We send best wishes to IM James Sherwin, a welcome long term visitor from “over the pond”
James Terry Sherwin was born on Wednesday, October 25th 1933 in New York. and attended The University of Columbia.
He became an International Master in 1958 at the age of 25 and, according to Felice, his peak FIDE rating was 2400 in 1969.
Much to his chagrin (we recommend you do not ask him about this!) James is famous for the “Sherwin slid the rook here with his pinky, as if to emphasize the cunning of this mysterious move” annotation in Game 1, “Too Little, Too Late” of My Sixty Memorable Games by Robert James Fischer (and game introductions by Larry Evans).
Since 1999 James has been a frequent entrant to English Rapidplay tournaments at Richmond and Golders Green and, in August 2019 in Torquay, aged 86, tied for first place in the Rapidplay event at the British Championships.
James is registered with the Wiltshire County Chess Association and since 2015 has played only rapidplay games rated by the ECF. He currently has a rating of 204D.
With the white pieces James plays 1.d4, 1.Nf3 and 1.e4 in that order of preference.
As the second player he essays the Sicilian Najdorf and the Grünfeld Defence.
He has plus scores against Donald Byrne, Robert Byrne, Herbert Seidman, Sidney Bernstein, George Kramer and Raymond Weinstein (amongst others). His score with Fischer was 0.5/8 (but don’t mention it!).
“James Terry Sherwin, born in New York, became an International Master in 1958. In 1961, he was Chairman of the USCF Rules Committee. He was the Executive Vice President of GAF Corporation who was the American Chess Foundation (ACF) President from 1979 to 1990. He took 5th place in the 1953 World Junior Championship. He tied for 1st place with Alexander Kevitz in the 1954-55 Manhattan Chess club championship. He took 17th place in the Portoroz Interzonal (1958). Sherwin finished in 3rd place twice in US chess championships (1957-58 and 1958-59). He won the first Eastern Open Chess Championship, held in Washington DC, in 1960.”
“James Terry Sherwin (born October 25, 1933) is an American corporate executive and International Master in chess.
Born in New York City in 1933, Sherwin attended Stuyvesant High School, Columbia College (Phi Beta Kappa) and Columbia Law School. He graduated from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy Officer Candidate School in 1956 and later became a Lieutenant Commander. He is an attorney admitted to the New York and Supreme Court Bars. He joined GAF Corporation in 1960 serving in various legal and operational roles and eventually becoming its Chief Financial Officer. He was CFO at Triangle Industries from 1983 to 1984, rejoining GAF Corporation as Vice Chairman from 1985 to 1990.
While at GAF, in 1988, he was indicted by the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Rudolph Giuliani, for stock manipulation in connection with the 1986 sale of stock owned by GAF. He was convicted after three trials, but the conviction was reversed on appeal and dismissed with prejudice. In 1991 he was appointed Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Hunter Douglas N.V., a Dutch multinational company, in which capacity he served until 1999. Since then he has been a Director and an adviser to Hunter Douglas.
He is an Overseer of the International Rescue Committee and member of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York. He received an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from the University of Bath in December, 2007.”
“In chess, Sherwin finished third and tied for third in the US Chess Championship four times and tied for fourth three times. He was Intercollegiate Champion and New York State Champion in 1951 and US Speed Champion in 1956–57 and 1959–60. He earned the International Master title in 1958. He played in the Portorož Interzonal in 1958, which was part of the 1960 World Championship cycle. While he finished only 17th out of 21 players, he scored (+2–2=2) against the six players who qualified from the tournament to the Candidates tournament at Bled 1959. He is a previous President of the American Chess Foundation.
Sherwin resides with his wife, Hiroko, near Bath, United Kingdom.”
BCN remembers Sir Theodore Tylor who passed away on Wednesday, October 23rd, 1968.
Theodore Henry Tylor was born on Sunday, May 13th, 1900 in Bournville, (at the time) in northern Worcestershire. Now Bournville is in the metropolitan borough of Birmingham.
His father was Henry Bedford Tylor and his mother Minnie Belle Cater were both 29 when Theo was born. He had one sister Rachel Hope who was born on 1 November 1909 in Kings Norton, Worcestershire, when Theodore Henry was 9 years old.
