Monday, June 22, 2015

Botvinnik books

This guy was a fascinating character and you can learn a lot by studying his games!

Mikhail Botvinnik: The Life and Games of a World Chess Champion by Andy Soltis $40 is a lot to pay for a chess book, but this book is published by MacFarland and their books are expensive, but very well produced. Still, that's a stiff price for a book. 
     Anyway, Soltis begins his Preface with a question posed by his wife: Why would anyone want to read about such a cold personality? Her question forced Soltis ask the question, “Why did I want to write about him?” True, Botvinnik was a great player from the past, but this book covers more that just his chess career. It is also a window into the politics of Stalinist Russia and the Soviet players in the mid-twentieth century. As for the games themselves, this book, with 87 games, has lots of diagrams and the games are heavily annotated and at the end of the book includes career record against opponents, notes on sources, a bibliography, index of openings and opponents and a general index. 
     Botvinnik was a strange bird. He had to really hated his opponents before he could conquer them and he had a high opi ion of his importance to the cause of both communism and chess, especially Soviet chess. One thing Soltis was unable to satisfactorily report was whether or not other Soviet players were forced to lose matches to Botvinnik, but given to secrecy that was so prevalent during that era and the fear under which people lived, it's not surprising. I guess we will never know for sure.

As a cheaper alternative is Botvinnik: Move by Move by Cyrus Lakdawala is a viable choice. This book has 60 games divided into sections: Attack, Defense; Dynamic Elements, Exploiting Imbalances, Accumulating advantages and Endgames. One complaint is the author's writing's annoying. Look Inside at Amazon.

 And then there are books by Botvinnik himself. 

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