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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful chess & biography, July 17, 2012
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This review is from: Profession: Chessplayer: Grandmaster at Work (Paperback)
I buy a lot of chess books, but my favorites are always the auto-biographies. The book is around 250 pages, half devoted to the 41 annotated games, the other half (120 pages!) of pure biography.

The games section is organized by type of game: some favorites, a few against World Champions, a few where Tal-like sacrifices lead to tactical attacks, some opening innovations, and some endgames.

Being a 1.d4 player, I was familiar with Tukmakov's contributions to opening theory, especially in the QGD. I was pleased to find in this book, however, that he was a Catalan specialist as well (he reports a never-lost record of 9-1-0, the draw is in the book where he had an obvious winning position and just went to sleep.. so call it 10-0-0 with the Catalan).

In all games, I was impressed with Tukmakov's style of play. Seemingly simple moves to prepare a single square (outpost) turn into somewhat mechanical wins, once the tactics are calc'd correctly, of course! But then, many opening lines blown apart with piece sacrifices, forcing the opponent on long routes to hold on. A perfect blend of positional and tactical play! And analysis never too lengthy as he gives the moves to reach his evaluation, and let's you figure the rest out (good for your own study!).

On the down side, there were quite a few misprints (typos, or originating with the author?) of moves, making one wonder how much was entered or checked by computer. Always annoying.

The biographical section is just as interesting as his games. A life growing up in Soviet times, with the broken families it caused, combined with the psychological problems he experienced were told from a varying first-person, third-person reference. This is a bit confusing, but the third-person paragraphs were often told as stories, as if written as a novel. So the technique of changing views keeps the pure biographical first-person separate from the longing/personal third-person voice.

Overall, this book is pure chess entertainment, but weighs heavily with the useful... both in history and chess.
The biographical section gives insight into the Soviet world outside of chess, as well as pictures of the lives of the major Soviet chessplayers-- even non-chessplayers will enjoy this half. The games section will surely improve the player who devotes some time to their study.
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