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Bobby Fischer: The Later Years
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Bobby Fischer: The Early Years
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Collected Annotations and Articles by Bobby Fischer
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A new edition of Legend on the Road: Fischer's 1964 Simul Tour
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Bobby Fischer in Action: Simultaneous Exhibitions and Blitz Games
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Winning Against Flank Openings (A Repertoire Based on the Games of Bobby Fischer)
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Winning Against 1.d4 (Play the Nimzo/Bogo Indians)
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Winning Against 1.e4 (Play the Sicilian Defense)
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Chess Combinations of the World Champions, Steinitz to Tal
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Return of a classic, available on Kindle and iBooks:
How Chessmasters Think
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A Chess Opening for White: The Kings Indian Attack, a Fischer Favorite (currently on Kindle and Nook and iBooks)
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Appointment in Amfreville
A memoir of my Uncle in WW2 here

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Updates to the Fischer Books

We will be adding articles that didn't get published in the Fischer books.

Six years after forfeiting the 1975 World Championship, Bobby Fischer visited Browne at his home in Berkeley, California.

"They had this article in Sports Illustrated in '76 and evidently Bobby didn't like a few of the quotes I made. One I think he might have taken offense to was something like - I made some comment like, 'there's nothing in chess I don't understand'."

"A mutual friend of ours who lived in San Francisco contacted me one day, and says that Bobby wasn't happy [with me] but then suddenly out of the blue in 1981 he told me, 'say Bobby's in town and he'd like to see you.' I remember we talked first and then we set up the meet, and then he came to my house."

"Basically we went over [my games] - I was very happy - because he wanted to go over my games from the US Championship, so I showed him a bunch of games. And he was complimentary, which for him was no easy deal. You know for him any compliment was the very- he didn't give them easily, you know what I mean? His compliments were avoided. Well we looked at my games from the US Championship, and he basically was very complimentary - I mean always he had a criticism here or there. And then we went to my library. I do have a fair amount of chess books and he showed this book - I think it's either 600 or either 660 games by Kurt Richter (its 666 Kurzpartien, a book of miniatures, from the Richter of Richter-Rauzer fame -editor) and he liked the book. He was playing over some of the games. Well I'm glad he found a book that he liked, because he'd seen so many books you could bore him easily if you didn't have some special books in your library - he'd get bored I'm sure. Because he used to go to bookshops going through all the books looking for new material all the time. One time I did that, and down when we were walking in New York, and we went in a store, and at least an hour, or two hours, we were in that store and he was just - he'd go through books and just start readin' 'em while he was there and look and he'd go through a bunch of pages. He might spend 15 or 20 minutes on one book and then go on to the next book."

"I knew he did that a lot. I mean that's why he got so good. He did a tremendous amount of research, and of course he worked extremely hard. I loved his work ethic, I mean he just - its tremendous stuff - and it's a wonderful thing that he could take so much time to work on chess. There's very few of us who could do that. Even though I sooner or later had to succumb to the day-to-day paying-the-bills kind of thing."

During Fischer's stay, Browne beat him at pool, and despite Fischer's competitive nature, he was unfazed.

"I think the thing about Bobby is, he could appreciate if somebody is really good at something and appreciate it and I believe that's the kind of person he ways. He wouldn't take offense or anything. He respected excellence, as I do. So I don't really like football, but say I'm watching and I see two teams playing great, I would enjoy it. Or baseball - I don't watch any more but - two top teams or a great pitcher, you know I can enjoy it, I can enjoy excellence. I don't recall playing him a second game. He might have been upset in his own way, but he didn't show it. And I don't think he really had good reason to be upset there. It's just that he might have felt it was a mismatch. Because he thought maybe I'm too good - and I wasn't really that good, I just had a good game."

"He still kept up with chess and he still played. Very strange - you could tell by his analysis that his mind was still very sharp. It's just a shame that he had to wait twenty years to play another match. If he had played in say 82, he would have been much stronger than he was in the Spassky match."

"He seemed upset with a bunch of things. He wasn't sure he was getting paid well for his book [My 60 Memorable Games]. He had some prejudices. We could take a walk and he was ranting and raving a bit, and he was obviously very perturbed by a bunch of things. That was about how it was I think. And it got worse, it definitely got worse, as far as his rationality."

The visit ended on a sour note, after Browne took Fischer to task for spending six hours on his house phone.

