Book Notes

Edward Winter


Source: Page 139 of Chess Review, May 1963 (given in C.N. 7494)

We have written very few ‘set-piece’ book reviews, two examples being Karpov’s Chess is My Life for the BCM in 1981 and Alexander Alekhine’s Chess Games, 1902-1946 by Leonard M. Skinner and Robert G.P. Verhoeven for New in Chess in 1998. In contrast, many C.N. items entitled ‘Books Notes’ have offered briefer comments on recently-published chess volumes. Below is a selection of such items from the 1980s, when Chess Notes appeared as a magazine.

A Picture History of Chess by Fred Wilson (Dover, 1981) has come to hand. Anyone who has had to secure photographs for inclusion in a chess work will appreciate what a task it is to assemble interesting, unhackneyed portraits. In this respect Mr Wilson has succeeded excellently. No. 98 is a 1896 study of a bespectacled Steinitz that was completely new to us, as was No. 132, ‘the last photograph of Emanuel Lasker, taken a few days before his death’. Occasional minor irritation is caused by the failure to identify the (often relatively famous) players in some of the group portraits; it was also disheartening to find that the coverage of the post-War period demonstrates an unaccountable lapse into heavy pro-American bias. The captions to the photographs, often several paragraphs, are well enough written, although the author might have tried to be a little more original with the content – one finds that one can almost guess what facts (and worse) he will write about any given master. But perhaps we are being too negative, for the overall value of the book is considerable; many of the photographs (there are 295 in all) are quite fascinating.


One work by Alekhine that is almost completely forgotten (or, rather, almost completely never heard of ...) is the tournament book of Madrid, 1943. Alekhine did not participate in the tourney, and nor did he annotate the games played; he simply wrote introductions/summaries for them all – anything up to a couple of hundred words, most of them straight from the shoulder. It is a type of writing that we would like to see far more of in tournament books which have insufficient space/time/inclination for full annotations, for it gives the reader an excellent general idea of what is happening, leaving him to investigate the details for himself.


Gunter Müller (Bremen, West Germany) kindly provides a copy of his 1981 book Polygamie auf dem Schachbrett (published by Manfred Mädler, Düsseldorf). It is a collection of chess oddities and curiosities, rounded off by no fewer than 45 pages of solid anecdotes. Although almost all the material will be familiar to the well-briefed enthusiast, it must be said that having such data available within one volume is of great help. Our band of Alekhine devotees will want to consult pages 87-88 and the score of the game A. v Wedemeyer, simultaneous exhibition, Bremen, 1943.


One of the most interesting recent chess books has received very little attention. In 1981 the Bibliothèque pour la science published Tempêtes sur l’échiquier by François Le Lionnais. Though fairly brief (111 pages), it is a fascinating work, excellently written and well illustrated with about 30 photographs. Each of the 19 chapters (‘Money and chess’, ‘The Psychology of Errors’, etc.) has a clear theme which is treated in a novel way, since both chess play and chess problems are examined. The book has a charming mixture of remarkable games (not all the old chestnuts), problems and studies which is united by the erudite text of the respected author of Les prix de beauté aux échecs (first published in 1939) and, of course, the Dictionnaire des échecs (with Ernst Maget).


The latest book on George Allen & Unwin’s list is Positional Chess by Shaun Taulbut, a slim volume of 102 pages. Isolated pawns, bad bishops, rooks on the seventh – it’s all there, though, and we must admit to rather liking Taulbut’s simple, ‘no frills’ approach to his material. He strikes the right balance between laying down the law and acknowledging that most ‘rules’ have exceptions, although one would have liked to see, for this very reason, far more illustrative positions.

Three brief further comments. British chess books currently strike us as terribly insular, and the work under discussion is no exception. Chandler, Hodgson and Perkins hardly whip the blood as much as such geniuses as Steinitz, Lasker and Alekhine – who are not mentioned a single time. Secondly, ‘hanging pawns’ are one of the most difficult positional concepts for the student to grasp (are they weak or strong?) yet there is no treatment of this subject, apart from a passing reference on page 4. Finally, we note that the index of themes promised in the contents list never materializes. A handy little book which deserves to be greatly expanded in a second edition.


Our immediate reaction to From the Opening into the Endgame by Edmar Mednis was that the production standards virtually reached perfection; it is a beautifully clean, neat-looking book. After that, we wondered about the extent Mednis wishes to encourage the reader to bypass the middle-game. If the book is merely concerned with preparing the reader in case of an early transition to the endgame, that is fine; but surely it is dangerous to begin a game with the preconceived notion of reaching an ending as soon as possible – just as it is fatal to sit down with the aim of winning a miniature brilliancy.

Since this magazine has few inhibitions about commenting on writers’ prose styles, we readily note that Mednis offers a choice range of clichés, such as:

‘The sharp Grünfeld player will feel like a fish out of water when faced with it.’

‘White should strike at Black’s queenside while the iron is hot.’

‘The fundamental weaknesses in Black’s queenside have come home to roost with vengeance.’ (A classic!)

‘By handing White two tempos on a silver platter Black ensures his loss.’

Another superb example of Mednis’s dexterity with the language:

‘This superficially logical developmental move leads to a prospectless position for Black.’

One can be sure he was proud of that one.

And while the reader is unravelling this comment on Frank Marshall ...

‘He invariably opened with 1 d4, which, however, was no handicap in having the fur start to fly soon thereafter’ ...

... he is liable to overlook that the one fact in that sentence is totally false.

And since we are in a contrary mood, we note a line from Mednis’s Preface: ‘... my deepest gratitude goes to my wonderful blonde wife, Baiba, ... for typing the entire manuscript ...’ She should have refused to type that bit.


With Barbara Hund now proving herself one of the top ten women players in the world, Walter Rau Verlag have taken the brave step, commercially speaking, of publishing her autobiography, flatly entitled Mein Weg zum Erfolg. The 30 or so games are efficiently, rather than spectacularly, played, but the volume offers a neat, abundantly illustrated, record of a gifted chess maestra. How many other games collections have ever been published on women players?

Presumably Barbara Hund typed the manuscript herself; scrutiny of the text fails to reveal any references to a handy husband – no dashing, dark Dieter to do the dactylo ...


Following From the Opening into the Endgame (C.N. 500), Edmar Mednis has now written, also for Pergamon but in much better English, From the Middlegame into the Endgame. It is a useful book of instruction, only slightly marred by the absence of an index. One notes on page viii that Mrs Mednis’s hair has kept its colour.


Many of our readers are, we know, avid collectors of tournament books. A new series of the greatest promise is ETC, Encyclopedia of Tournament Chess, under the direction of Warren H. Goldman. The first volume is Temesvar, 1912 which, in addition to the 105 games (the best being well annotated), contains some 30 pages of excellent introductory material (information about the tournament winner, Breyer, and a study of Hungarian chess). The book also serves as a reminder of the slow start that Réti made in serious chess competition (a very undistinguished equal 11th). His loss against Jenő Székely in the third round is an oddity in the way that one tactical circumstance dominates almost the entire game: White’s threat of a bishop move to win the unprotected black queen:

Jenő Székely – Richard Réti
Temesvar, 13 August 1912
French Defence

1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 dxe4 4 Nxe4 Nd7 5 Bd3 Ngf6 6 Nf3 Nxe4 7 Bxe4 Nf6 8 Bd3 c5 9 O-O cxd4 10 Nxd4 Bc5 11 Be3 Qb6 12 b4 Bxd4 13 Bxd4 Qxb4 14 Rb1 Qd6 15 Re1


15...Bd7 (Castling, of course, is prevented by the theme of the game.) 16 Be5 Qc5 17 Rxb7 Bc6 18 Rc7 Nd5 19 Bd4 Qxd4 20 Rxc6 Rd8 21 Rcxe6+ Kf8 22 Re8+ Resigns.

Source: Temesvar 1912 by Warren Goldman, pages 45-46.


C.N. 541 offered a warm welcome to a new series, ETC, (Encyclopedia of Tournament Chess). It is a pleasure to announce that the second volume, Vienna, 1890, way surpasses our expectations, high though these were. The Editor, Warren H. Goldman, has worked extremely hard to provide much background information on the players and about Kolisch (Vienna, 1890 was the first Kolisch Memorial Tournament), as well as to supply excellent annotations to the most interesting of the games. At last a book which provides historical material that is not well known: Here are some choice snippets

Page 23: ‘A number of interesting parallels appear in the lives of Kolisch and Weiss: both were of Hungarian origin; were small in stature; attended school in Vienna; were gifted in mathematics; quit professional chess in their early 30s after winning great international events; and became involved with the Rothschild banking dynasty. Perhaps it was fore-ordained that Weiss would win the first Kolisch Memorial Tournament.’

‘Golombek’s Encyclopedia of Chess falls into careless error in its cursory ten-line entry on Max Weiss (page 342) when it states: “His books (Schachmeisterstreiche, Mulhausen 1918, and Kleines Schachlehrbuch, Mulhausen 1920) as well as his problem collections (of Loyd, Shinkman, and of Bamberg Problemists, Caissa Bambergensis, Bamberg 1902) are forgotten today.” The afore-mentioned books do indeed owe their authorship to one Max Weiss – but the all-too-fallible Encyclopedia confuses its Viennese subject with one Max Weiss of Bamberg (Germany)!’ (True enough, though it might have been added in fairness that the erroneous bibliography was at least removed from the Penguin edition of Golombek’s work.) Goldman’s note on this affair is on pages 24-25 of Vienna, 1890.

Page 32: Berthold Englisch ‘is credited with having introduced the opening move 1 b4 into master practice’. Compare C.N. 55.

Page 39: We learn that Adolf Albin was the author of a primer on the Romanian language.

Page 66: The earliest ‘Richter-Veresov’ we have ever seen: Popiel-Marco (round four) began 1 d4 d5 2 Nc3 Nf6 3 Bg5 Bf5. Black won in 30 moves.

Page 71: ‘It is in this 1890 Albin-Weiss game that we first encounter the problem identified with the rook-plus-bishop-pawn-plus-rook-pawn versus rook pawn ending. The difficulty attending this type of ending did not engage the attention of the chess world until the famous Marshall-Rubinstein game played at San Sebastián in 1911.’

Page 126. The game Schwarz-Marco, round 16, led to what we would nominate as the most remarkable symmetrical position ever seen in master play: 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 Nc3 Nc6 4 Bb5 Bb4 5 O-O O-O 6 d3 d6 7 h3 h6 8 Bxc6 Bxc3 9 Bxb7 Bxb2 10 Bxa8 Bxa1 11 Bd2 Bd7 12 Bb7 Qb8 13 Ba6 Bb2 14 Ba5 Ba3 15 Qb1 Ba4.


Indeed, the symmetry continued for another couple of moves. Marco managed to win the game in 44 moves.

We have only one criticism of Goldman’s work, a very minor one. Some of his game annotations tend to be over-written. (E.g. ‘White’s battle-incensed pieces artfully go about garrotting Albin’s betrayed king’, page 109.) Personally, when a player loses a pawn we prefer to be told that he has lost a pawn and not, for instance, that his audacious infantryman has succumbed. Yet this is but an insignificant blemish in a truly superb tournament book. The Editor announces that the next title due out is Vienna, 1882, while he is also preparing ‘the pioneer English-language work honoring Carl Schlechter’. We await these and further books with the greatest of interest, and congratulate Mr Goldman on the outstanding quality of the works that he has already given us.


An endnote on page 260 of Chess Explorations:

There is a slightly older specimen of the Richter-Veresov opening on pages 298-300 of the October 1889 International Chess Magazine: 1 d4 d5 2 Nc3 Nf6 3 Bg5 e6 (Gunsberg-Burn, Amsterdam, 1889). Black won in 41 moves.

