Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Grandmaster Preparation, the first ever chess blog

Grandmaster Preparation by Lyev Polugayevsky is an unusual but captivating chess book; browsing through it yesterday, I couldn't help but notice how much like a blog it feels.

The book is neither a middlegame manual, nor an openings primer, nor a games collection, nor is it a biography. Yet, at the same time, it contains elements of all these. What sets it apart and makes it feel like blog is the personal nature of the narrative: Polugayevsky talks about his thoughts, his emotions, what he was doing during the hours before key games, and his giving birth to and raising his child (a new and highly risky variation in the Sicilian Defence). Much of the material, presented chronologically, reads like the pages of a diary and further cements the blog like nature of the work.

The book starts with a discussion during a walk with Botvinnik, moves on to the Polugayevsky variation in the Najdorf, and finishes with chapters called "In the interval" and "On the eve", where Polugayevsky discusses interesting adjournments, and then games that were important to him, including meetings with Tal, Karpov, Fischer and Spassky amongst others. The chess annotations are very good; the narrative and insights are fascinating.

It's now out of print, but you can source second hand copies via Amazon: Grandmaster Preparation (Pergamon Russian Chess)

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Chess Tales by Roger Coathup: A collection of online articles about chess and chess players.