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Engaging Pieces: Interviews and Prose for the Chess Fan Paperback – June 19, 2007
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In the interviews of Engaging Pieces, Howard Goldowsky goes past the obvious questions and draws out the human and the unexpected from chess players. In the fiction, he gracefully combines his chess knowledge with literary ability. --WGM Jen Shahade
[Engaging Pieces] makes for fascinating reading... --Lubomir Kavalek (Washington Post)
From the Inside Flap
Engaging Pieces: Interviews and Prose for the Chess Fan contains interviews with some of the most fascinating personalities of the chess world, poignant short-fiction that uses chess as a metaphor, and in-depth book reviews and editorials. This is writing that entertains and makes you think. Michael de la Maza explains the importance of chess tactics and how he improved his USCF rating from Class-D to Expert, in two years. Jen Shahade talks about her book, Chess Bitch, and the controversial topic of women's chess. Hikaru Nakamura confides what it's like to be a teenage chess star. Mig Greengard, arguably the world's most charismatic chess journalist, waxes philosophic on everything from the immaturity of professional chess players to promoting chess as a sport. Hydra's programmers, designers of the world's best chess computer, explain the computer science behind their monster. Mark Glickman demystifies every detail of the USCF rating system. Harold Dondis and Patrick Wolff of the Boston Globe claim, It is the best summary we have seen. In the interviews of Engaging Pieces, Howard goldowsky goes past the obvious questions and draws out the human and the unexpected from chess players. In the fiction, he gracefully combines his chess knowledge with literary ability. WGM Jen Shahade.
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On rereading Engaging Pieces, I must admit that I find this assessment quite unduly harsh. It is true that it is not, nor is it intended to be, a weighty tome about the inner world of chess. Instead, it approaches the immortal game from a wide range of perspectives, presented in generally entertaining and informative style. Perhaps the most interesting section consists of a series of interviews, in person and by email, with personalities ranging from Nakamura before he became a superstar to the former VP of Edge TV just before the enterprise collapsed. In another interview, the guru of the USCF rating system does a creditable job, with author Goldowsky's help, of explaining some of the intricacies of this arcane creation.
I found the fiction pieces somewhat less compelling. It would seem the author is trying with these stories to reach a much broader general audience. Chess seems generally to be strictly incidental to the stories.
The final section comprises a number of opinion pieces. One is a quite laudatory review of the book Chess and the Art of Negotiations co-authored by the great Karpov and a French businessman with help from the editor of Europe Echecs. Frankly, as a professional negotiator, I found the book highly disappointing and review unduly favourable.
In sum, Engaging Pieces is worth a second look and will reward careful reading.