11 April 2007

Chess Sycophancy

While working on my latest 'Every Move Explained' article, I became exasperated with Chernev and wrote:

It's worth mentioning that as good an author as Chernev was, he had a weakness found in many chess writers. He tended to fawn over the moves made by the winner of a game and to criticize all moves made by the loser. This was especially true when the winner was one of his favorite players. (1961 Bled - Petrosian vs. Pachman • 5...e6)

I was being kind. As much as I like him for his easy-to-understand annotations, he's one of the worst examples of that particular weakness. I first noticed this some years ago in his book 'Capablanca's Best Chess Endings', where he comes off as a complete sycophant.

In the Petrosian - Pachman game, he declared after seven moves that Black has made the 'decisive mistake' (7...O-O), this in a position that other good players later won or drew against equally good players. Later on (17...Kg7) he failed to mention that Petrosian bungled his combination -- an excellent combination nevertheless -- by not noticing it the first time it was possible. Did he not see it or was he protecting Petrosian's reputation?

I've included several of Chernev's books on recommended lists, but it's hard to justify an author who lacks objectivity. Is there another chess writer who is as bad as Chernev at pointing out the mistakes of his favorite players?

No comments: