- Library Binding: 247 pages
- Publisher: McFarland Publishing; Subsequent edition (March 1, 1997)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0786402482
- ISBN-13: 978-0786402489
- Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 1 x 10.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,519,400 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The United States Chess Championship, 1845-1996 Library Binding – March 1, 1997
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The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
"a classic beauty...excellent" -- Chess Mail
"an interesting read, full of obscure facts about fascinating characters.... Excellent pictures, lots of crosstables and crisp typesetting make this a very attractive book, one that belongs in every American chess player's home" -- Inside Chess
"interesting...fascinating...excellent pictures, lots of crosstables...very attractive book...belongs in every American chess player's home" -- Inside Chess
"it reads well, informs without being tedious and even plays well. It will be a valuable addition to any chessplayer's library. Bravo" -- chesscafe.com
About the Author
Grandmaster Andy Soltis is the author of dozens of chess books, including The Book of Chess Lists (1984, $32.50), Frank Marshall (1993, $42.50, 1994 British Chess Federation Book of the Year), Soviet Chess 1917-1991 (2000, $55, 2000 Historical Book of the Year-United States Chess Federation) and The 100 Best Chess Games of the 20th Century, Ranked (2000, $45). The eight-time champion of the world-famous Marshall Chess Club, he is an editor and journalist at theNew York Post and a columnist for Chess Life. He lives in New York City. Coauthor Gene H. McCormick, is the owner of a magazine publishing company in Park Ridge, Illinois.
Top customer reviews
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I wasn't really interested in reviewing this book, but an Internet student asked me to take a look at it, as he was thinking about buying it for his collection. (I have had this book for several years now.)
First you should know that I am a Chess Master that for many years has made a living from teaching chess. Secondly, I am also a huge fan of Andy's, but I will try to be objective as possible here.
The books starts off with an Introduction, and in it is a very funny and amusing story as told by Pat Wolff to Charles Fried, the former Solicitor General in the Reagan Administration. (I also wish to note that only people who are familiar with the plight of chess players in the U.S. can even begin to comprehend what he is talking about.)
Chapter One is entitled, "A Champion Is Crowned." It is the story of one Charles H. Stanley, the first official U.S. Champion. (Did you know that the first U.S. Championship was a match between Stanley and Rousseau? And that it was played in New Orleans in 1845? Most people think Morphy was the first U.S. Champion, but that is a common misconception.)
Chapter Two is about Paul Morphy. (Who else?) There are chapters with titles like, "The King Is A Captain." (Chap. # 3.) Or ... "The Years Of Confusion." Or even "The Man Who Enjoyed It." I could go on and on, but I trust by now you get the general picture. This is a great book. Its NOT just a chess book, but a history book as well. And one that is thoroughly enjoyable to read.
My favorite chapter would have to be the one that covered the life and times of Samuel Reshevsky. His `squeakers' and come-from-behind finishes are most enthralling to read about. And the way that Soltis describes it, one almost feels as if you were there ... re-living the events as they happen.
Practical every era and period of chess is covered. Nothing is left out. There are dozens - if not hundreds - of game fragments, and many nicely annotated games as well. Soltis often gives you a `blow-by-blow' that other chess authors will not trouble to do. You find out many stories that may have stayed permanently behind the scenes if not for this book.
You get 8 pages in the middle of the book with 16 truly beautiful photographs. At the end of the book is nearly everything a chess person could want or desire: # 1.) A complete summary; # 2.) Individual records; # 3.) An Openings Index; # 4.) An ECO openings index, # 5.) A general index.
And there are even some personal memories in here for me. I attended and was a spectator at many of these events, starting as a small boy visiting my GrandMother in New York. The section that describes the Lev Alburt victory at Jacksonville, Florida in 1990 is very personal for me. I was there in the audience, and I watched just about every game. (My Brilliancy Prize game for The U.S. Open that year can be found in just about every on-line database.) And - of course! - you get cross-tables from most or all of these events.
I do not think I can rate this book highly enough, nor do it any real justice in a small review.
Why would you buy this book? Certainly not to improve ... there are too many good teaching books - `The Complete Chess Player,' by Reinfeld; `My System,' by Nimzovich; "How To Re-Assess Your Chess," by IM Jeremy Silman; The Watson or Alburt books, etc. Plus you could get several other books what you will pay for this one, especially if you are willing to buy a used book.
You would not buy this book if you are trying to raise your rating ... once again this is not a book really designed to do that. No!! Buy this book because you love the game and want a book that will be a permanent and lasting memory of all the great tournaments, and all the great players who played in them. Q.E.D.
It begins with a description of the match between Charles Stanley and Eugene Rousseau in 1845. Stanley won that match to become the first US Champion. Eight year old Paul Morphy watched as Stanley, as Black, played 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 Ba5 a6! TN 4 Ba4 b5. The move 3...a6 is now named for Morphy, who became the US Champion in 1857. We continue with George Mackenzie, who first won the US Championship in 1871. Mackenzie won in 1874 and again in 1880, when he defeated James Grundy in a playoff match. Andy Soltis and Gene McCormick tell of the scandal involved, in which Grundy won a game under very dubious circumstances, allowing him to reach the playoff.
Then we see champions Harry Pillsbury and Frank Marshall. And a discussion of Jose Capablanca's claim to the US championship. Capablanca defeated Marshall in a match 8-1, but was not granted the title of US Champion for a simple reason: he was not an American citizen, but a citizen of Cuba.
We then proceed to the 1936 Championship tournament, won by Sammy Reshevsky. (Amazingly, Reshevsky was still playing in the US Championship when he tied for third in 1981). And we see the wild 1942 championship, in which Reshevsky was awarded a win by tournament director Walter Stephens, who, in the most outrageous ruling in US chess championship history, forfeited Arnold Denker on time even though Denker's flag was still up (the game should have been a draw). Reshevsky wound up tying for first after that, and he won a playoff with Isaac Kashdan for the title. Perhaps justice was served when Denker won the 1944 championship.
After that, a new generation took over. In 1951, 19-year old Larry Evans won the championship, and in 1954, 23-year old Arthur Bisguier won it. In 1957, 14-year old Bobby Fischer became our youngest champion. Fischer went on to win all eight of the championships he played in. We see him scramble out of lost positions in 1959-60 against Robert Byrne and Edmar Mednis (he lost games in later championships to both of them). We see the 1962-63 championship, in which Fischer finished a game ahead of Bisguier by defeating him on the White side of a Ruy Lopez, Berlin variation. And there's the incredible Fischer 11-0 sweep in 1963-64, where the commentators thought Fischer was lost in his game with Robert Byrne until Byrne quite properly resigned.
We see Walter Browne's championships in the 1970s and early 1980s, as well as the 1978 championship that Browne withdrew from. And the incident in the game between Leonid Shamkovich and Mednis in that tournament: Mednis lost when he got into time pressure caused by his clock running much faster than any of the other clocks.
In the 1987 championship, we see Nick deFirmian tie Joel Benjamin for first place. Once again, a director's ruling came into play when deFirmian appeared to lose a game on time after his opponent, Michael Rohde, made an illegal move! The ruling gave deFirmian enough time to reach the time control and win the game. And we see descriptions of the tournaments through 1996.
I liked the more than 100 games in the book. It is a fine tribute to all the players in the history of championship chess in the United States.