Chess Book Reviews

Chess Books on Grandmasters

World Chess Champion Kramnik

We’ve looked at publications for beginners and for tournament players, in previous posts. Now for chess books on particular grandmasters, beginning with Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky.

A Bantam Book (1972) Fischer/Spassky

This little paperback on a unique World Chess Championship match is for the common reader. (Strange to tell, not all chess books are mostly for the reading: Many are for playing over games or portions of games.) Here’s the first paragraph on page 128 of Fischer-Spassky:

Fischer’s victory in the third game was his first victory—ever—over Spassky. It must have had an exhilarating effect on him, especially since he defeated Spassky while playing the Black side, and the game must have depressed the champion. Nevertheless, in the fourth game Spassky made what amounted to a comeback—a victory instead of a draw—but Spassky fell victim to time, as he had before, and, with the clock hands putting pressure on him, he was unable to find the best line, the one that could and should have won for him.

"$1.95" paperback chess book

Three out of the five Amazon customer reviews for this chess book were with 5-stars, and none with less than three stars, yet this publication is not perfect: On page 127, a chess diagram shows two black bishops on the same square color, and that was after one of them had been captured. With such a glaring blunder in publication, many chess players might be hesitant to buy an old used copy of this little paperback with “$1.95” on the cover. On the other hand, the reading may well be worth it.


New Chess Book: Karpov: Move by Move

Anatoly Karpov defeated three of the world’s greatest grandmasters—one of them was Spassky—in qualifying to challenge Bobby Fischer in 1975. When the world champion rejected the terms officially set forth for the match, Karpov became World Chess Champion by default. During the following nine years, however, he proved that he was worthy of the title.

From the Introduction (Karpov talks about his own style)

I had an active positional style. I played quite strong endings, so this was my advantage also. And then I could defend difficult positions, which is quite seldom in modern chess, and I could resist in positions where other players probably would resign. And I was finding interesting ideas how to defend difficult positions, and I could save many games. So I never gave up, I was stubborn as a chess player and I tried to defend even very bad positions, and in many cases succeeded.

Sam Collins book on Anatoly Karpov

Published in September of 2015, it has 288 pages. It was ranked by Amazon as follows on Jan 5, 2016:

#46 in Books > Humor & Entertainment > Puzzles & Games > Chess


Kramnik: My Life & games (published in 2000)

In 2006, the Russian grandmaster Vladimir Kramnik became the FIDE World Chess Champion by defeating Veselin Topalov in a match of twelve regular-timed games and four rapid tie-breaker games. This book appears to have been written by Kramnik himself, although at least one reader suspects that at least some of it was ghost-written.

World Chess Champion Kramnik

Of the nine Amazon reader reviews (as of early Jan 5, 2016), four of them are 5-star, two 4-star, two 3-star, and one 2-star. This would suggest that the general reader satisfaction is above average for chess books.



Publisher’s chess book review

This chess book is balanced in depth and breadth, with lessons on how to checkmate your opponent, gain a material advantage over another beginner, promote a pawn to a queen, pin one of your opponent’s pieces, make a knight fork, avoid becoming checkmated, and much more. It emphasizes what a beginner most needs to know and understand, as soon as possible.

Idaho’s Backyard Professor of Chess

To begin, I have found the Youtube chess videos of Kerry Shirts (AKA the “Backyard Professor”) to be delightful entertainment and probably helpful to a number of raw beginners . . .

New Chess Book for Beginners

The new paperback Beat That Kid in Chess may be the first publication to systematically use the teaching method called “nearly-identical positions” (PIN). It was also written especially with the “early” beginner in mind.