G. C. Van Perlo, Van Perlo's Endgame Tactics: A Comprehensive Guide to the Sunny Side of Chess Endgames(New, Improved and Expanded Edition) (New in Chess, 2014). 607 pp., $34.95/$29.95. Reviewed by Dennis Monokroussos.
This fascinating and delightful book may not be the "best" endgame work ever written, but it's probably the most enjoyable book on the subject. The late G.C. van Perlo, who passed away in 2010, was a correspondence chess grandmaster and a terrific writer, and the first edition of Endgame Tactics won lots of awards when it came out in 2006. There were minor changes in the next two editions - corrections to mistaken analyses - but this latest edition has some significant additions - it's 25% bigger, according to the back cover. Van Perlo had finished a new book on rook endings that was similar in style to what he had done in the rook endings section of Endgame Tactics. The book hadn't yet been published, so it was decided to add it here as a new and large chapter to his already sizable masterwork.
For those who are new to the book, it consists of a huge number of endgame positions which mostly involve some tactical nicety or niceties (thus the book's title) - fine points which are often missed. A huge part of the book's charm comes from the author's writing. Van Perlo writes with a good deal of punchy humor and puts a psychological twist on many of the fragments, and both work well given the huge number of heartbreaking failures displayed in the book.
In all there are a whopping 1368 fragments, 75 of which are official exercises included in the material new to this edition. As in traditional endgame texts, the positions are divided by material (pawn endings, queen endings, rook endings, minor piece endings and so on, with further subdivisions as appropriate) and then often further divided by themes.
Anyhow, the book has been reviewed and praised many times over the past eight years, so rather than gild the lily and bring coal to Newcastle I'll stop here and join the chorus. It's a great book, and one practically every chess player of whatever strength can and will enjoy, whether he is a fan of endgames or not. The book can be used to help learn endgames, to practice tactics, and even just for the sheer pleasure of seeing beautiful tactical ideas and/or for the occasion guilty pleasure of schadenfreude.
Recommended to all chess players.