In the 1911 census Theo is shown as living in Worcester as a student. His father passed away on 26 February 1915 in Birmingham, Warwickshire, at the age of 44.
In 1939 Theo was living at 2, Rawlinson Road, Oxford where he continued to live until his death.
We are grateful to John Foley writing in Floreat Domus (the Balliol College magazine) who wrote this about Tylor :
and, following this, John reproduced an item from On the Basis of of Hearsay, Grosvenor House Publishing, 2018 :
From British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXXIX (1969), Number 1 (January), pp 6-7 we have the following article :
“The death of Sir Theodore H. Tylor at the age of sixty-eight was reported in The Times of October 24th. The announcement will be received with deep regret by the many chess enthusiasts who will remember him as a cheerful and extremely resourceful opponent who triumphed over the handicap of near-blindness and lived such a full and distinguished life that it earned him the admiration and respect of the world.
The Times has already done full justice to his work as Fellow and Tutor in Jurisprudence at Balliol for nearly forty years and to his service to organizations for the blind for which he was most justly knighted in 1965, but it barely mentioned that side of his life with which we chess-players were more intimately acquainted.
His education at Worcester College for the Blind naturally brought him into contact with chess and he became a very strong player. ln 1925, at the age of twenty-five, he was among the twelve players selected for the British Championship at Stratford-on-Avon and fully justified the selectors’confidence by taking fourth prize, behind Atkins, Yates, and Edmund Spencer, and ahead of Winter.
It was another four years before he became really active, but in 1929 he again played in the Championship and shared fourth prize with J. H. Morrison and W. Winter behind, Sultan Khan, H. E. Price, and R. P. Michell. He followed this with his first visit to Hastings and in the 1929-30 congress put up the best performance of his career, sharing first prize with Koltanowski, in front of Flohr, Reijifir, Rellstab, Alexander, Jackson, Noteboom, Vidmar Jnr., and Winser. This, by the way, was only a Premier Reserves!
This performance evidently impressed the selectors, for the following summer brought an invitation to play for the B.C.F. team in the Hamburg Olympiad, where he won one, drew four, and lost two games. ln the 1930-31 Hastings Congress he made the first of nine appearances in the Premier Tourney, but he never managed to maintain sufficient consistency to win honours in this exalted company and was never able to finish higher than equal sixth (in
1936-7). ln the nine tournaments he won ten tames (of which only two were against non-British opposition-Feigin and Medina) and drew thirty-three (including World Champions Alekhine and Euwe and grandmasters Fine, Flohr (three times), Keres, Sultan Khan, Tartakower, and Vidmar). ln 1934-5 he again tied with Koltanowski for first place in the Premier Reserves.
ln twelve British Championships his best performance was at Hastings in 1933 where he finished second, 1/2 point behind Sultan Khan and lost only to C. H. O’D. Alexander. In nine of the twelve he was in the first six, and was four times a prize-winner. He was chosen to play for England against Holland in 1938, 1948, and 1952, and against Yugoslavia in 1951. ln these games he won four and lost four. He was selected to play against
the U.S.S.R. in 1946, but had to withdraw at the last minute.
In 1936 he was chosen as one of the four British players in the Nottingham lnternational Tournament. This caused some dissatisfaction among other disappointed aspirants, but he came ahead of Alexander, Thomas, and Winter and captured the scalps of Flohr and Tartakower. ln the same year he was fifth at Margate, where he drew with Capablanca, Lundin, and Stahlberg.
Finally, a word should be said about his work away from the board. For six years he was President of the Chess Education Society, in whose work he took a lively interest from its foundation in 1943. He was President of the Midland Counties Union from 1946-9. He played top board for Oxfordshire for many years and captained the team for a period. We mourn a great friend of chess and a fine player who was a true amateur and obviously enjoyed every minute he spent among us.”
“In spite of the handicap of partial blindness, Tylor enjoyed a successful academic career and was for nearly forty years a Fellow and tutor in jurisprudence at Balliol College, Oxford. He took up chess seriously while a schoolboy at Worcester College for the Blind and later as an undergraduate captained the Oxford University chess team.
