Rudolf Spielmann, The Art of Sacrifice in Chess, 21st century edition, revised and expanded by Karsten Mueller. (Russell Enterprises, 2015.) 272 pp., $24.95. Reviewed by Dennis Monokroussos.
Austrian grandmaster Rudolf Spielmann (1883-1942) was one of the great swashbuckling players of his era, and was a fine writer on the topic as well. His masterwork, The Art of Sacrifice, was written in the mid-1930s and was a classic from its inception. Its main contribution to chess literature, aside from the 37 exciting games (all Spielmann's) covered therein, was its taxonomy of sacrifices, apparently the first of its kind.
Spielmann's first distinction is between sham sacrifices and real ones. A sham sacrifice is one that leads to a clearly foreseen gain - a material advantage (or at least the recovery of the material with some positional gains) or mate. A real sacrifice is the opposite: material is offered without any clearly foreseeable and tangible return on the investment.
In part 1, he covers the three kinds of sham sacrifices given above: positional sacrifices (the material is regained with positional interest), sacrifices for gain (the sacrificer winds up with extra material), and mating sacrifices.
In part 2 (or is it part 2 of part 1? It's unclear in the book's formatting) he discusses real sacrifices, subdividing them into these types, each getting its own chapter: sacrifices for development, obstructive sacrifices, preventive (anti-castling) sacrifices, line-clearance sacrifices, vacating sacrifices, deflecting/decoy sacrifices, (castled) king's field sacrifices and king-hunt sacrifices.
Finally, in part 3 (or 2?), on "sacrificial values", he has one chapter on exchange sacrifices and another on queen sacs. A brief epilogue follows, and that brings an end to the original edition, one of the classic works of its time.
Eighty years later, we have a new edition, thanks to German grandmaster Karsten Mueller and Russell Enterprises, and it offers a significant expansion and improvement of the original. One improvement is a now-standard one, though one which will be welcomed by the vast majority of the readership: the old English descriptive notation has been replaced by algebraic. The other revisions are far more substantive: there are analytical corrections to Spielmann's original (inserted in blue italics within the body of the text), and then there are 11(!) extra chapters, each with exercises, written by Mueller.
Of these new chapters, most involve sacrifices on a particular square, two feature star attacking/sacrificial players, one focuses on defense and then there's a final chapter with only exercises. To elaborate: chapters 14-20 feature, respectively, sacs on h2/h7 (Greek gift sacs), g7/g2, f7/f2, h6/h3, g6/g3, f6/f3 and e6/e3. Chapter 21 presents some of Mikhail Tal's magic, and chapter 22 is on Shirov's sacrifices. Chapter 23 is on defense, chapter 24 gives some final exercises for the road, and then there are 50 pages of solutions. As half the book is brand new, this is not a minor revision!
I think the book is worthwhile in both its parts, and could be appreciated and well-used by players rated from, say, 1600 (one should have basic tactical proficiency to get the most out of the book) all the way up to and through the master level. Recommended.