Centre-Stage and Behind the Scenes: The Personal Memoir of a Soviet Chess Legend by Yuri Averbakh
I’m not much for buying chess books these days; in fact I recently gave away about 50 or 60 of them, keeping only about a dozen in my library. However on a recent book store visit I came across one I couldn’t resist despite its nearly $50 price tag! I guess compared to my recent purchase of a book on General George Armstrong Custer at $35, this book was a better bargain and one that I actually enjoyed more than the Custer book. Possibly it was because a lot of the information about Custer was already known to me, but most of the material in Averbakh’s was new.
It’s the autobiography of a player (Averbakh) who was a GM, former Soviet Champion and an insider of Soviet chess back in the days when chess was a major factor in Soviet diplomacy. Averbakh participated in or was a member of the Soviet delegation for many international tournaments as well as an insider who witnessed or took part in the many machinations of Soviet chess in those days.
He discusses the infamous'Sports Committee' and writes of his personal views on Soviet players like Botvinnik, Smyslov, Kortchnoi, Petrosian, Tal and Spassky as well as his dealing with players like Euwe and Fischer. I remember reading an interview with him in Chess Life magazine and was surprised at his openness in answering questions posed to him. Averbakh used to be known as the most powerful man in Soviet chess and is currently the oldest living grandmaster.
If you are interested in chess history from what I think is the Golden Era of chess then buy this book.