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The Independent Online
Steve Davis Plays Chess sounds like an entry in a competition to devise titles for the dullest books imaginable. In fact it is the title of an instructive and intermittently entertaining book (Batsford, pounds 9.95), designed for players of average club standard or below, or anyone else who has wasted his youth at the snooker table.

Essentially a dialogue between the book's co-authors, Steve Davis and David Norwood, Steve Davis Plays Chess is a series of brief master-classes, with positions and the occasional entire game discussed. Davis agonises over his blunders; Norwood commiserates, shows a few mistakes of his own and offers advice on how to do better in future.

The diagram position, despite the minimal material, is one of the most taxing in the book, and was solved by the snooker player after "a great deal of time". White to play: what result?

The straightforward 1.Ke5 leads only to a draw after 1...Kc4 2.Kf6 Kd3 3.Kxg6 Ke4. 1.f4 Kc4 also leads nowhere. The more subtle 1.Kd5 lets Black escape by 1...Kb4 and again the black king sneaks round to pick up the f-pawn. Yet White can win by playing 1.Kd4! (Put a bit of left-hand side on the king, Steve, to ensure good position on the g-pawn.) After 1...Kb4 (or 1...Kc6 2.Ke5 Kc5 3.f4!) 2.f4! White will harvest the g-pawn and win.

Apart from the generally poor quality of its photographs (including one of Steve Davis reading a chess book while sitting on the loo), the main worry about this book is the danger of its spawning a new genre. Can we look foward to Garry Kasparov Goes Synchronised Swimming, Frank Bruno plays Croquet or even Pole-Vaulting with Kenneth Clarke?

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