At Hastings 1929/30, Tylor shared first prize with Koltanowski in the Premier Reserves ahead of Flohr, Reijfir, Rellstab, Alexander, Jackson, Noteboom, Vidmar Jr. and Winser. He played in the Hastings Premier event on nine occasions, but never finished in the top half. He competed in the British Championship twelve times, his best result being 2nd to Sultan Khan in 1933. He was selected for the BCF team in the Hamburg 1930 Olympiad and was British Correspondence Champion in 1933, 1934 and 1935.”
“Sir Theodore Henry Tylor (13 May 1900 – 23 October 1968) was a lawyer and international level chess player, despite being nearly blind. In 1965, he was knighted for his service to organisations for the blind. He was Fellow and Tutor in Jurisprudence at Balliol College, Oxford for almost forty years.
Born in Bournville, Tylor learned to play chess at age seven. His chess skill increased while he attended Worcester College for the Blind from 1909 to 1918. He studied at Oxford University beginning in 1918, and captained the Oxford University Chess Club. Tylor received First-class Honours in Jurisprudence in 1922 and was made an honorary scholar of Balliol College. The next year, he became a Bachelor of Civil Law and a lecturer at Balliol College. Called to the Bar by the Inner Temple with a certificate of honour, he was made a Fellow at Balliol College in 1928.”
“Tylor competed in twelve British Championships, finishing fourth in his first appearance in 1925. His best result was in 1933, finishing second to Mir Sultan Khan. He tied for first at the 1929/30 Hastings Premier Reserves alongside George Koltanowski ahead of Salo Flohr, Josef Rejfiř, Ludwig Rellstab, C.H.O’D. Alexander, Daniël Noteboom, and Milan Vidmar. Tylor played in the top section, the Hastings Premier, nine times beginning in 1930/1. His best finish was 6th= in 1936/7. He was first reserve for the English team at the Hamburg 1930 Chess Olympiad.
Tylor won the British Correspondence Chess Championship in 1932, 1933, and 1934. He shared 5–6th at Margate 1936 with P. S. Milner-Barry, but he won their individual game and drew with 2nd- to 4th-place finishers José Raúl Capablanca, Gideon Ståhlberg, and Erik Lundin (Salo Flohr won). Although he finished 12th at Nottingham 1936, he had the best score of the British participants, ahead of C. H. O’D. Alexander, G. A. Thomas, and William Winter. Mikhail Botvinnik noted that Tylor was using a tactile chess board that he incessantly fingered, as well as a device for counting the number of moves made.”
“Tylor was President of the Midland Counties’ Chess Union from 1947 to 1950, but his work for the university and for the welfare of the blind limited the time he had to devote to chess. Tylor also enjoyed bridge. He died in Oxford on 23 October 1968.”
Steinitz in London : A Chess Biography with 623 Games : Tim Harding
“Tim Harding played for Ireland at the 1984 FIDE chess Olympiad in Thessaloniki. He is a FIDE Candidate Master and a Senior International Master of correspondence chess. A well-known writer on many aspects of chess, Tim is a former editor of Chess Mail magazine and for almost 20 years he contributed monthly articles in “The Kibitzer” series. He lives in Dublin, Ireland.”
From the publisher’s blurb :
“Drawing on new research, this first biography of William Steinitz (1836-1900), the first World Chess Champion, covers his early life and career, with a fully-sourced collection of his known games until he left London in 1882. A portrait of mid-Victorian British chess is provided, including a history of the famous Simpson’s Divan. Born to a poor Jewish family in Prague, Steinitz studied in Vienna, where his career really began, before moving to London in 1862, bent on conquering the chess world. During the next 20 years, he became its strongest and most innovative player, as well as an influential writer on the game. A foreigner with a quarrelsome nature, he suffered mockery and discrimination from British amateur players and journalists, which eventual drove him to immigrate to America. The final chapters cover his subsequent visits to England and the last three tournaments he played there.”
Collectors of McFarland’s chess biographies will know exactly what to expect.
A handsome, beautifully produced hardback book based on extensive and exhaustive research, in this case concerning William Steinitz (Harding prefers to use the anglicized spelling of his name), the first official world champion.
He was born under the name Wolf Steinitz into a Jewish family in Prague in 1836, making him a year older than Morphy. He moved to Vienna to study mathematics in 1858, and it was there that he started playing chess seriously. In 1862 he travelled to London to play in an international tournament, and remained there, living the life of a chess professional, for 20 years.
