He was the master author of spy novels such as The Bourne Trilogy (I hate to say it because I like Matt Damon and Tommy Lee Jones but the newest Bourne movie was all action and a thin plot, no real tension–I know, I saw it twice with different people). But Ludlum has passed so it wasn’t his fault. Ludlum was a thriller-suspense guy without the need for umpteen dozen plot twists that will make your head spin.

However, I was on the streets of Chicago many years ago looking for a book in another  trilogy (by Len Deighton), The Berlin Game from his Game, Set and Match series over three countries. The Good Guys versus the Commies (capital C). I found it and it was worth the wait and the lost sleep! I couldn’t wait until evening so I could pick up where I had left off the night before. For me it was important to get it in hardcover and read them in the “correct” order. This was Berlin Game, Mexico Set, and London Match . Invigorating and gabs you by the family jewels. They were “fat books” which meant you can enjoy them longer.  Both authors had the amazing adjectives and nouns in their titles which they MAY have done first such as: The Parsival Mosaic, The Aquitaine Progression, The Quiller Memorandum (Hall), The Fourth Protocol (Forsyth), etc. It was catchy.

In chess we have had a few trilogies and once in a while a quadrilogy (Lars Bo Hansen,  John Watson for examples.) The other day something else struck me dumb! A Spanish grandmaster author (originally from Paraguay) named Zenon Franco!

This guy is really good and Gambit snagged him many years ago. I got stopped in my tracks as I was listing (to be sold) more books from my personal library. For some reason I took another look inside after I had sent out Test Your Chess to my Chess to Enjoy subscribers. It was very good. I’ll admit I was biased against certain authors who I felt were published by a chess publishing company like Gambit because their book contracts were most likely cheaper than with other “mainstay” authors. Either Franco is a fantastic author or he has an editor who is way above average. Or both. He has great game selections to go with the book’s title, and his notes are remarkably readable as well as enjoyable.

My only regret is that I have only a couple of his books in inventory at the moment!

Whenever you are stuck, as Black, for a system against an opponent who plays differently than you had counted on, do what I did to a Brazilian master in 1988 in Boston. He opened with 1.d4 and I responded with 1…e6. He told me after the game (we drew) he was afraid I would try to transpose into a Dutch Defense (of which I had no inkling) that is why his play was a little lackluster. He thought I was going after him with a pre-emptive strike and he dawdled while looking for moves. But I have a repertoire for you by Ukrainian GM Viacheslav Eingorn. He calls it the French Connection and it is attempts to win by 1.e4 e6 and 1.d4 e6. The title is a bit cute, A Rock Solid Chess Opening Repertoire for Black. It’s a reasonable size, 192 pages of greased lightning. It’s perfect for those who love the Nimzo-Indian too. What if you are scared witless about 1.c4 by White? That and 1.Nf3 are also allotted space in 16 pages. For an all-round book on regular lines, transpositions in less than 200 pages, this book would be hard to beat. If White tries to enact the King’s Indian Attack, Eingorn handles that too. This book is a workhorse. Perfect for me as I have no interest in reinventing the wheel.

There is Franco’s book called Grandmaster Secrets: Counterattack! There are 30+ annotated games and at least that many exercises. Franco, like Kortchnoi, views Lasker as one of the great defenders of all time. Also in this magnificent work are supplemental games.

There are two other books I highly recommend. How to Crush Your Chess Opponents by GM Simon Williams. 30 games of wild hammer-blows type stuff. The games are perfect for teaching classes in a club because the students will keep asking themselves, “Is this the point where the roof caves in?”

Then there is John Watson’s book for the player with the white pieces: A Strategic Chess Opening Repertoire for White. He says it is a “complete plan of attack with 1 d4 and 2 c4.” Lots of modern chess on the Q-side. Slightly different for John who often has seen his authorship converging on forced tactical play according to master Alex Angos. What we see here are 4 nice, informative, and revealing books from Gambit for a special practical price of $95.80 (under a hundred bucks retail)–but our price is nuts because you can have this set for just $64.95, giving us a new definition of INSANITY! Just one complete set for your weekend thought processes. Every kind of chess game, and opening. If you’ve been out of the game for awhile, give this a whirl. Postage for S&H is $7.95.


C.J.S. PURDY lives on! In the last few days I have sold 5 complete sets of his “Inside Look” books for just $50 when the retail is over $134.00! Matt Lunsford in KY is going to use them for a club he is forming! A few others have finally realized they can’t take their estate with them, so they have gotten BACK into chess. Smart move. Get these while I have them. For some reason I thought I only had 10 complete sets originally, but I found some more of volume 3 tonight, the one which talks about Combinations and why they are important to be a great Chess King. As I have written before, Purdy IS the guy for chess instruction from the ground up. These 3 books comprise 800+ pages and the S&H on them is $8.95.

Look forward to hearing from you. One of our readers said what he likes about chess publications are those with quizzes and trivia. So if you agree with him, we will have some of that with the new release of The Chess Gazette coming out at the end of the month. Subscription is free, all you have to do is tell me, “Please put me down as a subscriber for the Chess Gazette. If I forget to say please, put me down for a subscription anyway!” It will be done.

Thanks pardners.

Bob & Jack



One thought on “WHO WAS ROBERT LUDLUM?

  1. Bob, if no one has yet claimed the 4 book “Gambit” collection mentioned in this blog entry, I will. Just let me know, and check can go out tomorrow. Greg VandeLaney

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