Warren Goldman did not complete his Vienna, 1882 project; a volume on that tournament was published by Olms in 1984 (see C.N. 744 below). His monograph on Schlechter came out posthumously.

Another recent chess book contains a large number of factual errors. Pergamon have just brought out 100 Classics of the Chessboard by A.S.M. Dickens and H. Ebert. Although the problem and study parts are competently and entertainingly handled, the book opens with 13 game and combination positions which prove that the authors’ knowledge of chess play is woefully inadequate. On a first reading we noticed the following mistakes in these brief opening sections:

Page 5: Berlin is omitted as the venue of the Evergreen Game.

Page 6: Morphy defeated Löwenthal 2½-½, not 1½-½.

Page 10: the 1927 Capablanca-Alekhine match is placed at New York instead of Buenos Aires.

Page 10: It is well-known, except to the authors, that the ‘Alekhine-Grigoriev’ game is spurious.

Page 16: Fischer was 13, not 12, when he won his famous game against Byrne.

Pages 28-29 contain the most curious blunder we have seen in a recent book. The co-authors wish to give the finish of Marshall’s ‘Golden Game’ (23...Qg3!!), played against Levitzky in the Breslau tournament of 1912. However, they claim this was actually the game Janowsky-Marshall, Biarritz, 1912, presumably confusing another spectacular queen move by Marshall in the third match-game against Janowsky, 12...Qxf3. The sad result of this chaos is a pen-portrait of Janowsky, whose name should not even be mentioned, to say nothing of calling Marshall ‘F.G.’ instead of ‘F.J.’, plus the fact that it is incorrectly claimed the game went on to mate whereas in fact Janowsky, sorry – Levitzky ..., resigned at once after seeing the queen move. Astonishing.


british chess1

Much as one might dislike criticizing any book which hands over part of its royalties to such causes as ‘Friends of Women in Chess’, it has to be said that British Chess, edited by G.S. Botterill, D.N.L. Levy, J.M. Rice and M.J. Richardson, is an absolute dud in spades. Both in conception and execution it has gone completely awry. Plush and well bound, it is less good on the inside, where a large number of writers, many with nothing to say, ramble on in isolation from each other. There is much generosity towards lesser-known figures, F. Boyd, for example, being granted five pages. He opens up, ‘I think it was while working for B.H. Wood at Sutton Coldfield ...’ B.H. who? There is no entry for any such person – OBE or no OBE.

But the things we learn about those lucky ones who are included. Robert Bellin plays the guitar and likes the paranormal. Rowena Bruce has three grandchildren exclamation mark. Fairhurst’s Olympiad adversaries included those well-known throat infections Matoczy and Mikemas. David Levy notes what a good month March is for chess births: Fischer, Larsen and Levy. (Although only he was born the same day as Einstein ...) Craig Pritchett achieves a double norm with the most tasteless remark in the book which is also the biggest non sequitur: ‘I always fancied girls, Reuben Fine. So much for latent homosexuality.’ Fellow masochists who look to Jon Speelman to hang, draw and quarter the English language will join our rejoicing over ‘... the Malta Olympiad, with its concomitment FIDE congress ...’ Concomitment should not, of course, be confused with intermittant, which graces the entry on the next page. Incidentally, Colin Sydenham ‘usually travels to work by bus’.

Messrs Botterill and Levy exploit their seat on the editorial board to award themselves acres of space (but at least the former writes intelligently). In fact, very few contributors seem to have understood that personal details about their own glorious selves generally make the most vapid reading, and the only entries that succeed are the few that look beyond Number One to wider chess issues, though even these are often mangled by an undiscriminating printer.

The blurb mentions that ‘every British Grandmaster or International Master was asked to select ... and to write ...’ etc., neatly concealing the fact that many refused the request. In these cases, third-person accounts were flown in, short and brutal so that the subject would regret not having participated actively in the project. Here only are we in sympathy with Pergamon Press; no doubt many courteous requests for articles were simply ignored, at least until a time when production could not be held up any longer. What is one to think of anyone – big wigs and small fry alike – who cannot be bothered to offer a brief autobiographical piece for charity?

In any case, the pre-publication traumas, lack of coordination and general carelessness show up starkly in the finished product. At nearly £15 it is not exactly a bargain, and we only hope that the Friends of Women in Chess are not expecting to rake in a fortune. An absolute must for every chess lover’s miss list.


Leonid Kubbel’s Chess Endgame Studies edited by T.G. Whitworth is a delight, excellently researched and produced. In the April 1984 Illustrated London News John Nunn compares its price (£5.50, post free) with that of the Batsford book by Bellin, Trompowski [sic] Opening and Torre Attack (£6.96, postage extra): ‘Bellin’s book is 96 pages and Whitworth’s 176, so somebody must be making a profit!’

David Bronstein Chess Improviser by B.S. Vainstein (Pergamon) also merits praise, although not quite in the same league as the recent Keres work from the same stable. Heidenfeld’s posthumous Damen sind Luxus (Schwarz-Weiss Verlag) is an enjoyable collection, complete with many interesting photographs, of 70 games featuring an early exchange of queens.

Practical Chess Playing by Raymond Edwards is a good addition to the Routledge Chess Handbooks series (volumes 3 and 6 of which are especially fine), but is marred by an unimaginative, if not downright lazy, selection of games and positions. The author prepares us in his Preface to expect ‘examples from well-known sources’ but his justification rings false. Why should book 7 give Capablanca v Tartakower, New York, 1924 when that ending will already be familiar to the reader from book 6? Any enthusiast who has reached the stage of being interested in ‘the practicalities of chess playing’ deserves better than the over-familiar classics.

The same publishers offer Pachman’s trilogy on openings, middle-games and endings, a most useful set. A pity that players’ names without any venue or date are given. Other random thoughts in brief: the openings book (page 56) gives 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 Nxe5 Nxe4 and this last move, which we were all brought up to believe to be a blunder, is now described as follows: ‘Black can make this line into a gambit which is not without chances’. We were not at all keen on John Littlewood’s patronizing Preface to the endings book.

Tibor Flórián’s Defence & Counter-Attack is another worthwhile translation from Pergamon, carefully prepared for publication. Mysteriously, no translator’s name. The Games in the St Petersburg Tournament, 1895-96 is a Chess Player reprint of a BCM limited edition by Mason and Pollock, with a new, historically interesting, introduction by Ken Whyld. A new work rather than a reprint is Olms’ Das II. Internationale Schachmeister-turnier Wien 1882, edited by Christian M. Bijl. It is an industriously produced compendium and the student who finds some aspects of modern strategy difficult to grasp may well feel more at ease with the more clear-cut games on offer here. We regret that the publication of this book is likely to mean that the planned ETC volume on the same event (see C.N. 601) will not now appear for some time, but, that apart, it is a work that makes a most welcome addition to the lovely Olms range.


My Chess Adventures by Charles W. Warburton (Runaway Press, 1980) has been highly praised in some quarters; for us it was just one more illustration of the traps awaiting a minor chess figure (by which we mean anyone other than a top-flight master) who decides to write about himself. What matters above all is the tone of the work, and here Warburton fails to avoid the mistakes of Platz (C.N. 101). The author endeavours to relish his place in the sun without showing any of the charm, modesty or humour that is indispensable if he is to have the reader on his side. Hardly ever does Mr Warburton see any reason to criticize his own play, and it is a shame that the purpose of the book is not so much to instruct and entertain (although it is instructive and entertaining in parts) or to reminisce about various chess personalities, as to stake a claim to a slice of immortality. How one longs for more books like Heidenfeld’s Lacking the Master Touch, which actually set out to glorify chess in all its difficulty and not the writer himself in all his infallibility.

My Chess Adventures does start off well with a most interesting account of the voluminous scrapbooks the author has built up over the years; it rather sounds a unique historical document.


From Warburton’s My Chess Adventures, page 42:

‘Mr Cairncross replied with the Caro-Kann, an opening which to my mind is uninteresting, sterile, and which permits White altogether too much choice and initiative. It was with something of pleasure, but little surprise, that I learnt of Botvinnik beating Spielmann’s Caro in 11 moves, and Alekhine several times won match games in 12 or 13 moves against it. Typically convincing is the thought of Dr Emanuel Lasker who was known to say “anything is good enough to play once”, but apparently not the Caro-Kann for he never once played it in a match game!’

Where does one start? Botvinnik’s win was in 12 moves; for ‘match’ games (twice) read tournament and/or match; did Alekhine really win ‘several times’?; is the Lasker quote credible?; why the anti Caro-Kann dogmatism?

As hinted in C.N. 752, Mr Warburton’s self-satisfaction is positively flaunted (or, as he would say – see page 58 – flouted); he projects a personality that is difficult to like.


Paul Timson (Whalley, England) writes:

‘I would guess that Warburton has based his statement about Alekhine winning several games against the Caro-Kann in 12 or 13 moves on the two games given in Alekhine’s Best Games of Chess 1938-45 by Alexander. The list of games at the front of the book has: Alekhine-Bruce, Plymouth, 1938 (12 moves) and Alekhine-Navarro, Madrid, 1940 (13 moves).

In fact, both games ended in 12 moves, but what the book does not mention is that the game against Navarro was a simultaneous game (actually played on 3 September 1941 – see Morán’s Agonía de un Genio, page 148). The only other short win of Alekhine’s against the Caro-Kann of which I am aware is the incredible game against four unknown consulting players (1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 dxe4 4 Nxe4 Nd7 5 Qe2 Ngf6 6 Nd6 mate) played at Palma de Mallorca on 7 February 1935 (see Morán, page 130).’

We add only that the six-mover was played against one of six consulting teams of four players and that the Navarro game was from a nine-board simul with clocks. Alekhine himself annotated the latter on page 158 of ¡Legado!, giving the incorrect date of 1940 and failing to note that it was a simultaneous game. That game is also in 107 Great Chess Battles (right date but not mentioned as being a simul).

There still remains nothing to justify Warburton’s words.


The Alekhine-Bruce miniature has been discussed in C.N.s 116, 158, 257 and 955. It was played in the third round of the 1938 Plymouth tournament (see BCM 1938, page 469, as well as 1979, pages 231-232). It is of interest to note that the same little combination had already been played, for the following game is on page 39 of the January 1935 BCM:

A. Borges – A.S. Roche
‘Played in a match at Rio de Janeiro’ 1934?
Caro-Kann Defence

1 d4 d5 2 Nc3 c6 3 e4 dxe4 4 Nxe4 Bf5 5 Ng3 Bg6 6 h4 h6 7 Nf3 Nd7 8 Bc4 e6 9 Qe2 Bd6 10 O-O Ngf6 11 Ne5 Bh7 12 Nxf7 Resigns.


C.N. 955 gave the score of the familiar Alekhine miniature against four consulting players. The identical moves were played in a Monaco-Cyprus game (‘Kostjoerin vs Lantsias’) in the 1966 Havana Olympiad (see page 432 of the official book of the event). That source states that Keres won similarly against Arłamowsky at Szczawno-Zdrój, 1950. Other examples are most welcome, including variants such as the game G.C.A. Oskam v W. Demmendal, Leiden, 25 June 1933: 1 e4 d5 2 Nf3 dxe4 3 Ng5 Bf5 4 Nc3 Nf6 5 Qe2 c6 6 Ngxe4 Nbd7 7 Nd6 mate. (Source: Wiener Schachzeitung, August 1933, pages 248-249.) This is the only ‘pre-Alekhine’ version of which we are aware.


See too The Caro-Kann Defence.

Concerning the saying attributed to Lasker, ‘anything is good enough to play once’, see C.N. 11984.