Here’s Harding, in the Preface:
“This is not just a game collection but also an important biographical work. Subsequent to his triumphant comeback at the Vienna international tournament and his resignation as chess editor of The Field, Steinitz left England for a long tour of America. In the spring of 1883 he returned to play in the London 1883 tournament, after which he spent some more time in London; Chapter 12 deals with this. Steinitz then left England permanently and did not set foot in the country for another 12 years. The final chapter deals with his last visits to Britain which included two major tournaments, Hastings 1895 and London 1899. There is much less biography than chess in those two chapters but some information about his European tours is included. The tasks of writing a new biography of the final phase of Steinitz’s life after he left England, and of providing an authoritative game collection of his post-London period, are left for future scholars.
“The primary motivation for embarking on the research for this book was to present a chronological account of Steinitz’s two decades as an English resident, covering both the development of his chess career and significant life events. The chapter about Steinitz in this author’s earlier work, Eminent Victorian Chess Players, may be seen as a first essay in that direction but the present book goes much deeper, including appendices that document various controversies in which Steinitz became embroiled. The book also includes background sections about chess life in London going back to the earlier nineteenth century, dealing with London’s early chess clubs and public places where the game was played, before and during Steinitz’s time.”
Harding chose to include all available games from Steinitz’s time in London, some of which have only recently been rediscovered in old newspaper and magazine columns, so you have in total 623 games, mostly with some annotations from contemporary sources, occasionally, where appropriate, with interjections from Stockfish 10. In those days, of course, there were few tournaments, so he made a living, apart from journalism and teaching (one of his pupils was Lord Randolph Churchill, Winston’s dad), by giving simultaneous displays and playing against amateurs, who would pay for the privilege. If the games were particularly interesting or brilliant, they would find their way into print. In the early part of his career, Steinitz was renowned for his tactical acumen, so the book is crammed full of romantic King’s Gambits and Evans Gambits. Lovers of this style of chess won’t be disappointed.
In his preface, Harding draws the reader’s attention to two games in particular:
All the games have been checked using every primary source with discrepancies noted. So if you want a full and accurate record of every currently available Steinitz game from his time in London, along with some earlier games from his time in Vienna and those from his later English tournaments, look no further.
But what you also get is a lot of background information about chess in London during that period. The clubs, the events, the personalities, the disputes: everything is there. One of my personal interests is the changing position of chess within society over the past 200 years, and the changing demographics of the people who were attracted to the game over the years. In Steinitz’s time, as you would expect, chess clubs were entirely male and largely upper middle class. Most readers will be aware that chess was a particularly popular pastime amongst Church of England clergymen well into the 20th century. Helpfully, at least to me, Harding will often provide the full name and a one sentence biography of Steinitz’s amateur opponents. Although he is very thorough when researching Steinitz and his games, he tends only to consult one source for his opponents.
I decided to follow up a few random names through a quick search of genealogical websites: I found one or two mistakes and was also to provide probable identification in several cases where only the initial and surname were given. I also came across some fascinating stories which I’ll relate another time.
But this is just me: none of this will matter to most readers, who will be more interested in Steinitz than his opponents. It’s unrealistic to expect Harding to research these minor figures with the same diligence afforded to his protagonist.
Make no mistake about it: this is a major addition to the literature of our game, marked by scholarly research and historical accuracy, and, as such, deserves a place in the library of anyone with an interest in chess history. McFarland and their authors are doing an enormous service to the chess community by publishing books of this nature: this volume will sit alongside several other Harding works, notably his biography of Blackburne, Renette’s biography of Bird and Forster’s biography of Burn on your shelf devoted to 19th century British chess history.
But it’s not just a dry as dust history book. It’s a gripping read as well. Harding tells his story with panache, leaving the reader eager to turn the page and find out what happened next, helped, in part, by his subject’s disputatious nature. Whatever you do, don’t miss out on the appendices, in particular where Steinitz describes how he was allegedly assaulted by Blackburne on two occasions: “… he pounced upon me and hammered at my face and eyes with fullest force about a dozen blows, until the bedcloth and my nightshirt were covered with blood.”.
It is to be hoped that a future volume will appear, perhaps written by an American chess historian, covering the latter stages of Steinitz’s career. A Best Games collection, looking at his play through both 19th and 21st century eyes, would also be a valuable edition to chess literature.
