Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Coming soon from McFarland

For the chess history minded reader the new chess book catalog is out from McFarland listing a number of new books to be issued in the coming months.The Fall and Winter new releases will include:

The Zurich Chess Club, 1809–2009
ISBN 978-0-7864-6064-9

Arthur Kaufmann: A Chess Biography, 1872–1938
ISBN 978-0-7864-6145-5

William H.K. Pollock: A Chess Biography
ISBN 978-0-7864-5868-4

Books coming in the Spring of 2012

Aron Nimzowitsch: On the Road to Chess Mastery,

ISBN 978-0-7864-6539-2

Eminent Victorian Chessplayers
ISBN 978-0-7864-6568-2

[The Early Modern Era of Chess History] Title not yet set
ISBN 978-0-7864-6688-7

Yasser Seirawan: Chess Duels: My Games with the World Champions

Named the ChessCafe.com Book of the Year for 2010, Chess Duels is one of the best chess autobiographies published in quite some time. Yasser Seirawan is an engaging and entertaining writer, who in Chess Duels offers us his insights of and games with the world champions of the recent past. A raconteur of the chess anecdote, Seirawan uses the well placed story and anecdote to flesh out the character of each champion.

Seirawan a four U.S. chess champion played at the highest levels of the international chess scene during the 80's and 90's and gives an inside look at some of chess personalities and chess politics of that era.

It is the games with the world champions that hold center court, and though there no games with Bobby Fischer, Max Euwe or Mikhail Botvinnik portraits of these champions are included, Seirawan ranks the top three champions thus:
1. Garry Kasparov
2. Anatoly Karpov
3. Bobby Fischer
 I find it hard to dispute his rankings, but there are those for who Bobby will always be number one.

Seirawan is a gifted as well as an entertaining annotator, his notes are clear and concise. Notes that take the reader to the heart of a game, sometimes with a tinge of humor usually at his own expense.

I include this youtube video of a loss to Karpov (thanks to Sirb0b1 for posting) to give some of the flavor of Seirawan's annotations.

Seirawan's insights on  the restless soul that is Garry Kasparov, the Good Garry and the Bad Garry is one of the most revealing portrait of perhaps the greatest chess player ever. The Anatoly Karpov that emerges in this book is less the Soviet man of the future and more of a Russian gentleman. It is these two men who will be linked together in chess history, who stand at the center of this book. The affection and respect Seirawan feels for these both men and the other champions as well as the game of chess comes shining through in these pages.

I cannot recommend this book enough, I know beggars can't be choosers but can we have more  please.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

José Copié - Historia del Ajedrez Argentino:Tomo I

Chess in Argentina has had a rich and eventful history, correspondence GM José Copié has begun what promises to be multi-volume history of chess in Argentina, this first volume focuses on the history of the Club Argentino de Ajedrez. The remaining volumes will cover the other important chess clubs, major tournaments, national championships, team tournaments,chess composition, correspondence chess and other subjects.

The Club Argentino de Ajedrez is one of the most prestigious chess clubs not only in Latin America but in the world. But before we begin with the history of the club proper , there is brief introduction on the beginnings of chess in Argentina from colonial era to the years of independence; Argentina has suffered through many an economic crisis and repressive governments, and GM Copié has made some effort to put chess in Argentina in it's historical context.

From it's inception in 1905 the club has had a busy schedule of club and team tournaments. Many European players visited the club in those early years: Richard Teichmann, the then world champion Emanuel Lasker, Boris Kostic and  José Raul Capablanca before he become world champion.
It was at the Club Argentino de Ajedrez that Capablanca lost his title to Alexander Alekhine and the match is covered in great detail along with the clubs various efforts for many years to stage a rematch;
a rematch that was not be.

But the everyday life of a chess club is it's local members (obscure and the famous), and it is the club tournaments and club championships that is justly the focus of much of the narrative. Stalwarts of the club have included Miguel Angel Gelly, Julio Lynch, Carlos Portela, Oscar Panno, and Hugo Spangenberg. Oscar Panno is perhaps the most well known outside of Argentina as a former world junior champion and after a distinguished international career. Players like Miguel Najdorf and Roberto Grau though not members of the club also figure in this first volume and are sure to reappear in future volumes. The Olympiad of 1939 is somewhat covered when Argentina benefited from influx chess talent due to Germany's invasion of Poland and the beginning of second world war,perhaps a more detailed account is forthcoming in a future volume.

I hope that future volumes will include a game index, and an improvement in the game diagrams is needed (there is not enough definition between the light and dark squares.) The placement notes is also confusing, their placement not a the bottom of the page nor at the end of the book, but at the end of a section to be followed immediately followed by a new section make finding a note a bit of a challenge. But these are minor quibbles in comparison to the importance of this endeavor.

There are 16 pages of illustrations; I did not count the number of games but I would hazard a guess on the conservative side of over a hundred. So if you have at least a smattering of Spanish and a interest in chess history I can wholly recommend this book.

Historia del Ajedrez Argentino: Tomo I
José Copié
Editorial de los Cuatro Vientos

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Ken Whyld - Chess Reader

The inspiration for this blog is the late Ken Whyld's chess book review newsletter the “Chess Reader” which was published from 1955 til 1966, the first five volumes under Ken Whyld editorship, the final volume under other editors. The “ Chess Reader” is available again and now published in book form thanks to the Publishing House of Moravian Chess which have reprinted so many chess classics of the past as well as publishing much new chess research.

The “Chess Reader” is a font of knowledge for the chess bibliophile, each issue displaying an easily worn erudition and a no nonsense style. If not every book issued in those 10 years was reviewed;  it seems at the very least every important book was reviewed. Books for the novice as well as weighty tomes of opening, endgame and middle game theory; tournament bulletins, chess biographies and books on chess compositions were all considered and reviewed. You may find yourself like me adding to your want lists after reading one of Ken Whyld's reviews.