Les échecs spectaculaires by Aldo Haïk and Carlos Fornasari is a mixed blessing. It does not (pace CHESS) contain a great number of unknown games, but the quality of the compositions presented gives the work its value. One’s confidence in Haïk’s knowledge of chess history is not reinforced when the very first paragraph (page 14) refers to a Moscow, 1914 tournament which never existed. In general the book has many similarities with 100 Classics of the Chessboard, but is greatly superior in both games and problems/studies. Produced with an elegance which disguises the skimpiness of the annotations.


From Anthony Saidy (Santa Monica, CA, USA):

‘This error [Moscow, 1914] also appears in Abrahams’ Brilliance in Chess together with his gratuitous re-defining of “brilliance” to comply with that everyday definition of e.g. a “brilliant” mind. Why so ponderous a treatise with such disparate and heterogeneous examples of good play?’


A very scholarly work is Jeu d’échecs et sciences humaines by Jacques Dextreit and Norbert Engel (Payot, 1981) although unfortunately it has so far made virtually no impression outside France. The chapter headings indicate the scope: 1) position du jeu d’échecs 2) jeu d’échecs et psychanalyse 3) jeu d’échecs et psychiatrie 4) jeu d’échecs et psychologie 5) jeu d’échecs et éducation 6) jeu d’échecs et sociologie 7) jeu d’échecs et écritures 8) jeu d’échecs et société. It is hard to imagine that chess writers on any of these themes will in future dare neglect this important book (which is complete with 38 pages of notes and a 14-page bibliography). The only truly weak spot is the first part of the chapter on chess and psychiatry, which is lamentably superficial in recounting the old masters’ (real or imagined) quirks.


Seeing ‘edited by Jimmy Adams’ on the cover of Dresden, 1926 gave us a certain frisson of apprehension as we recalled that writer’s peculiar way of putting words on paper in the 1970s (see C.N. 177). But there was a most pleasant surprise: Dresden, 1926 is well written. Also well researched with much care put into annotating every game. Only occasionally does Adams fail to contain his over-enthusiasm. For example, in the game Alekhine-Blümich he gives 14 Rxf7 an exclamation mark and writes: ‘A spectacular sacrifice which wins the game brilliant style [sic]. However, Alekhine also pointed out the simpler and quicker win by 14 Qf3 ...’ Yes he did, and that is why Alekhine did not give 14 Rxf7 an exclamation mark. As George Botterill once said (BCM, 1975, page 347), ‘You cannot make a move better than it is by wishful thinking, or by admiration for the spirit in which it is played. Otherwise we could all be Tals.’

Adams is apparently involved in many chess book projects at the moment. If they are all as good as Dresden, 1926 it will amount to quite a contribution to the game’s literature.

We greatly hope, incidentally, that Jim Marfia too will acquire a little sobriety in his writing. His book reviews in Chess Life are so wretched in style and debile in content that it is scarcely believable that his name still appears.


Crowood Press have just published two chess titles. Chess Tactics by Paul Littlewood rather ruthlessly reveals the former British champion’s indifference to facts. Even the introduction consists of a spurious game – clearly the author does not have a copy of CHESS for September 1978. For players’ names and venues he is happy enough to bung down anything, and takes the re-writing of history further still by ignoring the correct version of game-scores. Just a few examples:

Page 5: ‘Russian’, for ‘USSR’ Ch., 1957.

Page 17: Alekhine-Spielmann, New York 1927. Alekhine did not force a win since the diagram marks the final position.

Page 26: Capablanca-Fonaroff. If Hooper and Brandreth went to the trouble in The Unknown Capablanca of showing that this game was played in 1918, why does Littlewood, nearly ten years later, give 1904?

Page 47: Opočenský-Alekhine, Paris 1925. The diagrammed position never arose in the game.

Page 87: ‘Botvinnik-Smyslov, USSR, 1931.’ Smyslov at the age of ten ...

Page 102: ‘von Bardelben.’ Also, the author is clearly ignorant of the fact that Mieses played 30 c7+ and not 30 Qe8+.

Page 104: ‘Menchik-Redish, Breslaw 1929.’

Why did not Littlewood have his work checked?

Shaun Taulbut’s An Introduction to Chess is not much better. It too gets off to a bad start (the very first reference in the contents list is incorrect). Despite being a British Chess Federation national coach, Mr Taulbut would appear to have an uncertain grasp of basic mates. On pages 21-23 he takes 19 moves to mate with K+R v K, and 21 with K + KB & QB v K, many more than necessary.

He also goes completely berserk on pages 66-67 in a discussion of the offhand Edward Lasker-George Thomas game, which he labels ‘London, 1913’. (Lasker himself gave 1911 in Chess for Fun ..., and 1912 in Chess Secrets.) Taulbut fails to note the quicker win (14 f4+), reported by Lasker over 40 years ago, and also manages to give the incorrect mating move.

On page 70 Taulbut misspells Bogoljubow and, just below, is ten years out in another reference to a game which, in any case, did not end the way he says.

To make up for ‘Russian Ch. 1957’ in the other book, Mr Taulbut gives ‘USSR 1913’ on page 77 of his. However, if in the mood he will sometimes just omit any reference at all. On page 93, the second anonymous diagram is from Capablanca-Villegas, Buenos Aires 1914 – or at least it would be if the position had been correctly set up (black pawn should be on a7).

Shaun Taulbut is the ‘Series editor’ of the new Crowood Chess Library.


At last, Alekhine’s outstanding book Auf dem Wege zur Weltmeisterschaft (Berlin and Leipzig, 1932) is available in English (well translated by C.J. Feather) under the title On the Road to the World Championship 1923-1927.

One negative reaction: since the translator and translation editor have permitted themselves to add a large number of corrective notes from a variety of third parties it is a pity that they are unaware that Alekhine himself noted many amendments. These were given in a two-page errata list in the 1979 BCM reprint Deux Cents Parties d’Echecs, Tome 2, and should have been incorporated into the English text, or at least recorded as footnotes. It is also hard to understand why name spellings (e.g. ‘Ibanes’) were not checked and corrected. Other matters of detail: page 16, ‘At the age of 16 I became Russian Champion’ should not have been left without comment. The French version is more accurate than the German here – ‘j’avais obtenu le titre de Maître Russe ...’ Page 100, footnote: is 19...Na7 ‘clearly without point’? It prepares for the doubling of rooks on the vital b-file, since the immediate 19 Rb6 would lose a pawn to 20 bxc4 dxc4 21 Bxc4.

Although the general editing could have been better, this is an extremely important addition to English-language chess literature for which Pergamon Press must be heartily thanked.


Chess, The History of a Game by Richard Eales (Batsford) is a concise, well-written summary of current knowledge, though not really the work of outstanding original research promised by the blurb. The early chapters are particularly well handled, while we detected a certain thinness in the coverage of the period circa 1850-1950, accentuated by the fact that the author is considerably stronger when writing about trends than about individuals.

Although general comments on Murray are complimentary, H.J.R.M. is frequently criticized on specifics. Golombek’s 1976 history, beautifully produced but marred by the author’s own over-obtrusive personality, is not given very much acknowledgement.

Eales is careful about his facts, although we did note the following: misspelling ‘MacDonnell’ (e.g. page 132); page 153, Lasker did not become a doctor in 1902; page 153, Lasker played four, not three, tournaments in the period under consideration. Page 161: Marshall did not become US Champion in 1906. Page 194: FIDE’s motto is misspelled.

In addition there are many statements which are, at the minimum, debatable, while certain historical references, such as the Glasgow Herald one on page 156, arouse suspicions about Eales’ well-rounded knowledge of the game’s history.

In general, though, a carefully prepared book, the hallmarks of which are clarity and common sense.


David Spanier’s Total Chess has had favourable reviews and is, in many respects, a remarkable work which covers the whole gamut of time-honoured topics (Jews ... Women ... Computers) in intelligent fashion and in a style which proves that popular, colloquial prose can be well-written and entertaining. An example about chess in general: ‘Variously described as a game, an art and a science, it contains elements of all three, though as everyone knows it is too serious for a game, too transient for an art, too useless for a science’ (page 4). ‘The FIDE motto is “Gens una sumus” ... but some gens are less equal than others’ (page 57).

In a sense we could repeat our comments on the Eales work (C.N. 878): Total Chess’s main attraction is that it is clear and sensible (whilst also conveying what might be labelled the ‘excitement’ of current chess). It too is less good on individuals than on tendencies – once again (page 146) poor old Wilhelm Steinitz is ridiculed for alleged hallucinations that Mr Spanier is happy to mention but would be unable to corroborate. The temptation to add piquancy and colour to chess books is so great that few authors can stop themselves from repeating ‘good’ stories, even if not a shred of evidence exists to support them. As noted before in this magazine, we deplore such a ‘masters are fair game’ attitude.

Not that Total Chess is especially censurable for this. Spanier has clearly taken pains to make his text accurate, although two birth-date mistakes (Petrosian and Kasparov) in the chart on pages 152-153 are unfortunate. A pity, too, that a book appearing in 1984 should still be reprinting the false anecdote about Marshall saving up his Ruy López counter-gambit for ten years (another story too good to waste?!). There are, as well, a few accidentally misleading statements, such as the implication on page 24 that Petrosian lost his magazine editor post as a result of losing to Fischer in 1971 (the ‘sack’ actually came many years later).

The negative remarks above should not obscure our overall very positive assessment of Total Chess, a book well worth having.


David Spanier’s Total Chess has recently appeared as an Abacus paperback ... It has some brief new material: Spanier writes an offensively ill-informed account of the Termination episode. It would have been better simply to make corrections to such matters as Petrosian and Kasparov’s years of birth (pages 152-153).


From the introduction to W.H. Watts’ mid-twenties book Chess Masterpieces:

‘There is no possible doubt that the most popular chess books of the past have been collections of master games. ... Many chess books have proved unacceptable to the chessplaying public but not one collection of master games has been a failure.’

How times have changed. Nowadays one has to rely more and more on private companies or individuals for such annotated games collections. In a sane world Batsford or Pergamon would have snapped up Jimmy Adams’ new book Salo Flohr: Master of Tactics Master of Technique. Instead, it is to the Chess Player, Nottingham that we must be grateful for this finely-researched and well-produced volume.

The politician’s golden rule is never to criticize the electorate. Nonetheless, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the chess public is not blameless as regards current problems in the literature of our game. Too often it tends to misjudge the respective value of, for instance, a book on Alekhine and one on Alekhine’s Defence. It is interesting to speculate on whether the public would buy other kinds of works if fewer openings books were available.

For now there is a vicious circle. The small publisher can rarely aspire to the same production standards as the major companies. Nor can he afford a massive publicity campaign or large-scale despatch of review copies. Without the economies of scale his retail prices may have to be relatively high. All these factors, and others, help to keep the market for such works as the Flohr one far smaller than it deserves to be. We appreciate that it sounds patronizing to speak in terms of ‘educating the public’, but is not such education desperately needed?

Adams’ book has received only modest critical attention. At least it secured extensive publicity in Leonard Barden’s Financial Times column of 22 June [1985]. One matter of detail, however. We were puzzled by Mr Barden’s comment that Flohr’s position as FIDE’s official challenger ‘was ridiculed when he lost to two inexperienced British masters at Nottingham and finished bottom at AVRO’, and mentioned to him that Flohr did not become official challenger until 1937, the year after the Nottingham tournament. L.B.’s reply:

‘As so often in newspaper journalism, spelling everything out precisely requires far more space than one has. I think this point applies generally to some of your comments. I seem to remember that some critiques made before AVRO of FIDE’s 1937 decision referred back to Flohr’s Nottingham results and his losses to Alexander and Tylor.’

Mr Barden will forgive us, we hope, but why is imprecision any more tolerable in a newspaper than anywhere else? If the sentence in question had simply read ‘... was ridiculed when he finished bottom at AVRO’ (with no reference to Nottingham) it would not only have been more accurate; it would actually have saved space.