A large book with high production values and a niche market is never going to come cheap, but, even if you’ve never read anything of this nature before, you might want to give it a try. With chess clubs closed and pubs offering restricted services, what better way could there be to spend your winter evenings?
Very highly recommended: 2020 has been an excellent year for chess books and this is certainly one of the best.
We offer IM Adam Hunt best wishes on his birthday.
Adam Ceiriog Hunt was born on Tuesday, October 21st, 1980 in Oxford and his mother’s maiden name was Williams. The UK Number one single was “Woman in Love” by Barbara Streisand. Adam shares his birthday with Kim Kardashian.
BCN remembers Philip Walsingham Sergeant who passed away on Monday, October 20th 1952.
PWS was born in Kensington on Saturday, January 27th, 1872 to Lewis Sergeant and Emma Louisa Sergeant (née Robertson) and was baptised at All Saints Church, Notting Hill. According to PWS’s baptism record Lewis was an author.
According to the 1881 census PWS (aged 9) lived with his parents and numerous siblings : Dorothy (aged 7), Winifred (6), Hilda (5), Bernard (2), John (his grandfather aged 76) and Mary (his grandmother aged 75). They had staff, Elizabeth Fraser and Sarah Martin. They lived at 10, Addison Road, North, Kensington.
According to “Joseph Foster. Oxford Men and Their Colleges, 1880-1892. 2 vols. Oxford, England: James Parker and Co, 1893″ :
PWS attended St. Paul’s School and then Trinity College, Oxford to read Classics where he attained Honour Moderations.
and here is the record from the above publication :
We do not know if PWS played in the Varsity matches of 1892 – 1895 : Britbase does not (yet) include player details for these matches.
PWS married Minnie Boundford (born 27th February 1989) in 1909 in Hampstead and they lived at 5, Dukes Avenue, Chiswick where PWS was listed as an author and Minnie as someone who carried out “unpaid domestic duties”. Minnie was 17 years younger than PWS. Minnie’s father was a joiner and a carpenter.
They had two daughters Margaret (born 1910) and Kathleen (born 1911).
In October 1946 Minnie and PWS remarried. Presumably this was rather unusual in that day and age.
According to The Oxford Companion to Chess (OUP, 2nd edition, 1996) by Hooper and Whyld :
PWS was an English author of biographical games collections for Charousek, Morphy and Pillsbury as well as other works of importance such as A Century of British Chess (1943) and Championship Chess (1938).
From The Encyclopedia of Chess (BT Batsford, 1977) by Harry Golombek :
“A professional writer on chess and popular historical subjects. Without any pretentions to mastership, he represented Oxford University in the years 1892 – 5 and assisted RC Griffith in preparing three editions of Modern Chess Openings.
In chess he dealt with a number of important subjects : Morphy’s Games of Chess, London, 1916; Charousek’s Games of Chess, London, 1919; Pillsbury’s Chess Career (in collaboration with WH Watts), London, 1923; Championship Chess, London, 1938.
All these are lucidly and carefully written but suffer from the defect that, being neither a master player nor a professional annotator, he was not competent to deal with the annotational part of the work. Probably his best book on chess was A Century of British Chess, London, 1934.
It would appear that BCM did not publish an obituary of PWS.
“Philip Walsingham Sergeant (27 January 1872, Notting Hill, London – 20 October 1952) was a British professional writer on chess and popular historical subjects. He collaborated on the fifth (1933), sixth (1939), and seventh (1946) editions of Modern Chess Openings, an important reference work on the chess openings. He also wrote biographical game collections of Paul Morphy (Morphy’s Games of Chess (1916) and Morphy Gleanings), Rudolf Charousek (Charousek’s Games of Chess (1919)), and Harry Nelson Pillsbury (Pillsbury’s Chess Career, with W. H. Watts, 1922), and other important books such as A Century of British Chess (1934) and Championship Chess (1938).”
Harry Golombek writes that, “Without any pretensions to mastership, he represented Oxford University in the years 1892-5”. Golombek considers A Century of British Chess probably Sergeant’s best chess book, but opines that although Sergeant’s chess books are lucidly written, they suffer from the defect that, as a non-master, he was not competent to deal with the annotational aspect of his work.
