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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Rudolf Charousek

While browsing recently I spied a book titled "Chess Comet Charousek" by Victor A. Charuchin. I was not familiar with Charosek (pronounced "kah-ROO-zek") except that he was a brilliant player who was on the chess scene a short time before his premature death. He was born in 1873 in what is now the Czech Republic and was active during the years 1896-98. Charousek was considered a world title challenger for Emanuel Lasker. In 1898 he contracted tuberculosis and by April 1900 he died at age 26.
About the book…it has to be one of the worst chess books I’ve ever seen; it’s a really sloppy effort! Biographical information is limited to bare bones facts…no interesting anecdotes, stories or information that tells us anything about the man. There is also a lot of incorrect historical “facts.” Charousek played about 130 serious games so there are a lot of games from simultaneous exhibitions, blindfold games, etc.

This “book” was translated from Russian and the translators did a horrible job. Charousek and Morphy are described as "chess cracks" who "all died a soon death" and in his game against Showalter he forced Showalter "to pass to the unpleasant sphere of boring defense." The book also contains a 6 page excerpt from a German article that was left untranslated. In fact the translations remind me of the ones I did years ago when chess books from Europe were a precious commodity. With my limited knowledge of German and a dictionary, my books by Euwe had translations in the margins that, to a German, were probably equally comical.

The games: there are 250 of them with notes from a varitey of sources like old tournament books, notes by Gedeon Barcza and some by Charuchin himself who is a CC IM. All the notes are in Informant style and have no explanatory text. Thus there is no information about Charousek's style or contributions to theory.

Anybody with a computer, database and Fritz could have produced this book. I have done a few booklets (available for download at the right) on several players and they are of better quality than this book. At least my booklets have some pictures and anecdotes. The only differences between my booklets and this one on Charousek are that mine do not pretend to be serious works and they are free. "Chess Comet Charousek" would better be found on my download list than on sale for an original list price of $24.95 and now Amazon for $65.00!

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