Endgame Strategy by M.I. Shereshevsky is not only of value to students of the final phase; it also contains much historically useful analysis of great games of the past. The same publishers (Pergamon) have also brought out volume two of Comprehensive Chess Endings by Yuri Averbakh. Like volume one, and like Endgame Strategy, and like ... it is translated by Kenneth P. Neat. One matter of detail in volume 2, page 127: two moves have been omitted (deliberately, it would seem) from the middle of the Flohr-Capablanca ending.


Master Chess, A Course in 21 Lessons by D. Kopec, G. Chandler, C. Morrison, N. Davies and I.D. Mullen (Pergamon) scores well for clarity and freshness of approach. But enthusiasm for the team’s work has to be tempered since nobody seems to have stretched himself very much to give correct historical references. Names of players, venue and date have often been copied from some unreliable source without any checking.

Whilst it is fascinating to learn that a game won by Kopec (page 50) was played in the 12th Greater Manchester Open, round one to be precise, against a gentleman named Hutchinson who, for the record, had a grading of 2120, one notes that the information about older games is incomplete and often wrong. For example: Page 6: If the highly dubious smothered mate game really has to be used, at least ‘London’ should be indicated and Atkins’ name correctly spelled. Page 8: Craddock-Mieses was played in London, 1939. Moreover, 2 Ne4 should read 2 Nd5. Page 11: the Alekhine-Marshall game was played at New York, 1927. Page 11: ‘Capablanca-Corio’. i) Corio should read Coria. ii) Buenos Aires, 1914 is not given. iii) the white and black positions have, inexcusably, been transposed. Pages 22-23: two positions to illustrate the (unnecessary) theme ‘Don’t Be A Lipschuetz’. About the first (against Zukertort) we should like to know a great deal more. The second is against Lasker, although Chandler has not bothered to find out that it was played at New York in 1902. ‘Everyone makes oversights ...’, he writes just above the diagram. To prove the point, he misplaces the white rook (d4 instead of f4) and omits a black pawn at c5. Don’t be a Chandler ... Page 78: the second note, regarding Tartakower-Alekhine, Semmering, 1926, is wrong. Alekhine had not played ...c5, but had his bishop on e6, which changes everything. Page 91: both Stoltz and Kashdan would have been rather too young to play at The Hague, 1921 ... Page 99: the Maróczy-Tarrasch position comes from San Sebastián, 1911. Page 117: the Alekhine-Navarro game was played in 1941, not 1940 (see C.N. 955).

To state the obvious, the above are elementary matters that could have been verified in any moderately good chess library. Why weren’t they?

It may perhaps be concluded that a high proportion of historical references in general chess books always tends to be inaccurate. T.D. Harding, in The New Chess Computer Book (also Pergamon), page 167, makes it clear that history is not the only sufferer: ‘... 50 per cent of what is written about chess in the popular computer magazines is rubbish’. We reviewed the first edition of his book in C.N. 171. The updated and expanded 1985 version is excellent, and provides a vast amount of sensible comment which is, above all, scrupulously fair. Another example of Harding’s bouncy style; from page 216:

‘It is a cliché that computers play endgames appallingly badly, but like other computer chess clichés (‘Computers never resign’ or ‘Computers always grab material’ for example) more and more of the new dedicated computers are disproving it. The cliché that the average human player (especially the younger player) is much weaker in the endgame than the middle game is much truer, so when simplified positions arise it is almost a toss-up which will play worse – the human or the micro.’

A couple of mistakes (‘Lasker-Pilnik Variation’, page 29 and Mieses-Alekhine, Scheveningen, 1923, page 88) will no doubt be corrected when this splendidly conscientious study goes into its third edition.


C.N. 1119 discussed two Lipschütz positions. We have now found a little more about the one involving Zukertort. The score up to move 23 is given on pages 135-136 of Napier’s Paul Morphy and the Golden Age of Chess. The occasion is stated to have been the British Chess Association Congress, 1886. Moreover, Zukertort was White. The Pergamon book has, for some reason, switched the colours.

Napier gave the positions from both Lipschütz games on page 180 of 14 January 1939 issue of CHESS.


Salo Flohr’s Best Games of Chess by Gregory S. Donges (Thinkers’ Press) is smartly produced despite a front-cover picture of Flohr aged about eight drawn by someone probably little older. Proof-reading of the introductory material is not impressive and the concluding tournament results list suffers from ignoring C.N. 596. No particular compliment comes to mind for the game annotations. Donges gives 50 games, as against 100 offered in the earlier Adams work [see C.N. 1026 above]. Moreover, Adams analyzed in vastly greater detail. The only possible conclusion from all these considerations is not that Donges’ book is bad, but simply that it is unnecessary.

Mention of proof-reading leads us to speculate on which chess book holds the record for the most typographical errors. If anyone can beat Kasparov’s Best Games compiled by K. R. Seshadri (Madras, 1984) it will be quite a surprise.

Amongst our readers are many who enjoy books on chess quotes, curiosities, firsts, superlatives, etc., and they will want to have Das Spiel der Könige by Alfred Diel (Bamberger Schachverlag, 1983). Not that it is to be recommended, except to those wishing to trace how false stories and anecdotes are perpetuated. It is the first book in which we have seen the Capablanca-Hagenlocher chess/billiards nonsense. Research ranges from poor to non-existent.

Did Alekhine really start composing in 1900 during a visit to Paris?! (page 69). Another example of how information undergoes transformations, as hacks add a bit here, take out a bit there, and turn stories inside out and upside-down on no more than a whim, concerns the description of Janowsky’s play (source never given) as ‘like Marie Antoinette – beautiful but unfortunate’. Diel decides the story would be more interesting if the words were put in Janowsky’s mouth. That, and an exchange of queens, gives the following (page 118):

‘After losing a game, David Janowsky complained: “Chess is like Mary Stuart – beautiful but unfortunate.”’

We shall not go into further details here, for it would be more appropriate for one of our German colleagues to do the necessary ‘demolition job’ in a German magazine. It is doubtful whether a single page of Alfred Diel’s book would emerge with a clean bill of health.

Chess Openings – Your Choice by Stewart Reuben (Pergamon Press) is one of the most peculiarly written books we have seen, no mean accolade. On the whole it merits a welcome for the practical assistance it offers the relatively weak player, and it is undoubtedly a work into which the author has put much. Nonetheless we would be hard put to quote any other title which has so much wisdom and fatuity side by side. Just as one is admiring his presentation, S.R. suddenly goes berserk for a sentence or paragraph, before the book resumes its normal, respectable course.

On pages 4-5 Reuben offers for consideration ‘an alternative definition’ of the opening: ‘The opening is the stage of the game where at least one of the two players has seen the actual position on the board before.’ On page 5 he explains that centralized knights can move to any of eight squares while one less centrally placed has a small choice: ‘Thus the expression “knight on the rim spells trim”’. What does that mean? From page 6: ‘BEWARE OF KNICKING PAWNS IN THE OPENING.’ The third word is knot in our dictionary. Or what about this, on page 15: ‘One of the most prolific chess writers committed the grossest crime ever perpetrated in chess literature. In order to achieve good results early, he [sic] suggested an opening system which is very difficult for the opponent to prevent occurring.’ This was the Stonewall and Reuben explains that ‘the effect was that considerable numbers of talented players have been led into a cul-de-sac, a straight-jacket of style from which it is very hard to wrench free.’ We are not so much concerned with whether or not recommending the Stonewall is good, merely with the fact that ‘the grossest crime ...’ is clownish. On the same page: ‘You could collect all the most recent tournament games via the “Tournament Chess” Series.’ Nor is it easy to be impressed by the following, from page 17: ‘Most games are decided by blunders even at the very highest level, but then it depends on the definition of a blunder. Naturally the stronger the player, the more critical one is. An error is usually refuted by material gain achieved by means of a combination.’ Page 19: ‘It is pleasing to note that few players smoke these days.’ A few lines later: ‘People tend either to be at their best in the morning and afternoon or later in the day. Many chessplayers are referred to as B people. Thus most international tournaments are arranged in the afternoon. But was this innate in the strong players or did they become this way because of their environment?’ Page 21: ‘Korchnoi is a player of great combinative skill, so that he is a magnificent defensive player.’ Page 30: ‘Most people never have a truly original thought in their whole life.’ Page 37: (The King’s Gambit) ‘helps round out your vocabulary’. Page 41: ‘More recently, British grandmaster John Nunn has had considerable success with the Giuoco Pianissimo. So much so, that it was played twice in the 1981 World Championship.’ Pages 57-58: ‘There is an ancient maxim that you should always take towards the centre but, for each example where this is true, an alternative exists where it is better to take away from the centre.’

The above takes us a quarter of the way into the book, and will suffice to illustrate the extravagant language and lack of logic which spoil what would otherwise have been an attractive book. It must be said, too, that Reuben’s grasp of English grammar is rickety. A list of examples will be sent to him if he asks.


Chess Exchanges by S. Taulbut and S. Jones is sound enough but sprawling. Such books require a rigorously adhered to structure. When is Taulbut going to learn that game and position references are not optional frills, but essential information for the serious student? Examples: Page xvii: ‘Lasker vs Lasker, New York, 1924’. A great help! This reference is omitted altogether from the index. Page 27: occasions not given for the two games. Page 29: ‘Rubinstein vs Marshall, 1922’. Breslau, 1912, in fact. Page 36 ‘Wyville’. Pages 63-64: Hartston-Basman. Why no date? Page 65: ‘Korchnoi vs Polugayevsky’. Why no date or venue? Page 69: ‘Korchnoi vs Kasparov Candidates Semi-final (Acorn Computers World Championships 1983), Game 8’. Now perhaps Paul Buswell will understand why Raymond Keene’s misrepresentations are so dangerous. Page 75: Capablanca-Shipley. Why no occasion? (Simultaneous exhibition, Philadelphia, 1924). Page 95: ‘Nimzovitch vs Marshall Bad Kissingen, 1982’ ... Page 97: ‘Korelov vs Blattner, Correspondence Game’. Page 107: Alekhine-Podgorny was played at Prague, 1943. We are fed up with pointing out this error. Pages 173-174 (and page 180 and page 206): ‘Schlecter’. Page 177: Adorjan vs Tompa. No occasion given. Page 178: Hecht vs Markland. No date or venue. Page 181: ‘Såo Paulo’ (in Scandinavia?). Page 182: Stean vs Corden. No venue or date. Page 186: Romanishin vs Petrosian. No venue. Page 187: Smyslov vs Botvinnik. No venue. Page 188: Korchnoi vs Reshevsky. No venue or date. Then there is all the careless inconsistency; for instance, at least four different ways of presenting British championship games in the headings.

Two handsome hardbacks have come from McFarland & Company, Inc.: Two Move Chess Problems by Robert Clyde Moore and The US Chess Championship, 1845-1985 by Gene H. McCormick and (‘Grandmaster’) Andy Soltis. It is always a pleasure to see a problem book published, especially when it is as clearly written and beautifully produced as R.C.M.’s. The McCormick/Soltis work is a fairly good attempt to deal with a tricky subject. (Tricky because there is too little information available about the earliest times, and too much available about recent contests, and also because the off-and-on nature of the competition itself – just one event between 1909 and 1936 – makes it difficult to write a flowing account.) The early chapters have a number of surprising errors, though the treatment of Morphy is impressively well-balanced. On the other hand, the lengthy gossip about Browne’s seating and lighting complaints (e.g. pages 241-242) has no place in a hardback history of 140 years of American chess. The trouble is that Soltis was there.

