Review: Tal-Botvinnik 1960 - Tal

[This review has been submitted for publication in KingPin Magazine.]

Tal-Botvinnik 1960: Match For The World Chess Championship

  by Mikhail Tal, trans. Hanon Russell. pub. Russell Enterprises 1996

iv+214 pp.

  What do you mean, you haven't read Tal's book of the first match with Botvinnik? I admit I hadn't before, although I knew it is a common choice for the top ten chess books ever written. The book itself starts with a confession:

The trouble with writing books

is not what you put in them, but what you have to leave out.  I've written a series of chess books with Tim Onions, the latest of which will be published next week.  But oh, the pain I go through when we decide to leave out important ideas and examples.  Anyhow, if you're curious about what we might have put in if the books were a bit longer, we have some free extra examples.

Returning to chess

I just had a nudge from an old sparring partner who is looking to get back into chess again. What advice might you give?

Practise, study, review your games...  So much, so obvious.

DVDs: is it just me?

I treated myself to a ChessBase Fritz Trainer DVD recently, 943Mb of files crammed into one corner of a 4.7Gb disc.  Nearly all the space is taken up with movies of a balding middle-aged guy stumbling through commentary like:

That's what I call a book title

div style="text-align: center;"span style="font-weight: bold;"THE GAMES/spanbr style="font-weight: bold;" / span style="font-weight: bold;"in the/spanbr style="font-weight: bold;" / span style="font-weight: bold;"St. Petersburg Tournament/spanbr style="font-weight: bold;" / -- 1895-96 --br / withbr / Copious Notes and Critical Remarksbr / bybr / Messrs. JAMES MASON and W.H.K. POLLOCKbr / and illustrated bybr / Numerous Diagrams of Interesting Positionsbr / together withbr / span style="font-style: italic;"Portraits and Biographical Sketches/spanbr / of the Playersbr /

The Seven Deadly Chess Books

Jonathan Rowson is a young Scottish GM who has written two of the best and most important books of recent years: The Seven Deadly Chess Sins and Chess for Zebras.  They are important because they are some of the best discussions about how chess is actually played that I have ever read; often Rowson seems to be writing for the first time about things that have rarely been mentioned, let alone explored in any detail.  The books are also confusing, pretentious and irritating by turns. 

Logical Chernev

I've just come across two splendid swipes at Irving Chernev.

Here is John Nunn, in the introduction to his Grandmaster Chess, Move by Move. He quotes a very illuminating annotation by Alekhin, and then goes on to say:

"Lesser annotators are often fond of propounding grand general principles, but these are often totally misleading. A typical example occurs in [b]Logical Chess, Move by Move (Simon and Schuster, 1957) by Irving Chernev (I have converted the descriptive notation to algebraic). His Game 3 ...

Authors and Openings Books

Ah, so easily done: the unobserved transposition.

Angus Dunnington's Winning with Unorthodox Openings [Everyman] gives on page 11 the line 1.b4 e5 2. Bb2 f6 3. b5 d5 4.e3 with the comment:

"Black must decide what his ambitions are in the centre"
...and gives 4...c5 and 4...Be6 as Black's main choices.

Then on page 23 the line 1.b4 d5 2. Bb2 f6 3. e3 e5 is given, where our guide remarks:


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