“Fire on the board”, First Alexei Shirov’s book

Alexei Shirov

In the history of modern chess there are few who can say that they overwhelmed their opponents in such a way that they sowed terror and fear in the eyes of other modern grandmasters, but this is the case of Alexei Shirov, who demonstrates with his book Fire on the Board, that romantic chess did not die with Mikhail Tal.

The now Spanish grandmaster Shirov, takes us to a fantasy world where the pieces are only a means to an end, in this case the end is the goal of checkmate and in many of his best games, this is what happens.

Who is the author of the book Fire on the Board Alexei Shirov?

Alexei Shirov is a Spanish GM (currently) born in Latvia, which at that time was part of the dissolved USSR.

Among his most important achievements we can mention that he was world cadet champion at the age of 16, while in 1988 he earned the right to play in the main league of the USSR. By 1997 he had already won the Madrid tournament, and in 1998 he had won Linares. That same year he managed to win Vladimir Kramnik the right to play for the world crown, but his match against Kasparov never took place.

It should be noted that he also reached the final of two FIDE world cups, where he lost the first against GM Vishy Anand and the second against GM Gata Kamsky.

Fire on the board
Alexei Shirov playing Anand.

I thank my opponents for the points they let me take from them” – Alexei Shirov.

What does Fire on the board consist of?

This is a compilation of games by the Spanish GM Alexei Shirov, who by that time was one of the strongest players of the time, his explosive game where he sacrificed pieces and filled his opponents with terror is considered one of the most attractive.

This book as its name suggests, is really fire in the purest style of Mikhail Tal, who would be proud of the style of play that Shirov has developed throughout his chess career and is really worth admiring.

Especially in an age where defense and positional play has prevailed over the romantic chess of yesteryear where the king gambit was a common opening and where more than one could play the game of his life with more than one dubious sacrifice.

Characteristics of the book

Alexei Shirov has not been characterized for being very subtle in his games, and that is why, if you are interested in knowing a little more about this book, you should read its characteristics and in this way give your opinion if it is really necessary to have it in your chess library.

  • Difficulty: Easy.
  • Notation: Algebraic.
  • Focus: Tactical.

IMPORTANT: If you want to develop a tactical, explosive and violent style, this is really your book, although Shirov has games where he shows his positional value, you can really find his strong points in all the games that he has placed and analyzed in this book.

Benefits of reading games on the board

Surely any player who knows Shirov will be easy to answer what his game contributed to the growth of players who today are pure dynamite, but if you want to know the benefits that this book has for you, below, you will have them:

  • Its index of openings and opponents makes it easy to read.
  • It is a gem for tactical players who want to blow their opponent away and prove that tactical play also wins championships.
  • It is incredibly well edited and Shirov's comments enrich the reader with insider information (he even names openings he stopped playing due to bad results).
Alexei Shirov
Alexei Shirov Fire On The Board.

Disadvantages of Fire on the Board

A review of a book would not be complete without a critique from the point of view to improve, and in the case of Fire on the Board, there will be no exceptions, since, from an objective point of view, I could find small drawbacks that for my taste should be highlighted.

  • There is a lack of depth in the analysis of the games.
  • The variants index is specialized in the Botvinnik system.
  • There are few endgames that bring benefits or development to the reader in this phase of the game.

IMPORTANT: The fact that this book has not been analyzed in depth does not mean that you can not do it, it should also be mentioned that a book with so many games is difficult to analyze in depth because it would be very tedious for the reader to reproduce the main variations and sub-variants, therefore, this would be the work of the reader with the help of the module.

Strategically or tactically is a book that will help you grow?

As I mentioned in the characteristics of the book, this is a book focused purely on tactical issues, so it can be very useful for anyone in this aspect, however, it is important to mention that in some cases the games were taken to the endgame.

This also helps in terms of positional and conversion of the material or positional advantage, since Shirov despite not being a delicate player in his game, if he obtained positive results that placed him at some point in his career as one of the best players for his time.

All this means that Fire on the Board is an indispensable book for a specific type of player, you are not necessarily the target audience of this material, however, it does not hurt to learn tactics and use this book as a manual for combination effects and develop a good opening that gives us enough advantage to surprise our opponent with a miniature.

Alexei Shirov
Latvian Team Alexei Shirov.

Other books by Alexei Shirov

The “Leonardo Da Vinci of chess” has dedicated a lot of time to write works that will last in the history of chess, and in each one of them he has captured his game based on combinations that astonish the whole world, including his rivals who in more than one occasion have doubted if these moves are correct, therefore, here you have other books of the Latvian, naturalized Spanish.

  • Fire on the Board II
  • Ocean Deep Mountain High: Unexplained Sacrifices in Chess
  • My best games with black

In retrospect, Fire on the Board may not be an essential book for a positional or strategic player, but one cannot underestimate the hard work of a player like Shirov, who recalls in his book that his laptop was stolen and this book is only a tenth part of what at some point had been the original work, but this does not detract from the fact that it is a real gem and any tactical player should read it. If you liked this article, check our blog for more.

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