On Advances in Computer Chess 4 edited by D.F. Beal (Pergamon Press) we feel obliged to pass; a layman’s view has no value. Nor will we attempt any detailed discussion of the first two booklets in ‘Roycroft’s 5-man Chess Endgame Series’, other than to say that the computer analysis clearly represents a decisive step forward in our understanding of queen and pawn endings. We have spent much of our available ‘endgame time’ enthralled by the Olms reprint of Troitzky’s Collection of Chess Studies; the article ‘Two Knights against Pawns’ (60 pages long) is quite incredible.


Two new Pergamon books, both translated by Kenneth P. Neat, are attractively produced. Comprehensive Chess Endings by Y. Averbakh, V. Henkin and V. Chekhover offers 300 awesomely detailed pages about queen endings and is ‘designed to be used either as a textbook or as a reference work for the analysis of adjourned games’. It will be an amazingly conscientious student who puts it to the former use.

Buenos Aires Olympiad 1939 edited by A.J. Gillam (The Chess Player) will be invaluable to anyone who does not possess the original complete games collection. The introduction is rather bitty, an assemblage of quotes from contemporary issues of the BCM and CHESS, although it may be argued that this method gives an ‘at-the-time’ flavour. The enthusiast looking for offbeat ideas could do worse than to start with Czerniak-Enevoldsen, a bizarre ‘Budapest Gambit?’ beginning 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nd2 e5 and ending with some original queen offers based on the knight fork motif. (Black won in 39 moves, having made five pawn moves in the first 17 and none at all thereafter.) A final word: the indexes are superb.


Chess The Records by Ken Whyld (Guinness Books) has seven chapters (Milestones, World Championships, International Tournaments, National & City Championships, The Records, The Players, and Clash of Kings). All are carefully researched (Jeremy Gaige being acknowledged for extensive assistance), and the result is a reference work which we keep on our most readily accessible shelf. Nonetheless there are disappointments, such as the absence of a list of (non-world championship) matches, of the kind to be found on pages 340-343 of Chicco and Porreca’s Dizionario enciclopedico degli scacchi. This omission is all the more unfortunate given the unreliability of Hundert Jahre Schachzweikämpfe by P. Feenstra Kuiper.

The chapter entitled ‘The Players’ in K.W.’s new book omits masters such as Mieses and Teichmann, whilst including weaker national champions. The ‘Milestones’ section is much too British-dominated (‘1983: East Anglian Chess Union’) and also gives an example of how a lack of punctuation can alter the meaning: ‘1946: Alekhine died giving FIDE the opportunity to seize control of the world title’. The ‘Clash of Kings’ articles are wisely and neatly written, although we regret the way they break up the other reference sections.

Errors are very few and, if we are being rather severe on a fine book, it is for two reasons: a) Chess The Records will probably go into many future editions, and b) it is one of the injustices of reviews that the best authors are judged according to more demanding criteria than one would ever waste time applying to Shaun Taulbut or Eric Schiller.

Batsford have just published two good books with certain similarities: 40 Lessons for the Club Player by Aleksander Kostyev and Kasparov Teaches Chess. The former is the sequel to From Beginner to Expert in 40 Lessons (C.N. 986). Although there is far more history this time, it comes to a rather mysterious halt with Morphy in Lesson 26 (which contains one of the few factual errors – June for July in Morphy’s death date). The Kasparov work is more basic, but has a certain simple charm which is reminiscent of Capablanca’s Last Chess Lectures. This impression is reinforced by the fact that Kasparov, perhaps surprisingly, lays particular emphasis on understanding the endgame. Page 51 has a good Botvinnik quote: ‘There is no better way to get into a cramped position than to strive merely for development.’

Planeta Șah Almanah 1986 is a wide-ranging magazine-cum-book (224 pages) that should not be missed. In case anyone may be put off by the language, it should be mentioned that Romanian is quite easily read (i.e. guessed at) by anyone with knowledge of other Romance languages.

An author will often use the Introduction and Acknowledgements pages to drone on about the unremitting labour his book required, as though its publication marked the end of a momentous epoch of human activity. The dangers of not complying with this tradition are shown by The Games of D.A. Yanofsky compiled and edited by David J. Ross (Ottawa, 1985). On page 4 we read: ‘The job of the compiler in preparing a book such as this one is relatively easy. It is merely a question of organizing material which already exists ...’ But if compiling and editing the book was a doddle, why didn’t Mr Ross have the time to proof-read it? We have rarely seen a games collection with so many misprints. There is an amusing one on page 14, after Yanofsky’s career as a local councillor etc. has been reported: ‘For Yanofsky, career and politics are the mayor factor in his professional life.’


Batsford have recently published two books entitled World Chess Championship. Volume 1 (by P. Morán) covers Steinitz to Alekhine; in volume 2 R.G. Wade, A.J. Whiteley and R.D. Keene deal with Botvinnik to Kasparov. The chief value of the books is that they give the full scores (mostly annotated, to varying degrees) of all world title matches since 1886.

Despite the occasional dud (e.g. Pillsbury, El Genio del Ataque) Pablo Morán is a respected historian, and his prose descriptions of the ‘Steinitz to Alekhine’ championship matches are, for the most part, penetrating and fair. He also successfully deals with the problem of balance between hackneyed and fresh information. (By this we mean that an author wishing to avoid the well-trodden path has to ensure that in giving little-known sideline snippets he does not pass over the essential facts, however familiar.)

The original Spanish was published over a decade ago but the Batsford edition fails to take account of what has been learnt since then. Hence a large number of historical blunders – all easily avoidable.

If the author or editors had been armed with The Oxford Companion to Chess and Chess Notes they could probably have spared us nearly all errors such as the following (and we stress the words ‘such as’): Page 7: ‘Adolfo’ Schwarz (just as ridiculous as ‘Isidoro’ Gunsberg on page 11). Pages 7-8: no word that Zukertort’s ‘achievements’ are exaggerations. Page 18: it is misleading to mention the 1903 Lasker-Chigorin match (in which the Rice Gambit had to be played) in amongst serious events. Page 18: the Capablanca-Marshall match was played in several US cities, not just New York. Page 19: ‘Chess, like music and love, has the power to make men happy’. Why is this called ‘a saying which can be attributed to Tarrasch’? Page 21: Now we have Janowsky describing himself, and Mary Stuart, as ‘splendid but unlucky’ (see C.N. 1160). Page 24: Schlechter was not Jewish. Page 27: Capablanca did not become Cuban champion when he beat Corzo in 1901. Page 28: Lasker ... ‘organised a competition in St Petersburg in 1914’. Page 33: Alekhine did not obtain a doctorate. Page 34: An incomprehensible reference to how Alekhine and Nimzowitsch tied for first place at a tournament in St Petersburg 1913 which ‘was played with the idea that the winner would play the same tournament the following year’. In any case, the two St Petersburg tournaments were held the same year, 1914. Page 35: New York, 1927 was not a tournament to determine a challenger for Capablanca. How many more times will it be necessary to state this? Page 35: Capablanca did not win the New York 1924 tournament. Page 35: In 1927 Capablanca did not win a ‘match’ undefeated. Page 40: It is misleading to say that Moscow, 1925 was Bogoljubow’s ‘main success, since he beat Lasker and Capablanca’. Page 35 (similarly): Alekhine had ‘a second placing in Hastings, 1933-34, in which he was beaten by Flohr’. Page 40: Alekhine is said to have taken ‘two joint first places in small tournaments in Berlin, 1932, and Mexico, in the same year’. For Berlin read Berne, presumably.

On one occasion, however, Batsford have attempted to set the record straight. Both the 1909 and 1910 Lasker-Janowsky matches have been included and, despite the stubbornness of the company’s chess adviser, we find a Batsford editorial note on page 25:

‘There is substantial evidence that this match was not for the world championship title. However, we have included it for the sake of completeness.’

Let us not quibble over the phrase ‘substantial evidence’ or even the meaningless ‘for the sake of completeness’. What really matters is that the note has been attached to the wrong Lasker-Janowsky match, the one that really was for the world championship. Bravo Batsford.

Volume 2 also begins with a blunder – on the very first page. And it is a blunder of the worst kind: a snide remark, quite unjustified, on a delicate matter. It concerns the Alekhine Nazi articles: ‘He claimed they were forgeries, but this claim, only made after the war, convinced few.’ [Our emphasis.]

As we showed in C.N. 1041, Alekhine had made the claim at least as early as 23rd November 1944.

Luckily, though, much of the rest of the prose material is good, not that it always matches up with the subsequent game annotations. For example, on page 27 it is stated that in the first game of the 1972 match ‘Fischer suicidally snatched a pawn and lost a piece’, whereas on page 181 the move is given a ‘?!’. We feel tempted, however, to tear out chapter 8 (‘Karpov-Kasparov 1984 and 1985’) which is over-long, inaccurate, biased, shrill and self-contradictory. Its weaknesses are so blatant and so numerous that we do not propose going into detail – unless challenged to ...

In short, a pair of books worth having for the game scores and certain parts of the prose, though everything could so easily have been improved. Just as the active player keeps up to date with opening theory so is it necessary for writers on chess history to keep abreast of the evolution of historical research (and for publishers to ensure that old books are updated in new editions). We would prefer companies to publish no books at all on the game’s past rather than to produce works which trot out antiquated misconceptions.

Sans transition, the BCM has recently published an anthology of items which appeared in the magazine between 1923 and 1932. One would obviously prefer full-scale reprints of entire years, but given that this is apparently an unsound financial proposition the anthology project has to be warmly welcomed. Selection and layout have been handled outstandingly well.

My Best Games of Chess by L. Szabó is another valuable Pergamon translation. Although Szabó has not really stamped his personality on the book, which rather lacks charm and colour, it is nonetheless an autobiographical collection well above the average. Szabó is so strong that it is remarkable he should be such a little known player.

‘Chess scandals’ existed, of course, over a century ago, an example being the well-known claim that James Grundy bought a game at New York, 1880. An account appears in the tournament book, which has recently been reprinted by Olms. The Zurich company is performing a wonderful service to chess; and not least to the problem world, as so many of the tournament books republished include detailed material on the corresponding problem tourneys.

Edition Marco of Berlin have brought out a beautifully produced German edition of Alekhine’s Nottingham, 1936 tournament book (with several footnotes on the annotations although the transposition of moves pointed out in C.N. 1252 has not been spotted). It would be marvellous if an English-language publisher would return the compliment by commissioning an English translation of Alekhine’s books on New York, 1927 or Zurich, 1934.

From The Chess Player comes Jimmy Adams’ Paris, 1900. The notes are almost entirely from magazines of the time. Those by Rosenthal tend to be irritating (after 1 d4 f5 he writes, ‘The correct move is 1...d5 2 c4 e6’), but that is not to say that they should have been omitted or even commented upon. Typos are few, the worst we saw being Black’s 21st move on page 93 (Burn v Maroczy): ... g6 instead of ...Rd3, unless it is the 1900 BCM that is wrong. Another good book (costing just $5.00, from Chess Enterprises, Inc.) is The Games of Viktor Kupreichik by Gene McCormick (68 pages). We note on pages 20-21 an interesting comment on authors’ inconsistent use of ± etc. signs to evaluate positions.


Notes of a Soviet Master by Alexander Ilyin-Genevsky, translated by Bernard Cafferty, is a handsome 54-page hardback from Caissa Editions. The main value of the book (the narrative of which stops in the mid-1920s) is the insight it provides into Russian chess organization in the second decade of this century. Ilyin-Genevsky comes over as an attractive personality who offers hope to us all on the very first page:

‘Normally it is considered that in order to play chess well you have to have some special gift of nature. I do not hold to this point of view. I consider that every person who sincerely loves chess, takes an intelligent attitude to the game and works at it, can achieve success.’

Page 29 has a brief reference to M.G. Klyatskin (C.N.s 646 and 734):

‘I had a very good relation with him, but I did not have much of an opinion of his play which was adventurous, anti-positional and based exclusively on traps and combinations.’

