Vlastimil Hort publishes "My Chess Stories"

by André Schulz
12/13/2020 – Vlastimil Hort is a charming and elegant story teller, and likes to share his memories of past and present masters. About a year ago he published a book with 64 of his chess stories in German, which now appears in English. Reason enough to reread what André Schulz wrote about Hort's book! | Photo: Alina l'Ami

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Chess culture!

Chess is a game with a long history. Its origins go back to 6th century India and it has fascinated people all over the world for centuries. Chess also unites people, even in politically difficult circumstances.

Hort book cover

A large variety of different people love and play the game. They all have stories to share. Vlastimil Hort tells these stories.

Vlastimil Hort was born in 1944, during WW II, in Kladno, which at that time was in Czechoslovakia and is now part of the Czech Republic. Hort started his tournament career at the age of 16, and for more than half a century he has been a keen observer of his fellow players.

At his peak Hort was one of the world's best players. In 1967 he narrowly missed to qualify for the Candidates Matches and in 1970 he was part of the "World's" team in the famous "USSR vs The Rest of the World" match in Belgrade. In 1977-78 Hort played in the Candidate Matches but narrowly lost against Spassky in the quarterfinals. In the crucial game of the match Hort had a winning position but forgot to press the clock and lost on time.

In 1979 he emigrated from Czechoslovakia to West Germany, where he soon started a career as extremely popular chess commentator on TV. His Czech accent, his stories, and his wit became legendary and today Hort is still a popular guest at chess tournaments and simuls.

For chess enthusiasts Vlastimil Hort is a guide who helps them to get an insight into lived chess history because Hort was not only part of more than 50 years of chess history but in the course of his career has also met many older players who told him stories and anecdotes about famous and forgotten masters, e.g. the Czech Master and journalist Karel Opocensky who had often met Alekhine and other famous players from the past.

Hort during the book release in Germany

On ChessBase Hort has shared some of his memories. His stories proved to be extremely popular with the public and a lot of readers asked whether he would not like to gather and to publish them in a book. Now Hort published 64 of his stories in English and under the title "My Chess Stories". The 176 pages of the book contain stories, tables, games, pictures, and caricatures by Otokar Masek.

The stories, of course, focus on chess players. The journey through time begins 1919 in Tomsk. At that time Russia was torn apart by civil war and two chess players, Karel Treybal and Fyodor Duz-Khotimirsky got caught up in it. Duz-Khotimirsky was very lucky that Treybal recognized him as a fellow chess player. Why? Well, we do not want to reveal too much...

Then the reader meets three great players of the 1920s: Capablanca, Bogolyubov and Alekhine. Hort also introduces us to Moshe Czerniak, who is less known today, and Tibor Kendelényi, who is almost completely forgotten. But Vlastimil Hort tells us about them — two fascinating and interesting personalities! 

Hort leads us to many places and back in time and tells us stories about chess players. Why did David Bronstein not win a single game at a simul against 35 opponents that he gave in 1946 in Czechoslovakia? And why did Hort fall from his chair while playing Keres in 1961? What role did a ventilator play in the ill-fated match between Bobby Fischer and Samuel Reshevsky in 1961? Why was Mikhail Tal directed to his hotel room again after having played the opening move in his game against Hort in Moscow 1963?

Hort's chess stories are inspiring, charming, and Hort tells them in a unique way that is both relaxed and elegant.

Translation from German: Johannes Fischer

Hort shares his joy of chess

Vlastimil Hort

176 pages, hardback with jacket, Nava, 1st edition 2020.
 ca. €24.00

(The review coply was kindly provided by Schach Niggemann.)


André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.


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