Timman’s Triumphs : My 100 Best Games : Jan Timman
From the publisher :
“Jan Timman is the author of highly acclaimed books such as Curacao 1962 and The Art of the Endgame. His best-selling Timman’s Titans won the 2017 English Chess Federation Book of the Year Award. His previous book, The Longest Game, is a riveting account of the epic rivalry between Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov.”
From the book’s rear cover :
“Jan Timman is one of the greatest chess players never to win the world title. For many years ‘the Best of the West’ belonged to the chess elite, collecting some splendid super tournament victories. Three times Timman was a Candidate for the World Championship and his peak in the world rankings was second place, in 1982. For this definitive collection, Timman has revisited his career and subjected his finest efforts to fresh analysis supported by modern technology. The result is startling and fascinating. From the games that he chose for his Timman’s Selected Games (1994, also published as Chess the Adventurous Way), only 10(!) made the cut. Some games that he had been proud of turned out to be flawed, others that he remembered as messy were actually well played. Timman’s Triumphs includes wins against greats such as Karpov, Kasparov, Kortchnoi, Smyslov, Tal, Spassky, Bronstein, Larsen and Topalov. The annotations are in the author’s trademark lucid style, that happy mix of colourful background information and sharp, crystal-clear explanations. Once again Jan Timman shows that he is not only one of the best players the game has seen, but also as one of the best analysts and writers.”
Jan Timman (b 1951) has had an active chess career lasting over half a century. For much of the 1980s he was considered the strongest player in the West, with only Karpov and Kasparov clearly his superior. He also has an enviable reputation as an excellent writer and annotator, as well as an expert on endgame studies.
Here, we have a collection of Timman’s 100 best games. In fact, that’s not quite true. The introduction includes two games which just missed the cut, plus another three extracts where he played a study-like move.
As this is a best games collection, you won’t find any losses. There are two draws, from either end of his career, and 98 wins. As you’ll see from the back cover, there’s very little overlap with Timman’s earlier best games collection, and those games now have totally different annotations.
The analysis has all been double checked using strong engines, so you can be pretty sure of its accuracy. At the same time, Timman’s annotations are resolutely old school, and, for this reviewer at least, none the worse for that. You don’t get reams of computer generated tactics, just lucid explanations, with variations only when necessary.
Take, for example, one of his quicker wins, a victory with the black pieces over Nigel Short from Linares 1992. Here’s how Timman annotates the conclusion.
But, as an endgame connoisseur, he occasionally goes into more detail when a fascinating ending appears on the board.
This position is from a game, again with Black, against Artur Yusupov (the book uses the German spelling Jussupow) played in Belgrade in 1989. This position arose just after the adjournment at the second time control. Here’s how Timman explains this position.
“The analysis during the break had taught me that a transfer to a rook ending was the most convincing path to the win. Jussupow had mainly looked at 63… b2. During the post-mortem, he told me that he had found drawing chances in that line. However, the computer is unrelenting. Black wins also here with two accurate king moves: 64. Rb1 Rd2 65. f5 Kd6! 66. Nf7+ Ke7!, and White cannot take on g6, since Black has the d3-square for his bishop.
“During the analysis, I also looked at the spectacular 63… Rd3+ 64. Kg4 Rd1. If this had worked, it would have been a study-like conclusion to the game. Alas, it doesn’t work. The main line continues as follows: 65. Rxd1 Be2+ 66. Kxh4 Bxd1 67. f5 Be2 68. f6 Kd6
and now White has the incredible finesse 69. Nc6!!. Luckily, I found this study-like save in my hotel room in Belgrade. After 69… Bc4 70. Na5! Bf7 71. Nxb3, a theoretically drawn endgame ensues.”
(The game concluded 63… Bd3 64. Nxd3+ Rxd3+ 65. Kg4 Rd4! 66. Rb1 Kb4 67. Rf1 b2 68. Kxh4 Rc4 69. Rb1 Kb3 70. Kg3 Rc3+ 71. Kg2 Kc2 and White resigned.)
These two examples will give you some idea of Timman’s annotation style.
