Practical Chess Openings is a basic openings book covering all the major openings, in alphabetical order. At the beginning of each section is a general description of the opening and its history, including the names of famous players who played it. The opening lines are in Descriptive Notation and are arranged in columns from the most popular to the least popular. Nowadays chess grandmasters do not study opening books. Instead they work with computer databases with millions of games in them, and then run them through chess analysis programs like Fritz, Houdini and Rybka, searching for new ideas and for flaws in their rival grandmaster's analysis. Amateur chess players cannot compete against this. We must just play for the enjoyment of the game without any hope of ever making grandmaster status. Having a book with the latest most up to date lines is of no added value. A serviceable, shorter and highly readable book like Fine's “Practical Chess Openings” is just as good and perhaps even better than a new book crammed with all the latest stuff.
Reuben Fine was born on October 11, 1914 was still only 23 at the time of his victory at AVRO 1938. There is little doubt that he could have and probably would have become the World Chess Champion, except that World War II intervened. Reuben Fine was both one of the world's strongest grandmasters of chess and one of the world's leading authorities on psychoanalysis. Reuben Fine was remarkable not merely for having two successful careers, but for achieving top levels and being world renowned in both fields. Fine took up chess in his youth, became a master as a teenager and at age 17 won his first of seven US Open Chess Championships. He was invited to the great masters tournament in Pasadena 1932, won by World Champion Alekhine, one of the strongest tournaments ever held in the United States. Fine's victories in a series of European tournaments in 1936 and 1937 established Fine as a top contender for the World Chess Championship. This led to his greatest result ever, his tie for first in the strongest chess tournament ever played, AVRO 1938, a double round-robin tournament to determine who would be the next challenger to World Champion Alexander Alekhine. Fine tied with Paul Keres, won more games than anybody, and finished ahead of future champion Mikhail Botvinnik, current champion Alekhine, former world champions Max Euwe and Capablanca, and Grandmasters Samuel Reshevsky and Salo Flohr. Fine won both of his games against Alekhine. During the war, Fine could not travel to Europe, so he concentrated on writing chess books. His books covered all aspects of the game. He wrote Modern Chess Openings, Basic Chess Endings and The Middle Game of Chess during this period. He also played in several US Opens and US Championships. He won the US Open seven times, which was every time he played. After World War II, Fine realized that he could never make a decent living writing chess books and playing in chess tournaments, so he had to get a real profession. He chose psychology and became a psycho-analyst. He played in a few tournaments after World War II, but not many. Most famously, he was invited to play in the 1948 World Chess Championship tournament, but he declined to play. This has been controversial to this day and is still often discussed. He died on March 26, 1993.