Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Yasser Seirawan: Chess Duels: My Games with the World Champions

Named the ChessCafe.com Book of the Year for 2010, Chess Duels is one of the best chess autobiographies published in quite some time. Yasser Seirawan is an engaging and entertaining writer, who in Chess Duels offers us his insights of and games with the world champions of the recent past. A raconteur of the chess anecdote, Seirawan uses the well placed story and anecdote to flesh out the character of each champion.

Seirawan a four U.S. chess champion played at the highest levels of the international chess scene during the 80's and 90's and gives an inside look at some of chess personalities and chess politics of that era.

It is the games with the world champions that hold center court, and though there no games with Bobby Fischer, Max Euwe or Mikhail Botvinnik portraits of these champions are included, Seirawan ranks the top three champions thus:
1. Garry Kasparov
2. Anatoly Karpov
3. Bobby Fischer
 I find it hard to dispute his rankings, but there are those for who Bobby will always be number one.

Seirawan is a gifted as well as an entertaining annotator, his notes are clear and concise. Notes that take the reader to the heart of a game, sometimes with a tinge of humor usually at his own expense.

I include this youtube video of a loss to Karpov (thanks to Sirb0b1 for posting) to give some of the flavor of Seirawan's annotations.

Seirawan's insights on  the restless soul that is Garry Kasparov, the Good Garry and the Bad Garry is one of the most revealing portrait of perhaps the greatest chess player ever. The Anatoly Karpov that emerges in this book is less the Soviet man of the future and more of a Russian gentleman. It is these two men who will be linked together in chess history, who stand at the center of this book. The affection and respect Seirawan feels for these both men and the other champions as well as the game of chess comes shining through in these pages.

I cannot recommend this book enough, I know beggars can't be choosers but can we have more  please.

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