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The King: Chess Pieces Paperback – June 1, 2006

4.8 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"The best chess book ever written." -- Jeremy Silman

"His reportorial style reminds one of the 'gonzo' journalism of Hunter S. Thompson fame, and his polemics are reminiscent of such great scourges of hypocrisy as H.L.Mencken." -- Taylor Kinston

About the Author

Tim Krabbe is the author of "The Vanishing" which was made into an award-winning film. "The Cave" was a bestseller in The Netherlands. He lives in Amsterdam.

Max Pam teaches photography and media at Edith Cowan University in Western Australia. He is the author of numerous books, including "Atlas Monographs".
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 392 pages
  • Publisher: New In Chess,Csi (June 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9056911716
  • ISBN-13: 978-9056911713
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,015,698 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By j clark on December 28, 2006
Format: Paperback
J.H. Donner was a chess journalist and Grandmaster from the Netherlands. This book assembles some of his best articles from his 30 year writing career. From the standpoint of reporting and history, you will get accounts of the author's contacts with Fischer, Spassky, Botvinnik, Petrosian, Bronstein, and other greats from that generation --that alone would have been worth the price. But in addition, what emerges is not only a portrait of Donner the man (and he was a character!), but also his fascinating commentary on the human condition. His provocative article on why women can't play chess seems at first to be the rantings of some benighted chauvinist pig, then you see that it is really a tongue-in-cheek tribute to women, and by the end you realize it is something else altogether. Donner has a great feel for irony, a gift for constructing delicious insults, and a sideways approach to his subjects that simply confounds expectations. You won't learn any opening theory, or build your tactical skills, but you will laugh and be entertained. Send more stars!
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Format: Paperback
Donner was Denmark's strongest player since Euwe and a prolific chess journalist. In this collection of essays about chess, Donner claims (among other things) that "the fact is, women are much stupider than men", that "no Dutch can achieve anything worthwhile", and Ree is such a weak chess player he bet he would win the match with him at 150-to-1 odds. Of course, that doesn't for one minute stop him from praises Nona Gaprindashvili's victory in Lone Pine, 1977, worshipping Euwe, and being on friendly terms with Ree-including praising him honestly when he (Ree) won the match.

Donner's "hatereds" are not to be taken too seriously: he is not a megalomaniacal bigot, he merely plays one in his columns (e.g., when he pretends to be deeply insulted that Fischer's famous "10 best players of all time" list somehow didn't mention him.) But *pretending* to be a bigoted know-it-all is wonderful literary excuse for Donner to write about all the "really important" things about tournament X or grandmaster Y--that is, whatever *he* felt like writing about them--and to hell with convention, or with what his employers wanted. After all, if all those inferior people (such as his bosses at the paper, who might even be Dutch and/or women) complain that his reporting is obscure or odd, what's that to Donner?

The result is that Donner's chess essays were like nobody else's--a flight of fancy that takes one to totally unexpected placed. For example, when reporting about a Cuban tournament he participated in, it's much better, in Donner's view, to report, how a bridge hand he played with a few other chess players turned out (while insulting the other players as hopeless bridge bumblers) than to bother with boring stuff, like the tournament's results or other unimportant trivia.
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Format: Hardcover
This book stands out of competition. I have read many chess books, but this one is certainly the most entertaining book of all. It is a combination of chess and literature. This compilation of chess articles Donner wrote for several magazines, is full of witty chess anecdotes. Donner writes in his incomparable style, and I am sure that the English translation cannot render the exact content of the Dutch text (I have read in Dutch and it is beautiful Dutch). But since this book in Dutch is worth at least six stars, in English it deserves beyond any doubt five stars.
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