Original Review by Vince W. Berry
First off let me start by saying that I rarely find that a book is bad. The main issue is to find the right target readers for the book. What is the book trying to say? Who can benefit from it? From the title this book claims to explain why it is games are won or lost. Is that true and does it hold true for the readers of this book? I don’t think this is quite right here. This book is more of a planning in the middle game type book. It is very light on opening theory and in many cases just goes through the openings without ANY explanation. Most games get to move 10-15 before anything is explained. It touches on endings some but again not that much. Most of the games focus on middle games. This is fine as long as the reader knows just what he or she is looking for. The author seems to assume that the reader understands openings and endings at a strong level. The ideas in this book also seem to be geared to players of at least 1800+ ELO.
The book is good for players of 1800-2100 strength and show how to play in many closed positions. This is probably not such a great book for lower level players who will not get to these positions and who in most cases play much more open games. They would be better off with more general books covering tactics in open positions or learning how to play endings that they might find in their own games.
Having said all of this, overall this is a well written book and has clear diagrams. There are many games from both the classical encounters through some of our modern greats. The book has exercises at the back of most chapters that will help to pound the ideas home. For the price I think this is a decent buy for class A players but probably the money could be better spent on other books for lower rated players.