Friday, July 4, 2014

Botvinnik: Move by Move by Cyrus Lakdawala


Botvinnik’s classic One Hundred Selected Games was one of the first chess books I ever really read and, in fact, wore the cover off of it. Botvinnik, along with Reshevsky, was my early chess hero. Add that to the fact that game collections and tournament books have always been my favorite type of chess book so Cyrus Lakdawala’s Botvinnik: Move by Move was a book I couldn’t resist purchasing when I came across it last week.
     Botvinnik was a fascinating individual. He played the communist game to the hilt and as such was a man who was respected for his chess ability but he was also feared by his peers because of his power. He was not above using his influence with communists party leaders to advance his own career and discredit certain of his opponents. I know David Bronstein had little use for Botvinnik. In his “other” professional life he spent many years attempting without success to create a computer program that played strong chess.
     This book is Lakdawala fourth in the “Move by Move” series: Capablanca, Kramnik and Korchnoi being the others. In his play Botvinnik emphasized logic and strategy and Lakdawala illustrates Botvinnik’s skill in the areas of attack, defense, dynamics, exploiting imbalances, accumulating advantages, and the ending. The sixty games contain notes which include questions and answers in the analysis. One thing I personally didn’t care for was Lakdawala’s attempt at humor in the notes though; something Botvinnik would never have approved of. While the title is somewhat misleading (move-by-move analysis it is not, sometimes making the annotations appear rather sparse) it’s the games themselves that count. Also, Lakdawaka’s notes sometimes do nothing more than point out the obvious, at least one is not bogged down with reams of computer generated analysis.
     The book is also available in the Kindle version. Recommend for all players of all strengths.

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