Timman has always been a universal player who uses a wide range of openings so there’s a lot of variety in the play: no chance of getting bored by seeing the same type of position over and over again. Each game is put into its context regarding the tournament or match in which it took place. The text is also enlivened by many entertaining anecdotes, often concerning Timman’s rather hedonistic (especially in his early years) lifestyle. We read, for instance, about listening to Frank Zappa with Ray Keene, and taking the young Nigel Short to a nightclub on the eve of an important game.
There are many readers and who particularly enjoy best games collections: they will certainly revel in this excellent book. For those of you of Timman’s (and my) generation the book will also bring back many memories. For younger readers, though, much of it will be ancient history: perhaps they’ll get the same pleasure out of it that I got from studying the games of Alekhine and Capablanca many years ago.
You might prefer a more spacious layout for the games. You might have liked a summary of his tournament and match results. You might have liked some tournament cross tables. But of course publishers have to make hard commercial decisions. At least we get an index of players (all players mentioned in the book for any reason, rather than an index of opponents) and an index of openings.
But, most importantly, you get 100 great games from one of the best players of the past 50 years, with lucid and instructive annotations. I’m pleased to give this book a warm recommendation.
One last thought. Timman tells us that someday he might write a book of his most exciting games, which would include more draws and several losses. Yes, please!
John K Shaw was born on Wednesday, October 16th, 1968 in Irvine, North Ayrshire, Scotland.
On this day Americans Tommie Smith (gold 19.83 WR) and John Carlos (bronze) famously give the Black Power salute on the 200m medal podium during the Mexico City Olympics to protest racism and injustice against African-Americans.
He became a FIDE Master in 1994 at the age of 26. Five years later in 1999 he became an International Master and finally a Grandmaster in 2006 at the age of 38.
He won the Scottish Championship in 1995 (with IM Steve Mannion and GM Colin McNab), outright in 1998 and in 2000 with AJ Norris.
Not that many years previously (1988) John had a rating of 1700 at the age of 19 and therefore he falls into that rather rare category of GMs who were not strong players as juniors.
According to Felice and Megabase 2020 his peak FIDE rating was 2506 in January of 2002.
John’s FIDE federation is Scotland and is currently ranked fifth in that country.
He acquired his three GM norms at Gibraltar 2003, Calvia Olympiad 2004 and 4NCL Season 2005/6.
According to ChessBase (in 2005) :
“IM John Shaw has written two books for Everyman Chess and co-edited Experts vs. the Sicilian. He has represented Scotland on many occasions, recently in the Olympiad in Calvià, where he obtained his second GM-norm. As John has once had 2500 in Elo, it is his hope that he will complete his Grandmaster title in 2005 with a third GM-norm.
Together with Jacob, John constitutes two thirds of the new chess publisher Quality Chess Europe which has published Experts vs. the Sicilian by ten different authors and Learn from the Legends – Chess Champions at their Best by Romanian GM Mihail Marin.”
John plays / has played for 4NCL Alba and his peak ECF grading was 240B in July 2009.
With the white pieces almost exclusively plays 1.e4 and the Ruy Lopez, Exchange Variation.
As the second player John has a wide repertoire versus 1.e4 essaying the Sicilian La Bourdonnais (Löwenthal) and against 1.d4 the Slav is the weapon of choice.
A writer of chess books, John is the Chief Editor of the publishing house Quality Chess and has written the following (amongst others) :
The Match of the Century USSR vs. World : 50th Anniversary Edition
by Douglas Griffin and Igor Žveglić.
“The match between the USSR and the Rest of the World was an epoch-defining event that featured many of the greatest names in the history of chess. Five World Champions, and all of the world’s highest-rated players – without exception – took part. Not for nothing was it billed as the “Match of the Century”.
On the 50th anniversary of that great event in the Serbian capital, we invite the reader to take a step back to those years and to re-live the match as it was experienced at the time, in the words of its participants and some of the leading journalists of the day…
This edition is revised, extended, and compiled by Douglas Griffin, chess historian and connoisseur and Igor Žveglić, Chess Informant commissioning editor.”
Chess history and book enthusiasts will doubtless know that the first edition of this book (SSSR – SVET Soviet Union vs. World) was written by Tigran Petrosian and Alexander Matanovic and published in 1970 by Chess Informant :
and commands reasonably high prices on the second hand book market.
