Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Botvinnik-Smyslov Paperback – July 16, 2009
This month's Book With Buzz: "The Lying Game" by Ruth Ware
From the instant New York Times bestselling author of blockbuster thrillers "In a Dark, Dark Wood" and "The Woman in Cabin 10" comes Ruth Ware’s chilling new novel, "The Lying Game." See more
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Browse award-winning titles. See more
Top customer reviews
Botvinnik himself annotates these games, and as usual, his style is crystal clear and logical. We are also treated to his famous notebooks; the preparation that had had researched and tested prior to each of these matches (Remember, back in the 1950's there were no computers or electronic means of preparing for an opponent...it was all by "manual labor") which makes these notebooks and notes to these matches even more incredible.
Botvinnik was one of the most notable World Champions of the post WWII era, noted for his iron clad logical systems and in depth calculations and this book shows these strengths to their absolute best. The book is packed with notes and daigrams, and it is easy to follow along on your own chess board.
This is a definite "must have" for any serious chessplayer or buff!
That said, the games are wonderful. While the systems aren't modern by any means, that's often a bonus as the strategic themes are easier to understand. Unlike San Luis 2005 or other modern games collections, you don't have to be an expert on the opening phase of the game to appreciate what's happening in these encounters. This book is the first source to provide annotations of these three matches all together in English, so from that perspective it's worth having. In addition, there are a fair number of games which are not annotated by Botvinnik, and in these you get a genuine feel of the battle that was taking place on the chessboard.
If only all the games were annotated by players other than Botvinnik. I simply can't stand his writing style. When he presents a variation, he presents it as if it's the only possible answer to the problem on the chessboard. His mannerisms are so imperial that you get the distinct sense that he would regard any disagreement as your being an idiot. The main issue I have with this style is that he shows little respect for the ideas of Smyslov in most cases, even though Smyslov actually had a plus score in the three matches overall. I don't get the sense that Botvinnik ever really tried to see the game from his opponent's point of view, rather his purpose in writing about the games is simply to establish his own superiority in a way he really wasn't able to do over the board. I find him almost unreadable.
This is not to say that his conclusions are always wrong...he's usually right, as he was of course one of the best players ever (top 15 for sure). It's simply that by looking at the moves out of context, as if it were a correspondence game rather than a tense OTB encounter, Botvinnik manages to remove all the flavor and energy from the games. A hard thing to do with such interesting material, but the Patriarch manages it in spades. This book certainly could help you learn some things about the structures played in this match, just don't get the idea that chess is as immutable as Botvinnik assumes. If you want an example, look at his ideas about the openings played in the match versus where our understanding of those systems is now. Botvinnik writes about the openings as if his conclusions are the final ones, written in stone for eternity. Kasparov himself has written about how one could never challenge Botvinnik's conclusions without getting dressed down, regardless of how much theory had passed the former champion by. You get a real sense of that intractibility and arrogance throughout the book, and the content suffers for it. I can't really recommend this book as much as I'd like to (Smyslov is one of my favorite players), though as I said the games are great and the annotations are often somewhat instructive. If only they could have been delivered without the condescension and assumed omniscience.
It is true that Botvinnik could be more gracious at times, and he does seem to see only his own style, but if that's Botvinnik then that's the voice I want to hear. Imagine if we had a book by Deschapelles, what a pompous display that would have been, but what a treasure also. This is not to say that I find Botvinnik pompous; rather, he comes across as quite scientific, objective, and even self-deprecating at times.
Already, I'm thoroughly enjoying this book, and nearly 60 games to go!