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Saturday, May 25, 2013

Tournament Books

     My favorite chess books have always been of two types: My Best Games collections and…tournament books! Tournament books have pretty much disappeared in this age of databases. There seems to always be a new opening or tactics book or a book on how to become a better player without much effort, but tournament books are rare.
      I like tournament books because they give you a sense of being there; something a raw game score can’t. As someone once observed, we lose something valuable, a part of our chess history, without the tournament book. Back in the day they were an important source for games and there were a few people who specialized in them. Dale Brandreth, for example, who used to privately publish a lot of typewritten and mimeographed books of rare tournaments. And there was the eccentric James R. Schroeder of Cleveland, Ohio, who would visit the James G. White collection at the Cleveland Public Library and hand copy games from their collection then painstakingly type and mimeograph them then sell them for fifty cents or a dollar at tournaments. 
      Curacao 1959, Nottingham 1936, New York 1927, Zurich 1953, the Piatigorsky Cups, the Lone Pine events, just to name a few. I have some of the books (booklets actually) by both Brandreth and Schroeder. I got the Brandreth books cheap on e-Bay and once helped Schroeder by playing over a couple of hundred games for one of his books and correcting typos so occasionally he would mail me one of his books for free.
      One thing I like is that, unlike My Best Games collections and other published games, you get to GM chess as it is really played, warts and all. Like the following game.
      It was played in round 19 at Zurich 1953. At the start of the round Smyslov had 12 pts and Reshevsky was a full point back followed by Bronstein, Najdorf, Keres and Petrosian, Boleslavsky and Geller, Euwe, Szabo, Kotov and Taimanov, Averbakh and Gligoric with Stahlberg firmly in last place.
      This Szabo – Reshevsky game was in suspense. Szabo, with plenty of time on his clock, picked up his Q to mate in two moves, but Reshevsky remained impassive. Szabo had missed the mate though and a comedy of errors followed. I doubt that this game ever made print.

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