In Part II Dale Brandreth has added a selection of 50 of Ilyin-Genevsky’s best games; only two are annotated, including his famous victory over Capablanca at Moscow, 1925 (a valuable synthesis of the conflicting assessments). We should have liked to see rather more games from the period actually covered by the book, as well as an index of players. A fine book.


The Crowood Press have produced two more titles. Winning Endgames by Tony Kosten is a rather slight work, parts of which are written in ahead-of-the-dictionaries English. Page 17: ‘A lot of chessplayers are under the impression that pawn endings are trivial because of the absence of pieces.’ Or page 117: ‘White makes a trivial draw.’ Page 56 talks of ‘Black’s hopes of a perpetual’, a neologism which appears three times more on pages 92-93. Page 69 has a sentence that could have been penned by Jon Speelman: ‘Botvinnik was probably the finest protagonist of the white side of the Nimzo-Indian ever.’ The other Crowood Press book, Chess Openings by Mike Basman, is more substantial and escapes from the treadmill that usually afflicts such beginners’ works, for Basman is good at giving original touches to routine matters. On the minus side, page 29 (despite C.N. 683) gives the game played by ‘Nimzowitsch (aged 13)’. At page 163 we all but yelped in pain: ‘The above diagram shows that Black is almost back rank mated ...’ And then there is this preposterous comment on page 253: ‘Another very careful move which shows that Alekhine was not the mad attacking player that everyone made him out to be.’

Paul Keres’ Best Games (Volume 1: Closed Games) by Egon Varnusz, published by Pergamon, seems to have run into proof-reading trouble, particularly in the diagrams. That apart, it is quite good, although the market for Keres’ best games books must now be saturated. Perhaps the next would-be author could turn his attention to Janowsky.

Chigorin, under-estimated by some but over-estimated by others, is probably one of the least understood masters. Two collections of his games have appeared in English this year and provide a welcome opportunity to re-examine him. Mikhail Chigorin, Selected Games by Efim Bogoljubov is a B.T. Batsford/Caissa Books co-production in which ‘Anmerkungen von E. Bogoljubow’, supplemented by other authorities’ notes, have been divested of their prose so that 240 ‘annotated’ games can be fitted into 111 pages. The book starts with eight carelessly presented pages of introductory material (seven of them by Raymond Keene): ‘contempoaries’, ‘occassional’, ‘seperated’, ‘Brelau’, ‘St Petersburgg’, ‘absolutedly’, ‘Pillusbury’, ‘profansation’, ‘but it is not been refuted’, ‘occassions’...

The discredited spelling ‘Bogoljubov’ (C.N. 20) is also used in Mikhail Chigorin, The Creative Chess Genius, edited and translated from the Russian by Jimmy Adams (Caissa Editions), an impressive (and properly proof-read) collection of 100 games deeply annotated with words as well as variations. The 45-page introduction soundly beats the British book, while the tournament and match results table is also considerably more detailed.

The same typography is used in another Adams translation for Caissa Editions: Bled 1931 by Hans Kmoch, a handsomely uniform hardback. The book starts with a highly interesting 12-page article (1976 vintage) on the tournament by Flohr. (If we are reading page xvi correctly, Flohr states that he was defeated by Alekhine in a simultaneous exhibition as early as 1925.) The annotations of Hans Kmoch, who was the tournament arbiter, are superb, combining detailed analysis with on-the-spot revelations. Here is an example (from page 53) of his round-by-round summaries, which are uncommonly personal:

‘The sensation of today’s round was the powerful defeat of Nimzovitch by Alekhine. The opening was already effective. Alekhine, in pure gambit style, so rare in contemporary tournaments, sacrificed two pawns, one after the other. Nimzovitch could not recover from his astonishment. After taking both pawns, he left the board and, shaking his head, repeated several times, “He is treating us like patzers”. Later analysis, however, showed that Alekhine’s tactics were not only in order, but also extraordinarily strong.’

Bled 1931 must be one of the best tournament books ever to be made available in English, and is a fitting tribute to one of Alekhine’s greatest triumphs.

In C.N. 1441 John Roycroft referred to the difference between oral and written style. A complication occurs when books aim to reproduce masters’ own words as broadcast by radio or television, as is shown by Chequers’ recent book The Brussels Encounter, produced with the assistance of the BBC. (Or, as page 3 puts it:  ‘Using the “voice-over” techniques made popular by the old programmes, viewers are given an opportunity to eavesdrop on the grandmasters’ thoughts‘.) The question to be resolved is the extent to which conversational slackness should be edited out of the grandmasters’ thoughts. Nobody will want starchy disquisitions, but surely there must be some revision of ungainly colloquialisms (regardless of whether the speaker is of English mother tongue). For instance, Nigel Short says on page 49: ‘... this whole ending ought to have been trivially winning for me ...’

Kasparov’s declarations frequently begin with ‘Okay’, a routine example being ‘Okay, he played Rf1’ (page 103). On page 116 we are even given: ‘Okay, now I think I’m okay’, with several further uses of the word in the rest of the game, which he loses.

In fact, though, contributors of written annotations do not always perform better. Page 13: ‘Short’s 8...a6!? needs further testing as a possibly viable antidote to Kasparov’s favourite line.’ What do the words ‘possibly viable’ add? Another example of this curious construction is on page 45: ‘This is the type of game which encourages Nigel’s supporters to regard him as the possibly leading Western contender to challenge for the world title.’

The book has frequent printing errors (e.g. ‘Ronih’ on page 30, and ‘lessor mortals‘ and en pris on page 167), but although our review has concentrated on the irritating editing defects, there is no denying that the actual chess content of The Brussels Encounter is highly instructive.

Chequers has also brought out The Super Clash, a good book on the Brussels, 1987 tournament (although surely the date of each round should be given). This event has also been the subject of a very fine special issue (6/1987) of New in Chess. Just one brief quote (from page 91), Tal’s explanation of his choice of a move against Korchnoi: ‘... this time I decided to opt for Keres’ favourite continuation. I think that he is the only Russian grandmaster about whom my opponent did not write anything bad.’

Finally, a brief word about a recent reprint by The Chess Player of the first English-language chess magazine, The Philidorian (1837-38). The chess content is not especially rich (draughts and whist are also dealt with), but George Walker edited an interesting journal which avoided the ribald style of his long-running Bell’s Life in London column. Needless to say, his magazine is an extremely scarce item, and the reprint is most welcome.


The Complete Chess Addict by Mike Fox and Richard James (Faber and Faber) cuts across several formats. Brashly written, it nonetheless has a better scholastic base than such works as Chernev’s The Chess Companion and Soltis’s Chess to Enjoy. With the exception of the long chapter on chessplaying personalities from other fields (pages 1-75) the book does not seek to deal with any subject exhaustively; it is an entertaining but unmethodical miscellany. Much research has gone into the book’s production, judgement is normally sound, and the footnotes include a number of worthwhile afterthoughts.

The introductory feature (‘What is Chess?’) quotes 70 brief definitions (including Spassky’s trouvaille, “chess is a game’). Unfortunately, sources are not given. Many of the quotations manage to be both banal and pretentious, reminding one of how Latin beginners stumble upon any number of high-sounding epigrams by the random juxtaposition of two infinitives (laborare est orare, etc.).

Some other comments on matters of detail. Page 22 makes the grisly point that before Raymond Weinstein committed murder (C.N. 1311) an article in the BCM had said that he ‘had a ruthless killer instinct’ for the game. The exact reference might have been added (BCM, February 1964, page 49, the writer being Beth Cassidy). It is interesting to see on page 31 a correspondence game by William Golding, who, it is claimed, posted off an inaccuracy when excited by the arrival of news of his Nobel Prize, but, again, the reader deserves to be told exactly where this information comes from. Similarly, what is the source of the game which is said on page 75 to be attributed to General Tom Thumb? (1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 d4 exd4 4 Bc4 Nf6 5 Ng5 d5 6 exd5 Nxd5 7 Nxf7 Kxf7 8 Qf3+ Kg8 ‘and the world’s smallest adult chess-player announced mate in three’). Page 85 says: ‘Spare a thought for G.A. Peck, champion of Rugby (the place, not the game) in 1967 when a mere 97 years of age.’ However, he died on 9 January 1966, according to the obituary on page 69 of the March 1966 BCM. This states: ‘At the time of his death he was match captain and held the Championship trophy of the Rugby C.C.’ Page 95: ‘A 100 per cent score in a tournament is a rather special achievement attained by only a select few at master level. Pride of place here must go to Gustav Neumann, with 34/34 at Berlin back in 1885.’ But Gustav Neumann died in 1881 (C.N. 1463), and we cannot trace any such tournament result in 1885 or earlier. Pages 100-123: the chapter containing ‘the 60 greatest games’ is an unnecessary repetition of familiar material and the book’s ‘apology’ on page 100 does not disarm the critic; the best thing in this sequence is the set of photographs with clever captions. Page 133 (the correspondence game related by B.H. Wood): use could have been made of the BCM, February 1972, page 85. Page 147: a neat neologism: ‘Elijah (Williams) introduced the concept of Sitzkrieg into chess.’ Pages 148-149: the Przepiórka-Ahues game was played at Kecskemét in 1927, not 1936; the tournament book (page 118) makes no reference to the claimed incident. Page 193: Yet again the boringly pointless anecdote about Bogoljubow being cut out of a photograph.

Two Batsford books which arrived together could hardly provide a stronger contrast. Chess literature is no richer for the publication of Saving Lost Positions by Leonid Shamkovich and Eric Schiller (£6.95). However, Secrets of Grandmaster Play by John Nunn and Peter Griffiths (£8.95 but over twice as many pages) must rank as the best instructional work Batsford has published. To say that it is a collection of 24 of Nunn’s best games gives no clue as to its outstanding merit: the annotations are scintillating. The co-authors’ introductory material explains how they carried out their work: for each game Nunn spent between three days and two weeks writing notes, after which Griffiths checked them and wrote up the game, adding further prose (descriptions of overall strategy, general tips, etc.). The two then met to agree upon the final text. Nunn is referred to in the third person, while Griffiths sometimes writes in the first person singular. What may at first sight seem a cumbersome approach has resulted in a beautifully eloquent and instructive blend of variations and verbal explanations. Here is an extract (from pages 49-50) which demonstrates the quality of the latter; it is the note on a position in which Nunn (Black) leaves a rook at its d4 outpost when his opponent plays 19 Ne2:

‘And here is the kind of positional sacrifice which seems so natural and logical when played by a grandmaster. We can all appreciate that Black is getting plenty of compensation for the exchange, yet we hesitate to take such decisions ourselves. Why? For two reasons, it seems. The first is that although material is only one element in chess (the others being time, space, development, pawn structure, etc.) it is the tangible one; and the same player who will throw tempi around with appalling abandon, or neglect his development, will shrink from sacrificing even a pawn unless he can see the consequences with absolute clarity. But grandmasters have a highly developed sense that material is just one factor in the equation; so in their games it is constantly being interchanged with the other elements. It is not a question of their being more daring than other players, or more prepared to risk losing. To a GM there is no danger whatever in this type of sacrifice; it is simply a matter of technique, a transaction. In this connection I might add that players who are generally regarded as extremely hard to beat tend to specialize in the art of positional sacrifice (Petrosian and Andersson spring to mind).

The second reason is what Dr Lasker calls “the certainty of having to apply yourself vigorously” (after sacrificing, that is). In other words: “It’s all very well for Nunn to do that, but if I tried it I would soon go wrong and then lose the endgame.” Well, it’s true that after sacrificing you have to play with a certain amount of vigour. But you have to do that anyway: If you want to stand up to really strong opponents, that is. Look at it this way: in allowing his pawns to be doubled at move 14 Nunn has already made a sacrifice of a kind (his pawn structure), and without vigorous play to follow it up he would have let the white bishop into c4. He also sacrificed at move four (development) and any hesitation after that would have led to trouble. He is always “sacrificing”; you cannot play this game without doing it.’

