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Excerpts from Nigel Short's Review of
"My Great Predecessors" by Garry Kasparov
A great pile of books from the post awaited me upon my return home to Athens
after idyllic summer holidays. The harsh fate of most was to be cursorily examined
and then consigned to the shelves, rarely, if ever, to be opened again.
One tome, however – My Great Predecessors (part 1) (Everyman, £25)
by Garry Kasparov – stood out like a beacon. It is probably the most enjoyable
chess book I have ever read. Here is a master artist deftly painting the giant
canvas of chess history with broad and powerful brush-strokes. The fact there
was scarcely a game that I did not recognise, did not in any way detract from
the pleasure: they are mostly analysed in tremendous, computer-assisted, detail.
The oracular pronouncements of this synthesis of genius plus machine are awesome.
Misconceptions, which in some cases have persisted for decades, are brutally
Perhaps even more interesting are Garry's piercingly perceptive portraits of
the main protagonists. He has his personal favourites – Alekhine in particular
– but does not let this unduly cloud his assessment of their contributions
to the game. Quibblers have already pointed out that the book lacks a bibliography,
although I understand this omission will be rectified in the final volume.
Less intelligible are the stones cast in the direction of Dimitry Plisetsky,
Kasparov's researcher, as though Winston Churchill's Nobel prize-winning History
of the Second World War, in six volumes, suffered in some way from not being
entirely the product of one man's labours. You can obviously never satisfy everyone.
But never mind the whingers – this is truly a magnificent work.
While you are at it you can also read the following columns:
Norwood: A serious diversion for Siberian nights
13/09/2003: No jokes this week because this is serious. The 56th Russian
Championship is on in Krasnoyarsk. Yes, Krasnoyarsk. Believe it or not,
that is a city of about a million people somewhere in Siberia. It's also
a special anniversary in Krasnoyarsk because 375 years ago the city was
founded by a Muscovite nobleman called Andrey Dubensky. In 1628, he arrived
there with about three hundred Cossacks and set up a "Red Fort"
to guard against Eastern invaders. So they are having a Russian chess championship
to celebrate. The nights can be long in Siberia and this game probably provided
Pein: March of Morozevich
13/09/2003: Peter Svidler might have won their individual game but he cannot
stop Alexander Morozevich defeating all his other opponents at the 56th Russian
Championships being held in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk. After Svidler
took a one point lead in round six, Morozevich defeated over Dmitry Jakovenko
and in the eighth round he overwhelmed Evgeny Najer with more tactical wizardry
to join Svidler on 6.5/8. The pair lead the field by a full point with a game
to play and will claim either the winner's prize of $20,000 or $13,000 for
second place unless the championship is shared.
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