09 May 2006

My two mags

I read two chess magazines every month. One is 'Chess Life' (CL), which is published by the USCF; the other is 'Europe Echecs' (EE), published in France. I receive CL because I'm a life member of the USCF and I buy EE at the local newsstand because I like it. I have been reading both for over 20 years and there have always been big differences between the two publications.

The first difference is the publishing schedule. My most recent copy of EE, dated April 2006, which I bought the second week in April, has stories on Linares 2006 (18 Feb - 11 Mar), the Moscow Aeroflot Open (8-16 Feb), and the Cuernavaca Young Masters (1-11 Feb). My most recent copy of CL, dated February 2006, has a story on the final match of the 2005 U.S. Chess League (played 23 Nov). That is the only news story in CL, besides four short articles and an obituary on the 'Chess News' page.

Because I live overseas, it takes a few months for CL to arrive. This is certainly not the USCF's fault. Earlier today I saw a post on rec.games.chess.politics asking about the May CL. That tells me that EE and CL both are distributed around the beginning of each month. The difference is that EE has stories 1-2 months old, while CL has stories 2-3 months old.

This has been the situation with both magazines for as long as I can remember. Another example is the 36th Olympiad, which finished 31 Oct 2004. This was reported in the Dec 2004 issue of EE and the Jan 2005 issue of CL. That same issue of CL carried the news that Kramnik had retained his title against Leko, which was reported in the Nov 2004 issue of EE.

Like many people, I get most of my chess news on the Web, almost always within a day or two of its becoming news. Also like many people, I like to read about an event later, away from my PC. It will be a long time before my digital news completely replaces my hardcopy news.

I have archives of both magazines going back 15-20 years. I consult them frequently, usually when I'm doing some kind of research. I always check EE first, because it generally has a story on the piece I'm researching.

Getting back to the most recent issues I have at hand, CL has 66 pages, not counting the front and back covers, EE has 72 pages, not counting covers. CL has 20 pages of tournament announcements; EE has 4 1/2 pages. CL uses color only on its glossy cover pages, three of which are full page ads; EE uses color throughout.

When I look at content, CL is filled with columns, many of them written by inactive GMs. Larry Evans' column leads with a question on Fischer - Spassky 1972. Following that is a question about a Bobby Fischer game from 1957. Benko's column presents two endgames by Isaac Kashdan (1905-1985). Both columns could have been written 20 or 30 years ago.

EE has six fully annotated games from Linares 2006, including two played by Topalov and two by Aronian, the winner of the event. Later on there is a game played and annotated by Karjakin, and another by Moiseenko.

The only advantage CL has over EE is cost. An adult membership for the USCF, which includes 12 issues of CL, costs $49 per year. EE costs 5.95 Euro per issue in France (11 issues per year).

In spite of the many CJA awards which have gone to CL, American chess has not been well served. I know that there is a new editor of CL and I know that he has announced sweeping changes in the magazine. I hope that the changes close the gap between the two mags, my two mags.


Pawnsensei said...

I totally agree. I was sorely disappointed by Chess Life after receiving my first issue. I especially hate the catalogs that are attached sometimes. I usually remove them first thing.


Mark Weeks said...

'I especially hate the catalogs' • I know what you mean. Who orders from offline catalogs these days? - Mark