"He just normally would do that. He did that with other people too - he stayed at their house - he might have stayed weeks or months and he spent a lot of time on the phone. But they put it up with it. And I didn't want to put up with it. So I just told him it was too much. He probably talked to several different people, but the gist of it is he was tying up the phone, and I might be getting calls for a tournament or something. In those days I only have one phone number, and even only one phone, so I didn't want it tied up completely. He could have just said, "OK fair enough," and just hung up, or said, "look I'll only be on for a little longer," but he just took it the wrong way and didn't really say very much, and he left soon after. And I didn't see him any more, or hear from him.

Book Reviews

By International Master John Donaldson

Each generation has a tendency to think it is the best at everything no matter how ridiculous this might sometimes be, but I must say this is the golden age for chess book publishing. Never before have so many excellent books appeared for players of all levels and interests. One can credit this to many factors including better tools including ChessBase, stronger analytical engines and the Internet. The larger pool of potential authors that have become available as the chess world becomes better connected is also a big plus.

Paradoxically this golden age for chess literature is coinciding with a decrease in printed books as a younger generation prefers to receive their information electronically. Publishers also face the sad fact that soon after a new book appears pirated copies will start appearing on the Internet. Fortunately publishers are a hardy lot and the end of the printed chess book appears to be nowhere in sight.

There are smaller publishers that do an excellent job like Mongoose Press and Russell Enterprises, and others that specialize (think McFarland a giant in the field of chess history for over three decades), but the big three in the English language when it comes to hard chess content are New In Chess, Everyman Chess and Quality Chess. Note that another outstanding publisher, Gambit, is no longer as active as it once was.

The Dutch company New in Chess is most famous for its outstanding magazine which bears the same name and its Yearbook series dating back thirty years. It publishes books on all subject matter with its strongest offerings reminiscences of famous players by Sosonko and anything written by Sokolov and Tukmakov.

Everyman Chess from England is best known as the publisher of Kasparov's My Great Predecessors series, but has also carved out a niche for its self with its electronic offerings. Alone of the big three, it offers many of its books in digital as well as print format. Although Everyman does publish many books for higher rated readers its bread and butter is The Move by Move series, an interactive approach aimed at players rated 1600-2200.

The third member of the group, Quality Chess from Scotland, aims at a different market than the other two. This is the series Grandmasters read and the target audience is primarily players rated 2200 on up and those willing to do the work to get there. Five recent offerings from Quality Chess (www.qualitychess.co.uk) confirm that it is the unquestioned leader when it comes to consistently publishing chess books of the highest quality.

Danish Grandmaster Lars Schandorff has the gift of producing manageable and readable opening books that could have ended up the size of a large phonebook in lesser hands. The author of previously well received works on the Caro-Kann and a 1.d4 repertoire, Schandorff's latest book is a Semi-Slav repertoire book.

Only 260 pages (albeit the pages are good size and two column), one might assume the author is offering one line against 5.Bg5 as the Botvinnik (5...dxc4) and the Moscow/Anti-Moscow (5...h6) are both huge complexes, but they would be wrong. Schandorff manages to not only cover The Botvinnik but two lines in the Moscow (5...h6 6.Bxf6 Qxf6 7.e3 Nd7 8.Bd3 dx4 9.Bxc4 and now both 9...Bd6 (after which Schandorff believes Black has no problems) and the more popular and dynamic 9...g6. Also included in this work is coverage of the Meran (8...Bb7) and various Anti-Meran systems. The latter includes an interesting novelty in the line 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.e3 Nbd7 6.Qc2 Bd6 7.Bd2 0-0 8.0-0-0 b5 9.cxb5 Bb7 10.Kb1 Qb8! Such novelties are sprinkled throughout this book.

The Semi-Slav offers Black one stop shopping against 1.d4 starting with the position reached after 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6. Schandorff spends five pages discussing the various pros and cons of various move-orders (2...e6 or 2...c6) with a preference for the latter which offers White the choice of the Exchange Slav, well-covered in another Quality Chess offering on the Classical Slav by Boris Avrukh. Schandorff's book is must reading for anyone who plays the Semi-Slav. This book is attractively produced and reasonably priced at $29.95.

Highly Recommended

Seven years ago Israeli Grandmaster Boris Avrukh (now Chicago based) set a new standard for opening books with his two volume repertoire series devoted to 1.d4. Over 1000 pages in length it raised the bar with its in depth coverage, particularly volume one and its treatment of the Catalan. Now Avrukh is back with a second edition of this classic work.

