The Gambit Challenge: How to Become a Pawn Star

by ChessBase
2/4/2004 – Three weeks ago the Gambit Publications started a competition on our site for eye-catching titles for chess books. The "Guide to Beating the English" by Kunte and Ramesh is one cute example, "Play and Pronounce the Scheveningen" a practical one. The three winners are announced by Dr John Nunn.

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Gambit Book Title Competition

First of all, I would like to thank the hundreds of people who entered this competition. Everyone at Gambit had a good time reading through the many suggestions, which covered the whole spectrum from serious to amusing to saucy. Some entrants, such as Stephen Schoeder (USA), even backed up their entries with cover designs.

A few people expressed concern that the competition implied that Gambit books were not selling well. Nothing could be further from the truth; we are very happy with sales and with the way Gambit is developing. However, it always pays to listen to customers and in this respect I would also like to thank those who commented on what they liked
about Gambit books and those who suggested ways in which our books could be improved.

Certain themes repeated themselves in the entries. One group referred to current chess news, such as the suggestion of Dave Guthrie (England), The Gambit Guide to Beating the English by Kunte & Ramesh (referring to the success of the aforementioned players in beating all the English on their way to winning British Championships) and How to Lose With the French Defence in Twenty Moves or Less by Bareev, a proposal of Richard Price (USA). Others seemed to suspect that grandmasters weren’t telling everything they knew when annotating games: these ideas included What Kasparov Doesn’t Want You to Know (Garry Barankin, Canada), What Grandmasters Never Tell You (Ian Brown, England) and What Grandmasters Don’t Want You To Know! (Mario C. Gomez, USA). Some ideas dealt with practical problems, such as Play and Pronounce the Scheveningen (Jeff Ledford, USA), Chess for Working Adults (Surender, USA), How to Improve Your Chess with a Full-Time Job (Brod Manfred, Austria) and Mouse Frenzy – How to Master Internet Chess (Jonas Eriksson, Sweden).

The fact that chess conceals a good deal of aggression came across in one of the largest group of entries, which dealt with the destruction of the opponent. These included How to be a Complete Bastard in Chess (John Graham, USA), Chainsaw Massacre Chess (Douglas Ryan, Canada), Thoroughly Dominate your Opponent Until He Starts to Cry, then Checkmate Him (Alexander Allain, USA), Learn Kick*ss Chess (Ari Hyvärinen, Finland) and the brutal Hardcore Chess: floor your opponent, nail him down and deliver right into the face, mate! (Stefan, Germany). However, I found the best in this category to be the straightforward How to Utterly Destroy Your Opponent at Chess (Harvey Patterson, Canada).

The saucy entries were the largest group, and the names of Alexandra Kosteniuk and Judit Polgar featured prominently amongst these, as in 101 Opening Lines I’d Fall For, by Alexandra Kosteniuk (Dave Guthrie, England). There were several other honourable mentions in this category, which generally reflected a male bias and a perception that chess players don’t always find it easy to get a date: How to Find a Mate (Joshua Green, USA), 69 French Mating Positions (Mike Dyer, Scotland), 101 Ideas On Seducing A Grandmaster (James DuBois, USA) while Ieam L. Onley (Australia) reduced the matter to its bare essentials with Buy This Book and Girls Will Have Sex With You!. The tactics manual Forked Again! (Andy Howie, Scotland) was a worthwhile proposal, but Playing With Yourself and Other Training Techniques (Reegan Milne, Australia) struck me as rather defeatist.

Other entries were harder to categorise, such as How to Become a Pawn Star (Carl Portman, England), How to Annoy Your Opponents (by playing good moves) (Chris Cohen, USA) and Lord of the Kings (Jeff Rapp, New Zealand). A few suggestions were based on pre-existing titles. These included a set of GM interviews entitled Interview with a Nerd (Carter, USA), a collection of GM v Amateur games called Roast Rabbit from a Grandmaster’s Kitchen and some useful tips on how to disqualify your opponent by influencing his or her drug test results, Chess Recipes From the Drug Peddler’s Kitchen (John Hanford, USA). The longest entry was from the staff of the British Chess Magazine: Garry Kasparov’s Ultimate Gambit Guide to the 101 Easy Winning Secrets of Beating Your Dad and Bobby Fischer for the Attacking Player, although I’m not sure how that one would fit on the spine.

Finally we come to the three winning entries, each of which would undoubtedly fill a gaping hole in existing chess literature. In no particular order, we have:

  • Dandruff on Board; and Other Chess Tales From a Seasoned Tournament Player (John Hanford, USA)
  • Score More Chicks with the Spanish Opening by Don Juan (David Lenhart, USA)
  • How I Lost! The Good Excuse Guide for Club Players (Carl Portman, England)

Each winner will receive a well-deserved prize of a free Gambit book of their choice.

John Nunn
Gambit Publications

Dr John Nunn
is an English grandmaster. He has won four individual gold medals and three team silver medals at Chess Olympiads and was at one time ranked in the world top ten. Two of his books have won the prestigious British Chess Federation Book of the Year Award.

Reports about chess: tournaments, championships, portraits, interviews, World Championships, product launches and more.


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