06 September 2009

A Few New References

I updated my first post in this series -- The Soviet School -- to add the references I've collected since that post was written in 2007. The two most useful new references are 'Soviet Chess 1917-1991' by Andrew Soltis and 'Soviet Chess' by R.G.Wade.

If you're curious about the content of Soltis's book, you can find the table of contents at Andrew Soltis, Soviet Chess 1917 - 1991 (Schachversand.de). Unlike most history books, the chapter titles aren't particularly descriptive, but if you already have a grasp of the subject, they should be clear. If you're curious about Wade's book, here's a snapshot of its table of contents.

The Wade book suffers from several structural problems, which are exacerbated by the lack of an index. For example, the section titled 'Post-Tchigorin' [Chigorin, p.28] has brief entries on Janowsky, Rubinstein, Bernstein, Znosko-Borowsky, Tartakower, Nimzowitsch, and Bogoljubow. With the exception of Bogoljubow, who won the 3rd and 4th Soviet Championships, none of these players are generally discussed in literature on Soviet chess, and you would not know they are present in Wade's book unless you read the small section mentioning them.

Like the majority of chess history books, the Soltis book and the Wade book both feature annotated games in addition to the historical narrative you expect. Both do this using a technique which I have come to dislike; the games and narrative are mixed together throughout the book. When I spend time on a chess history book, I am interested either in reading the narrative or in playing through the games, never in both at the same time. Having to skip over a number of annotated games makes the narrative harder to follow, especially when it continues with a short paragraph or two between the games. Kasparov's 'Predecessor' series also uses this not-so-friendly structure.

I find a book like Grekov's 'Soviet Chess', where the narrative is split into chapters and the chapters are separated by the relevant games, easier to read. This is more a peeve than it is a problem, since I'm always happy to have the information found in books of any format.

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