Such items as C.N. 330 and C.N. 1069 have expressed appreciation of the writing of Griffiths and Nunn. By joining forces they have formed an unbeatable team.

In October [1987] Pergamon Press published London-Leningrad Championship Games by G. Kasparov, translated by Kenneth P. Neat. The 24 games (especially the 16th) have impressively deep notes; which other world champions have ever offered the public such a detailed explanation of their play? It is particularly instructive to read Kasparov’s (mainly negative) views on other commentators’ annotations.


A book that has attracted little attention is The Psychology of Chess Skill by Dennis H. Holding (271 pages) yet it is just as ‘deserving of a place in every chess lover’s library’ as most of the other works which attract that cliché. There must be something wrong with the general dissemination of chess literature when such a book is ignored whilst potboilers appropriate the limelight.

Holding has written an academic study complete with a six-page ‘References and Author Index’. The prose is clear (‘no prior knowledge of psychology is necessary for an understanding of the text, since all the important concepts are explained as they arise’ – page x.) and the general and historical research base (despite ‘British Chess Association’ more than once) is no worse than in other works of this kind, and possibly better.

At last Janowsky’s games have been anthologized, in a Russian book by S.B. Voronkov and D.G. Plisetsky. Any disappointment that the selection of games is not especially imaginative is counter-balanced by the detailed notes and use of contemporary source material. Dare one hope that an enterprising Western publisher will bring out a translation?

Szachy od A do Z by W. Litmanowicz and J. Giżycki (Warsaw, 1986-87) comes in two volumes and sets a number of records for chess encyclopaedias – notably for the most pages (1,438) and illustrations. Its exceptionally large number of entries makes it a useful Companion companion, though not really any more than that. The general level of accuracy seems reasonable, but falls well short of the standard set by Hooper and Whyld. Another small drawback is that the cut-off date in some sections is surprisingly early. We are given to understand that C.J.S. Purdy (wrong birth year, incidentally) is still alive. He died in 1979. On the other hand, many, though not all, deaths from the mid-1980s are duly recorded. Inadequate access to the most useful Western sources has clearly been another problem, but all in all the work is a mammoth enterprise which deserves a place in every ... etc. etc.

Deserving a place in every chess lover’s refuse dump is Unorthodox Openings by Eric Schiller and Joel Benjamin (Batsford), which has been brilliantly demolished in issue 39 of The Myers Openings Bulletin. A brief quote from the magazine’s 16-page review:

‘It’s frustrating to see the chess public being exposed to book after book written by people who are negligent, or lazy, or prejudiced in their research. An unsound rating system bestows the titles of Master or Grandmaster; knowledge of chess history, and of openings they don’t play, does not automatically accompany those titles. But are the writers any more to blame than the publisher? Or a reviewer in BCM who writes unthinking praise? Or a bookseller like the USCF that hypes the books it sells to its own members?’

Alessandro Sanvito sends us a copy of Lineamenti di degli Scacchi, compiled jointly with Adriano Chicco and published by the AMIS (Associazione Maestri Italiani di Scacchi). It is a beautifully comprehensive and elegantly produced catalogue of Italian chess books, magazines, articles, belles lettres, etc., and a veritable model of how a bibliography should be prepared.

From John van Manen come volumes 1 and 2 of The Records of Australian Chess, a compilation of tournament and match tables covering 1856-1921 and 1922-41 respectively. The amount of work involved is startling, and it is hard to think of any country whose chess history is now better documented than Australia’s. Other current or recent publications are the extremely scholarly Australian Chess Lore, an occasional journal which first appeared in 1981 and The Chess Literature of Australia and New Zealand (1978, with a small supplement in 1983). Mr van Manen has been behind all these projects.

The Sportverlag Berlin publication Unkämpfte Krone von Steinitz bis Kasparow by Raymund Stolze is better for looking at than reading.


Le Livre de Poche (Paris) has brought out a very inexpensive reprint of Tartakower’s 1933 work Bréviaire des échecs. In many matters of detail it differs from the English translation (by J. du Mont), which first appeared in 1937.

A cheap reprint of the 1803 edition of Philidor’s Analyse du jeu des echecs has just been published by Compagnie Jean-Jacques Pauvert et Nicolas Neumann of Paris.

In Plan Like a Grandmaster (Batsford, translated from the Russian by Ken Neat) Alexei Suetin does a poor impersonation of Kotov, the author of the fine ... Like a Grandmaster series. Plan ... has 354 scores (full or part), starting with the Famous Game Morphy versus the Opera allies (the date of which is five years out) and ending with the Famous Game Alekhine v Botvinnik, Nottingham, 1936. Most of the 352 others are also Famous Games, the same old Famous Games that are constantly recycled in other dreary books.

The chief aim of Suetin’s work is to illustrate ‘the most vital point of a chess game’, which is ‘the transition between opening and middlegame’ but there is little detailed annotation and the general prose passages are rather soporific à la Pachman(n). That complex masterpiece Alekhine v Böök, Margate, 1938 has just two brief notes. Since the blurb says that the 354 games or extracts ‘illustrate how top masters handle the opening’ one would at least expect an index of openings. In short, the book (from the author’s point of view) has to be considered a characteristic example of the modern Easy Way Out school.

One might expect that a book devoted to the low-risk domain of Famous Games could at least manage to be factually accurate. But Suetin still gives (on page 39) the invalidated Gibaud v Lazard game (Paris, 1924). On the same page he quotes Fine v Yudovich, ‘Moscow 1936’. As shown in C.N.s 1138 and 1396, this game was played in 1937; it is also wrong to say, at move 12, that ‘White soon resigned’: he did not give up until after move 43.

Venues are sometimes omitted for no apparent reason (e.g. Monticelli v Prokeš, on page 42). Almost everybody will know that this game, in which the Monticelli trap was introduced, was played in Budapest (in 1926 – the year is given). On the next page we have ‘Flohr v Gilg, Zurich 1934’. But Gilg did not play in that tournament and this Famous Game was actually played in the Bad Liebwerba tournament of that year (see page 286 of the Caissa Editions tournament book). Page 53: Against Sir George Thomas, Edward Lasker played not 18 O-O-O but 18 Kd2, as pointed out in C.N. 845. (See Chess Secrets I Learned from the Masters, page 149 and Chess for Fun and Chess for Blood, page 123.)


Batsford’s catalogues include a fair number of books on needlecraft, but the back covers of their chess publications also illustrate the not so genteel art of embroidery. After Reti’s Masters of the Chess Board (‘the only collection of the best games of all the world’s leading pre-war players from Anderssen to Alekhine’ – quoted in C.N. 1441), there was Secrets of Grandmaster Play (‘This collection of [Nunn’s] games is more than just a well-annotated selection of masterpieces by the world’s most dangerous attacking player.’) Now comes Playing to Win by James Plaskett (‘This thought-provoking and original work is the first analysis of creativity and aesthetics in chess’).

In none of the three cases could the remarks have had the author’s approval. Plaskett quotes Chess in the Eighties by D. Bronstein and G. Smolyan often enough to show that he does not consider himself the pathfinder his publisher claims on the basis of a 30-page article. The remaining 60 pages of the book are devoted to 15 of Plaskett’s games. They are well annotated, but seem to have been half-heartedly tagged on as a dubious illustration of the earlier argumentation.

‘Essay’ is too flattering a word for 30 such undisciplined pages. Plaskett is a fluent, likeable writer, but Playing to Win merely hints at the potential which a more caring publisher would have shaped into a proper, full-length book. Just when the ‘essay’ should be moving into top gear, the reader finds himself in the Selected Games section.

With a title like ‘Chess – A Personal View’ an author has sanctuary against irascible critics who would otherwise grumble that the book is not the one they would have written. Nonetheless it is difficult to see how an age-old question like ‘Is chess an art, sport or science?’ can be answered or discussed adequately when age-old answers are ignored. Insufficient acquaintance with general chess history and culture cannot be redeemed by citing morsels from British journalists’ columns and by an account of Vaganian ‘opining at a bar in Lucerne’ (page 3). Plaskett does not butcher chess history (there is no slip worse than ‘1930s’ instead of ‘1920s’ on page 31). He just ignores it.

Anchored in the 1980s (with a few musty references to the 1970s), he remarks (page 7) that ‘the truth is of course that in modern tournament or match chess, results predominate over creativity.’ Adduced as evidence of this is the profundity of opening preparation (duly illustrated by Famous Games), while the question of technical knowledge of the endings is neglected. Middle games are covered only accidentally, by means of a generous interpretation of what constitutes the opening (e.g. ‘18...d5!!’ on page 13). The whole ‘essay’ is dominated by discussion of the ‘DOI’ (‘Decisive Opening Innovation’) as if the chess world revolved around it. But on the last page (page 30) the reader is told that ‘it would be a quite exceptional year if out of the 6,000 or so master games played annually there were to be more than six DOI’s.’

‘Chess – A Personal View’ is written in a cultural vacuum, but in the remaining two thirds of this short book the grandmaster takes over and gives little reason for complaint, except when he writes on page 66:

‘For the next half-dozen moves a cardinal consideration is the efficacy of possible “sacs-back” on d5.’


Despite a posh title and back-cover pretensions to being ‘original and stimulating’, Chess The Mechanics of the Mind by Helmut Pfleger and Gerd Treppner (Crowood Press) might have been subtitled ‘Everything you always knew about chess and never expected to read yet again’. We had not seen the 1987 German original, but still found page after page numbingly familiar (a complaint that can be levelled at much that comes from the Federal Republic of Germany these days). The book deals in light psychology in a way unlikely to impart either knowledge or pleasure. The English edition reads as fluently as all the earlier books that have dispensed the same information, but is not helped by the way John Littlewood barges in with a ‘Translator’s Note’ on pages 14-15 which is based on ignorance. The book is best forgotten, which is readily achieved.

The same publisher has brought out, at a couple of pounds less (£4.95), Spike’s Chess Primer by George Ellison, a new edition of a work first published in 1983 and aimed at the 9-13 age group. The illustrations by E.H. Handforth are weak, but the text has some original touches. Once again, though, a beginners’ book neglects to explain what the pieces look like; how is the novice supposed to know, for instance, the difference between the king and queen when he opens the box of his first set? Another classic trap (page 37): ‘When a pawn reaches the other end of the board it becomes a queen or any other piece you choose, apart from a king.’ The words ‘of the same colour’ need to be added somewhere.

A great problem is how much a beginner can safely be told. Page 93 gives a diagram (r4q1k/4r2p/p6Q/1pp2BR1/3p1P2/2P5/Pn5P/6RK) and says that 1 Be6 “is an excellent move which threatens to win the queen and the game by Rg8+ after 1 Be6 Qxh6 2 Rg8+ Rxg8 3 Rxg8 mate or 1 Be6 Rxe6 2 Qxe6 Re8 3 Rg8+ Qxg8 4 Qf6+ Qg7 5 Qxg7 mate. But there is no mention of the better defensive attempt 1...Rf7 2 Bxf7 Qxf7, after which White can play 3 Rg7 Qd5+ 4 R1g2 Qe4 5 Rxh7+ and mate in two. Similarly, 3...Bg4 is ignored in the second diagram on page 100, and on page 128 12...g6 is not ‘forced to prevent mate on h7’.

The best beginners’ book may still be Teach Yourself Chess by William R. Hartston (1985). We are hesitant regarding the best children’s book, and should like nominations. Another discussion topic: which was the first chess book in history that was specifically aimed at children?

