Low cost web ads

Book Review

Winning Chess Brilliancies

by Yasser Seirawan
Microsoft Press, 257 pages, 1995, $11.99.

Review by Lawrence Tamarkin
(LLLLLLLL) 8 L's on the L Man's book rating system.
(10 is the highest).

The latest in the series that Yasser begin in 1990, Yasser this time takes the reader through 12 brilliant games, played from 1972 to 1991. They are Fischer- Spassky, World championship, game 6. A game that Spassky is said to have actually applauded with the audience after it's conclusion. Karpov-Korchnoi, G/2, Fide Final 1974. (the match that ultimately became the World Championship after Fischer's withdrawal), Ljubojevic-Andersson, Wijk aan Zee, 1976, Korchnoi-Karpov, G/17, 1978 Fide World Championship. A heart-breaking loss for Korchnoi from a previously winning game, in a match in which it seamed the whole might of the soviet union was against him. Seirawan-Karpov, Phillips & Drew, 1982. A game in which Yasser tells us a lot about chess preparation and how it feels to face and win! against a world champion at the board. (Naturally, he doesn't tell us about his subsequent loss to Karpov at Hamburg Germany in 1982 to Karpov's revenge preparation in the same opening line. (13...b5!!). Korchnoi-Kasparov, Lucerne Olympiad, 1982. A fascinating early demonstration of Kasparov's ability to grab control of the game away from an opponent by complications. Smsylov-Ribli, London, Candidates Match, G/5, Beliavsky-Nunn, Wijk aan Zee, 1985. (Still a model King's Indian counter-attack game). Karpov-Kasparov, World Championship G/16, 1985. (An amazing game, where Kasparov through opening preparation, sunk a Knight on d3 to crush Karpov's position on the board and in the match. Seirawan-Timman, K.R.O. match, G/5, 1990., (showing why Yasser is still the most respected American player in Europe. Kasparov-Karpov, World Championship, Lyons, G/20. (another Kasparov attacking masterpiece). And Ivanchuk-Yusupov, FIDE semi-Finals, match, G/9. (A fascinating, brilliant and error filled game, in which both players had a lot more than chess on their minds). Even though there are 2 of Yasser's own games, he leaves out his win against Kasparov in Dubai, 1986. Probably because it was more a case of Kasparov beating himself then anything else.

The book incorrectly advertises itself as being "A scintillating move-by-move account of the best chess games of the last 25 years, played by the world greatest Grandmasters". Yasser sort of apologizes for this inconsistency in the PostScript at the end of the book which states that, "I had planned that this final book, would discuss 18 modern brilliancies. I had thoroughly researched and commented upon all of them, but without the space, the six others will have to wait." I do have a small qualm with a publisher that doesn't realize their marketing a false premise on the cover of thier book, which is lasid out so perfectly in every other way.

Yasser is a great writer, with a unique sense of style in his ability to convey complex chess thinking in a way the average chess player can appreciate. Every move is explained in a way that is interesting, Yasser often tells us something early in the game about the players style of play, or the psychology involved in the move order chosen. There is also some chess history about the tournaments the games were played at, at the circumstances under which the games were played, something no game collection should be without.

Yasser credits people who participated in the creation of the book. And Microsoft Press also has a page outlining the tools used to create the book, crediting the people involved in its production. I myself have helped authors with the production of their manuscript(s), and I know the bitter taste I felt on the one occasion when my work was not credited by the author, a certain well known young International Master who lives in NY, whose name I won't bother mentioning, but whose family is not the saints they are portrayed to be in a recent movie.

Getting back to Yasser's book, we have to wonder what were the other six games! (from 1992 - 95?) Yasser implores us to "prevail upon Microsoft Press to get me to write another book through your letters and purchases of the series." (Please Yasser, tell us what the other 6 games are?). Because of this as great as the book is, it has a curiously unfinished feel to it, because a lot of great chess has happened in the last four years. If Yasser has already worked the annotations, I hope he will publish them somewhere, because I personally enjoy his notes the most.

The Microsoft Press chess books are very competitively priced, and judging by the numbers of copies I've seen in book stores are real good sellers (for chess books), so there should be no problem in demand for this book. What is most likely though, is that Microsoft will sell the four volumes they have so far produced until the market is saturated, before they see a good reason to ask Yasser to produce another. Until Yasser writes a book about his own games, apart from "No Regrets" (I.C.E., 1992), this may be Yasser's best book ever.