As one might guess from the title 1.d4 The Catalan the first volume of the second edition of this series is primarily devoted to that opening as it was in its processor. Not only has Avrukh updated his analysis, in many cases he has changed the line he recommends - a case in point being the Open Catalan main line 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 d5 4.Bg2 Be7 5.Nf3 0-0 6.0-0 dxc4 7.Qc2 a6 where he now favors 8.a4 (previously his choice was 8.Qxc4).

One big difference between the first and second editions is while the former paired the Catalan with the Slav, Queen's Gambit and Queen's Gambit here its companions are the Bogo-Indian, Old Benoni and Modern Benoni. Avrukh explains in the introduction this reorganization was necessary as theory had changed substantially in some lines and the weighting of certain sections had to change to reflect this. Anyone looking to open 1.d4, with the Catalan the heart of their repertoire, will find this book just the thing they need. Amazingly the price for this new edition ($29.95) is the same as it was seven years ago.

Highly Recommended

The first two books in this review were opening books, by nature limited to an audience that plays those systems. The following books don't have this restriction and can be recommended to all chess lovers. Non-chess players looking for a well-appreciated Christmas gift to give lovers of the Royal Game will find any of these three fit the bill.

The first, Python Strategy, is a collection of the writings of Tigran Petrosian. The ninth world champion (1963-1969) has not had nearly the number of books devoted to him as Fischer or Kasparov but there have been more than a few. They include works in English by Clarke, O'Kelly, Vasiliev, Soltis and Smith and Keene. The famous German Weltgeschichte series included a volume dedicated to Petrosian but the most impressive past work on Petrosian was the massive two-volume series published by Pergamon Chess in the early 1990s. These two oversize hardback books came to close to 1000 pages and were compiled by Eduard Shekhtman and based on Petrosian's work.

Unfortunately while Petrosian was an outstanding writer (something English language readers learned from his stimulating chapter in How to Open a Chess Game) he only started working on a book of his best games in December 1983 and died less than a year later with the project unfinished. Shekhtman did an outstanding job of pulling together material but keep in mind that a good deal of the length of the two volumes was due to the inclusion of many unannotated games by Petrosian - a treat in the early 1990s but no longer so special with today's databases.

Some of the same material to be found in Shekhtman's volumes can also be found in Petrosian's Legacy a 123-page paperback published in Los Angeles in 1990, but it also contains new information.

How does Python Strategy compare? How much overlap is there? This is not easy to say. The editor for the volume, Oleg Stetsko, has clearly built on Shekhtman's work, and some of the material, most notably several key games that Petrosian played against the King's Indian with his pet system (d5 and Bg5,) can be found in several Petrosian related works, but there is almost much that is new not counting the contributions by Jacob Aaagard and Karsten Mueller.

Python Strategy, which contains numerous interviews of Petrosian, has over 100 deeply annotated games which a cursory glance suggests is more than appears in any previous works. This includes the two volume Shekhtman books which have long been out of print. A paperback edition of the two volumes is now available for $29 per volume but the production qualities are not up to the level of the original, in particular the excellent quality black and white photos have not reproduced well.

Those looking for insights into the mind one of the most original World Champions of all time will find Python Strategy a fitting tribute and an excellent value at $29.95 for a near 400 page book.

Highly Recommended

The Life and Games of Mikhail Tal routinely appears on the list of the best chess books ever written and for good reason. This compilation of Tal's writings captures him at his best with lots of fantastic games and insights into the unique personality which make him arguably the best-loved of all the world champions. This makes one wonder about the need for more works on him, particularly when there are more books on Tal than all the greats except Fischer and Kasparov.

Hungarian International Master Tibor Karolyi's Mikhail Tal's Best Games 2: 1960-1971, like the first volume of this trilogy which covered Tal's early years, offers ample reason why this is a most welcome series which takes a fresh look at the games of the "Magician from Riga" and provides many anecdotes from his contemporaries.

The notes to the games in the present volume, which traces Tal's journey from winning the World Championship to 1971 when he was still among the world's elite, are first rate. Readable, yet with plenty of concrete variations when needed, Karolyi's annotations are insightful. A case in point is his seven pages of coverage devoted to Tal's epic encounter with Karen Grigorian in the 1971 Soviet Championship. The latter, not to be confused with the 2015 Armenian champion of the same name, was a great talent (according to Karolyi he had an even score with Tal over nine games and finished at 50 percent in the extremely string 1973 U.S.S.R. Championship) who met a tragic end. The game in question, which won a special prize for the Armenian for the best ending of the tournament, was not mistake free but was a great struggle right up to the end. At move 55 when Tal plays Bg4! Karolyi writes: "Tal goes after the enemy king. For such an attacking player, I was surprised at how rare an occurrence this was in Tal's endgames. By contrast, when I wrote my books about Karpov I was surprised at how often the twelfth world champion checkmated his opponents in endgames." Only someone intimately familiar with the games of these two great could have such an insight.