Possibly more famous is the version written by Serbian FM, Dimitrije Bjelica (Димитрије Бјелица) together? with Bobby Fischer.
commanding even higher prices. Did Bobby contribute anything to this book? Another discussion for another time and another place perhaps…
The 50th Anniversary Edition is a rare thing in modern chess publishing : it is a hardback and a well-produced one. Chess Informant (along with McFarland Books and some Quality Chess titles) is known for publishing in hard back and, of course, the cover price reflects that. The book has a rather charming silk-style bookmark which is another endearing touch.
Internationally renowned chess historian Douglas Griffin and Igor ŽvegliĆ (both members of the Editorial Board) have taken the original Petrosian and Matanovic text, refreshed it and added new content not available at the time of the 1st editions publication. They have expanded the previously brief player biographies and the original Russian-language annotations have been translated.
Also, we have translations of contemporary articles from the Soviet chess press and subsequent recollections from some of the players and officials involved in the 1970 match.
Initial impressions were somewhat soured by reading the Foreword to the 1st Edition : it contained typographical errors (not in the 1st edition : I checked) such as “developmet”, “chapions”. Hopefully these were not a portent of things to come!*
*It turns out my concerns were unfounded.
I conducted a careful comparison of the 1st and 2nd editions and drew several conclusions in favour of the 2nd edition. The paper and print quality is far superior, there are many more photographs and those photographs all have detailed attributions.
The player biographies are vastly more detailed and improved (and in English!). The annotations of the games appear to be the same except that all of the text is in English rather than just the comments of the World team player. Of course, the player annotations are delightful and deep and free of engine analysis : hurrah!
Here is one of the top board games annotated for ChessBase (rather than Informator) :
It is pleasing that the book was not spoilt by modern engine analysis and the players thoughts are a pleasure to study. There are additional diagrams for the 2nd edition annotations reducing the need for a board to follow the game : a board is a good idea anyway of course!. Each of the games are classified by ECO code (for example [E30]) whereas you might imagine the 1st edition would use a Rabar Index but it did not. Most people will know that Informant abandoned the use of the Rabar Index in 1981 in favour of ECO codes.
Following the annotated games we have a new section – “Reactions to the Match” Any chess enthusiast will find this fascinating and this section is followed by a Postscript which discusses the match in the context of the modern game. Enthralling stuff!
As a bonus feature there is an extensive list of References at the rear. Since Douglas Griffin was the main writer of this 50th Anniversary Edition you would his expect superb attention to detail and historical accuracy and that is what you are given.
In summary, this is a delightful book both from the visual perspective and from its content. You will not be disappointed – even the other books on your shelf will be pleased by this new edition.
If you would like to get an idea of the book before purchasing (and please do!) then try these sample pages. Personally, I’d rather read the words from the book than a screen.
Everything is surely here! The author has bitten off more than he can chew but (but!) this is surely deliberate. He just loves what he does. As a reviewer I probably never have been written to by the actual author. Until now! Ben Graff dropped me a line last March sending me, quite unbidden, a copy of this well produced book. He has written stuff before, see ‘Find Another Place’ (Matador 2018). He is a journalist, Corporate Affairs professional and clearly knows his chess.
From the blurb cover: Tennessee Greenbecker is bravely optimistic as he sets out to claim what he sees as rightfully his – the title of world chess champion. But who is he really? Is he destined to be remembered as a chess champion or fire-starter? Either way, might this finally be his moment?
If you like your novels nice and straightforward: standard stories, boy meets girl, old befriends young, the anti-hero learns a painful lesson and emerges a better, reformed, person. All well and trusted formats. I am sure you can think of other, hopefully better, examples.
Well, this is nothing like that! Arson mixes with match chess. Real players – Fischer and Kasparov for example – mix in with the fictitious. Donald Trump even appears, Brian Eley gets mentioned and who is Dubrovnik who ‘has elected not to press charges’? I’ve got you hooked haven’t I? And the narrator – that’s Greenbecker, of course (do keep up) – plays the London System.
See CHESS 04/20, pp 36-37 for extract, chapter and verse.
Having read 75% of this story I gave up, confused, though I did skip to the end.
I hope you’ll like this ambitious thriller more than I did.
James Pratt, Basingstoke, Hampshire, October 12th, 2020
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