|Price: £ 8,00
|Reviewed by: Allan
||Date: 20/7 2001
This time we review a new periodical from Chess Informant. A team from Belgrade with Aleksandar Matanovic as president and Dusan Rajkovic as author is behind this interesting novelty on the ever growing market for chess books.
The title gives us a hint of what it is all about. The subject is an examination of the recent games and performances by the twelve highest rated players on
FIDE's January list and one extra player chosen on the basis of other criteria. These twelve players can boast of a rating on 2700 or more. The extra player is Judith Polgar, who figures as number 23 on the January list with 2676. The book is planned to appear every six months.
The book contains four parts:
In the first section each player is introduced with a photo and a short introduction by Dusan Rajkovic. This text is a characterization of the player with some amusing observations. One example is the comparison of Adams with a professor:
"…we get the irresistible impression that he is like a professor, who calmly expounds his theories to lay bare the hidden
depths of the position."
Another remarkable observation is that Kasparov is the oldest among the top 12, which underlines the trend these days that the strong grandmasters are very young. You may want to reassure yourself by glancing through the names in order of rating: Kasparov, Anand, Kramnik, Adams, Leko, Morozevich, Shirov, Topalov, Ivanchuk, Gelfand, Bareev, Van Wely and J. Polgar. These brief introductions
describe the history, playing style and typical features of each player. Kasparov is unofficially declared the best player of all time, whereas "Deep" Vladimirs (Rajkovics nick name for Kramnik) impressive London performance is of course
recognized. Speaking of who is the best player of all time reminds me most of all of a heavyweight boxing match. The similarities between boxing and the chess world today
don't stop there as "the office of world champion is a great one…" as the book explains concerning
Anand's title. This slightly chaotic situation, where we have more than one world champ is a bit confusing and as a result Rajkovic proposes a match to settle things between Kramnik and Anand
"though Kasparov can hardly be forgotten."! These matters interest chess players all over the world and it is interesting to see whether the situation will be clarified in the years to come. I believe we should be happy that our sport does not have to be divided into different weight classes, because only then I could get into deep doo-doo trying to explain my non-chess playing friends who is the real world champion
These introductions describe the players history, strengths and weaknesses very briefly. Afterwards all their games from July 2000 to January 2001 follows without annotations. Each tournament result is supplied with average rating and rating performance for the player in question. This gives the reader a feeling of how good this or that result actually is. This is all served in a nice way for the reader and I
don't think this impression connotes to the fact that I read most of the book on the beach in beautiful surroundings. You might speak of a
However, using a database you could easily get this kind of information these days. Generally I
don't think games without annotations provide the reader with any tangible new information. I would propose that some of the best games ought to be analysed in the future editions to avoid ending up with a status corresponding to a weekly colour magazine, with an appealing surface but lacking substance.
The statistical section is quite interesting although one could probably generate such tables in a database also. It is interesting to see different tables of how Top 12 +1 scores in different variations against each other and against the rest of the world. As always such statistics based on a limited number of games should not be taken too seriously. Without a doubt it can be thought provoking to see tables of rating evolution, scores with both colours in different openings which is available for each player.
As for the theoretical section it reminds me of the articles from the NIC yearbooks. Eight surveys of some highly popular variations is quite interesting. For instance you get an overview of
Kramnik's new pet line the Berlin Wall and some sharp Sicilians are also treated. This part of the book is grounded on serious independent work, which I find nice. The final part of the book is simply a printout of unrated games played in this period to make the book complete.
Compared to for instance the Chess Informant, where each edition is packed with independent work from a number of strong grandmasters, this new periodical is quickly produced and also quickly read. Maybe I am a bit conservative but after all I grew up with Chess Informant. Of course there is a lot of study material and you can quickly find different information and statistics of your favourite players in top 12 +1. Also if the series continues
successfully it has a potential historical value as it gives a status quo in the top of the chess world two times a year.
All in all I find the concept interesting but also disappointing because to much of the material is just a printout of games spiced up with some statistical tables. To be fair it is quite handy and both the introductions to the players and the statistical section are entertaining. Also the theoretical section gives nice overviews of eight highly fashionable variations. Clearly the purpose of the book is to present the creme de la creme of the chess world in an appetizing way. In this respect it succeeds, but as a reader you finish the book almost too
quickly to my taste. Recommended for players at all levels interested in a guide to the achievements of the absolute top players right now.