No chess player can fail to love Mikhail Tal's Best Game 2: 1960-1971, which is attractively produced and affordably priced at $29.95, a good value for a 357 page book.

Highly Recommended

Last but hardly least in this review of recent Quality Chess books is Boris Gelfand's Positional Decision Making in Chess. The Israeli Grandmaster, who narrowly missed becoming World Champion in 2012, has enjoyed a long and successful career which continues to this day. Talent has played a role in his development but so has an incredible work ethic fueled by an insatiable curiosity about the game. Positional Decision Making in Chess focuses on seldom-discussed topics like the squeeze, space advantage, the transformation of pawn structures and the transformation of advantages using Gelfand's games and those of his long-time favorite Akiba Rubinstein. The latter stopped playing in the early 1930s but Gelfand feels his games are still quite relevant for modern players.

There are many original and perceptive observations sprinkled throughout this book. Prefacing his game with Argentine Grandmaster Daniel Campora from Cesme 2004, Gelfand writes:

When you have managed to squeeze your opponent into only two or three ranks, it is often the case that you want to exchange the rooks and queens, but not the minor pieces. Rooks, and especially queens, will be able to do a lot of damage if they manage to sneak behind a far-advanced pawn chain, while minor pieces do not gain extra potential from a big void in the same way. Also, they are far less likely to escape from their prison.

This of course only matters in positions where there is at least one open file; how are the rooks otherwise going to be able to escape? But in most games there is an open file, as for example this one.

At move 26 in his game with Campora after starting a sequence of moves which will clear all the heavy pieces off the board Gelfand writes:

Apparently it is anything but obvious to some other grandmasters that White should exchange all the heavy artillery in this position, but I did not spend a lot of time on this decision at all. The danger of doing this is of course that Black could be able to set up a fortress and the heavy pieces would be needed to break it. Making such a decision at the board depends a lot on what you believe about the position. I was sure that I could break any attempt and therefore went for it without much hesitation. I should add that it is of course too far into the future to consider which type of fortress Black will try to set up. This is a moment to go with your feeling. I believed that White would win this ending and there were a lot of upsides to it. And I always play according to my beliefs. At the end of the day it is not a matter of life and death; nor is it the right moment to try to find ultimate solutions.

Such comments are invaluable and recall some of the annotations Botvinnik made that are worth their weight in gold. Positional Decision Making in Chess is filled with such nuggets of wisdom.

Any player rated 2200 on up will find this book to be full of food for thought. This is must reading for any serious chess player.

My strongest recommendation without reservation

Birds' Opening: Move by Move (Everyman Chess 2015, www.everymanchess.com, 448 pages, figurine algebraic, $29.95) by International Master Cyrus Lakdawala is one-stop shopping for those who like to open 1.f4. It covers all Black responses from From's Gambit (1...e5) to Reversed Dutch setups (1...d5) with the Leningrad, Classical (d3 and e3), Stonewall (e3 and d4) and lines where White fianchettoes his queen fianchetto are all examined. Although the title of this book suggests it is limited to only the Bird this is not the case as against 1...c5 with ...d6 (and not ...d5) Lakdawala favors Closed Sicilian and Big Clamp (e4, f4, d3, c3) setups.

Even the most experienced Bird aficionado will find something new in Lakdawala's book. The line 1.f4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.e3 Bg4 4.Be2 Nbd7 5.h3 Bxf3 6.Bxf3 c6 by ...e5 has long enjoyed a good reputation for Black but Birds' Opening: Move by Move favors dispensing with Be2 and playing h3 right away, capturing with the queen and then playing g4 immediately. This is not the only line of the Bird that the author recommends handling in a modern fashion. In the Classical Dutch reversed (1.f4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.e3 followed by Be2 and d3) he advocates lines with an early Nc3. In the Dutch this approach is usually considered suspicious due to a well-timed d4-d5 but Lakdawala feels the extra tempo makes this approach viable for White. Possibly the biggest revelation in this book is what the author recommends for White after 1.f4 f5. Lakdawala likes 2.e4 but with the twist that after 2...fxe4 the first player go for a From's Gambit reversed with 3.d3. The author believe that the inclusion of f4 makes the gambit not only playable but in fact favors White slightly.

