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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Carlos Torre

In spite of the fact I’ve been playing the Torre Attack with considerable success for years I never knew much about its inventor. His name was... Carlos Torre (1905-1978)

I came across a used book of his games, The Life and Games of Carlos Torre.

I enjoyed the games, but a lot of the analysis is very poor! There is also some interesting historical comments. For example: “Boris Verlinsky (1888 – 1950) Victories…made him the first to receive the title: Grandmaster of Chess of the USSR. He was later stripped of it so that Botvinnik would officially be the ‘first’. The more I have read about Botvinnik after his death, the more convinced I am that he was definitely lacking in character. He used to be one of my early heroes. Oh, he played some great games, but as a man of character, he wasn’t much. But then again, maybe he did what he had to in order to survive the political system in which he lived. I read somewhere that the reason he held down his job as an electrical engineer instead of being a chess professional was because he lived in fear of falling into disfavor with the chess politicians. Who knows? Sometimes it’s hard to judge people because you don’t know the circumstances they are facing or what they’ve experienced.

Torre quickly improved by playing at the Manhattan and Marshall Chess Clubs in New York City. His style is universal and he played about every opening known but is famous for his Torre Attack (1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.Bg5 followed by e3 and c3)

Torre’s real weakness was that he feared losing, so offered draws when he had better positions. Torre, himself, offered the excuse that he offered draws when he was winning because he was inexperienced. That may not have necessarily been the case though because he suffered from chronic illness and probably felt exhausted after a few hours of play. He apparently suffered from some kind of nervouis disorder.

As I said, the author’s style is poor in the biographical section and the annotations are of poor quality, bordering  on ridiculous. It’s not a very high quality book and I think many of the game selections could have been better. Still, it makes interesting reading on this fascinating minor character from yesteryear but I'm glad I didn't pay full price for it because I would have been upset. If you can find it used, it's worth getting but I'd recommend playing over the games with Fritz!

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