The World Champions Teach Chess compiled by Yakov Estrin and Isaac Romanov and edited by Michael Ayton (A. & C. Black) is similar to David Levy’s 1979 book Learn Chess from the World Champions but less well organized. Such works are amongst the easiest to prepare, so there is little excuse for the way The World Champions Teach Chess frequently confuses the reader; because of poor layout it is often difficult to know when a world champion’s piece has finished and when the Editors’ commentary restarts. On page 12 Steinitz is informing us that brilliant players were often excellent problemists when we suddenly read, ‘Around 1980, Yugoslav television polled its viewers ...’, without any indication that it is no longer Steinitz who is writing. There is likely to be similar confusion on page 29, page 55, page 79, page 81 and page 84.

Acknowledgement of sources is slovenly or non-existent. The presentation of a lecture Lasker delivered in June 1910 should have been credited to issue 2 of Lasker & His Contemporaries, whence the translation from the Spanish (by Hugh Myers) has been taken. In the Alekhine chapter, the book fails to provide the source of an article by A.A., which is followed, inexplicably, by a Chigorin v Steinitz game annotated by Chigorin, an Alekhine-Blümich game annotated by Alekhine and a Fischer-Reshevsky game explained by an anonymous annotator. The Euwe chapter has just one game, the ‘Pearl of Zandvoort’. Euwe’s annotations are readily available, but for some reason the book ignores them. Botvinnik’s chapter has 31 pages, Karpov’s seven. However, the former also contains a game annotated by Kasparov. And so it goes on, reaching a characteristically unruly conclusion with a final 30 or so pages of material that has nothing to do with the theme of the work.


Chess World Championships by James H. Gelo (subtitled ‘All the games, 1834-1984’) is an elegant hardback of 706 pages from McFarland & Company, Inc. The game-scores – no notes, but one diagram per game – are well spaced out and there is a good bibliography (rather unnecessarily divided into three parts) and a detailed openings index (where ‘Petrov’s Defense’ gives a jolt). It is useful to have these 1,164 games within a single volume, but the author’s selection criteria are dubious. Why give all the games from the Morphy v Mongrédien match or the London tournament of 1862? To include the October-November 1909 Lasker v Janowsky match is an astonishing blunder after all that has been written on the subject in the past few years. It is also inappropriate for a book published in December 1988 to conclude after the first Karpov v Kasparov match.

Chess Trivia by Peter Hotton and Herbert A. Kenny (Quinlan Press) is a series of quizzes, the standard of which can be gauged from the following sample with our comments in brackets:

Page 1: ‘What is the Udemann Code?’ (A misprint for Uedemann Code.)

Page 3: ‘What master once stood on his head between moves in a match? Nimzovitsch.’

Page 4: ‘What is axedras? The Spanish word for chess.’ (Chess in Spanish is ajedrez.)

Pages 4/13: ‘What is a fingerfelter?’ (A slip of the hand when typing Fingerfehler.)

Page 6: ‘What is the etymology of the word “gambit”? It is from the French cambi, meaning “exchange”.’ (It is from the Italian gambetta. French has no word cambi.)

Page 12: ‘Sam Lloyd’. (The Welsh puzzle king ...)

Page 21: ‘What master once stood on his head between moves in a tournament? Nimzovitsch.’ (So, once in a match and once in a tournament.)

Page 23: ‘What American chess master has written the most books about the game? Irving Chernev.’

Page 26 (and passim): ‘Rubenstein’.

Page 28: ‘What British champion conducts the chess column in the Manchester Guardian? Leonard Bardon.’ (The Manchester Guardian changed its name decades ago, but Barden has yet to change his.)

Page 31: ‘James Mason of Killarney.’ (Kilkenny.)

Page 32: ‘A.L.H. Deschappeles (1780-1842)’ (Evidently unrelated to A.L.H. Deschapelles (1780-1847) or to ‘Alexander Deschappelles’ further down the same page.)

Pages 39/49: (We are told that Steinitz was officially world champion for ten years, but claimed the title for 30 years, and that he was succeeded by Lasker, who was world champion for 30 years, from 1897 to 1927.)

Page 50: (‘Schlecter’, who, page 32 had claimed, died in 1916.)

Page 96: ‘What twentieth-century player was called the “crown prince of chess”? Keres.’ (Not Nimzowitsch, of course, whose match and tournament posture precluded crowning.)

Page 106: O’Kelly ‘is the only grandmaster who is a member of the nobility’. (He died in 1980.)

Page 112: ‘Who’s the world champion in 1983? Kasparov.’

Page 124: Euwe ‘world champion in 1948’.

Page 125: Botvinnik ‘world champion in 1950’.

It is like that from start to finish. ‘Emmanuel (and Emmanual) Lasker’, ‘Herman Helms’, ‘Paul Benko’, ‘Giovannie Leonardo’, ‘Paulson’, ‘Compomanes’, ‘Taimonov’, ‘Olgan Menchik’, ‘Scheveninger system’, ‘en pris’, ‘William Tevis’, ‘The London Illustrated News’, ‘LaPalemede’, etc. etc. etc.

Published in October 1988 by colección Ricardo Aguilera, Morphy su vida y 353 partidas by Benito López Esnaola claims to be an important work of scholarship but it could easily have been written by Hotton and Kenny. The author comments in his Introduction: ‘Morphy’s games have been compiled before, but I believe that the present book breaks the record with 353. The previous total was 300’. The back-cover blurb remarks that 353 is a ‘record figure’ and trumpets López Esnaola as ‘an excellent investigator of chess history’.

Such words are considerable exaggerations. Maróczy’s book (first published in 1909) contained over 400 games, even though López Esnaola mentions this predecessor on page 26. On the other hand, he has overlooked the second series of unknown Morphy games published by David Lawson in the BCM (September 1979), and shows no evidence of acquaintance with Paul Morphy The Pride and Sorrow of Chess.

There are so many misspellings they can hardly be printers’ errors. Pages 18, 26 and 35 refer to the Britisch Chess Magazine, no doubt by analogy with the ‘Britisch Chess Review’ (page 172). Staunton’s column was in the ‘Ilustration London’ (page 14), the ‘Ilustrated London News’ (pages 15, 16 and 172) and the Ilustrated London (pages 17 and 18). Other nineteenth century revelations are ‘McConnel’, ‘Rouseau’, ‘La Bourdonais’, ‘Lichtenthein’, ‘Lichtentheim’, ‘Lichtenheim’, ‘Lyttleton’, ‘Lytleton’, ‘Harwitz’, ‘St Jame’s Chess Club’, ‘Zukertot’, ‘Andersen’, ‘Cuningham’, ‘Sucre’, ‘La Palamede’ and ‘Delandy’. How do authors and publishers dare put out such material?

The novelty of Paul Schmidt’s Schachmeister denken was that the detailed notes examined motivations from both players’ (conflicting) points of view. The blurb on the recent Chess Enterprises English translation (only $7.95) starts,  ‘This book has long been recognized as one of the true classics of chess literature, with extraordinary instructional content’, a justified boast. Less impressive is the way it is dedicated to the memory of ‘Klaus Junges’. (The original German edition had Klaus Junge, but the Spanish translation (1974) gave ‘Klaus Jung’.)

Jimmy Adams’s book Isaac Boleslavsky Selected Games is a translation of Boleslavsky’s 1957 work Izbrannye Partii. The quality of the annotated games is very high and the book is a most welcome opportunity to become acquainted with a great talent who is far too little known in the West.

French chess literature has rarely been out of the doldrums since Philidor’s time, so it is a pleasure to recommend a new book with some sparkle, Almanach des échecs by Christophe Bouton and Jean-Pierre Mercier (published by Payot). It is a chronicle of 1988 compiled from the daily chess columns, short but dense, of Libération. Last year [1988] was an important one for the hexagon and, perhaps rather against expectations, a comprehensive and valuable work has resulted which is particularly rich in Kasparov material and bobs along with good humour and charm. Political assessments are sometimes rather simplistic, but there are few chess columns in the world which could be adapted into such an interesting book.


Anyone can fill a page on Zukertort; ‘physician ... linguist ... war hero .. shattered by his foe Steinitz, etc.’, all topped off with the inevitable Zukertort v Blackburne, London, 1883 (28 Qb4!!). What has always been needed is a detailed study of his career, a gap now filled by Johannes Zukertort, Artist of the Chessboard by Jimmy Adams (Caissa Editions, Yorklyn). In the 1980s Adams had already made an outstanding contribution to chess literature, and the Zukertort work (all 534 pages of it) is another fine achievement. A hundred and thirty pages of historical material are followed by 319 annotated games, most long forgotten. Proof-reading has been excellent, and our only criticism concerns the absence of exact source references for material quoted (historical features as well as game annotations). Ironically, the hero of this book (apart from subject and author) is Steinitz, whose wonderful annotations to Zukertort’s games are quoted on many occasions and put others to shame.

Schach: 2000 Jahre Spiel-Geschichte by Roswin Finkenzeller, Wilhelm Ziehr and Emil M. Bahrer (AT Verlag) is available at 74 Swiss francs from Meissner Bucherdienst; a French translation has been published by La Bibliothèque des Arts, Paris-Lausanne. Despite the identical format, the latter is being sold by Geneva bookshops at 120 Swiss francs. The book offers the general reader an overall introduction to the history and culture of the game, the real attraction being the magnificent set of colour pictures. But if the book is lavishly illustrated, it is not, alas, lavishly researched.

A number of recent books have been reprints of old titles, and it is interesting to observe how different publishers have approached, if at all, the problem of correcting errors.

The simplest solution is to do nothing. Alekhine’s two collections of best games have been reproduced by Dover (1985) and Batsford (1989). The latter also includes the Alexander book covering 1938-45 and adds a most disappointing Foreword by Kasparov. Yet neither reprint offers corrections to Alekhine’s rare annotational slips or spurious claims (e.g. the five queens game).

In 1989 Dover have also reprinted Charousek’s Games of Chess by Philip W. Sergeant, though with freshly prepared diagrams. Sergeant included all the game-scores available to him, but he was working at a difficult time for research (the First World War). The reprint has been enhanced by Fred Wilson’s nine-page appendix listing ‘additions and corrections which were made by Philip W. Sergeant in his copy of the first edition as notes for a second edition which was never published’, though Dover could perhaps have gone even further by including extra Charousek games from other sources (such as the Blackmar Gambit win over Exner on pages 33-34 of Bruce Hayden’s Cabbage Heads and Chess Kings).

Another solution for reprints is the good old errata sheet, but here too there are dangers, for its presence implies that all the rest of the text has been checked and found accurate. The BCM has just reprinted Capablanca’s Hundred Best Games of Chess by Harry Golombek. An insert lists about a dozen corrections to du Mont’s memoir and the tournament/match records, but an even greater number of errors (just from those parts of the book) remain uncorrected, even though they have been pointed out publicly in, for instance, the October 1976 CHESS and C.N. 1080. We have sent the BCM a Letter to the Editor about this matter, quoting examples, and therefore give just one here: how could it still have been overlooked that on page 9 and page 20 the book claims that there were 14 draws (instead of ten) in the 1921 Lasker v Capablanca world title match?

Golombek has not updated or corrected any of the annotations, even though over the past 40 years he must have gained many new insights and noted occasional errors (such as a missed mate in two in the note to move 26 on page 56 – a mistake that seems to have originated with Capablanca himself). Yet despite the many missed opportunities in this reprint, it is good to see Capablanca’s Hundred Best Games of Chess available again. In our opinion, it is one of the finest of the many ‘Capablanca’s best games’ collections. As H.G. himself revealed on page 14 of Wade and O’Connell’s The Games of Robert J. Fischer, it is a book that Fischer read and appreciated.


See also Harry Golombek’s Book on Capablanca.

Latest update: 7 April 2024.

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