Following the Move by Move format this book is arranged around 53 well annotated games that constantly feature questions designed to engage the reader. Like other books published by Everyman Chess this book is available in a variety of electronic formats.

Recommended.

Many chess players would be hard pressed to name U.S. champions between Paul Morphy and Henry Nelson Pillsbury. Fortunately North Carolina based McFarland & Company has done much to rectify this situation. Four players held the title between these giants of American chess and MacFarland has previously published books on Jackson Showalter and Albert Hodges. A work on the third member of this quartet - Samuel Lipschutz - is now available leaving only George Mackenzie unaccounted for.

McFarland's latest offering is Samuel Lipschutz, A Life in Chess (McFarland & Company 2015, www.mcfarlandpub.com, 399 pages, hardback, $65) by Stephen Davies. This handsomely produced book is the first comprehensive look at the man who defeated Showalter in convincing fashion (+7 -1 =) in 1892 to take the title. All 15 games of this important match, held after the previous title holder Mackenzie's death the previous year, are given. Many appear with annotations by Steinitz from various newspapers of the day.

Davies writes that the present time is a golden age for those interested in the history of the game. The last half of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th saw chess columns in almost every important newspaper with many cities having more than one. Until recently accessing these columns involved a lot of effort At a minimum it meant going to a library and slowly going through newspapers on microfilm. This was a tedious process to say the least. Often the work involved was greater as most public libraries have limited holdings necessitating the need to order material on inter-library loan. In extreme cases the only way to gain access to the material was to travel to a distant library.

This is no longer the case. Now it's possible to access hundreds of newspapers and one look at the bibliography for Samuel Lipschutz, A Life in Chess makes it clear that Stephen Davies has made ample use of them. This is important as even information about something as basic as Lipschutz first name (Samuel or Solomon) is unclear. Davies has uncovered much new material in this work which includes 249 games annotated games including ones involving Emanuel Lasker and Jose Capablanca.

Lipschutz, who suffered from tuberculosis (he died at only 42), was in Los Angeles from late 1893 to early 1895 and appears to have been the first US champion to visit the West Coast. This reviewer, who works at the Mechanics Institute Chess Club in San Francisco, was curious in finding out what Davies had uncovered about this relocation which was motivated by health concerns. There are nine pages in Samuel Lipschutz, A Life in Chess on his sojourn in Southern California which reveals previously unknown information about chess in Los Angeles which had only 50,000 people in 1890.

Lipschutz and Dr. Walter Romaine Lovegrove of San Francisco, the best California player of the time, played several games during the latter's visit to Los Angeles in 1894. This information was previously known but new are the extensive plans for a visit by Lipschutz to San Francisco, the largest city West of the Mississippi in 1890 (population 300,000). Unfortunately it did not happen but Davies is to commended for his digging. This is but one of many examples where he has uncovered new information.

Samuel Lipschutz, A Life in Chess fills an important gap in chess literature and makes for interesting reading for those interested in American chess history pre-1900.

Highly Recommended.

Young players have been traditionally known for their love of opening study and dislike of endgames, habits that have saved many a veteran player who has entered the final phase of the game with a losing position against a whippersnapper. This lack of endgame knowledge by youngsters is due in part to a lack of experience but there is another contributing factor - a lack of proper instructional material.

Endgame books are nowhere near as prevalent as those devoted to the first part of the game but there still are well over a hundred. Among this number are some really excellent ones, but there is no escaping the fact that most of them are a couple hundred pages long. Yury Averbakh's Chess Endgames Essential Knowledge, which was first published in English in 1966 and reprinted in a 112-page edition in 1993, has been as close as it comes to meeting the needs of those with shorter attention spans, but is understandably a little dated. Until this year there really was no work on the ending for younger players that was both practical, affordable and entertaining.

The publication of Karsten Muller's Chess Endgames for Kids (Gambit Publications 2015, www.info@gambitbooks.com, hardback, figurine algebraic, 128 pages, $16.95, also available as an e-book) should fill this gap. This attractively produced hardback covers the endgame in 50 lessons arranged by level of difficulty (basic mates are presented early but B+N is not covered until near the end).

Chess Endgames for Kids presents fundamental endgame knowledge but not in a way that overwhelms the reader, making this book valuable not only for kids, but also chess teachers and adults who are tired of starting (and never finishing) massive tomes on endgame theory.

Recommended - Go to http://www.gambitbooks.com/books/Chess_Endgames_for_Kids.html for an excerpt from this book.

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