third, alas, he has recently walked into a plagiarism scandal, and that brings us to the book at hand.

    The book is a loose collection of 45 lessons in three sections. There are 24 lessons on the middlegame, 15 on the endgame, and six miscellaneous pieces to close out the book. Each lesson begins with a discussion under the heading "concept", proceeds with a number of well-chosen, well-analyzed examples, and finishes with a short summary of the lessons learned ("conclusion").

    The book's general level is pretty high - I'd say it's best suited to players over 2000, though as always ambitious players a little below that could work with it as well. I also think that in terms of format, it's more suited for trainers than those wishing to be trained, but that shouldn't stop those who are interested. It's not a book on the level of work by Dvoretsky, Aagaard, Mueller or Yusupov, but it has merit and I wouldn't try to dissuade interested players from picking it up.

    Now for the controversy. One of his lessons is called "The Square", and it examines the unusual endgame R+B+P vs. b+n+p, where the bishops are of opposite colors to each other and the pawns are locked on the colors of their respective bishops. Grivas examines two games, starting with the famous Kasparov-Karpov from their final world championship match in Lyon in 1990. This ending was infamous for having been solved at the time by a computer, a result which helped speed the demise of adjournments pretty much for good. Now it's infamous for a second reason, as Grivas pretty evidently "borrowed" much of the narrative text of his analysis from a column by GM Lubomir Kavalek, as Kavalek himself very clearly details.

    As far as I know, no similar objections have been raised to the rest of the book's content, so while that's not any sort of justification, one may at least hope it was a one-off, one time only lapse in judgment. The publisher has apologized for Grivas's error, as has ChessBase (Grivas made a DVD which also used the material in "The Square"), but again, as far as I know, Grivas himself has remained silent on the matter. (If someone is aware of his having apologized, please let me know.) It's hard to recommend the book under these circumstances, but I'll leave that judgment up to my readers. (As if it wasn't up to you in the first place!) I'll just say that taking the book on its own merits, it's a good, solid work that strong club players up to at least FMs can use profitably, especially under the guidance of a trainer.

    The book is available on Amazon; an excerpt is available here.