The Greatest Chess Tournament Book Of All Time (Book Review)

The greatest tournament book of all time!

Both GM Kraai and IM Pruess list it as one one of the top 10 books of all time in the recent Dojo Talks best books with Ben Johnson (Perpetual Chess Pod) and IM Kostya Kavustkiy.

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34 Comments

  1. What you say this is suitable for a 1400 player? Or just too advanced?

  2. First modern attacker… I would like to propose that Frank Marshall was the guy.

  3. Not bad but Zurich 1953 by Najdorf is better by far

  4. In his book "Das Schachspiel" / "The Game of Chess" Tarrasch expresses his great preference for bishops over knights, although in the next sentence he acknowledges that sometimes knights are better. In the same book he also emphasizes the importance of space, especially in the context of the opening.
    I am somewhat surprised to hear that those ideas Tarrasch was preaching from the early 20th century were not much accepted until 50 years later, at least this is how I understand what Kraai is saying in this video.

  5. God, what a book. Thanks for the recommendation, Jesse! Is there anything I should know while reading this? I don't use a chessboard, I just kinda keep one in my head. I noticed the weird bishop-for-knight trades but I couldn't really put my finger on what, exactly, was off. I assume it's a lot like reading My Sytem (which is one of my all-tiem favorites: HE USES WORDS! YES!). Anyway, would love advice on reading this without using a board; just on a conceptual level even.

  6. Jesse can mispronounce Alekhine's name because he is a Grandmaster. Those are the perks. Dave does not have to do his mate in 2's, Jesse can mispronounce Alekhine. That is what you get after decades of hard work.

  7. Can't wait for your next video "Why Zurich 1953 is not the greatest chess tournament book of all time"

  8. Maybe I didn't give the book justice : I'm looking for a French translation now. I agree that these players were really fantastic players !

  9. Thanks for the video. However, I found it too sketchy and vague – it left me with more questions. In my opinion, continuing the lines a little bit further in each position would have demonstrated your points much more clearly.

  10. Great video! I'd love you to do a longer one where go talk about Alekhine's value system at greater length and with more examples.

  11. Be aware that the original and the 1961 Dover version border on indecipherable. Not only are the games given in descriptive notation, the notes are appended to the gamescores using a note system, so you must go back and forth for practically every move. Find yourself a modern version in algebraic.

  12. I'm going through New York 1924 now, and this served as a top level review of what I'm looking at. It's easy to get lost in all Alekhine's variations, and just think, "I can't do that."

  13. 5:30 I was genuinely thinking about Qh5+ here. The cutest line is g6 exf6 gxh5 fxe7 and the pawn traps a queen! Qxe7 Bxe7 Kxe7 +/-
    With thoughtful use of the computer, this could be quite the trap in the making

  14. Fine – you've convinced me to read a bit of it again. My issue with reading the first few games last time around was that Alekhine's lack of modern chess understanding constantly undermined my ability to take his explanations as gospel.

  15. Stick to your guns Jesse. A normal English pronunciation is better than a bogus foreign one, but even Russians pronounce Alekhine's name wrong. In his day he was insulted by it because he felt many did it deliberately. The actual pronunciation was more like al-YOK-heen. Anyway, the way you pronounce it lacks pretension, and IMO is preferred. It's the way I say it.

  16. Fischer pays Alekhine a backhanded compliment in an article he wrote describing what he believed to be the top 10 players of all time (this was before he was WC, interestingly he puts Spassky in there, even though Spassky was not yet WC), he says, "once you have seen one Alekhine game you have seen them all, occupy space in the center, move pieces over to the K side by move 25 and sac material to setup a combination to mate the enemy king". At first glance, you think Alekhine is a hack, but then when you see Alpha zero and modern computers play, it is exactly like this.

  17. 6:04

    I think it would get awesome if you went on further with that “different subject” in another video, please. It has shocked me for years how Lasker was so great yet he is overlooked quite a bit, especially (it feels) on YouTube’s largest chess channels.

    And even the one game he lost it is proposed that there was an issue with the chess clocks and that the game should’ve ended in a draw, allowing Lasker’s final 1st place win to also be an undefeated performance.

  18. This was my second chess book – the original German version published by de Gruyter. The first one was a book published in the 1930ies my father used to learn chess.
    I think I played through all games two or three times, not understanding very much. Unfortunately I lost it.

  19. Perseu Fernandes Machado de Oliveira says:

    What about San Luis 2005? In my opinion it already is above Zurich 1953, but I have never read New York 1924.

  20. Enjoyed the video…good things said. I've not cracked my Dover edition for more than 2 decades. I may get the Kindle version if I want to read it again….so much more convenient as an ebook. Meh on the added cost though!

  21. Alekhine"s Rule? Wasn"t Alekhine the guy who once said: I will not take a pawn if it involves submitting to the smallest positional concession. (This at least would be consistent with his Value System.) Has this changed since 1924 as well? (Or do we have to go all the way back to Steinitz to find a guy who would willingly submit to extended defensive contortions for the sake of a pawn.) Between this intriguing video and your classic on Pawns are not People, you are well positioned to comment….

  22. Shudder – you are horribly mispronouncing Maróczy's name. Why on earth do almost all Americans say Moraksy? I have no idea why the even exchange the "a" and "o".

  23. The Aljechin-Chatard attack was not pioneered by Aljechin. It was Played in 1890 by Albin and occasionally by others before Aljechin's game against Fahrni in 1914.
    Of course, in France it was attributed to Chatard. See the obituary of Eugène Chatard published on page 229 of La Stratégie, September 1924:
    "Plusieurs de ses hardiesses ont été par la suite mises on pratique et non sans succès, notamment: le Gambit Chatard … "

  24. Jesse, are "we" looking at it things from a modern "lens" or are we just looking at engine evaluations. Engines can't beat each other by direct attack. So, all they have are nuances of the position. Humans are notoriously bad at tactics and defense. And we can't find many engine moves without cheating. So, Alekhine may have "understood" that the attack is worth any number of positional nuances against humans. Since he more than not played for one result, why is this understanding unsound?

  25. More than an extensive review, GM Kraai's video is a striking summary of some important misconceptions about chess in the 1920s. I always marvel at the ever- increasing depth of chess thinking over time, and few people can make it as accessible as Jesse.

  26. Tartakower: Playable but dubious, dubious but playable!

  27. By the way, Aljechin (that's how we spell his name in German) published many books in German – almost all early books at the publishe de Gruyter (which looks Dutch) – and here his name is always spelled Alechin.

    Anyway, here is the ultimate comment on the spelling:
    On pages 39-40 of Chess and its Stars (Leeds, 1936) Brian Harley published an open letter to Alekhine:

    ‘Dear Master,

    The chess world undergoes agonies in its struggles with the spelling of your name, which has as many versions as Shakespeare’s.

    Twenty years ago you were “Aljekhin”; then you suffered a “c” change to “Aljechin”; and then again we met with “Alechin”. We thought you had attained, with your French citizenship, the ultimate stage with “Alekhine”. And now, in an article in a chess magazine, you sign yourself “Alekhin”.

    I recall that I was once asked at a Congress to point out Alkaline, when I made the comment that the acid test of a chessplayer should be the knowledge of the correct spelling of a champion’s name. So I implore you, Master, to make an announcement of a final, fixed and unalterable version: and to stick to it.

    Brian Harley.’

  28. Great review! 9:30 "You can tell that the players don't understand this, and Alekhine doesn't understand this." So, how did people think about space at the time? Did they not consider it much? Or did they maybe consider more space an advantage no matter how many pieces had been exchanged?

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